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Before Enlightenment I Attended to Fussy Little Details….After Enlightenment I Attended to Fussy Little Details

9/14/2018

Before Enlightenment I Attended to Fussy Little Details….After Enlightenment I Attended to Fussy Little Details

Another of the many myths of Enlightenment, is that somehow the body-mind lives in a state of constant flow after Awareness Awakens to Itself, and life is without: challenges, effort, and obstruction.  While this may be true on some days, like weekends without any scheduled events, in general it is not true.  It may have been true of some earlier teachers who lived in ashrams, and sat on cushions all day in meditation, or before a crowd of followers, basking in their adulation.  It’s not true for this guy over here: he still has to earn his daily bread, read his email, and run his financial life.

Awakening doesn’t give us a “get out of jail free” card, if anyone still remembers the old game called Monopoly.  We don’t somehow ‘wake up’ and then magically disappear out of these bodies into some new dimension of reality where the principles of gravity, entropy, disease, aging, and death no longer apply.  We also don’t get out of a world full of people endlessly pestering us to get “located on Google maps” or “get a great network of referrals from the Better Business Bureau” or whomever is crowding our phones, emails and airways with things we “can’t afford not to buy.”  The awake are still subject to all the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” and all the immoral, unethical, untruthful, sociopathic scoundrels who ply the world or both sides of the political aisles of government looking for “suckers.”

When this body-mind, sometimes called “I” or “me” gets overwhelmed with the sheer level of detail required to live a 21st century “modern life,” the mind sometimes wonders what good ‘waking up’ did?  Oh, THAT!

What I don’t have to do is identify as this screaming, gibbering, chattering, little voice in my head that calls itself “I, me, my, mine, etc.”  I don’t have to listen to my mind spit out the lies it has been taught about Reality.  I don’t have to believe the news reports that are mere opinion, speculation or interpretation.  I don’t have to fear the future, as much as all the advertisers in the world want me too, because fear sells products and services.  Attention can fall back into Pure Awareness Itself, the peace that passes understanding.

When the agitation of life is overwhelming, I merely sit my attention down into that Pure Awareness and experience that peace.  That was worth the practice, learning, effort and attention of awakening.

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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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Awareness Is

Awareness Is

The great joke about waking up is that there isn’t actually anyone to wake up and nothing for the mind or ego; and awakening or enlightenment is undefinable in verbal terms.  Awareness awakens to Itself.  Awareness is that which looks AND that which is seen.

Awareness looks out of these eyes at a sofa and pillows, registers mantras on the stereo and a clock ticking and traffic in the background.  The traffic can be heard because the window is open as It registers unseasonably warm temperatures in the northern hemisphere in February: 70F or 21.1C.  Objects are given names by the mind not by Awareness.  Awareness knows itself.

Each person, dog, squirrel, animal, tree, rock is, in Itself, the same Awareness.  Awareness exists in many forms and as the Formless.  Awareness is registering Itself ‘out there’ by every sense that aids in perception.  Awareness is in all form and beyond form: immanent and Transcendent.  It’s everything and You are IT.  Wake up beyond your mind if you can…and as simply as you’re able…it’s indescribably delicious.

Simply Awakesimply awake leopard

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The Spontaneous Act

The Spontaneous Act

Some time ago, I discovered that my actions are nearly always spontaneous.  There is a vibration (skanda, in Sanskrit, I believe) in the body that comes from Awareness Itself and moves outwards towards an action.  Creating my recent book was such an action.  Though I had been working on bits and pieces of it for a while, two weeks ago I had an urge to finish the book.  Five minutes ago (two weeks later), the printed copies are sitting on the desk in the office where I’m writing this blog.

If you look carefully, you’ll become aware of, and be able to follow these arising vibrations or impulses: to move, to rest, to eat, to drink, to feed the chickens, to collect the eggs, to play with the dog, to create a new work of art, to exercise…to give to others, to love, to wake up.  If the impulse doesn’t hurt you or anyone else, why not go with it and see what happens?

Usually the mind and its false thoughts and FEARS get in the way.  Whenever I write, it’s tempting to listen to the thoughts that say things like the following statements:

  • ‘You are Awareness and so is everything else, why bother writing?’
  • ‘No one will read your book or your blog, so why bother?’
  • ‘People who read your book and your blog will be nasty and critical so why bother?’
  • ‘You’re going to make mistakes and it won’t be perfect, so why bother?

I’m certain some people have been nasty and critical because I’ve already experienced that.  I have no idea what will come in the future, however, or how people will respond to this individual expression of Awareness going forward (be it verbal, written, written in blog form or in book form).  The courage to allow the expression of Awareness, is itself an expression of Awareness.  The ability to counteract false thoughts and fears with the truth, typically expressed as ‘I don’t know’ is also a gift of Awareness.  All this comes from being Simply Awake.  How wonderful when I (and you) can listen to this Awareness and not let false thoughts and the fear they cause, get in the way of spontaneous action.water as spontaneous act

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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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Who is the Guru?

Temple Buddha Statue  in Sukhothai Historical Park,ThailandWho is the Guru?

I’ve often been asked who my ‘guru’ is, and I’ve had to ponder carefully when answering the question.  I don’t have just one guru, I’ve had many.  There is a long tradition of being told that we should work with only one guru, who should be able to see us all the way ‘to enlightenment.’  While I think this can be useful for some people, it is not helpful for everyone.

I can think of 12 people, on the spur of this moment, who I would consider ‘gurus’ to me.  Some of them are authors like Jed McKenna, some teachers like Adyashanti or Saniel Bonder, some are well-known and some are unknown.  Many trace their teachings to figures like Ramana Maharishi, Shri Bhagavan Rajneesh (Osho), Swami Muktananda, or Paramahansa Yogananda.  Others have worked in Christian or Jewish traditions.

Currently, I understand that the real Guru is The Absolute Itself, as It manifests Itself in, as and through each one of us.  Sometimes, another person can be a terrific guide or teacher to us at a particular stage of growth.  Sometimes, we find someone whom we can trust and who can take us all the way to the ‘finish line’ of ‘waking up’ or ‘enlightenment.’

As I write about this now, my experience is that The Absolute Itself is in every human being, every creature, every object, every situation, every moment, and every location.  Therefore, All of Life can be our Guru.  I would encourage readers to look at every situation as an opportunity to learn from the Guru, in Its many forms.  There is often grace to be seen, if only we look.

May all who read this be encouraged on the path of awakening.

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The Peace that Passes Understanding

The Peace that Passes Understanding

In the Christian New Testament, we find reference to ‘the peace that passes understanding.’  When I was heavily involved in Christianity, I had an intellectual understanding of what this meant but, no visceral, actual experience of it.  It took ‘waking up’ through the Eastern spiritual traditions to really understand this Peace, since I didn’t find Christian mystics to lead me to it.

When ‘waking up’ happens, the ‘center of gravity’ of our experience shifts from the ego-mind to the Awareness that watches or registers the ego-mind arising.  I sometimes call this the Registrar; some call it The Witness.  This Registrar is effortlessly registering every thought, feeling, physical sensation, and sensory perception.  This Registrar is really another disguise, though, and doesn’t have a knowable identity.  Mystics and others call it by many names: Brahman, God, The Absolute, The Divine, The Radiant Darkness, and Emptiness being a few.

In spite of tumultuous circumstances (whether we call them ‘outer events’ or ‘inner turmoil’), The Absolute is always there registering everything that arises, sustains itself for a time, and passes away.  Once aware that I Am That, it’s clear that the deepest part of human beings isn’t all the fluctuations of life or body or mind but, The Absolute.  Knowing, intuiting and experiencing oneself to be the Absolute, is to sit in the Silent, Clear, Stillness that is doing all the registering of everything currently arising, whether pleasurable or painful.  It is to sit in the Eye of any storm, and to experience the essential Stillness of The Absolute.  This is the peace that passes understanding.

May all people who read this ‘wake up’ in this lifetime: it is possible!eye of storm peace passing understanding