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A Dialogue on Awakening.... part 1

walkingtohappiness I love reading the comments here on Life 2.0, although you probably wouldn't think it given the time it sometimes takes me to respond.  As of today I'm giving up responding via a comment to those comments that beg a longer response, because it takes me too long.  I guess I've come to know what  Blaise Pascal  meant when he said,  “If I had more time, I would  have written a shorter letter.”  Instead, I'm going to respond to these with a blog post... starting with this one.  This way the good stuff (which always seems to come from you) doesn't get buried, and it also makes responding  a little easier for me.

Tatiana asked three really good questions about 'enlightenment' in her comment on the post,  'The Wisdom to Know Nothing'.  These are questions that I have asked my Self in the past, and when I did, I took notes.  So, by way of response, I've attempted to cobble together those notes into some semblance of order here. 

In doing this, there's a caveat:  I find that learning is an experiential thing, and these are notes from  my  experience.  So the only advice I can really give is to believe nothing, but try anything you feel drawn to.  Having said that if anything here triggers an insight for you then that will make my day :)

I am also aware (and slightly embarrassed) that what follows sounds a bit 'preachy' -- as though I were some sort of authority on these things, which I certainly am not.  I try to get out of my own way when talking about things that push the edges of what I've learnt, but in doing so the result is not always as I expect.

Tatiana's three questions (paraphrased heavily) are: 

     Do we need a guru or teacher?,    How do you remain peaceful in a world full of horrors?  and,   How to handle those huge emotional triggers that can cause us to crash violently to the ground?

Taking each question in turn:
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TEACHERS

Tatiana:... if we are all enough, if our very own being is ALL that IS, etc. then why is there such a big Buddhist tradition of a guru being the light and the way and some teachings require the student to receive shaktipat?  Is it a matter of giving some people what they need?  i.e. if you believe you need a guru, one will help you, if you don't - he won't"

Although I'm a sucker for a good quotation, I tend to shy away from the whole teachers, gurus and traditions thing, for several reasons. 

First, it seems to be a part of human nature to take any teacher or teaching that moves us, and make it 'the answer', instead of looking at whatever it is that they were pointing to.  Basho's advice to "Do not  seek to follow in the footsteps of the men of old; seek what they sought"  seems a better way to me. 

Second, it seems that the closer you get to the roots of all the great philosophies the more they converge towards a common truth.  So why not just let the truth they point to be our guide?  We can do this by being open to everything that comes our way... and If something resonates then let it move us... if it doesn't then don't.  This leads me to the final reason:  I've never yet found a teaching that can surpass the guidance that comes from within us.

That is not to see to see that teachers and traditions are not useful.  They are.  If our intention is to get to the truth then this decision alone brings us all the help we need to bring that about, in a form that we can relate to.

What I am suggesting is that we do not judge one method better or more advanced than another, but instead, honour where we are in every moment.  It's impossible that we are supposed to be somewhere that we are not...  and it's in coming to accept this idea that we recognise that there is nowhere holier than where we are right now.  We spend many lifetimes in soul searching, pursuing self-improvement and striving for something better, but we never find what we are after until we call off the search.  It is in the immediacy of this moment that perfection is found.  This requires nothing because You are already It.  It's just a case of opening our eyes to see...

Freedom comes at the moment we are willing to look upon our own divinity, and there are many teaching that can take us to this point.  The measure of their usefulness is the help they give in seeing how we still resist this.  So how we get to this water's edge doesn't really matter, does it?  But the final step is one that has to be taken alone..  and is the act of letting go of attachment to all our beliefs, practices, idols, teachers... to  become Self-reliant, and discover the perfection of our Self in this moment. 

Who would I be without my beliefs?  Most of us don't even dare to go there, do we?  But this is exactly where our treasure lies... in the one place we never consider looking.  So the point I have tried to make in previous posts is this:  Any teaching or journey is good if it help us to let go of our resistance to resting in the  Flow of our Self, but the  idea  that a journey is necessary comes from the ego, and it this idea that keeps us in chains.  Why a journey?  Why wait?

Receptive, open, awareness is our natural state;  and so to simply be Who we Are must be, by definition, the easiest and most natural thing of all.  Yet what the ego does is demand a formula or practice or teacher to help us do this.  This need to practice or embark on a journey of some sort, is actually the very denial that we are  'ALL that IS', as you put it Tatiana.  But the truth is never lost to us:  What the ego presents as  'good intentions', the Self recognises quite clearly as delaying tactics.

It can only be the ego that feels the need to become enlightened because the reality of Who we Are already is.  So where is the joy when we operative from this belief that we 'need' to wake up?   The truth of who we are is already awake.  And as we relax into this (in ant moment we choose), it is expressed...  It shines true and is recognised.  The belief that this is difficult or obscure is what the mind holds up to hide the real issue -- the ego's refusal to accept the simplicity of this.  Relax and enjoy our Self, and the rest takes care of itself.

Note....  I'm not familiar with the term 'Shaktipat' and I don't know a lot about the Buddhist tradition but there is a friend that does.  Perhaps you could answer if you read this Wade.
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HORRORS.

Tatiana:... in an earlier post you said enlightenment is achieved when nothing becomes unacceptable, so... how do you find horrors acceptable?..."

The 'nothing unacceptable' reference is to the time I asked a wise man when was it that we become fully awakened.  The reply I got was,  "when you find nothing that is unacceptable".  To me, this answer was both shocking and discouraging because I could never imagine myself doing that.  Until the day that is, that I saw that everything in my life,  including everything I had resisted, had been perfect in bringing me to the point of where I was willing to stop trying to manage and control anything -- to become still...  and then recognise the source of our joy and power that arises in this stillness.  The great irony was seeing that this was both the understanding and the solution to all those things that I could never imagine accepting.  I saw in that moment that Life was only a process of waking up to the recognition of who we really Are -- to this reality that is forever untouched by any horror.

So for me, the meaning of 'to find nothing unacceptable' is to become totally defenseless, totally non-resistant to all of life, exactly as it is.  Instead of standing in judgement or resisting anything that comes to my mind, or presents itself as either a challenge, or a positive or negative experience... stand before it and ask my real Self to help me see why.

To 'find nothing that is unacceptable' is to live without grievances.  But aren't grievances justified? 

It's impossible to hold a grievances and experience reality, or Love, because holding grievances is really an elaborate defence against the awareness of Reality.  By projecting our fears onto the world, they are never seen as our own and therefore their source is never brought to question.  What we then 'see' is a cruel world that 'confirms' the justification of our feelings, and that we can conveniently assert that we are not responsible for. 

We can't change what we would attack, and defence is a form of attack.  But only the powerless feel the need to do this.  What the ego sees as 'wrong', our Self sees as effects and then looks past appearances to look at the cause -- a case of mistaken self-identify -- and then responds naturally to this call for love.  Healing can only happen at this level -- at the level of cause. 

There can be no doubt that the world we 'see' is a world of devastation --  one big food chain with added entertainment to help us forget our ultimate fate, no?  It would be silly to attempt to deny this.  But perception is projection not fact... and that  we can change.  Projected outside, the cruel world seem unquestionably real until we look within and see where this vision arises from.  It is the effect of believing the ego's thought system -- a manifestation of the human condition.  But what our Self shows us, is that these thoughts are not true.  In fact there is no 'outside', it is only a perception... and perceptions are never a problem  because we can change them.   But we never know this while ever we defend against it, rationalise it or try to understand it, because by doing so we blind ourselves to cause and make effects seem real.

Like a river, the Flow of experiences in our life lifts us free of the belief that we are a separate, and therefore a victim of a cruel world that seems to be located 'outside' of us.  As we become non-resistant and allow this flow to lift us we start to see that this perception is, in fact, a nightmare of our own making.  But just as our instinct in a fast flowing river is to resist the flow, when we try to resist the things we judge bad and maintain control over the things we want to keep, life appears cruel and out to destroy us.  But as soon as we relax and let go, we see that is not true -- the Flow of Life is our friend.  It is wholly benevolent.  It delights to lifts us and set us free.

So how do we become defencelessness while we still look upon a world that appears so untrustworthy, unjust and cruel? 

We can do this by choosing to become Self reliant, and trusting, wholly trusting, that what flows from our Self can only reflect it's Source.  Truth dispels lies and Love begets love... and that's all we really need.  Mind can only serve and the choice is between these two -- the ego (a thought system based on an sickly self-perception) and our real Self.[3]   What we then see, think and do simply reflects this choice.

While ever we take arms against a sea of troubles  it appears that we are a victim of a untrustworthy and often cruel world.  But we have the ability to step back from this perception and allow our Self to show us the world in new light.  'Horrors' are no longer a problem when we recognise our Self as the answer because that goes with us.  It is impossible to bring light to darkness and darkness still prevail.  To do this is to cast love upon the world instead of fear.  Change the inner script and the outer play must follow. 

CRASHES

Tatiana:... what if you're busy cultivating the ability to be in the present moment, in a non-judgemental way and are enjoying the flow, when 'bam!' a huge emotional trigger slaps you in the face.  For me it's animal rights,  and every so often a story will float along of animal cruelty, or abuse, etc. and try as I might, I CRASH violently to the ground, all loving feelings  (which are still feeble at best) gone with the wind."

There's a great temptation when we 'crash' or feel we have come up short, to feel disappointed and perhaps beat ourselves up... but this just compounds the problem by adding another layer of fearful thinking.  To resist unwanted thoughts and feelings is to get drawn into the ego's game, and this can only lead to frustration.  What we resist persists.

So here's a gentler way:

Fear, in any form, can only be overcome by it's opposite.  So what could be a more effective or happier way than to actually welcome the ego's shinanigins with open arms?  To bring love the ego seems a strange idea at first, but there is a way to look upon these emotional triggers as gifts.  Instead of being dismayed when they hit, we can smile and let each one be an opportunity to see the pattern in it's true light, choose to let it go, and then relax even more deeply into the flow of our Self.  There's no need to go digging in the past to discover the root of our problem, or differentiate between different types of suffering.  It's enough to acknowledge that this no longer serves any purpose for us; and simultaneously recognise that we have the ability, in this moment, to choose differently.

To look at the ego through the eyes of love is to cut it at it's root, by exposing the lie that underpins it's whole thought system.  The Love within us has power to demonstrate quite clearly that we are not separate from the rest of  life, that the body's limits are not our own, and that there is nothing about the reality of who we are that is not constituted wholly of Love.  By disproving the central tenet on which the ego rests, it's thought system can no longer be sustained.  It collapses simply because it is impossible for anyone to believe a lie once it has been exposed.  To tease the Oneness from just one sublime moment is enough to do this.

A lie needs constant maintenance less it be seen for what it is, and so the ego mind never really rests.  Even in sleep it is vigilant to maintain it's guard in case we fall still enough to see through it's nothingness.  It would rather wake us from our slumber with a sudden jolt than have us become too relaxed and recognise our own Divinity. 

So giving advice on what to do to overcome the ego is very tricky, because 'doing' is what we do to resist the awareness of who it is that's doing the doing, if you see what I mean.  What we are talking about is an acceptance of what already is, and that requires no doing, no effort... just a relaxing into.  And there is no way to tell anyone 'how' to relax - to simply be who you Are.  'How' is how we resist this awareness.

But perhaps I can help a little with our unwillingness to do this.  Seeing what we do 'do' to resist this awareness can be useful.  So here's a little 3 step thought-kata that may help in becoming clear:

Honesty

Love, by it's very nature, can only enter where it is welcome... and so the obvious precondition for experiencing the flow of our Self in our day-to-day activities is to actually  want it.  Of course, we all believe we want to experience flow, serendipity and love in our life.  But if we look a little closer we see we rarely do. 

Love is it's own reward and has it's own agenda but usually we want it for something else -- a better career, to fix up our relationships, resolve our financial problems, find a soul-mate...  and so on.[4]  We don't want a different cause so much as we want better effects.  But of course, whenever we impose our own agenda (by holding expectations) we veil the very guidance and love that we seek.

The great irony here is that when we do surrender to Love's Will we discover there is nothing that the separate 'me' wants that ever really satisfies anyway.  This is because while ever we believe we are separate we are miserable and suffer.  Love's Will is for us to discover the real happiness, power and safety inherent in our connection to all of life.  So in reality, Love's Will is actually our own (free) will.  And when we recognise that everything changes...  we see our Free Will working to perfection in every aspect of our life.

To know what we do  want all that's needed is to notice where our attention goes, because attention always goes to what we find most interesting.  This is the first step -- honesty -- the willingness to no-longer deceive ourselves about what it is we want.

Clarity

The key to motivation (and ending procrastination) is not discipline, effort or positive thinking, it is clarity -- getting clear about what we really want.  We never have a problem doing that which we love, do we?

So the trick is not to get embroiled in a battle with the ego... not to resist unwanted thoughts and feelings;  but each time they hit to remind ourselves what we really want, and to turn to our Self for help with this, because it's only love that overcomes it's opposite. 

The question to ask our Self therefore is,  "What do I really want?"

And then when we've asked the question we need to get out of our own way, because this is a question that can only be answered by inspiration.  It's our real Self, not the ego, that gives us certainty.  To know, be willing to be still and listen -- create a little space and quiet time in which to hear.

Choice

Current scientific and psychology research appears to be converging towards a realisation that there is no 'out there' out there.  If you seek out the roots of philosophy too, we hear (in different language) that there is no cause outside of consciousness, everything appears in consciousness and consciousness is indivisible.  The perception of separate beings trapped in a precarious world is an illusion that the ego's thought system renders.  I mentioned earlier about perception being projection, not fact.  It is in our willingness to test this out for ourselves that we access the power to choose differently.

So when we get upset, hold grievances or complain, what we are doing is giving reality to effects, and denying the power of love within us to see things differently.  By denying ourselves this choice, we believe we are a victim.  This is exactly what we do when we go along with the default thinking of the world.  And that is what we then experience, because that is the power of mind.  It is us that determines these things.

But although this default response seems automatic and 'natural', we can refuse to be dismayed by this cruel world the ego pictures, and choose a different cause instead... by stepping back from our thoughts and allowing our Self to lead us.  By doing so we can cast love upon the world instead of fear.  We can never say we are a victim because this choice is always available to us.

So in reality the one choice we have is to follow the thinking of the world or to turn to our Self for guidance and insight.  When we choose the former it appears as though there are billions of other choices, but this is not Free Will it is bondage - - an illusion that veils the one real choice between bondage and freedom. [3]
Once we are clear motivation is no longer a problem, but let's now get practical and see how we can apply this stuff:

Application

When we are thinking, judging, planning or creating beliefs we enter a make believe world within our heads and completely miss what's here.  These faculties (that are so revered) hide our truly creative nature and therefore seed the belief in our powerlessness.  What all this mental activity masks is the effortless Inspiration and Joy that gladly substitute for all of it, given just a little invitation.  So whenever we feel troubled, or 'out of flow'  here's a question that can get to the heart of the matter:

             "What is it now that I am valuing that prevents me from being totally open and present in this moment?"

By questioning ourselves like this [5], we not only remind ourselves that what we seek is already here in this present moment, but we also uncover all the little rationalisations we've used to avoid trusting in our Self... that have kept us in chains and miserable.  Then we can let them go.  Not by any clever tricks and not by making it a big deal, but just by quietly allowing our true Self to look at them and recognise that this no longer holds any value for us.

But maybe we are unwilling to let whatever it is that is holding our attention go.  Maybe it's a grievance we would rather keep than be at peace.  Or maybe it's just that we are, as yet, unwilling to let go of our own agenda.  If so, here's a useful affirmation that can help us to start straightening out our thinking:  "At least I can decide that I do not like the way I feel right now",  and then this opens the door to ask ourselves something like:  "Do I really prefer to be right than happy?"  And then perhaps remind ourselves that we could choose Love instead of this by turning to our Self instead.

Choosing to be in a state of joy like this exposes the fallacy of any form of journey or future state of  'enlightenment'...  by demonstrating to us that the only time in which change can happen and anyone find peace is in this present moment.  And in that choice we can start to recognise that everything happening to us and around us is also happening for us... to support and uphold that decision.  Life brings us every opportunity we need to look at our defences and choose again -- to replace grievances with Love.  And what we do for ourselves we do for each other, because there really is no difference.

FREEDOM

Now when we look again at those 'emotional triggers' that Tatiana talked about, we can see them in a completely new light.  Instead of being a problem they become our means of freedom!  We see our resistance played out in the world and reflected back to us in others.  What a gift to be able to see this!  Each one now is a golden opportunity to see and release those things we hold up against the awareness of our Oneness. 

In truth, this is how it has always been, but we were so quick to shoot the messenger (by judging them wrong) we failed to see the gifts they brought.  But now we see that no-one meets by chance and no-one is missing who we need. [6]   And when we rest in trust in our Self we see everything as it is -- working to absolute perfection.

So where is the issue now with teachers, horrors, crashes or any concern about enlightenment, when the way is so much fun?   :)
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Related Articles:

Notes:

[2]... What we barely recognise is that when we hold a grievance against anyone or anything we chain ourselves, because we are One.  Whether it's a lover, a government, some God figure when we hold  a grievance we deny the miracle of Love that heal the sense of  separation that is at the root of the problem we holding as a grievance.

[3]... there's a section in 'Little Book of Flow'  that may help you be more clearly aware of the simplicity of this choice.

[4]... you see a lot of examples of this in modern day spiritual teachings.. 'The Secret' is one example that springs to mind.  Too many times I tried this stuff but struggled, and then complained at not knowing what to do.  The problem was my unwillingness to listen to an answer that was not on terms I had already set.  I know now that it's letting go of my own agenda that allows me to have a day of lovely surprises, delights and little miracles.  I remind myself that I am not trying to carve out a little place of safety and peace in the world but choosing to transform the world by bring the light into it's darkness.  It's what we bring with us that makes all  the difference.  As you say Tatiana, we are already 'ALL that IS', so what we are doing is allowing ourselves to become aware of this.  What better way  to do this than, one day at a time, allow this power of love to  shine upon every aspect of our life?  By choosing love in all situations there's no need to concern yourself what to think, say or do -- when we choose love what flows from that choice can only be the same.

[5]... Our attention always goes to what we find most interesting (what we value).  Spacious, open, loving awareness is our natural state of being and when this is absent, there's something that our mind is  fixated on that it values more.  The one prerequisite for being able to resolve this (a permanent change) is not to see the problem as being 'outside' our Self.  The choice is purely an internal one -- a grievance or the miracle of love that could replace it, is the choice.  What we then 'see' is the reflection of this choice.

[6]... You could call this 'freedom by osmosis'.  Our Self, being of Love, cannot be known alone because that is not Love's purpose.  We become aware of our self as we allow it to be expressed.  And by allowing this we give everyone who comes our way an opportunity to witness what they have denied themselves.  Freedom is a truly collaborative venture.

Credits:

This post's title is taken from the title of  a book  by my friends Tom and Linda Carpenter who's Self-full giving continues to inspire me.
The painting is called  'Walking Down to Happiness'  by Sam Toft.

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Welcome.....     

  • ..this blog stems from a recognition that our true nature is far more creative, loving and unlimited than we could possibly imagine... and it transforms everything... a practical, generic solution to all our problems.

    These are just my lesson notes as I try to  be true to that recognition... and  learn to fly.  So it's quite possible that everything here may be wrong.

    Thank you for visiting.  Email (to Nick Smith) is always welcome.

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