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Integration after Awakening: Deconstructing So-Called ‘Truths’

Integration After Awakening: Deconstructing so-called ‘Truths.’

Whathammer-sledgehammer-mallet-tool happens to you when it dawns on you that what you are is more than your mind and its ideas of itself?  When you discover the Awareness or Consciousness that you are, how does it change the way you live?

Since thoughts aren’t the interpreters of reality, they will become less important to you.  It could also become more obvious to you that they’re false.  Either they’re false because they’re only verbal representations of Reality, or they’re false because the thought itself is a lie, if examined closely.  Until the moment when you experience that Awareness is what you are, thoughts have been primary in their importance.  They define you, others, the world, and Reality.  Now they become open to testing and challenging.

“The stock market is going to crash today.”  There’s one thought that some might have been thinking just yesterday, when the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost over 400 points.  With that thought, there will likely have been a jolt of adrenaline and a very unpleasant bodily response.  However, was this thought really true?  No, the market’s going up right now, one day later.

“This coffee is too bitter” is a thought I just had drinking the decaf by my side while writing this post.  Okay but, what does ‘too bitter’ mean?  Isn’t it just a subjective opinion, rather than a truth that I need to defend?  Is the thought something that needs defending? No.

“I’m a nice guy” is another thought, and this time it’s a thought about my supposed fixed ‘self.’  However, it’s not always true, so why would I want to defend the thought when someone challenges it or thinks I’ve treated them badly?  Wouldn’t it be better to consider it just a description of a temporary set of behaviors, rather than the ‘truth’ about ‘me’?

Even the thought ‘human civilizations are only 10,000 years old and before that time, we were all hunter-gatherers’ which has been the basic premise of modern archeology and anthropology has already been proven false by the discovery of relics that date back hundreds of thousands of years.  So, is this academic thought absolutely true? No!

Once you understand that Awareness is the underlying truth of what you are, all other thought-based truths can be deconstructed.  In the end, we give up certainty about nearly everything…and it’s part of the deconstruction and dissolution of our false sense of self and everything else, that is the trajectory of the Enlightenment journey.

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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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Calm and Quiet?

Calm and QuietCalm and Quiet

Noise echoes relentlessly through modern lives.  There is the noise of machines, multitudes of people, and the “noise” of endless communication in a multitude of forms (text, email, voicemail, paging, pinging, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.).  However, in my experience, the worst “noise” is the noise of my own thoughts.

Thought is a wonderful slave but, an awful master.  Although it’s only a representation of reality, we treat it as if it were true.  We treat our own thoughts as Truth, and don’t question them.  We treat our “selves” as if they’re entirely composed of thoughts and don’t question that assumption.  We let our thoughts dictate how we feel, and they are  often the source of terrible suffering.  Has anyone ever suggested that you question your own thoughts?  That they might not be true?  That they might create suffering?

Before you get another day older, start asking yourself some questions:

  •  Am I my thoughts? If so, then who or what is aware of thought arising?
  •  Are my thoughts true? How do I know?
  •  Are my emotions based on the truth or on partial or total falsehoods composed of false thoughts?
  •  Do I want to live my life in the cacophonous drama of false thoughts and the false feelings they create?

Truth is your greatest ally.  If your thoughts are false, stop listening.  If they produce unnecessary emotional turmoil, stop believing them.  Find a way to move to internal calm and quiet (meditation helps!).  It’s worth the effort.

May all beings ‘wake up’ in this lifetime: it’s possible!

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Family of Human Beings

Family of Human Beings

When I was 16 years old in 1971, I had an answer to the first and ‘cheekiest’ prayer I ever prayed.  The prayer was ‘God, if you exist, create the miracle of getting me a scholarship to international high school  (6th Form, A Levels, International Baccalaureate level) in South Wales, U.K.’  I had originally been told that my parents were ‘too rich’ for me to qualify for a scholarship, though they had four children they had to educate and send to university.  After being accepted in April of that year, there was a postal strike, and I prayed the same prayer for another month until May 1st because there had been no word on the scholarship.  I found out that my prayer was answered then, when against all known odds I got the full tuition scholarship.  This led directly to becoming a believer in a Higher Power immediately afterwards.

Because the international school (United World College of the Atlantic) had students from over 50 countries, including all inhabited continents and even some from countries ruled by communist governments (in 1971 during the so-called Cold War, this was a rare privilege), I came to see that whatever country we are from, we are all human beings.  In fact, because we were put in common circumstances in a new place, all of us formed lasting bonds in spite of having different religions, ethnicities, currencies, and languages.

Though I was narrowly sectarian in my own religious views at the time, even this fact didn’t keep me from becoming friends with many of other faiths.  Now, 45 years later, I still long for communication and communion with people from all over the world, and am finding it by meeting people on Facebook.

I am amazed that we are able to speak to each other so openly about ‘waking up,’ ‘enlightenment,’ and the spiritual journey.  I’m also deeply delighted to again feel part of the Family of Human Beings.  Writing these posts and meeting people from all over the world on Facebook has made life richer by far, in a few short weeks.

Today’s little bit of writing is just to say ‘thank you’ for one more thing I’m grateful for: the family of all human beings that are now speaking together about spiritual Truth.  My experience is that we are each, individually, The Absolute Itself in form.  My hope is that these writings help all readers to uncover this for themselves.  May we continue our open dialog until all realize Who is the Origin and Who is continuing to come into a multitude of forms as The Family of Human Beings.

May all Human Beings who read this awaken in this lifetime: it is possible (and wonderful)!

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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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Thoughts and Feelings are Real: The ‘Self’ They Seem to Produce Is Not

Thoughts and Feelings are Real: The ‘Self’ They Seem to Produce Is Not

My own awakening was facilitated by a school that, as small as it was, split into two factions a few years back.  In the school, we were taught that we didn’t need to perfect the ego in order to awaken, we just had to see THROUGH it to the Ground of Being that we truly are, in order to awaken. Then we could integrate the Pure Awareness with ego, thought, others and the world.

I’ve gone back to write on one or two of that school’s FB pages and I incur disagreement with my premise that the ‘ego’ is not real.  After all, people say, thoughts are feelings are real, although temporary and ephemeral.  They do occur within the inner space of the bodymind.  I have no essential disagreement with that or with the appearance of 3D reality.  If I cut my finger, I will bleed, after all.

I do disagree with the premise that because thoughts and feelings are real, the ‘ego’ they create is somehow real and permanent, and with the premise that the ego holds an essential and fixed identity.  My own personal experience is that the personal story winds down and basically disappears over time.

Literally, one day I was walking the dog on the usual tree-lined road and realized ‘I am not thinking about problems anymore; I am not my problems.’  A few years later I was able to watch the whole ego identity arise around a mind-generated problem and then pass away as soon as I questioned the basis of that problem and that ego  After that occurred, I began to understand that what’s left after the transformation that began with the first awakening to Awareness is Awareness Itself. Awareness is then free to spontaneously produce action, thought, emotion, speech, response, relationships, creative projects or whatever it wants through the vehicle of this bodymind that it also is.

To call that spontaneous expression of Awareness a ‘self’ and treat it like it is a fixed ‘entity’ that needs to be protected and defended with certain words is both erroneous in the great Enlightenment traditions and in my own experience.  To cling to ego as important or worthy of being defended is understandable but, seems to be ‘halfway up the mountain.’  Go further.

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

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Worthy or Unworthy?

Worthy or Unworthy?

Whether I’m working with clients coming to me for psychological help, spiritual help or both, I notice a consistent pattern: everyone feels and believes themselves to be essentially unworthy.  On an ego level this is usually because they’ve started to notice themselves and feel inferior in comparison to others, or because someone in authority over them keeps telling them they’re bad or wrong or awful or ugly or stupid or immoral or _______________________________  (fill in the blank with almost any negative quality).

Since I often work with people who’ve been severely traumatized (due to physical, sexual, or emotional abuse and/or some type of neglect), the emotional and verbal degradation is often accompanied by actual injury to the body.  When injury is added to insult, the client feels especially unworthy, often to the point of wanting to die by suicide.

On a psychological level, I work with such clients by demonstrating that it is the abuser who is primarily and essentially bad, and wrong, not the abused.  I also help them to accurately assess their attributes during therapy, to notice their strengths, strengthen areas in which they need improvement, and learn from their mistakes.

However, if people are stable enough to go deeper, we look at what is considered the spiritual dimension. In that dimension, my observation is that this prevalent feeling of unworthiness is because everyone knows that their ‘individual self’ is made up of the chattering thoughts in their heads and the emotions that those thoughts produce.  Somewhere within our body-mind we are aware that there is no substance to this ‘individual self’ since it ceases to exist whenever we stop thinking (or when others stop talking or writing about us or to us).  Therefore, we ‘know’ it’s insubstantial nature, and so are always feeling it’s unworthiness as a smokescreen for the real problem:  the ‘individual self’ doesn’t exist as anything but a mirage.  If that is so, we don’t KNOW what we are without further inquiry, but we know we’re not the ‘individual self.’

Even if people can psychologically understand that they are essentially neither worthy nor unworthy, just existing (I AM) as a neutral entity that can think, say, or do ‘good’ or ‘bad’ things, there is still an underlying question.  Is there a ‘self’ that needs to be seen as ‘worthy’ or ‘neutral’ or ‘unworthy?’  Or, is it truer to say there is no individual self at all?  This question “what is the ‘me’?” is the essential question in self-inquiry.

May all beings 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!