Tag Archives: Enlightenment

Gnōthi Seauton (Know Thyself)

In all honesty, my spiritual journey has brought me further away from knowing my true self than I ever could have possibly imagined. Since discovering that this incredible dimension exists I have adapted so many more labels that simply hamper the entire process. Labels like:

I should be non-reactive

I should be calm

I should just be

I should be forgiving of everyone

I should be wise

I should not be superficial

I should not judge others

I should be accepting

I should allow others to be as they are

I should be deep

I should not be anxious

So when any feeling should arise that was on contrast to the “rules” above I would use spiritual techniques to try and defeat that feeling. I would struggle to be transparent to negativity, to ignore those anxious feelings and be present, to always look beneath the surface of the person who was annoying the shit out of me, and to be uncaring that my favourite sports team got eliminated from the playoffs.

The experience of being spiritual became another prison. I went all-in on a way of life that was supposed to lead to freedom but I was sadly mistaken.

I have found that any behaviour, or thought, that denies my true nature is as harmful as an act of hatred. It is a poison that seeps into every corner of my body. It is this image of the spiritual person that is the problem. Sitting cross legged, with their hands resting on their knees, holding a steady mood no matter what comes their way, repeating some mantra meant to clear the mind.

I want to foster a new attitude. An attitude that accepts everything about me. An attitude that says that I don’t ever need to change. Truthfully, the spiritual person is every person. As they are. It is not about denying your form. It is about knowing it, and honouring it.

Pay attention. Be aware. Get to know yourself.

But don’t you dare apply any self-knowledge as another means to create change! As if you need to improve? Upon whose authority will you deny the billions of years of evolution that led to who, and where, you are right now. The real spiritual life, as I see it, is to carry-on fully engaged in this world of form, but with an added intense awareness of the mind-body form.

The mind-body has likes, desires, skills, a sense of humour, fears, emotions, faults, loves. Really it has the entire spectrum of what it means to be alive.

In spiritual circles they often speak of transcendence. Transcendence is not the achievement of an enlightened state where this roller coaster of experience doesn’t happen anymore.

It is surrendering to the ride.

Love with all of your heart. Acknowledge your fears. Use your skills. Have a good laugh. Let this form run the show, because really you’re not in charge anyways.

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Facebook and the Spiritual Journey

There is something about the online spiritual community that doesn’t sit quite right with me. I am a member of a couple of different groups on Facebook; one about Thich Nhat Hanh and another about The Power of Now. And while I find the intentions of such groups are good-natured, and the vast majority of its members aim to be helpful, there is definitely some sort of mixed messaging at play simply due to the nature of spirituality and the medium itself.

On the path towards release from ego domination and the thinking mind, an online community such as the ones above can only be filled with the written thoughts of thinking minds. It is ego’s helping ego’s get rid of their ego’s. Everyone is doomed to failure!

A common trait is that every single member of these groups has likely experienced the power of the teachings from one of those respected spiritual masters. This experience has caused their ego to assign a label of specialness to these individuals. That’s why these groups pop up in the first place. To honor the person and the teaching.

But it’s like knowing just enough physics to be dangerous, and thinking you will finally create a perpetual motion machine. For there to be power and authenticity in the form of text you must be one of those few individuals who have transcended the world of form. The rest of us are simply following this path and continuously coming across false sign posts saying “Welcome to Enlightenment!” Only to find out we are not there yet.

We want to be there so badly that we can almost taste it. We harbor this hidden jealousy that Eckhart (or Thich) are there and we are not. So it’s within these groups that we get to pretend for a moment that we ARE him. That we truly understand his teachings, and that we can help you just like they helped us.

And I must confess that I have participated in such a way in those groups. And I have blogged for years about spirituality and ended many posts with a realization, or a lesson learned. The truth is that I really don’t know what I am talking about. I feel I understand it very well conceptually, but then another side of me feels like that is the very trap I am trying to avoid!

By far the greatest benefit I have received from the online spiritual community is the discovery of other spiritual masters and teachings that I had never heard of before. And honestly I never would have been exposed to them had it not been for social media.

So perhaps I should follow pretty much every teaching I have ever read and practice a little gratitude. Instead of nit picking the subtle side effects due to the modernization of the spiritual journey I should simply be thankful for the goodness I have received and shut the hell up!

Luckily, forgiveness is also primary theme in all spiritual teachings.

What is Awareness and What is it Good For?

When you feel depressed, awareness does not cheer you up.

When you screw up at work, awareness does not say you’ll do better next time.

When you yell at your kids, awareness does not help you calm down.

When hit a car in parking lot and drive away, awareness does not forgive you.

When you are unfaithful to your spouse, awareness does not justify it.

When you steal some bread from the grocery store, awareness does not take away the guilt.

When you lose a loved one to cancer, awareness does not bring them back.

When you have spent your last penny, awareness does not put money in your account.

When your desperate for a spiritual awakening, awareness does not make it happen.

Awareness is always just…..there.

Doing nothing. Helping no one. Changing nothing for the better.

It is the source of all inaction.

Instead it is infinitely loyal. It will never leave you no matter what despicable act emerges from you. It knows nothing about judgement. It knows nothing of worthiness. It knows nothing about evil. It knows nothing of heaven or hell. It knows nothing about death. It knows nothing about suffering.

It knows nothing.

Absolutely squat.

It is not there to heal you. It is not there to make you live longer. It is not there to make others love you.

So what in the world is awareness good for.

There is one way to find out. And that is to align with it. Be a witness to your perceptions. Open yourself up to feel whatever is brought to the forefront in the field of your observation. Let it wander. Do not focus on any witnessed feeling as more important than another. Allow this freedom to dwell in your mind and body.

If you are walking, listen to the pebbles crunch on the ground as feel the pressure of each step. Notice your head moving from side to side looking at the trees. All of a sudden you turn off the road and onto a walking path. Why did you do that? You don’t recall making that choice. Now you notice each leg moving one after the other. You’re not actively choosing that either.  A random thought pops into your head that you should eat healthier.

Why?

You didn’t decide to think that. Things are happening and you don’t seem to be involved in any part of the process.

Soon you start to notice everything. The way your tongue is resting in your mouth. The way the cool spring breeze is making your eyes water just ever so slightly. The rising of your stomach with every breath.

Then it suddenly strikes you.

I am none of this.

Such intense witnessing has released you. You begin the understand the role of the witness. Your dreams. Your hopes. Your struggles. Your judgement. Your accomplishments. Your failures. Your suffering. All of these things are not “You”. They have simply been witnessed by “You”.

Now, even more dramatically. All of the ways in which you have defined who “You” are begins to fade away. The simple gap between something being inherent to your identity, to simply being observed, causes a cascading avalanche of the former self into oblivion.

Ultimately the realization hits. The me that has ruled this life, does not exist. There is no meat to this ego. There are no obstacles for me to overcome. There are no requirements for my existence. There is nothing that was there before.

There is only awareness.

Random Thoughts on Existence – Part 2

The spiritual gurus have said that an enlightened life takes no effort. Can anyone teach me what is an effortless life? As far as I can tell it would be like floating in a river and not trying to swim in any direction. What is the equivalent of floating in life? I cannot just sit in this chair staring at my computer screen and answering the phone. That would just be another kind of swimming. It seems so natural and easy to align with the flow of the river. There’s no arguing with it, no judging the decisions of where it goes, and no resentment of paths missed. But what makes up the river of life? Is it my routine? My job? My favourite show? I have forgotten what it’s like to live an unstrategized life. I feel so tired, but not quite tired enough. Can I simply choose not to swim or must I wait until this helpless body can’t put up a fight anymore…

The Last Poem

I need a poem so stunningly beautiful

That it self-destructs

I would guzzle such a poison that annihilates the reader

Where each verse joyfully burns away my weathered skin

Leaving no aspect of this reality unchallenged

Upon reading such a creation I rise above this body

And witness the mortal me

As the entirety of his existence

Dissolves into nonsense

Quickly, a desperate escalation of his pace

As the emptiness hunts for him

With each step he pushes against crumbling stones

His fingers claw into the earth with all that he can muster

Still, he falls into that unrelenting blackness

Wailing and Flailing

The pounding wind from the decent

Soon becomes as still as a vacuum

All perceptions are left floating

Empty and resting

His surroundings become irrelevant

And I can’t tell if he’s still falling

Nor can he

Differences dissolve

And our true nature resolves

It is the merging of that which was never apart

Oh to have such a poem

Freedom packed into rhyme

Infinity captured within time

What does it feel like to be me?

Honestly, I have no idea.

In examining this issue closely I wonder if the question itself is even valid. If I were to actually FEEL my own self, it would be implying a duality that negates the entire experience.

For example if I were to come to believe that it feels peaceful to be me, there are actually two things occurring. There is the peaceful feeling, and there is the noticing of that peaceful feeling. Which one is me? Now I could then move on and say that I am the noticer. But again there are two things happening. There is the noticing, and then there is the awareness of the noticer.So which one of those is me? On and on and on it goes.

Every experience requires a duality. In the quest for the true self our attention is always placed on the flavor of the experience. We want to EXPERIENCE our true selves. We want to somehow watch it from afar, see that it is beautiful, and then take solace in that beauty. We want that beauty to be eternal and never leave us. My spiritual journey is packed with attempts at searching for the perfect experience that is infinite and blissful.

But now knowing that no experience will ever show me my true self where does that leave me. It is pointless, or even insane, to keep searching for bliss, or joy, or peace. I know these only as different kinds of experiences. On the flip side it is also pointless to avoid those undesirable experiences such as fear, shame, and guilt. These must also be irrelevant and not indicative of WHO I am.

My true self is not something I can run toward or run away from. I can’t find it. I can’t avoid it. I can’t use words to describe it. It is not a song or a painting. It is not love or hate. It is not happiness or sadness. I am left with nothing but a blank space.

There is no next step. There is nothing to do to finally get it.

* I was about to write that I don’t need any time but i felt a huge panic attack sweep over me. On a deeper level I know this means I am on to something but the feeling is quite overwhelming. Like I am about to pass out at a moments notice and maybe not wake up again. Perhaps that is enough for one day 🙂 

The Divine Nature of Losing Faith

I have been searching long and hard for answers to the nature of my own existence.

Why am I here? What am I supposed to do? How should I be in this world?

And all I have managed are teasers. Momentary experiences of peace. Realizations that though they are powerful, they are far too brief in their duration. I watch videos, read books, meditate, walk through parks, sit in silence, and all I have obtained is this false sense of progression.

I look for changes in my day to day life. Of how I react to certain situations and if it is reflecting any spiritual growth. When I argue with my wife, attempt to board an airplane, or deal with any of my natural fear triggers, am I reacting in a spiritual manner?

These reactions, whatever they are, form the basis of the definition of what it means to be me. If I don’t like what that definition is then I head back to the drawing board. I watch more videos, read more books. meditate more, try to have more peaceful walks through parks, etc, etc, etc…

This is the cycle that has repeated itself over and over. But ultimately I have reached a point where I have lost faith in this process. Nothing Eckhart Tolle can tell me will provide me with the ultimate answers to my questions. No Mooji video will leave me completely enlightened. No walk in the park will lead me to heaven.

This world can offer me nothing concrete for the answers I seek.

So I stopped. I stopped trying to extract proof from this world. I stopped burdening my experiences with divine answers. I stopped asking life to reveal my true nature. And I stopped looking to my reactions as a definition of me.

And it was wonderful.

Have you ever looked at something without expectations? I don’t think I ever have, at least not for a long time. When I would see a tree, I expect it to teach me stillness and beauty. When I spend time with my children, I expect them to show me what joy is. When I listen to a river I expect to learn about the natural flow of life.

And so I had placed walls around my experiences. And even though these expectations were created in pursuit of the ultimate truth, I had fixed the game right from the start so that I could never find the answers that I seek.

By losing faith I tore down these walls.

This loss of faith revealed that the truth cannot be pursued externally. Anything that comes to be through perception will never become the truth of who you are. This realization frees not only yourself but the world around you. The tree can now just be a tree, the river can just flow downstream, and a child can just be joyful. In this playground of infinity your soul will rejoice.

Who you are can never be defined by experience. When you know this, when you truly know this, you are free.