Adyashanti Enlightenment Story

Question: How did awakening and liberation occur for you?

I had my first what traditionally would be called awakening experience when I was 25 years old. This was very powerful and full of emotion and release and joy and bliss and all that it is supposed to be full of. But, because there was so much emotion involved, it obscured the simplicity of awakeness itself. Like so many others, I continued to chase certain ideas and concepts of what awakeness was supposed to be. That caused years of misery.

Gradually over time I had the same experience reoccur, but each time with less and less emotion. I could see more and more clearly over time what was the actual essential element. Then finally an awakening occurred where at the moment of awakening, there was no emotion in it. It was just the pure seeing of what is. When there was the pure seeing of what is, unclouded by emotional content, it was obvious. It was very obvious that consciousness recognized itself for what it really is – aware space before any emotion or thought or manifestation.

Question: Would you say that this is the point at which the
distinction between awakening and liberation occurred?

No. Even though there was a freedom and incredible sense of fearlessness and release from not being confined to the dream of a separate “I”, I started to feel somewhat discontented with that. I didn’t know why I felt discontented, and it didn’t bother me in any way. The discontent didn’t touch that freedom, so it didn’t bother me, but I was interested in it.

Then one day I was sitting reading a book, and I folded the book to
put it away and realized that somewhere in some magic time, something had dropped away, and I didn’t know what it was. There was just a big absence of something. I went through the rest of the day as usual but noticing some big absence. Then when I sat down on the bed that night, it suddenly hit me that what had fallen away was all identity.

All identity had collapsed, as both the self in the ego sense of a separate me, and as the slightest twinge of identity with the Absolute Self, with the Oneness of consciousness. There had still been some unconscious, identity or “me-ness” which was the cause of the discontent. And it all collapsed. Identity itself collapsed, and from that point on there was no grasping whatsoever for little me or for the unified consciousness me. Identity just fell away and blew away with the wind.

Question: When you noticed that the identity had collapsed and was
gone, what remained?

Everything just as it always had been. There was just the lack of any “I”, personal or universal, or the fundamental unconscious belief in any identity or of fixating self in any place. The mind can continue to fixate a subtle identity of self even in universal consciousness, or Self. It can be so incredibly easy to miss. To say “I am That” can be a very subtle fixation of consciousness.

Question: It’s still a landing, a form of identity.

It’s a slight landing, a slight grasping. It’s very subtle. But when it collapses, you are even beyond “I am That”. You are in a place that cannot be described.

Question: And that is what you call liberation?

That is what I call liberation. Really, in the end, what you end up with is that you don’t know who you are. You end up in the same place you started out. You truly don’t know who you are because it’s impossible to fixate the self anywhere.
Source: Enlightened People

Can You Know Your True Self? The importance of connecting from within by John T. Chirban Ph.D, Th.D.

How can we know who we are?

Psychologists distinguish the False Self (how we inaccurately present ourself), the Ideal Self (how we want to see ourself), the Real Self (who we actually are), and the True Self (actualization of our potential).

Actualization of our True Self results from understanding and developing the innate qualities that define the qualities of human nature. Awareness of our authentic nature is available to each of us — it resides within us. By understanding and responding to our true self we:

Understand our “being”—attune to our talents and develop our character.
Align our self with our purpose—make direct connection with self, others, and God (however we define the ultimate meaning or measure).
Live authentically—thrive by experiencing our innate design.

While it is important to listen to and consider the ideas and perspectives of others, it’s essential to recognize that others may not understand our insight nor have the capacity to facilitate our growth. We must look inside ourselves to ask who we are and whether we are living a life that is consistent with our True Self. We cannot afford to ignore our True Self or arrive at answers about our self foregoing this internal reflection, for far too much is at stake.

A growing literature in health psychology confirms the importance of developing an internal life and spirituality for happiness and well being.* Our efforts through spirituality seek higher existential connectedness, as our faith experiences affirm this reality. Thus, awareness and applications of practices of faith and spirituality increase capacities toward exisitential fulfillment, happiness, and wellness.

We take ownership of our yearning for fulfillment as we experience the True Self by living through authentic connections with our self, others, and God (the critical connections). By doing so, we feel integrity in our actions. We feel confidence about our stance, when we live our life in truth. Many sacred traditions of the world and great thinkers across disciplines have tried to answer the question of our purpose through inner knowing—the engagement of self with others and God—as the means for this process.

To engage in the process, we must first experience the qualities of our nature that are found in the True Self—to find connection with our authentic self. The True Self is innate. It is the source of two universal truths: first, our intrinsic capacities, as human beings, which make us unique and distinguishes humanity from the rest of creation, and, second, the product of our interdependent relationship of our self, others, and God—our critical connections.

The first, our unique human qualities, are:

Spontaneity (being spontaneous): spontaneity is our ability to express our self without hindrance; it is aliveness.
Reasoning (being rational): reasoning is sound, clear thinking.
Creativity (being creative): creativity is a unique expression of our ability to make something out of our unique, originality of thought.
Free Will ( being independent): free will is our ability to choose; establishing our voice in relation to others and exercising integrity in our position.
Spirituality (being spiritual): spirituality is a mystery not only because it involves something beyond our control and acknowledging our limitations within our limited human condition, but because it emerges from our nature that is not only physical or material that gives us purpose. Spirituality is available to each of us and does not mean ignoring the world but it means being driven beyond the motivations of the “worldly.”
Discernment (being discerning): discernment is our ability to distinguish Good from Evil and to choose the Good; it a moral consciousness.
Love (being loving): Love is our personal care, passion, and sacrifice that characterizes our connections with others.

Are these active elements in your life? Ask yourself, on a scale of 0 to 10 (with “0” being “none” and “10” being “100%”), the extent to which you excerise these seven human qualities in your life.

The second, is our own capacity to embody and to coordinate our critical connections of self, others, and God in life. Take a few moments to reflect on how you interact in your life’s journey. To what extent and degree do you, others, and God figure in your interactions, behaviors, and process? If you were to illustrate the three parts of connections that guide your life as circles on a pages, how large would these circles be drawn as representative of their influence in your behaviors? For example, are you driven primarily by self-interests, the agendas of others, your sense of God’s will for you? How large are these circles and how are these three elements integrated in your actions?

While our ability to express the seven innate qualities of the True Self may be launched by how awareness of the True Self is nurtured in our early development, this matter is far too significant to leave to history, chance, or to others. Our connection to our True Self affects how we perceive ourselves and engage life today. Our perception of the True Self encourages us to access character-building elements and access our potential.

John T. Chirban, Ph.D., Th.D., is a part-time lecturer at Harvard Medical School and author of Collateral Damage: Guiding and Protecting Your Child Through the Minefield of Divorce (HarperCollins, 2017). For more information visit drchirban.com.

References

*Koenig, H. G. (2012). Religious vs. conventional psychotherapy for major depression in patients with chronic medical illness: Rationale, methods, and preliminary results. Depression Research and Treatment 2012, Article ID 460419,1-11.

Park, C. L., et al. (2011). “Religious struggle as a predictor of subsequent mental and physical well-being in advanced heart failure patients.” Journal of Behavioral Medicine 34: 426-36.

Vermandere, M., et al. (2011). “Spirituality in general practice: A qualitative evidence synthesis.” British Journal of General Practice 61, no. 592 (2011): e749-e760.

Silencing The Inner Critic by Christina Feldman

“The Fight” by Helena Perez García.

:
Unruly beings are like space.
There’s not enough time to overcome them.
Overcoming these angry thoughts.
Is like defeating all of our enemies.

—Shantideva

The nagging, negative voice of self-judgement, says Christina Feldman, is a powerful affliction best met with courage, kindness, and understanding…

The Buddha sat beneath the Bodhi tree on the eve of his enlightenment and was assailed by Mara, representing all of the afflictions we meet in the landscape of our minds: worry and restlessness, dullness and resistance, craving, aversion, and doubt. The one affliction that did not make an appearance in this story is the powerful voice of the inner critic—the inner judge that can torment us on a daily basis, undermining our well-being and distorting our relationship with life. The inner critic is the voice of shame, blame, belittlement, aversion, and contempt. To many of us, it is so familiar that it seems almost hardwired into our hearts.

Before exploring the nature of the judgmental mind, it is essential to mark the distinction between the voice of the inner critic and our capacity for discernment and discriminating wisdom. Discriminating wisdom is what brings us to our cushion to meditate and inspires us to act in ways that bring suffering and harm to an end. Discriminating wisdom is the source of every wise act and word. Discernment draws upon ethics, compassion, and wisdom and teaches us moment by moment to discover the Buddha in ourselves and in others.
The judging mind is optional; it can be understood and released.

The inner critic is a creature of a different nature. With the inner critic, we may still come to our cushion but we come accompanied by a story that tells us we are unworthy or inadequate. With the inner critic, we still act, speak, and make choices, yet moment by moment we feel endlessly criticized, compared, and belittled. The judgmental mind draws not upon all that is wise but upon Mara, the patterns of aversion, doubt, ill will, and fear. Rarely is the judgmental heart the source of wise action or speech, nor does it lead to the end of suffering. The judgmental mind is suffering and compounds suffering. It suffocates ethics, the guidelines of kindness and care, and it wounds our hearts and lives.

Discriminating wisdom is essential and must be cultivated. The judging mind is optional; it can be understood and released. Thomas Merton, the great Christian mystic described the essence of the spiritual path as a search for truth that springs from love. Beneath the Bodhi tree, Mara’s power over Siddhartha ended the moment he was able to look Mara in the eye and simply say, “I know you.” These few words were a reflection of a profound shift in Siddhartha’s heart: the shift from being intimidated and overpowered by Mara to having the courage to open a dialogue of understanding with Mara, and bringing intimidation to an end.

The judgmental mind that causes so much pain in our lives cannot be exempted from our practice. The judgmental mind needs to be met with the same courage and investigation we bring to any other afflictive emotion. The judgmental mind does not respond well to suppression, avoidance, or aversion. It needs kindness and understanding. The late Jiyu-Kennett Roshi, a Zen teacher, said the training of liberation begins with compassion for the self, and that cultivating a non-judgmental mind toward ourselves is the key to a genuine compassion for all beings.

We begin this process by asking what a non-judgmental mind looks like, and what it means to be free of the burden of the inner critic. To understand these questions experientially, we need to turn our attention to the judgmental mind and embrace its pain with the same mindfulness we would bring to a pain in our body or to another’s sorrow.

The essence of mindfulness is to see, to understand, and to find freedom within everything that feels intractable and clouded by confusion. Mindfulness is a present-moment experience, concerned with embracing and understanding the entirety of each moment with tenderness, warmth, and interest. In the light of this engaged attention, we discover it is impossible to hate or fear anything we truly understand, including the judgmental mind. We begin to see that the greatest barrier to compassion and freedom is not the pain or adversity we meet in our lives but the ongoing tendency to criticize and fear the simple truths of the moment. Instead of just wanting the judgmental mind to go away, we could begin to ask what it is teaching us. Abhirupa Nanda, a nun from the time of the Buddha, suggested meditating on the unconditioned. Liberate the tendency to judge yourself as being above, below, or the same as others. By penetrating deeply into judgment, you will live at peace.
Looking closely at the judgmental mind, we see that it is rarely truthful or able to see the whole of anything.

Although it may seem so, we were not born with a judgmental, aversive mind. It is a learned way of seeing and relating, and it can be unlearned. Looking closely at the judgmental mind, we see that it is rarely truthful or able to see the whole of anything. Instead, the judgmental mind is governed by seizing upon the particulars of ourselves and others and mistaking those particulars for the truth. A friend neglects to return a phone call, and this triggers a cascade of anxious thinking that convinces us they are an indifferent person or we are unworthy of their attention. We arrive late for an appointment and in moments the inner critic determines we are a mindless failure. The practice of meditation, of discovering what is true, suggests there is another path that can be followed.

In the Sufi tradition it is suggested that our thoughts should pass through three gates. At the first gate, we ask of our thought, “Is it true?” If so, we let the thought pass through to the second gate, where we ask, “Is it necessary or useful?” If this also is so, we let the thought continue on its way to the third gate, where we ask, “Is this thought rooted in love and kindness?” Judgmental thoughts, which are neither true, helpful, nor kind, falter at the gates.

Students often wonder why the judgmental mind does not appear in the traditional list of afflictions that Siddhartha met under the Bodhi tree. Perhaps it is because the judgmental mind is not one affliction or hindrance but a compounded hindrance. If you explore just one moment during which the inner critic is operating, you sense how the winds of all of the hindrances flow through it. There is craving, which takes form in the expectations and ideals we hold for ourselves and others. There is restlessness and worry — the shoulds and expectations generating endless thought and emotion as we struggle to avoid imperfection. And there is aversion and ill will, directed toward ourselves and others when our shoulds and expectations are disappointed. Doubt makes a powerful appearance too—doubt in our worthiness, goodness, and capacity. Then there is the affliction of dullness, which makes a disguised appearance in the form of despair, resignation, and numbness.

Holding all of these afflictions together are the beliefs we have regarding who we are and who we are not, which continually fuel the afflictive emotions. But the path of awakening invites us to understand this compound of the inner critic, to learn how to loosen its hold and power, and to rediscover all that is true within ourselves and others. The path invites us to extend kindness, rather than harshness, to ourselves and all beings and to learn to see a thought as a thought, rather than as a description of reality. On the path, we can begin to see that self-judgment or judgment of another is no more than a thought that is laden with ill will and aversion. There is a profound liberation in knowing this so deeply that we can let go of ill will.
Nurturing our capacity to be mindful and present is the first step to understanding and disempowering the identity and power of the inner critic.

The Buddha taught that what we dwell upon becomes the shape of our mind. If we dwell on ill will, directed outwardly or inwardly in the form of blame, disparagement, or aversion, it will become the shape of our mind until all that we see is that which is broken, flawed, imperfect, and impossible. In India there is a saying that when a pickpocket meets a saint in the marketplace, all he sees are the saint’s pockets. Habit and awareness do not co-exist. Nurturing our capacity to be mindful and present is the first step to understanding and disempowering the identity and power of the inner critic.

We can learn to pause and to listen deeply to the voice of the inner judge, with its endless symphony of blame and shame, and we can surround it with the kindness of mindfulness. We can investigate the truth of its story. We can begin to sense that the inner critic truly warrants compassion, as does any suffering and affliction. Instead of fleeing the painfulness of the judgmental mind we can turn toward it, sensing that everything we are invited to understand in the journey of awakening can be understood within the judgmental mind. Letting go, compassion, the emptiness of self, equanimity, and wisdom are the lessons we are invited to explore with this most powerful of afflictions. The alchemy of mindfulness is to nurture a sense of possibility. We are encouraged to imagine a life free from ill will, blame, and shame. To imagine a life and a heart of compassion, wisdom, and peace.
Source: Lions Roar
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