The Art of Awakening by Pir Elias Amidon


Looking for it, the vision cannot be seen: cease your search. It cannot be discovered through meditation, so abandon your trance states and mental images. It cannot be accomplished by anything you do, so give up the attempt to treat the world as magical illusion. It cannot be found by seeking, so abandon all hope of results.
— Shabkar Lama, 19th Century Tibetan Mystic

There are contradictions at nearly every step on the spiritual path. In fact the very image of a spiritual path is a contradiction. It implies there is a distance to be traveled, that we are walking on a path that goes from somewhere far from the divine to somewhere closer, from darkness to light or from a state of less awareness to awakening.

And yet enlightenment is nothing other than the experiential recognition of Oneness and the simultaneous recognition of our seamless identity with Oneness, which is the case at this moment and has always been the case. So what purpose is served by postulating distance from Oneness? If we are in fact already one with Oneness, what is the point of making a path to go there? Won’t our identification of a path be a detour?

A second contradiction emerges right after this: implicitly a spiritual path leads to spiritual awakening. But surely the Whole by its very nature is awakeness itself. Since the central fact of realization is our seamless identity with Oneness, then we are already awake! How can what is already awake awaken?

These are some of the contradictions inherent in the ideas of path and goal. There is another contradiction embedded in the idea of the seeker. The seeker travels on the path toward the goal. But just as ideas of path and goal collapse in the ubiquity of the One, so too does the notion of a seeker. After all, who is seeking? Since the One is the Only Being, the idea of a seeker looking for the Only Being is bewildering to say the least.

And yet, through the course of history, untold thousands of spiritual paths have been delineated. Their goals have been spoken of in the most poetic terms, and seekers have journeyed with great endurance along their routes, some of whom have clearly “awakened” in the process. Inner schools, mystery schools, monks in monasteries, nuns in convents, wandering sadhus and their disciples, Buddhists sects and sufi orders—the human community has engaged in a vast project of spiritual search, teaching, and discovery.

But in light of the contradictions of seeker, path, and goal described above, is this vast project anything more than a smokescreen veiling the obvious? By formulating the notions of seeker, seeking, and sought, do spiritual paths simply reinforce these ideas and strategies as if they were ends in themselves, rather than opening us to what is beyond all ideas? Regardless of whether we are engaged in a formal spiritual path or are non-affiliated spiritual seekers, these questions are relevant.

In this contemplation I would like to consider these questions as directly as I can. While one could respond to them, as I often do, by saying it is in the nature of spiritual paths to encompass contradiction and paradox, that response is not entirely satisfactory. There is considerable danger in guiding or in following a spiritual path to unwittingly make of it a destination in itself. In this way seeker, path, and goal can each become furniture in our spiritual house. And yet without any guidance from a path or sincerity in following the call to awaken, we run the risk of self-absorption and self-deception.

Something is Missing

When we look closely at the function of a spiritual path, including the idea of a seeker on the path and a goal toward which one aspires, we see these phenomena are all emerging from the felt sense that something is missing. I am missing something. My experience of life could be better. I want to be a better person. I want to feel close to God. I want to find the meaning behind this existence. These feelings may draw me to a formal religion or to a spiritual path where I hope to find what is missing—a belief system, an inspiring teacher, a community, or a practice that will assuage my sense of lacking something.

A central element in this view of reality is of course the I-sense: I am missing something. My experience of life could be better. A spiritual path is something that will benefit me. The splitting off into a self-identification as an entity distinct from others and from the world at large is the primal movement of the human psyche. It sets the stage for my experience of lack: something can only be missing if there is a separate me that misses it.

It also delineates in space my sense of separation from what I’m missing: I am here and everything else is out there. The thing I lack must also be out there somewhere. Some teacher or teaching must have the key that I am searching for. I must find it. It is an it, out there.

The sense of distance from what I long for also invites the added separation of time: I hope or expect to find what is missing sometime in the future. A grand event will occur. Salvation or enlightenment will happen. Not now, but sometime. Both these senses of spatial and temporal distance from that which I am missing refer back to and reinforce my experience of I-ness — I am this entity who is lacking this most desired something and who waits for it.

At this point we see how the idea of the perceived need for spiritual effort and discipline is established. I must exert my will and make use of prayer and spiritual practices to one day achieve that which I lack: a calm mind, an open heart, freedom, awakening, God-consciousness, forgiveness, etc. This is what Buddhists call a gaining idea. Again, if we look closely we can see how this dynamic of a gaining idea once again subtly refers back to and reinforces the sense of the separate I. I do this practice. I choose this difficult path. I cause myself to sit here motionless, trying to tame the thoughts and emotions that arise in my awareness.

Looked at through this lens, the consequences of taking on a spiritual path and being a spiritual seeker with a spiritual goal are counterproductive. Instead of releasing the sense of self they reinforce it. Instead of resolving the subject-object duality they employ it. Instead of opening my awareness to the mystery of existence they give me ways to define it.

And yet it would be wrong to dismiss the entire religious and spiritual curriculum of humanity because some of its expressions may entangle us in the very attachments they seek to free us from. Despite the pitfalls described above, spiritual paths can serve a positive function. We see evidence for this in the experiences of illuminated souls throughout history. What, then, does it take for a spiritual path to be effective?

The Art of Awakening

If we we approach the journey of the spiritual path as an art rather than a practice or a discipline, we may avoid the gaining idea that clouds this process. All art requires discipline, yet discipline alone does not produce art. Great art arrives through the artist’s openness to the unknown and the unexpected, in addition to his or her history of practice and developed skills. In the same way there is a ripening process that spiritual practices can serve, to bring us to a readiness from which we may more easily open beyond path and ripening and preparation.

Here again we see the contradiction inherent in the idea of a spiritual path. Teachings and practices are useful to the extent that they prepare us to notice what is already true. When we finally notice “this that is already true,” we realize it’s been here all along, and no preparation was ever necessary to recognize it.

Nevertheless, we can appreciate how all the practices we have used — sitting in silence, repeating mantra, singing zikrs, whirling in circles, praying, visualizing deities, meditating, inquiring into the nature of the self, practicing koans, etc. — plus all the teachings we have been exposed to, can ripen us in two basic ways. First, they can encourage us to consider the possibility that we are not a separate self but the transparent awareness within all being. This is initially an intellectual consideration—we are invited by teachings and practices to relax our assumptions about what is real. We allow for the possibility that things may not be as we had imagined them to be. We allow for the possibility that reality — all of this universe as we know it — is awake. We allow for the possibility that the familiar awareness we experience as the ground of our everyday perception is continuous with the infinite awareness that is the ground of everything.

These kinds of insights tend to expand our capacity to be comfortable with not knowing answers and not needing to know. They help us give up trying to define the world and ourselves. They make room in us for the indefinable.

The second way in which spiritual teachings and practices can serve to ripen us is by helping to clarify the internal stresses of our mental and emotional life. By “clarify” I mean their capacity to help us reduce the speed and volume of thoughts, become aware of habitual patterns of thinking, release attachments and identifications, and open our hearts to simple presence. From this perspective we can see how a path can help create conditions in us and in our lives from which we are more likely to be opened to the transparent presence of awareness.

Through both of these functions — opening us to the possibility of our true nature, and clarifying our mental and emotional environment so that we may be better able to realize that nature — spiritual practices can serve us on our path. As long as they emphasize these two functions they will not mislead us. Teachings and practices must be utterly humble in this regard, recognizing their limits.

It is always tempting to believe that if I apply effort, discipline, and focus I will be transformed and one day achieve awakening. This is the illusion of being a seeker following a path toward a goal. There is simply no I that can apply effort or be transformed. Awakeness is unachievable because it is already the nature of things. We can never do anything to awaken because here it is.


Elias Amidon is the spiritual director (Pir) of the Sufi Way. He has been an initiate of the Sufi Way for the past 44 years, and was appointed as the Pir of the order in 2004 by the previous Pir, Sitara Brutnell. His root teacher in the order was Pir Fazal Inayat-Khan. Pir Elias has also studied with Qadiri Sufis in Morocco, Theravaden Buddhist teachers in Thailand, Native American teachers of the Assemblies of the Morning Star, Christian monks in Syria, Zen teachers of the White Plum Sangha, and contemporary teachers in the Dzogchen tradition.

eliasElias has lived a multifaceted, engaged life. The son of an artist and a social activist, he has worked as a schoolteacher, carpenter, architect, professor, writer, anthologist, environmental educator, peace activist, wilderness quest guide, and spiritual teacher. He founded, co-founded, or helped to develop several schools: the Heartwood School, the Institute for Deep Ecology, the Boulder Institute for Nature and the Human Spirit, the graduate program in Environmental Leadership at Naropa University, and the Open Path.

Author of the book The Open Path – Recognizing Nondual Awareness, and co-editor of the books Earth Prayers, Life Prayers, and Prayers for a Thousand Years, he has worked for many years in the fields of peace and environmental activism in the Middle East and Southeast Asia, and with indigenous tribes in Thailand and Burma on issues of cultural continuity and land rights. He was instrumental in founding the Masar Ibrahim Al Khalil (Abraham’s Path), an international project dedicated to helping Middle Eastern countries open a network of cultural routes and walking trails through the region. He continues to travel widely teaching Open Path and other Sufi Way programs.

The One God

The One God is a book of revelation that provides a new understanding of the nature and reality of God and God’s Plan and Purpose in the world and in the Greater Community of life in the universe. Here begins the next chapter in the progressive Revelation of God’s Presence and Will for humanity.

Through the great Messengers and Teachings of the past, this ongoing Revelation has flowed over time, advancing our understanding of the One God and re-awakening our personal relationship to the Divine Presence in our lives. Now this progressive Revelation continues anew through a New Message from God.

The Word and the Sound are now in the world. Each chapter of The One God is a revelation given to provide a new teaching about the Source of our lives and our purpose for being in the world at this time. Each chapter opens before you a new vantage point from which you can glimpse into the heart of God, back to the origins of the universe and forward to the unfolding Plan of God for this time and for the times ahead.

Each chapter of The One God is a revelation given from the Source, compiled into this text by the Messenger Marshall Vian Summers.

The One God is the second book of Volume 1 of The New Message from God.

Table of Contents

Introduction

Chapter 1: Comprehending God

Chapter 2: The New God

Chapter 3: The Origin

Chapter 4: The Separation

Chapter 5: What is Creation?

Chapter 6: The Soul

Chapter 7: What Creates Evil?

Chapter 8: The Redemption

Chapter 9: God, Knowledge and the Angelic Presence

Chapter 10: How God Speaks to the World

Chapter 11: God’s Plan Is to Save Everyone

Chapter 12: The Heart of God

THE ONE GOD, Chapter One: Comprehending GOD, As Revealed by Marshall Vian Summers

You can read The One God for free at http://NewMessage.org
Received by Marshall Vian Summers
“Steps to Knowledge, THE ONE GOD is copyright the Society for the New Message from God. All rights reserved. Used by permission.”

Kali Takes America: I’m with Her ~ Vera De Chalambert


Donald Trump might have become the president of the United States. But make no mistake, it is really Holy Darkness that won this election.

Last year, Kali, the Hindu Goddess of death, destruction and resurrection, appeared on the Empire State Building, projected as an avatar of conservation by the filmmakers of Racing Extinction, a documentary about the environmental catastrophe now upon us. At the time I was so struck by the image, I wrote an article about the apparition. This is the sign of the times, Kali Takes New York, I raved.

On election night, as the results were projected onto the Empire State Building, all I could see was Kali’s fierce stare. This was déjà vu. This time, Kali took America.

Donald Trump might already be picking his deplorable cabinet, but it is the Dark Mother, the destroyer of worlds, oracle of holy change, the tenderhearted be-header, that won this country. Kali has brought down our house in a shocking blow; all the illusions of America, stripped in a single night. We are not who we thought we were. Now we must get ready to stand in her fires of transmutation. We need them.

Listening to Hillary Clinton’s concession speech, one had the impression that this was a different woman from the political candidate that we have come to begrudgingly accept as the champion of the Democratic Party, assured by the establishment to become the first Madam President.

Stripped of her hopes and lifelong dreams, speaking honestly and transparently about her pain, this woman in a dark suit was a far cry from the controlled, manicured version of her shiny political persona. Stripped of her agenda, stripped of her certainties, this Hilary might have won the country. This Hillary touched our hearts. This is what we look like after the Dark Mother has had her way with us.

We stop shining of the false light. As our heart breaks, as our veneer cracks, we open to more integrity, more truth, more tenderness. We stop trying to be all things for all people. We become this one small thing, feigning nothing.

“Only to the degree that people are unsettled is there any hope for them.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Paradoxically, the price of true hope, it seems, is being unsettled beyond repair. And this is exactly the opportunity our political moment is presenting to us all. Right now, from all corners of our shocked culture, there are cries of hope, demands of needing to become even brighter lights amidst the spreading darkness. I disagree.

I think that this moment gives us an opportunity for reckoning only if instead of running for the light, we let ourselves go fully into the dark. If instead of resolving our discomfort too quickly, we consider the possibility of staying in the uncomfortable, in the irreconcilable, in the unsettled.

Before we rush in to reanimate the discourse of hope prematurely, we must yield to what is present. Receptivity is the great quality of darkness; darkness hosts everything without exception. The Dark Mother has no orphans. We must not send suffering into exile — the fear, the heartbreak, the anger, the helplessness all are appropriate, all are welcome. We can’t dismember ourselves to feel better.

We can’t cut off the stream of life and expect to heal.

Cutting off the inconvenient is a form of spiritual fascism. By resolving to stay only in the light in times of immense crisis, we split life; engage in emotional deportation, rather than hosting the vulnerable. Difficult feelings need to be given space so they can come to rest. They need contact.

In a culture of isolation, be the invitation to everything.

The intuition that the Dark Mother has returned is pervasive if we heed the signs, and our thirst for the dark is deep. Her every apparition spreads like wildfire. My Kali article went viral within hours, it was as if that image of Kali up there on top of the world overlooking Manhattan nourished the collective soul.

There is a great yearning for change in the order of things, and the Great Mother is leading the revolution. I’m with her.


Christian theologian Mathew Fox speaks extensively about the reemergence of the Dark Feminine archetype into our collective consciousness in his piece The Return of the Black Madonna. It is really in darkness, he reminds us, “where illusions are broken apart and the truth lies.”

We are collectively getting so sick and tired of lies, of the superficial, of the shiny neon lights of pop culture, pop spirituality and politics as usual. We thirst for the Real. And the Dark Mother is here to quench.

We saw darkness reclaiming its place also in the passing of Leonard Cohen, this most belated of biblical prophets. He left us with his last and perhaps most spiritually astute album, “You want it Darker,” which has skyrocketed in popularity. The entire album is the ultimate invitation into Holy Darkness. Once he famously preached that the cracks are how the light gets in. Now, he assured us God wants it darker.

Many have interpreted it to be an expression of hopelessness. No. He is asking the only relevant question of our time, whether we can swallow the pill of darkness and still say Hineni! I am here, God, here I am, bring it on! In his last interview about the album, Cohen says that this track is about offering ourselves up when the “emergency becomes articulate.” I think we can all agree that it has finally become articulate.

The mystics tell us that we need spiritual crisis. That we must enter the Cloud of Unknowing, the deepest despair, the most profound darkness within, without hope, in order to grow spiritually. They call such a time of deep crisis, of great uncertainty, the Dark Night of the Soul. There, in our radical desperation, in our absolute abandonment, it is said, the Divine Doctor awaits. Holy Darkness was Her medicine all along.

Darkness heals us without a spoonful of sugar; the wound is the gift, and this election is a good dose.

As the spirit of the Dark Mother hovers upon the collective waters, she has much to teach us. Kali is the great protectress and ultimate sacred activist. She is standing at Standing Rock, roaring against the black snake and the abuses of corporate capitalism. She is marching in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.

She is here mourning the dying out of species and showing her terrible tongue at the shocking xenophobic, nationalist regressionism swallowing the planet. She is the changing of the tides, and she means business. She has come to burn up the old paradigm of separation and transfigure the collective heart.

Scientists tell us we live amidst the 6th extinction. Every 20 minutes, another species disappears from our planet. Our oceans are dying, our rivers are burning. Kali beckons us to embrace our sacred fury and let our heart roar for all living beings. Like her, we must rise as protectors, else perish as fools. She knows that we belong to each other and share one fate.

Recently, three protesters at Standing Rock got their Kali on. In a radical act, worthy of the great Mother herself, they crawled inside the Dakota Access Pipeline, putting their bodies on the line. Reading about it, I was shocked, I was troubled, I was moved. Suddenly I realized that love is always a disturbing presence. We must disrupt the order of things to obey the orders of Love.

These acts will keep growing, because the fires of truth that Kali has lit are spreading. As the old story of convenience and profit turns to ash, hearts across the planet are aflame for love and justice. Over a million people checked into Standing Rock after organizers worried that police can track protesters through their Facebook statuses.

Started by an indigenous mother, the Standing Rock protest has become a cultural creative movement no one could anticipate. Here everything meets: social justice, ecological justice, economic justice, sacred activism. And there are reasons to celebrate, such as the Army Corps’ momentous decision to deny the pipeline permit.

This might not be the end of DAPL, but this victory is a testament to the sacred fire. This is a beginning. This is what a prayerful movement looks like. This is what a culture waking up looks like. The struggle is far from over, but the zeitgeist has spoken. Hineni! it bellows.

Deeply we recognize that we are living amidst the churning of ages, although the climate catastrophe is not yet visible, most scientists now believe it is inevitable.

Climate change is here, whether we believe in it or not. Politically, with the election of Donald Trump, our country and the world have entered a dark night of the soul. We might still live in a culture of shine, greed, glam and white supremacy, but the Dark Feminine has now reemerged into this cycle, and heaven has no fury like the Great Mother scorned.

Now we must rest here in this darkness, to lay heart to the ground as a country, and feel intimately all that is being unraveled here. After all, every seed must go into darkness, must turn inside out, must break open in order to grow.

It is my prayer that our country sprouts. That this regression give rise to a counterculture of grassroots movements the likes of which we have never seen. And to a culture of love beyond measure.

Leonard Cohen – You Want It Darker (Lyric)

Leonard Cohen’s official lyric video for You Want It Darker. Click to listen to Leonard Cohen on Spotify: http://smarturl.it/LCspotifyGH
Click to listen to You Want It Darker on Apple Music: http://smarturl.it/LCDarkerAlbumAM, Click to listen to You Want It Darker on Google Play Music: http://smarturl.it/LCDarkerAlbumGP Buy the album You Want It Darker on Amazon: http://smarturl.it/LCDarkerAlbumAZ

More videos from Leonard Cohen:
Travelling Light: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=okaqX…
Suzanne – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n_56e…
First We Take Manhattan – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JTTC_…

Website: http://leonardcohen.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/leonardcohen

———
Lyrics:
If you are the dealer, I’m out of the game
If you are the healer, it means I’m broken and lame
If thine is the glory then mine must be the shame
You want it darker
We kill the flame

Magnified, sanctified, be thy holy name
Vilified, crucified, in the human frame
A million candles burning for the help that never came
You want it darker

Hineni, hineni
I’m ready, my lord


Vera de Chalambert is a spiritual storyteller and Harvard-educated scholar of comparative religion. She recognizes the intricate process of healing and awakening, unfolding for so many around the planet at this time, and offers healing sessions and spiritual direction via Skype and phone. Vera has studied with spiritual teachers, healers and visionaries the world over, and mined for her soul at the Barbara Brennan School of Healing, and Jason Shulman’s School for Nondual Healing and Awakening. She is deeply influenced by Buddhist and Kabbalistic lineages, and is a lover of the world’s great wisdom traditions. She speaks internationally and writes about mindfulness in the modern world and the Divine Feminine. You could visit Vera on her website, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

This article first appeared in the Rebelle Society

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