So one of my favorite topics currently is the unfoldment of the awakening process, the signposts and markers along the way as the whole “me” identity falls away. Given that more and more people are awakening, this provides us with a deeper recognition of how the human ego based in separation has been constructed in the mind (the fall of man), as well as the undoing of all that (awakening). We get to see it happen again and again, more and more, from a variety of perspectives. The following is a post by Tom Thompson. He published this on facebook and many of the spiritual traps he pointed out cracked me up. Been there, done that, basically… (By the way, Hotei is the Laughing Buddha or the Fat Buddha. You know.. the one you’ll often see in Chinese restaurants. ) With Tom’s permission, I am sharing his essay here with you guys.
Realization is sudden. The fruit ripens slowly, but falls suddenly and without return.
This awakening process seems to include a lot of different experiences and stages and fluctuations, many of which I don’t expect or even plan. One such thing is that I’m losing the desire to debate things with people or even explain what things are like. Its value seems to be quite limited. There’s more value in being the space for awakeness than in trying to do something to help “make it” happen, as if that was even possible.
I used to think that if I could illustrate things well enough to people, it would encourage them to quit seeking the illustrations by satisfying that search, but that desire can’t be satisfied through explanation.
With respect to words, it seems that they are of most value when they help cut through the mind, to help stop its unconscious patterns in its tracks so that Truth can be seen. I don’t mean that thought needs to stop altogether, but there is conditioning of the mind that most of us are completely oblivious to. It is by cutting through our unconscious conditioning that the veil it creates falls away.
When someone sees the Truth, sharing about our mutual experiences is a total blast. We can sit and speak for hours and hours on end, just sharing about our different perspectives of the One and what all has been experienced thus far along the way, and we both seem to grow and expand through this process.
When someone wants to come up and debate or argue about spirituality with me even the slightest, I feel my desire to take part in that discussion completely washing away. It’s like the desire to engage in that energy whatsoever is being flushed out. I can see that in arguing, they’re looking to strengthen their ideas and beliefs about spirituality, not actually see the Truth. It’s a subtle but critical distinction and is the basis for that classic story about “How can your teapcup be filled with something new if it is already full of old ideas?”
When someone asks what awakening is like, in this moment I’d rather simply tell them to listen to the silence than focus upon whatever words I could say. I can’t possibly explain awakening to anyone. Heck, even if I could, it still wouldn’t be sufficient! Silence is far more instructive, despite the appearance of there being “nothing there” in silence. The guru is within and it is always available.
The Wearing Out of Mental Dominance
Now I know this isn’t satisfying to the mind. It’s really not. It’s why we’re told to “be still” or “listen to the silence” or “focus on the I Am” and yet we continue asking, seeking, reading, and wanting to know. We want that which satisfies the mind, not that which will actually take us beyond it. I know… it’s a dilemma that so many of us face. It’s almost like the mind comes with some built-in programming that says “What you want is outside of you.” This is very normal. We want what satisfies the mind at first, at least until we get a lot of mental satisfaction and we discover for ourselves that that alone simply is not satisfying.
It seems that this desire for mental satisfaction has to eventually wear itself out, and life is wonderful in helping us come to this space. I remember Adyashanti once making a crack about telling people to run and run towards the Truth, as if what they’re seeking is right around the next corner.
When the seeker exhausts itself and the energy of seeking collapses, what is already HERE is revealed to be the golden nugget.
The Truth is what you are, not something other than you to be found.
So, enlightenment. Two of its main selling points (heh) are the end of suffering and the recognition that all is one.
Yet what I’ve found in my own experience as well as in speaking with others is that it’s possible to be in a state of Oneness while simultaneously experiencing suffering. Wait… what?
It was really confusing to see this and somewhat disheartening to be honest, as if the whole enlightenment thing ain’t all it’s cracked up to be. Clearly there’s something off with this whole Oneness thing!
Sage Sarojini recently started up a blog and in it she addresses several of the difference between Oneness and Realization. Check out her explanation for more information. In her post she differentiates between the two and points out that the fear of ‘Nothingness’ is often the barrier between Oneness and Realization. This fear I will be addressing in the next blog post.
Until then, I’d just like to bring up the idea that there’s more to this journey than seeing that “we are all one.”
So the usual definition of enlightenment would include something along the lines of seeing reality as it actually is in its undivided state, seeing the One in the All, returning to one’s natural state of unity rather than separation, recognizing your true nature to be present moment awareness, or quite simply being who you really are.
To add another perspective to the mix, let’s look at Abraham-Hicks’ definition of enlightenment, which is basically being a blended being and being in the vortex by aligning to the energy of Source energy, but not necessarily in every moment of every day. This is somewhat different than the Advaita, Zen, and Buddhist perspectives of enlightenment.
There’s this idea that once you’re enlightened, you will no longer experience any negative emotion and you will be in a place of permanent happiness, and yet what I have from my own experience (which was very confusing at first), from those I have talked to, and even from well-known teachers like Adyashanti, Papaji, Mooji, Nisargadatta, and numerous other enlightened teachers, it’s not about a lasting experience of happiness or peace, but recognizing the well-being that is present from the eternal Self that you are, regardless of any emotional state.
In the video above, Abraham points out that while the well-being of Source is eternal and unchanging, the experience of that and the manifestation of that here in this time/space reality is not how any of us are designed to live our lives in physical form. We’re designed to experience the contrast as a way to continue the unfoldment of creating. By seeing what we don’t want, that helps us know what we do want and thus can be used as a positive way, even if the focusing on what we don’t want takes us out of the vortex momentarily. To experience the negative emotions that result from that is very much okay. It’s by design. It’s not a sign of failure or not being spiritual or enlightened enough. It’s just a sign that thoughts are arising within us in the moment that are out of alignment with Source energy/Love/Truth. That’s ALL.
It’s easy to get into a discussion about nonduality, consciousness, awareness, oneness, and all these topics which to me honestly feel kinda heavy at this point to talk about. Very seri0us almost.
And yet what I’m coming to find is the more I surrender, let go, reach for thoughts that feel better, perform self-inquiry, do some releasing work like The Sedona Method or The Work, or allow things to be as they are, which are all basically ways to release the ego’s resistance to what is which is the foundation for the separate self that for so long has been a part of the human experience, the more I both expand my awareness of All That Is (the light and the dark) as well as discover this eternal bliss that is always present, and the more I live life as an expression of and celebration of joy and love. Heck, I find myself just not really caring about “enlightenment” anymore and instead enjoy living this life experience in this moment, here and now, fully as I AM.
What is being discovered is that, as so many masters have said, YOU are the point, YOU are the Divine, and the Kingdom of God is within YOU. YOU are the gift. YOU are what you have been looking for. The I AM is IT!! Just to BE what you ARE is already a tremendous blessing, and to be that in living expression by having this life experience which allows us to both know and EXPERIENCE who we really are… MAN that’s so good… That’s grounding the spiritual energy into the physical, uniting the up here with down here, and bringing heaven down to earth as is often said. And so the point is just to enjoy the love that is you, the joy that is you, the well-being that is you, here and now. EnJOY it! In Joy.
“If you really want enlightenment, just lighten up!”
True Enlightenment is moving to the rhythm of the internal inspiration that is coming in response to the individual desire.
Enlightenment is allowing my connection to the Source that is me for the fulfillment of the things that I have individually defined in my time/space reality. That’s as good as it gets, you see.
We can talk about going with the flow, and from a place of Oneness, there is only the flow of life. There are no separate parts, just this one harmonious flow of many apparent individuals. To paraphrase the Sufi poet Rumi, you are the entire ocean, and the entire ocean is contained in each drop, expressing itself as each drop. We can allow everything to be as it is and find that there’s this natural intuitive movement within us to flow this way or that, as if we have an inner sense of what the next step is and how to respond spontaneously in any moment. No rules. Just natural flow. Simple. Light. Ease.
So when you heard about spiritual awakening or enlightenment, what was the prize that you wanted in the end? What was the story that got you hooked?
Perhaps it was something about experiencing endless bliss and joy, or maybe it was the end of suffering, or perhaps it was about experiencing constant Oneness with the Divine. Maybe it was the answer to all your life’s questions.
It may be something else entirely, but whatever the case may be, I’m sure the bait was very shiny and attractive, yes?
It turns out that they don’t give you the full story when you start playing the game. What I’m about to share isn’t meant to discourage people on the path, but simply to help them be conscious if and when these things start occurring. These things don’t necessarily mean that something has gone wrong, although it may certainly seem that way. A helpful book to those who are experiencing the following symptoms is You’re Not Going Crazy… You’re Just Waking Up!
Now, if spiritual awakening was to come with a series of warning labels, what would be printed on those labels?
Today I had the absolute pleasure of speaking with spiritual teacher and intuitive healer, Matt Kahn. The two of us have been checking out each others’ work on facebook and occasionally speaking online, but it wasn’t until today that we got together and really talked. He’s been getting these intuitive nudges to speak with me, (Thank you, Julie!!) and our discussion was nothing short of AMAZING. We spoke over the phone for about an hour (Edit: Not 2 1/2 hours. I was wrong… time really flies!) while he compassionately guided me beyond my current sticking points, showed me exactly what I was unable to see, and intuitively brought up ideas and insights that were exactly what I needed to hear when I needed to hear them. It was quite literally as if each topic, each sentence, and each WORD was custom tailored to my particular regarding awakening, much deeper than the generic “Who’s the one who’s asking the question? Just surrender. Be still. Observe it.” You know, the typical stuff that we Advaita-heads like to say.
For example, I’ve been pretty into the whole non-dual, no self, awareness is aware… thing. He came in out of left field and recontextualized all of that. It’s not that he invalidated it by any means, but rather I’d been so focused upon that that I couldn’t see my way out. It had become so much my spiritual dogma (not exactly, but I can’t think of a better word) that it was actually becoming a hindrance to moving on. Everything that we pick up we must eventually let go of. If you ARE a guy, do you need to run around telling everyone that you’re a guy? No, of course not. It’s clear. You just live it. Plain and simple. Similarly, the Truth is ultimately what you ARE, not what you say.
“You are not the one who speaks the truth, you are the truth that speaks.”
See, even when we experience something directly, it’s easy for the mind to subtly turn that into a teaching or a belief system and say, “Ah, THIS is the Truth! Look at all these quotes by enlightened gurus talking about this and that! They know what’s up too! This MUST be the correct perception of Reality!” Is that really so different than evangelical Bible thumpers who claim their words are “the right” words? Rather than allowing the teachings to simply be a confirmation of the Truth of what you ARE, they become a substitute for it and what we cling to. It’s the classic case of, “The finger pointing to the moon is not the moon,” example #346.
I would love to share with you what we talked about as well as my experience in the discussion. We discussed a TON, and not in an overwhelming sense, but in an abundant and full and complete way. However, when I started writing this stuff out, I quickly realized that it’d be like 18 million pages long, soooo I’d rather not…
Instead, lemme give you guys a taste of some of the amazing topics we discussed:
We may think that enlightenment is something to be attained or achieved, somewhere we arrive. Perhaps it’s a state, an experience, or a goal, and the mind likes this notion for it helps the mind “wrap itself around” this idea of enlightenment. But enlightenment is none of that. It goes beyond all of that. What enlightenment actually is has nothing to do with your ideas about it. NOTHING.
When you see through the appearance of everything in all its different forms, you see the singular essence that everything actually is which is really… nothing. EVERYTHING is This One Being… whatever “This” is. What words can we use for This? Presence? God? Spirit? Tao? Whatever… it’s nameless. No name works. No name could ever adequately come close to describing This.
The word “ice cream” does a better job of pointing to what ice cream is than the word “God” does towards pointing towards God. Ice cream at least has properties, characteristics, and qualities we can describe and understand. The essence of God unmanifest is formless, propertyless, boundless, limitless, and nameless. It just is, and not much more can be said about it.
When you see that everything is This Essence and there is nothing else other than This One Presence, then whatever the heck a supposed “enlightenment” is must by default also be This. So is unenlightenment. Heaven is This. Hell is This. Duality is This. Non-duality is This. Everything is This.
Our concepts and understandings of things, such as enlightenment, are set aside, allowing the purity of what enlightenment actually attempts to point to rise up to the forefront.
Despite appearances in the world of the relative, the concepts of enlightenment/unenlightenment are just yet another illusory duality created in the mind, two concepts that both ultimately are the same one Essence, despite the very different way they may manifest in physical form. It is only in this world of make-believe that we see differences amongst the One.
The further we fall into the silence of the unmanifest, the more clearly we tend to recognize that everything is This, whatever the heck this mysterious nameless This is. Progressively we drop all our notions of something as opposed to something else as if THIS were enlightenment and NOT that, despite the world’s manifestation of enlightened people and unenlightened people.
There is only this one non-thing Here. There is nothing else. What room does that leave for enlightenment?
What the heck is enlightenment? Just another concept flowering within this oneness/nothingness/everythingness… another concept to ultimately be dropped from the realm of “things I take seriously” and added to “just a convenient way of talking about things” the same way we drop the idea of sunrise as “the sun literally rising in the sky” and see it as “the earth turning around its axis, giving the appearance of the sun rising in the sky from the limited perspective of a person standing on the earth.”
When everything is discovered to be the One, who needs enlightenment anymore? Even enlightenment can be let go of.
Once upon a time, long long ago, in the time before time, which is not so long ago since this time we speak of is Now, there lived a vast empty space.
This space existed everywhere, all at once, simultaneously. It was omni-present. Yet it had no substance or form to point to that we could say it is “here” as opposed to “there.” Indeed, it existed nowhere. There is nowhere we could really point to to say there it is, for it existed in no location, and yet it was undeniably here.
One day the nothingness of space wanted to create matter, a non-thing creating a thing, but it was puzzled with the idea of how it could put matter somewhere given that it was already everywhere. “Ah,” it realized, “I may be everywhere, but there is nothing here to prevent matter from taking up this same space where I am. I love this matter so much that I want it to be right here with me, so close that the two of us will actually be one. It may look like there is matter over here and space over there, but if you look close enough, you’ll see that matter is actually mostly empty space. I may look to be outside of matter, but I’m actually deeply embedded within matter as well… the sweetest and most intimate kiss imaginable. Form will be infused with space, inseparable from it. We can talk about space and matter, but they’re really both me. Ah, what joy. I’ll have a playmate to play with that will actually be me, taking the form of something else. What a glorious game this will be!”
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