The Opening Chapter

OK, so I dropped a few layers. I still have a personality, an ego structure, a history, and an opinion about things, but I am also less driven from those forces as I am driven from a place of awakening and now awareness.

My experience last week (with Ashamarae and my current beloved) wasn’t insight, or understanding a good career opportunity when I see one, or “letting go” of some thoughts that have been troubling me. My experience last week didn’t even take place exclusively last week, that particular string of moments was simply a more tightly concentrated connection of moments that lead to a nice “Aha!” discovery, but what was there to be “Aha’d” has been here all along and would be here even if I hadn’t noticed. Last week was simply one of the precious first moments where I let in some help to really pay attention, and so I did.

It came about because I’ve learned to practice – meditation, listening, feeling, compassion in a way that was at first self-serving and thankfully has begun to shift to being of service. It was the logical next step of learning to meditate, of awakening my energy body, of beginning to let in the truth that this idea of separateness is an illusion. It was the next gift after learning how to access what the Buddhist call the “God Realm,” come back to what we call the “Human Realm,” and notice that neither is the true reality. (And the also the same experience with the “Hell Realm.”

It was possible because I became willing to turn to face and walk straight into the thoughts and feelings that have been most compelling – be they extremely attractive compelling or extremely aversive compelling. So long as I was unwilling to think of myself as worthy of the beauty of those compelling ideas that were enticing me, so long as I believed myself too weak to experience those compelling ideas that were scaring me, I was driven by those ideas and was therefore less aware. One by one, as I’ve turned into and deconstructed those compulsions, they have dis-integrated. This brought me to the emptiness, to the question, to letting go of the argument with the question, or wanting to get the question right, or even believing that I’d ever get an answer to the question.

Now, the tiniest taste of awareness has come and it is like one of those life changes that is like jumping off a cliff. There is no going back, and only the faintest idea of what the landing place looks like. And although what I understand is vast and amazing, I have the deep knowing that I’ve got only the tiniest inkling of a clue here. It is just like the books and (non snake-oil salesmen) gurus say, only not at all like that. All of these things we say to describe what it is are metaphors. And there are 7 billion of us, each with a very unique configuration of personality, ego structure, history and opinions about things, so many many metaphors are needed. Pick your philosophy, pick your path, it is not important, the how. It isn’t even important that we all awaken, but wouldn’t it be great if we did?

I’m not entirely ready to share what my particular insight into the oneness is, partly because I am reluctant to sully it with words, but mostly because I understand it is the tiniest little insight that has had to be interpreted through my silly little human mind and when I describe it in words, I will get it 99% wrong. And because it isn’t important that you know what my awareness is, it is important that you know what your awareness is.

And also, it is important that you know that awareness is possible in this lifetime, even for a middle aged house wife so inclined most of her life in overthinking and senseless chatter.
So get to it, and if you want some encouragement, radical honesty, undefended love, compassion and empathy on your path, let me know.

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Getting out of my own way

I love this phrase: non-dualism. Seems the concept could be presented in a word that does not contain a negative, but I like the complexity, the way contemplating non dualism invites me to think more about what NOT to do. How often do we hear ourselves say “I have to work on…” even when we are referring to emotional or spiritual longings? No you don’t. You just have to stop doing the things that are bringing you pain and aggravation.

It’s not work, it’s removing layers. And maybe proximity to truth. The magnet always attracts, but if the iron is covered with rust, or too far from the magnet, that attraction can’t be felt. The sculptor often discusses removing what does not belong, the meditator seeing what is beneath the senseless chatter, the batter losing consciousness of everything except the ball. When I thought there wasn’t enough love in my life, it was because this story of scarcity I was carrying around was blocking my view. Put that down, and holy smokes– look at the richness! Step closer to the people who seem to understand this better than me, and wow! Letting go is by no means easy, but it isn’t work. It’s connection.

Because, for me, the invitation in spirituality is to wake up from the illusion of separateness and really grock connection. God isn’t “over there,” separate from the people. I am not some special thing separate from you, I am just like you, you the child-elder-lover-sage-evil doer. I am not even made of any different material than star dust. “Not separate” then leads to being one, with God and everything, and then right in that thought becomes pure annihilation of self, and facing THAT is the reason I avoided spiritual work, kept myself separate for so long.

Non-dualism also compels me to embrace a theology that connects me to spirit through others, rather than through piety to any specific lord, and I am finding myself feeling the edge of that. I feel a separateness from both the secular humanists who have no sense of spirit and the other folks who pray for the mercy of a God to grant them things. So there is a rub, right? This contemplation, is it itself an obstacle? A dear friend on the Sufi path has offered me beautiful, divine words in the forms of poetry and prayers, and I choke on the language… The Oh Lord I pray to Thee stuff. Does this mean I’m just not far enough on the path, or further? Or is it just that there are different paths for different people? Or is it that it loops around, and the monotheists who go deep enough find the truth that this thing they’ve been externalizing is everywhere, everyone, everything; and the more I explore Buddhist teachings, the more I will find myself using this God word metaphorically because it is easier than saying the universe?

Last night, I attended an event at a church where a beautiful woman transmitted divine light to the individuals in the room. I have no doubt she was transmitting… We all are, I have felt it, and some people are genuinely better at this. I’m sure she sent me some, and the opportunity was to be there for that. We weren’t worshipping her though, she was just one of us. We weren’t praying to any denominational god, and in fact the language was very specifically cleaned up to not be theistic. And yet I still found myself distracted by the singular focus of the room on her as tonight’s source. Her presence on stage and the movement in the room, and even the architecture clearly designed to foster the exhaultation to God, all were a distraction to my connection. I frankly came for kirtan, because it is specifically in the collective chanting that I feel most oneness. So I found this layer, this desire to be in the hive, blocked my engagement. Interesting lesson there.

Post-script. Just found this on SwamiJ.com… Apparently this dualism question is far from settled philosophy!

To debate or not debate: Some intellectuals will also debate furiously and endlessly about whether the ultimate nature of reality is dualistic or non-dualistic. Some will say that Purusha (as consciousness) and Prakriti (as matter) are eternally separate, and therefore, ultimate reality is dualistic. Others will argue that the two are ultimately seen to be one and the same, and ultimate reality is non-dualistic. However, the seeker of direct experience through the practices of Yoga need not enter these debates intensely. While there may be some value in reflecting on these principles, and maybe even forming a provisional opinion, what is far more important is to understand and actually do the practices. (See also the article, Dualism and Non-Dualism)