Try asking the simple question ‘What is the Awareness looking out through my eyes?’ The transformation that’s possible is astounding.
After awakening, in 2001, I remember standing at the corner of 43rd and 10th Avenue in NYC outside of La Madeleine, waiting to go into a birthday party for a friend. I asked myself where the limits were to the Consciousness or Awareness? I had recently discovered Awareness was the real truth to my ‘true nature.’ For a long while that afternoon, it seemed as if the back of my head had opened up and try as I could, I couldn’t find the spatial ‘ending’ of Consciousness or Awareness. It was as if the whole of the Infinite Universe were peering through my eyes at 43rd street! It was amazing and also frightening.
“What will happen to the small ‘me’ if this is really the truth? I wondered. In the meantime, a well-known singer got out of a limousine to go into the party and said to me ‘I’ll have what you’re having’ because my condition looked so enticing to her. In spite of her recognition, the experience actually frightened me so badly that I avoided repeating it again for months.
On our vacation at home this week, I’ve read two books that describe the initial awakening and what happens afterwards. The first topic is aptly introduced in a book by Fred Davis called The Book of Undoing. He’s got some simple exercises to discover the truth about what everyone is looking for when they begin to be a spiritual seeker….to actually experience Awareness. We’re deluded into looking outside of ourselves for Enlightenment/Awareness/the Divine, when actually it’s the Divine Itself that’s looking out of us. Fred’s book is a great reminder of that truth.
The second book, which I had given away and then bought again, was Adyashanti’s The End of Your World. Adya (who is my current guide to the eddies of Enlightenment) answers the question that I posed to myself in 2001. The small ‘me’ actually dissolves over many years after the initial awakening for most people, including this ‘me’ called Jonathan. Some lucky few, like Eckhart Tolle, may see the whole of the small ‘me’ dissolve upon the initial awakening. For the rest of us…it’s a long and difficult slog.
This journey is the ego-process or small ‘me’ being worn threadbare by the constant challenges which it gets from the Awareness that so engulfs and marginalizes it. Life happens and we discover that our old patterns of thought, emotion and physical life are not: helpful, needed, truthful, nor even useful. We continue to practice self-inquiry by asking ‘is this thought absolutely true?’ and many of the patterns dissolve by being seen as LIES! We are not our thoughts, physical sensations, feelings, and not even our habit of ‘freaking out’ when we (I, in this case) see a new roll of fat on our body. What a relief!
However, I have to admit that at first, I clung to those old patterns. Did ‘I’ exist without them? No! In fact, when I read Loving What Is by Byron Katie in 2005, I threw it at the sofa opposite and said ‘this must be bull!’ She was propounding the view that I create my own suffering by believing the world shouldn’t be as it is, and by believing that my thoughts about reality are true. At the time I thought, ‘you lying piece of….you’re telling me that I’M CREATING my own suffering? And I’ve been doing it all these years (I was about 51 at the time)? Damn you, if I’m gonna’ believe THAT!’
When I thought about it, though, I realized that she was right. 99% of my suffering came from the false identity that my ego-process created out of false thoughts and the negative, contracted, feelings that the thoughts created in me. Then I understood that if I practiced ‘thought-busting’ as I call it, I could reduce my daily suffering significantly. I conceded that it was better to be wrong (with regard to Byron Katie’s views), than to continue suffering for the REST of my life. What kind of idiot would choose continued suffering, just so I can avoid admitting I was wrong?!
Over the last dozen years, I put Byron Katie’s method into practice with amazing results. In doing so, I was unconsciously cooperating with the process the awakening started in the first place! My identity with the thought-and-feeling-patterns that made up my ego, diminished over time with this simple spiritual practice. And, after discovering significantly dissociated childhood trauma and all of the negative thought/feeling patterns that trauma had created in me, I began using ‘thought busting’ on everything I discovered. It became an automatic impulse to question everything, and still is. I can tell you that this IS what creates the transformation or purification of the original ego-oriented person. That person turns into the person oriented to an identity as Awareness. (It’s also indispensable for helping other people heal from trauma, and in its form as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, is one of the most well-proven method of psychology when working with thought-feeling patterns.)
Try it and tell me what you experience.