Category: Awakening



Published on Apr 27, 2017

At the SAND Conference we gather to explore and celebrate Science and Non-Duality. This includes a deep inquiry into Pure Awareness/Shiva. Simultaneously there is a deep universal Love that is the substance of this same reality: Shakti. Over time Pure Awareness has been acknowledged beautifully. On the other hand the Shakti aspect of experience often seems to remain somewhat hidden.

How about we acknowledge Shakti – Love and the expression of Her as form? Her Body is bigger than time and space. In the depth of her Belly are the qualities of vastness and the sacred tremor of the Universe, which include the world and are not of the world. She gives rise to tenderness, bravery and pure intimacy. Full realization is only true when all of Life is included – Awareness and the authentic expressive Body of Love with its Radiant Still Darkness.

Are we ready to let go of a realization fueled by incompleteness and give ourselves wholeheartedly to pure Awareness/Shiva and the dance of
form/Shakti?

Marlies Cocheret is a Hakomi practitioner, Tantric educator, and Teacher http://www.marliescocheret.com/

David Welch: What does it mean to awaken? Is there a process leading to levels or a permanent state?

What are the signs we are making progress? Who and what are we when we are awake?

David Welch: What does it mean to awaken? Is there a process leading to levels or a permanent state?

What are the signs we are making progress? Who and what are we when we are awake?

Byron Katie:If you’re trying to monitor your progress on your spiritual path—if you think you have any idea how far along you are—you might want to save yourself the trouble. There’s no attainment, because you already are what you want to become. Everything separate vanishes in the light of awareness.

When you realize the truth, you realize that it’s no accomplishment. You haven’t done anything; the accomplishment is just the joy of being received by the very thing that you already are. It’s the mind being met by the mind, without opposition. It isn’t personal. The truth sets us free from any attachment to the concepts “self” and “other.” There are no humans; there is no mind; it’s all a dream. The practice of inquiry deletes everything, as long as mind believes that it exists even as mind. The projected world unravels first, and then mind, and any trace that even mind ever existed. That’s my world. When it’s over, it’s over.

The only thing you need to know about enlightenment is whether believing a particular thought is stressful or not. Does the thought hurt or doesn’t it? If it doesn’t, good: enjoy it. If it does hurt—if it causes any stress or uneasiness—question it, and enlighten yourself to that thought. Suffering is optional. It doesn’t have to last for years. It can get down to months, weeks, days, minutes, seconds. Eventually, when the same thoughts arise, the ones that used to make you suffer, you’re at ease with them. In fact, you’re lit; you walk down the street shining like a thousand-watt light bulb. When you think “I need my mother to love me,” you just laugh, because you’re enlightened to that thought, and the next one, and the next.

As it does The Work, mind can lose its grip on identity safely, gently. When you question your stressful thoughts and surrender everything that “you” thought you were, you come to the place where you wonder, “Without that thought, what am I?” Just because an identity appears doesn’t make it true. No one knows what he or she is. The minute it’s said, it isn’t.

Once it thoroughly questions its thoughts, the mind projects a world that’s completely kind. A kind mind projects a kind world. If someone else sees something that’s not perfect, the clear mind can’t comprehend that at first, because it can’t project it. But it remembers its ancient dream-world, when it believed that too, so in the stillness there’s a kind of reference-point, an echo. It’s always grateful for how it sees things, and it understands how others see them. That leaves a lot of energy for it to make amazing changes in the moment, because its clarity keeps none of the options hidden. This is a fearless state of being. There’s no limit to it.

David: Do you have daily rituals or practices that you follow or recommend?

Katie: I wake up. I brush my teeth. I shower. And I let the day show me what’s next. As for recommendations, I invite people to do The Work as a daily practice, if they want to have a happy life.

David: What is the purpose of your life?

Katie: My job here is to make as many people as possible know that there is a way out of suffering. I don’t expect them to do The Work; I just want them to know that it exists.

David: Who inspires you?

Katie: People who are brave enough to question their own stressful thoughts.

David: If our world is potentially looking down the barrel of an environmental catastrophe, how do we live our lives? What are your thoughts about climate change, the preservation of our planet, and the future of humanity?

I have looked down the barrel of a real gun pointed at me, and on several occasions have heard fearful, innocent people threaten to kill me, and never for an instant was I afraid. Fear is the story of a future. How could I know that the man would pull the trigger? How can I know that an environmental catastrophe will happen or, if it does happen, that it will be a bad thing for the planet? Once you understand this, and begin to live in reality, not in your thoughts about reality, life becomes fearless, loving, and filled with gratitude, whatever the nonexistent future may bring.

The war with reality always sees catastrophes looming, whether these are planetary or personal. It’s a very painful way to live. Maybe an environmental catastrophe will happen; maybe it won’t. In the meantime, I go about my business as if there were no life and no death (and there isn’t). My house is powered by the sun, the car I drive is a hybrid, I’m careful about recycling, I vote for people who say they are concerned about global warming, I support environmental causes. I’m fearless, worry-free, and I do whatever I can. “Get solar panels,” the mind says, and there is no valid reason not to, since all thoughts have been tested by inquiry. The panels are installed, my electric bill is two dollars a month, and at some point I will have put back all that I’ve used, and more. This will match my existence: all traces gone, a grateful life given back to what it came from.

I once gave a talk to a group of environmentalists. It was at a Bioneers conference in San Francisco, and hundreds of people came to listen. Many of these people had given their lives to saving the planet. I talked for a while about my commitment to environmental action, which seems to me the sane and kind thing to do. Then I asked for their thoughts about the environment. They were living with a great deal of anxiety, even terror, they said—an enormous burden on their shoulders. But many of them had open minds and were willing to question the thoughts that were causing them so much stress. I helped them do The Work on thoughts such as “Something terrible is going to happen,” “I need to save the planet,” and “People should be more conscious.” They discovered how these thoughts were driving them crazy, and how the thoughts have opposites that could be just as true.

After a few hours of intensive inquiry, I asked them to imagine the worst things that can happen if we continue to poison our beautiful planet and invited them to make a list. “The planet will become uninhabitable for humans. Thousands of species will become extinct.” And so on. Once they had made their list, we questioned some of their statements, and I asked them to turn the list around: instead of “The Worst Things That Can Happen to Our Planet,” I asked them to retitle their list “The Best Things That Can Happen to Our Planet,” then to find specific, genuine reasons why each item on the list was true. How could it be that the best thing for our planet that it becomes uninhabitable for humans, for example? Many of them didn’t want to go there at first, and there was a lot of resistance and many upset questions, but these were courageous people, and eventually they found valid reasons why every item was the best thing that could happen. “It might be good for some endangered species not to have humans around.” “It would be good for insects.” “It would be good for the rain forests.” “We wouldn’t be pumping and mining the life blood out of the planet.” “Who knows what intelligent species would evolve if we were gone?” They had been dealing with discouragement and burnout for years, and some of them later thanked me and told me how empowering this exercise had been for them.

One of the things you discover when you begin to practice inquiry is that the world doesn’t need saving. It has already been saved. What a relief! The most attractive thing about the Buddha was that he saved one person: himself. That’s all he needed to save, and when he saved himself, the whole world was saved. All his years of teaching—forty years of apparent compassion—were just the forward momentum of that one moment of insight.

For more information or visit http://www.byronkatie.com.

David Welch: is the founder and CEO of Awaken Global Media and Chief Editor of AWAKEN.com. He is the Producer of the award-winning movie “Peaceful Warrior” and a member of the Directors Guild of America and Screen Actors Guild. David is a master practitioner of Neuro-linguistic programming, a certified Kundalini Yoga instructor and has a continuous, committed and daily yoga, meditation and Qi gong practice.
Source: AWAKEN


Published on Apr 20, 2017

Jürgen Ziewe ‘Vistas Of Infinity’ Interview by Renate McNay
Author of ‘The Ten Minute Moment,’ ‘Multi-Dimensional Man,’ and ‘Vistas of Infinity.’
Jürgen started to meditate at an early age and at one point suddenly discovered himself out of his body. At first he didn’t realise what had happened but found confirmation in the books of Carlos Casteneda.
He found that there is a wormhole right in the centre of our brains which can catapult us into a parallel world. This world can be experienced with the same level or greater conscious waking awareness as our physical life.
He talks us through his many dramatic adventures to other worlds and the important realisations that gave him and how through his astral travel he lost his fear of death.
‘Every day I wake up it is the first day of an infinite future.’

Dan Millman: On Awakening

Centuries ago, a wanderer came upon another lone traveler walking serenely through a forest in India.

Intrigued by the serene man, unaware that he was in fact the Buddha, the wanderer asked, “Excuse me sir, but — are you a wizard?” The Buddha smiled and shook his head. “Well then,” continued the wanderer, “Are you a great warrior, or a king?” Again, the Buddha said no. “Yet there is something about you — what is it that makes you different from anyone I’ve ever met before?”

“I’m awake,” replied the Buddha.

Whether or not that conversation actually took place, sages and philosophers have sought to understand and experience this phenomenon we call awakening. The Sufis call it fana; the Zen masters refer to states of kensho or satori; the Taoist sages might refer to wu (emptiness, the void); the Hindus speak of nirvana. But let’s go beyond cultural labels and consider the thing (or non-thing) itself.

In order to awaken, we must first recognize that we are asleep. To grasp this idea, we can use an analogy: We know that in our everyday lives, most of us go to sleep at night and experience periods of dreaming as well as deep sleep. Then, in the morning, we awaken from our dream-filled slumber.

The sages of many traditions suggest that even in our so-called waking states, we move through another kind of day-dream, perceiving the world not as it is, but as we are — through a distorting window beliefs, associations, opinions. judgments and meanings we project into the world.

We don’t seem to be dreaming our way through life. In fact, we imagine ourselves fully awake as we work, study, raise children, play sports, and pursue our everyday activities and goals. Yet, as Plato proposed, most people exist in a cave of illusions, mistaking their own shadows, cast by the fire-light and dancing on the walls, as ‘reality.’ Plato compared awakening to the experience of turning away from the shadows — grasping that there is actually a way out of the cave, into the light of the Real World. Today, few of us seek or find a way out. Most are content to gaze at our own imagined realities, entranced, like Narcissus, by the content our own minds, reflected in the pond.

At some point, we may explore and analyze our nocturnal dreams to provide insight into our personalities or divine messages from the subconscious. Others go beyond such analysis to practice lucid dreaming. Lucidity comes the moment we awaken within the dream; that is, we notice we are dreaming. This is no small realization, since when immersed in a dream, it seems real, which is why we may cry out, for example, when having a nightmare. But when we realize: Wait. I’m dreaming this — we become lucid — we can then consciously create whatever we wish within the dream. Being chased by a monster? No problem — we fly away out of its reach or turn it into a daisy. Or we allow ourselves to be devoured and see what follows. Thus awakened, our dreams no longer merely happen to us as actors in a play directed by others; we become the Screenwriter of our dreams.

And just as lucid dreaming bestows conscious creative power in the dream state, it can do the same in our waking state. We can move from lucid dreaming to lucid waking through insight into the nature of our subjective filters — those thoughts, meanings, beliefs, and associations that distort our simple and direct relationship with what is.

The Zen masters call this awakening “nothing special,” only the recognition of suchness or isness — reality as it is, prior to the complications, desires, and concepts we impose upon it. Therefore, awakening is not an achievement, but a noticing.

For this noticing to occur, we need only get out of our own way. But doing so can take time. As G.I. Gurdjieff noted, “One of the best means for arousing the wish to work on yourself is to realize that you may die at any moment. But first, you must learn how to realize this.”

Most of us are blissfully ignorant of any notion of awakening. Content to dream their lives away, they enjoy watching shadows dancing upon the walls. But then something happens that shakes us — a book read, a person met, a moment of insight or a sudden change sends us on a quest for the transcendent: the cave’s exit into the sunlight of the Real. We begin to suspect our assumptions; we no longer believe our beliefs as firmly as before. We cultivate an interest in awakening from our self-sustained dream.

How does one generate such an awakening? There is no single best way; only a way for each individual to discover for himself. But all agree, as Sri Nigasardatta Maharaj reminded his disciples, “One must know the self before one can transcend the self.” So a practice of insight and self-observation is, for many of us, an essential part of our process of awakening.

And it is a process, after all. Although some people imagine that we wake up all at once in a singular, permanent event, like a light switch flipping on, most of us awaken gradually, like a dimmer switch turning up, and then down, and then up again, growing brighter over time. We are like children who, reluctant to wake up, pull the covers over our head. But the Light is persistent, rising higher in the sky of our minds, until we finally open our eyes. We come to accept that life comes at us in waves of change that we cannot predict, control, or deny. We can only learn to surf.

We discover that life is a series of moments: neurotic moments, intelligent moments, and awakened moments. Some explorers tell dramatic stories about their wake-up calls. Others keep it to themselves and smile, remembering Lao Tzu’s note that “Those who Know do not speak (of it) and those who speak (of it) do not know.” Because It, as Alan Watts might remind us, is beyond words. Yet words can provide a wake-up call, and at least point the way.

So we come to the end of these brief notes with the following words: What happens after awakening? Everything changes, yet nothing changes. As the Zen proverb goes: “Before enlightenment, chopping wood and carrying water; after enlightenment, chopping wood and carrying water.” Even so, a single liberating glimpse of reality as it is may represent the most profound and important ‘nothing’ a human being may experience.

Dan Millman, a former world champion athlete, coach, martial arts instructor, and college professor, is author of Way of the Peaceful Warrior (adapted to film in 2006), and numerous other books read by millions of people in 29 languages. Dan teaches worldwide and has influenced people from all walks of life, including leaders in the fields of health, psychology, education, business, politics, sports, entertainment and the arts.

For more information: www. peacefulwarrior.com
Source: AWAKEN


Published on Apr 15, 2017

Sruti is a spiritual teacher who writes about finding God within an experience with an uncommon and painful illness called Interstitial Cystitis. She has been interviewed on the Buddha at the Gas Pump talk show on YouTube about her experience of spiritual awakening in the midst of intense pain: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=atG0z…

This ongoing and chronic condition challenged her to stay present with daily pain and to look further inward for answers. In an extreme moment of pain, in which consciousness began to fade, Sruti experienced the erasure of all that clouds over the earliest source of vision.

She watched as one by one the layers of the mind, the body and feelings disappeared before her. She asks the question: Who is the One that Can Never Leave You? With whose vision are we seeing when the lights are going out? Has this early vision ever known anything at all?

Steve Taylor’s latest book is The Leap: The Psychology of Spiritual Awakening. His previous books include The Calm Center. He is a senior lecturer in psychology at Leeds Beckett University and one of Watkins Mind Body Spirit magazine’s “100 Most Spiritually Influential People.” He lives in Manchester, England. Visit him online at http://www.StevenMTaylor.com.

What does it mean to be enlightened or spiritually awakened?

I don’t think there’s anything particularly esoteric about the state, and I don’t associate it with religions. I think of it as a shift into a more expansive, higher-functioning state of being – a state in which we experience a strong sense of connection with the world around us and other beings, a sense of inner quietness and spaciousness, and a heightened awareness of our surroundings. The state isn’t without its challenges, particularly in its early stages (when there may be some confusion and psychological disturbance) but in general it brings an enhanced sense of ease and well-being. It’s quite common for people to shift into this state after intense psychological turmoil. In my book Out of the Darkness, I describe many examples of this. It is also not uncommon for people to move towards this state slowly and gradually, over many years of spiritual practice (such as meditation) or through following specific spiritual paths, such as the eightfold path of Buddhism or a monastic lifestyle.

What are the three different types of wakefulness?

First of all, there is natural wakefulness. For a small minority of people, wakefulness is simply their natural, normal state. They were always in a state of wakefulness, without undergoing a sudden transformation and without following spiritual practices and paths. These people often become creative artists, like poets and painters.

Secondly, there is gradual wakefulness. This happens to people who follow spiritual practices or paths, or it might just happen as a result of their lifestyle, or events that happen to them. Wakefulness occurs gradually over years and decades. They gradually move into a more expansive and intense state of being.

Finally, there is sudden wakefulness. As I just mentioned, some people undergo a sudden and dramatic shift into wakefulness. Most frequently, this happens in the midst of intense psychological turmoil e.g. a diagnosis of cancer, bereavement, addiction etc. The turmoil breaks down a person’s normal sense of identity, and this enables a new sense of identity to emerge inside them. They shift a more expansive, higher-functioning state of being – in other words, into the wakeful state.

How can we tell the difference between fraudulent spiritual teachers and the genuinely awakened?

It’s a question of finding out whether they possess all of the characteristics of wakefulness. Some of the characteristics of the state are well known – a sense of well-being, a transcendence of separation, a quiet mind, heightened awareness. But there are some less well known characteristics – e.g. awakened people don’t have a sense of group identity, or feel the need to acquire possessions or wealth or power. They don’t feel the need to be admired, or feel hurt by criticism. They live very morally, without exploiting anyone.

So if a so-called spiritual teacher doesn’t display these characteristics then you should question whether they are genuinely awakened. Typical signs of a fraudulent teacher include living an accumulative lifestyle, needing followers around them to make them feel important, behaving immorally, not living altruistically or showing compassion, being wounded by slights, cultivating a sense of group identity amongst their followers, and showing signs of prejudice or enmity towards other groups. If your teacher shows any of these characteristics then you can be sure that they are not awakened.

How do different theories of consciousness explain (or try to debunk) mystical (or awakening) experiences?

Some psychologists and neuroscientists think that awakening experiences can be explained in terms of brain activity – that is, they are caused by abnormal types of activity in different parts of the brain, producing more intense perception, a lack of subject-object boundaries etc. In other words, they are a kind of hallucination.

I think this is highly dubious. For a start, the assumption that the brain is the source of our conscious experience is dubious. Some scientists assume that the brain gives rise to consciousness, just because they can’t think of any way of explaining it, but despite decades of intensive research, no one has the slightest idea how this might occur. In philosophy, this is called the ‘hard problem’ of how the soggy gray mass of the brain could give rise to the amazing richness and variety of our conscious experience. In fact, it’s just as to reverse this suggest that, if there are any particular brain states associated with awakening experiences, these states could be produced by the experiences themselves, rather than the other way around.

As a psychologist I’ve never been particular interested in studying the brain, and working how it which parts of it are active or inactive in different states. To me, that’s like studying a map of a place rather than exploring it as a reality.

Wakeful states exist in themselves, as experiences, and can’t be reduced to – or explained away in terms of – neurological activity.

Is it possible to awaken through psychedelics?

Psychedelics can definitely generate temporary awakening experiences, but it’s very unlikely that they will bring about a shift into permanent wakefulness. The reason for this is that psychedelics work by dissolving away our normal sense of self, and putting its psychological mechanisms out of action. This can cause temporary awakening experiences, but permanent wakefulness can only occur if there is a new sense of self to replace the normal one. It’s not enough to dissolve the sense of self – a new self has to replace it.

In fact, the danger of the regular use of psychedelics is that the structures of the normal mind permanently dissolve away, without anything to replace them, and so there’s just a psychological vacuum, or a state of psychosis. And unfortunately there have been many cases of this. In fact, you could say that this is really the only permanent psychological change which the regular use of psychedelics can bring: not awakening, but psychosis.

Having said that, I think psychedelics can have a positive effect, if they are used carefully. Although they rarely bring about permanent transformation, they can sometimes cause a shift in values and perspectives, make people see the world in a different way and re-evaluate their lives. They can provide a glimpse into a more intense reality that makes them realise that their normal view of life is limited. This sometimes creates an interest in spiritual practices and traditions, as a way of trying to recapture this vision of the world in a more integrated way. Look at Ram Dass! He’s the best example of this – a Harvard psychologist who took LSD, re-evaluated his life, became a spiritual seeker, and eventually one of the most inspired spiritual teachers of our time.

Are children naturally awake?

Yes! Certainly young children. Some spiritual traditions associate childhood with wakefulness, and see spiritual development as a matter of recovering qualities of our childhood state. The Dao De Ching advises us to ‘Return to the state of the infant.’ One of Jesus’ most famous sayings is ‘unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.’

Children definitely have many of the characteristics of the wakefulness state – more intense perception, well-being, a strong sense of connection to the world around them, heightened energy, a lack of the need for group identity, of the need to accumulate, and so on. However, there are some significant differences between childhood wakefulness and the kind of wakefulness we attain as adults. For example, children don’t possess characteristics intense compassion, or inner quietness and stability. So children are naturally awake, but they’re not awake in quite the same way as adults. It’s a kind of immature wakefulness, which isn’t as wide-ranging as mature wakefulness.

What are the signs that the human race is undergoing a collective awakening?

I would say that there are five signs. The first four relate to individual experiences of wakefulness.

First of all, wakefulness seems to be natural for a small minority of people. There are some people who aren’t awake due to a sudden transformation, or to decades of regular spiritual practice – wakefulness is simply their normal, natural state.

The second sign is that temporary awakening experiences are very common, and seem to getting more common. As I showed in my previous book, Waking from Sleep, it’s very common for people to have temporary glimpses of the wakeful state, often when they’re inactive and relaxed, and their minds become quiet and calm. For a few moments, our normal ‘sleep’ state slips away and the wakeful state emerges, like the sun from behind a wall of clouds.

The third sign is that more and more people are feeling a strong impulse to awaken. More and more people seem to sense instinctively that something is wrong with their normal state of being. They’re aware that they’re asleep, and they want to wake up. This suggests that our sleep state is losing its hold over us.

The fourth sign is that awakening occurs so spontaneously and easily in response to psychological turmoil. As I’ve said before, it’s not uncommon for people who go through intense stress and turmoil to undergo a sudden shift into the wakeful state. Their previous identity dissolves away, and a new self emerges, like a butterfly emerging from a chrysalis. In my research, I’ve always been amazed at how common this phenomenon is, and I think that it’s becoming more common.

Finally, there are cultural signs that this shift is underway. These have been growing for the last three hundred years or so. Since the 18th century, in many parts of the world, there has been a growing sense of empathy, compassion and fairness. There has been an increasing recognition of the rights of different groups, including animals. There has been a reconnection to nature, to the human body, and an openness to sex, And particularly over recent decades, there has been a massive (and still growing) upsurge in interest in spiritual philosophies and the spread of spiritual practices such as meditation, yoga, and other techniques of self-development. Everywhere there are signs of a movement beyond both ego-isolation and egocentrism, a growing sense of connection and empathy.

Even if this process is a gradual and fitful one — and even if it may appear to be still in its early stages — we appear to be in the process of waking up.

One of the biggest myths about spirituality is that it reveals the world to be an illusion. According to the myth, when we ‘wake up’ or become enlightened, we realise that the physical realm of things is just a dream. The world and all the events that take place in it are seen as a mirage. Only spirit is real, which exists above and beyond the physical world.

One of the problems with this view is that it leads to a detached and indifferent attitude to worldly events. What does it matter if millions of people are suffering from poverty and starvation? What does warfare or ecological catastrophe matter? Why should we bother trying to fight for social causes or against global problems? It’s all just part of the dream, so none of it is of any consequence.

This attitude is often justified with reference to the Hindu concept of maya. This is sometimes translated as “illusion,” but its actual meaning is actually closer to “deception.” Maya is the force that deceives us into thinking of ourselves as separate entities and the world as consisting of separate, autonomous phenomena. In other words, maya prevents us from seeing the world as it really is. It blinds us to the unity that lies behind apparent diversity. It stops us from seeing the world as brahman, or spirit. So it doesn’t literally mean that the world is an illusion, but that it’s not as it seems. It means that our vision of the world is not complete or objective, that there’s more to reality than we superficially see.

The idea of the world as an illusion is sometimes specifically associated with Hindu Advaita Vedanta (or nonduality) philosophy, but this interpretation of Advaita stems from a similar misunderstanding. The most influential Advaita Vedanta philosopher was Sankara, who lived during the eighth and nineth centuries ce. Sankara famously made three statements (later reframed by Ramana Maharshi and others): “The universe is unreal. Brahman is real. The universe is Brahman.” If the first two statements are taken alone and out of context — as they often are — then they suggest a duality between the world and spirit: the world is an illusion, and only spirit is real. But the third statement, which is often overlooked, completely reverses this. The third statement says that the universe is spirit, and so the universe actually is real. Sankara is not literally saying that the universe is unreal, only that it doesn’t have an independent reality. It depends on brahman for its existence; it’s pervaded with brahman, and it can’t exist without it.

Ramana Maharshi (pictured), perhaps the greatest Indian sage of the twentieth century, held a similar view. He explained that the world is not unreal in itself. It becomes so when we perceive it purely in terms of its appearance and only see interacting separate objects rather than an underlying spirit. That world is unreal in the same way that a dream is unreal, because it’s based on delusion. But in itself the world is inseparable from spirit. It’s a manifestation of spirit.

This is exactly what wakefulness reveals — not that the world is an illusion but that the world as we normally see it is incomplete, a partial reality. In wakefulness, the world actually becomes more real, partly in the sense that it becomes more tangibly real and alive, more vivid and powerfully there, but also in the sense that it becomes infused with spirit. In wakefulness, we realize that there’s no duality, no matter or spirit, no matter or mind. We realize that the physical world and the spiritual world are one, with no distinction. The world is gloriously infused with spirit and gloriously real.

Nevertheless, the idea of the world as an illusion is appealing to many people, as it offers a way of circumventing problems. If you’re facing difficulties in your own life, and if the world itself is full of the suffering of your fellow human beings, then it’s comforting and convenient to tell yourself, “Oh well, it’s all just an illusion, so there’s no need to worry.” In other words, it offers a means of spiritual bypassing, that is, using spiritual beliefs as a way of escaping issues that need addressing.

A similar attitude is sometimes applied to the body. After all, the body is made of the same stuff as the world, so if the world is an illusion, the body must be too, or at least it can be seen as something different and inferior to the mind or spirit. There’s a duality between the spirit and the body, just as there’s a duality between the spirit and the physical world. This attitude can lead to a hostile, repressive attitude toward the body, an attitude of disgust toward its animalistic functions and impulses, including sex. This attitude is illustrated by early Christian Gnostic teachings, for example, which held that all matter is evil, and the body is a prison to escape from. But again, in wakefulness this duality is revealed to be false. The body is infused with spirit and is one with spirit. As Walt Whitman writes in “I Sing the Body Electric,” after listing dozens of different parts of the body, “O I say these are not the parts and poems of the Body only, but of the soul, O I say now these are the soul!”

Steve Taylor Phd is a senior lecturer in psychology at Leeds Beckett University, UK. This is an edited extract from his new book The Leap. More information
HERE

There is a very clear distinction between the awakened state of Presence and the world of the mind. When you are fully present, thoughts stop and your mind is silent. That is the test of Presence. It is the test of silence. You are utterly present with what is here and your mind is silent. It is as if silence is aware of silence. That is it. Not one word or thought arises. You are immersed in the moment of now.

Your mind might come in with observations about your spiritual progress or how awake you are, or how enlightened you are. These are just thoughts arising within the mind and probably generated by the ego. Your ego wants to be enlightened. Just say to your ego, “yes, yes darling you are the most enlightened of them all.” The ego will relax with this light-hearted acknowledgment.

Even if you say to me, “I am enlightened,” I would ask you, “Who is enlightened?” The only possible answer is “I AM,” which will immediately take you beyond the mind. It will take you beyond the world of time. It will take you beyond the concept or idea of enlightenment. It is the “I AM” Presence that is the awakened you. That is it. There is nothing beyond that. But the moment you think about it or the moment you have a view of yourself as being awake or enlightened, you are in the mind again.

No one can truly awaken unless they are clear about this distinction. Otherwise, you will think you are present or enlightened when you are not. Even worse, the ego will think it is present or enlightened. This confusion is an obstacle to your full awakening. It is very difficult to free yourself from an ‘enlightened’ ego.

To be present is your natural state. In fact the only way you can be somewhere other than in the present moment is to think your way out of here. And where will you go? You will take yourself into the past and future world of the mind. All thoughts are of the past or future and that is exactly where they will take you. You will find yourself in a world of illusion and separation.

I am not saying that thoughts should stop or the ego should be eliminated. Just be aware of thoughts as they arise and recognize them for what they are. Your thoughts have nothing to do with the present moment. Even brilliant spiritual thoughts are just thoughts. Even brilliant reflections upon your spiritual progress are just reflections within the mind. Do not allow the ego to fool you. Do not reject your thoughts, but also do not believe in them. Do not follow them. Just acknowledge the thought and gently return to Presence.

Once you relax into silence, you will deepen into Presence. And then of course, all sorts of wonderful things can arise from the silence at the center of your being – bliss, ecstasy, love, compassion, truth and wisdom can arise and flow through you.

If you are fully awake in this moment, all separation dissolves as you open into Oneness. Your sense of yourself as an individual also dissolves as you are immersed into the mystery of this moment.

You do not always have to be at this deep level of Presence. Unless you retire to a cave or an ashram, you will still participate in the world of time and use your mind many times each day. There is nothing wrong with thinking, as long as you are aware of the distinction between the awakened state of Presence and the world of the mind. This will enable you to settle more deeply and more fundamentally into the world of now.

About Leonard: Leonard Jacobson is an awakened spiritual teacher, mystic and author, who is deeply committed to helping others break through to the joyous experience of living in the NOW. For more than 35 years, Leonard has been teaching people how to become fundamentally present and arise in mastery of the mind and ego. Find more of Leonard’s work at Leonard Jacobson.com.
Source: AWAKEN
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Published on Apr 1, 2017

http://adyashanti.org – Who do you want to blame? Who do you want to withhold love from? Who are you so resentful and bitter towards that you would never want to express your love towards them? Adyashanti opens up a doorway into self-knowing, where you can explore where you are withholding love in your life. By holding up the torch of truth to your interactions and releasing your arguments with yourself, others, the world, and God, your world is dramatically transformed — your daily activities become more inclusive, and you begin to embody your awakening more fully.

Quotes from this Video:

“Step outside of everything you think you know.”

“The entire internal world — when you’re not thinking about it — just stops.”

“Doubt is powerful. Not the kind of doubt that makes you feel small and diminished and afraid to move, but the doubt where you see, ‘My God, the whole way that I have myself, and everybody, and everything hooked up in my mind may be nothing more than a thought. A persistent thought, but maybe nothing more than that.’”

“This is the kind of doubt that not only allows us to begin to experience the dimension of being but actually releases it into experience.”

“To be really awakened is to have no more argument with yourself, no more argument with the world, no more argument with others, and no more argument with God.”

“Reality is the ultimate bait-and-switch maneuver. It costs nothing to wake up, however it costs everything to stay awake.”


If you think enlightenment is all about losing touch with the world, think again! In this video, Steve Taylor – the author of The Leap – explodes the five biggest myths about spiritual awakening.


Published on Mar 26, 2017

An excerpt from silent retreat with Aisha Salem in Italy, August 2016.

Aisha is a Woman of Truth who shares on Awakening, Self-realisation & Embodiment.


Amoda Maa Jeevan brings to light the process of opening ourselves to the darkness of suffering in order to awaken from the dream of separation.

In this talk, Amoda Maa invites you to consider that the darkness we encounter in our personal lives and in the world is an volutionary driver for awakening out of the dream of separation. Very often, awakening or enlightenment is imagined to be a spontaneous transcendent state that leads to eternal bliss and peace. But what is often missed is, that if awakening is to be more than a temporary state, we are called to meet every vestige of inner darkness and that this is an ongoing journey that can happen either before or after awakening. It’s an invitation to open to all previously unmet contractive energies based on an erroneous perception of separation.

Inner darkness is where we hold on to inner division; it’s a blind spot with incredible power: the power to create suffering in ourselves and in the world. Amoda invites you to meet this suffering consciously, and then to choose to open wider than this suffering. Conscious suffering is the decision to walk with resolute presence and unadulterated openness through every inner and outer landscape through Heaven and Hell and to recognize what is true beneath and beyond all appearances.

In conscious suffering, every step is a crucifixion and a resurrection. It’s a death of the archaic mechanism of ego and a rebirth into the light of who you truly are. When this light is seen in and as the heart of everything, a real transformation of consciousness takes place. As the Indian saint Neem Karoli Baba, said: “I love suffering, it brings me closer to God.”

source: flicker.com


What is spiritual awakening, or ‘enlightenment’? I don’t think there’s anything particularly esoteric about the state, and I don’t associate it with religions. I think of it in simple psychological terms: as a shift into a more expansive, higher-functioning state of being – a state in which we experience a strong sense of connection with the world around us and other beings, a sense of inner quietness and spaciousness, and a heightened awareness of our surroundings. I have found that it is not uncommon for people to shift into this state after intense psychological turmoil – in my book Out of the Darkness, I describe many examples of this. It is also not uncommon for people to move towards this state slowly and gradually, over many years of spiritual practice (such as meditation) or through following specific spiritual paths, such as the eightfold path of Buddhism or a monastic lifestyle.

When people attain this state, it predisposes them to more ethical behaviour. Because of the strong emphatic connection we have for other human beings, it means that we’re more likely to treat other people with compassion and fairness. It usually means that we’re less likely to exploit people for financial gain, or to use them as a means of satisfying our desires for power or sex.

However, there are many cases of spiritual teachers who do not behave in this way, who mistreat and exploit their followers, become prone to narcissism and megalomania, and whose personal lives are sullied by excess and impropriety. One well known example is the Tibetan teacher Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. While he was reputedly a very wise and insightful teacher (at least initially), he became an alcoholic who abused and humiliated his followers and sexual exploited his female disciples. The American teacher Adi Da (also known as Da Free John, amongst other names) clearly had some experience of the wakeful state, as shown by a number of extremely insightful books. However, early signs of instability and narcissism intensified into full blown megalomania, until he regularly proclaimed that he was the sole saviour of the human race, and that the only possible way to become awakened was to become his follower. He also ritually humiliated and sexually abused his followers. As Andrew Cohen – a spiritual teacher himself – wrote, “How could a spiritual genius and profoundly Awakened man like Da Free John, who makes such a mockery of his own genius through his painfully obvious megalomaniacal rantings, leave so many lost and confused?”

The irony here is that in recent years Cohen himself has suffered many accusations of impropriety and misconduct from his followers too, including allegations of bullying and financial extortion. In 2013, as a result of these accusations, Cohen decided to step down from his role as a guru, after realising that ‘in spite of the depth of my awakening, my ego is still alive and well.’

Corruption and Projection

How is all this possible? In a good number of cases, it may be that self-appointed ‘spiritual teachers’ are simply self-deluded fools or charlatans. But I don’t think this is the whole story. At least to some extent, the failings of spiritual teachers are the result of the role itself. Some spiritual teachers may have been narcissists all along, but others are turned into narcissists. Such teachers may well be genuinely awakened to begin with but are slowly corrupted by their power and authority, to the point that their wakefulness dissipates, and they become lost in self-indulgence and delusion. Their egos become inflated by the projections of their followers, who treat them as perfect beings even when they behave unethically. Any cruel or exploitative behaviour is explained away as some kind of ‘test’ or ‘divine play’, and the teachers lose their moral compass. The egos they were supposed to have ‘dropped’ a long time ago become inflated to monstrous proportions.

The problem is that a shift into a higher-functioning, more expansive state of being (i.e. wakefulness) doesn’t necessarily ‘wipe the slate clean.’ There may be some old, lingering negative tendencies which become amplified by the role of spiritual teacher. There may be a tendency to narcissism or to authoritarianism – even just slight a tendency – which was never clearly visible before. But these tendencies are still extant, and what might originally have been a tiny germ of a negative trait becomes a grossly obvious personality defect. What might originally have been an insignificantly small tendency towards self-indulgence explodes into excess and degeneracy on a rock star scale.

There is a particular danger of this happening if a person makes a conscious decision to become a teacher soon after their initial awakening, before there has been time for negative traits to fade away. It’s also dangerous when spiritual teachers from the East move to the West – even more so, if they come from an eastern monastic tradition. They may well be unused to permissive Western attitudes to sex, and find themselves unable to control their sexual impulses. The overt hedonism and materialism of Western culture may have a similar negative effect. This helps to explain the sexual promiscuity of teachers such Chogyam Rinpoche, Swami Muktananda and Osho.

One of the problems here is that the role of spiritual teacher is so unregulated. There are no guidelines to follow, no regulations to ensure that teachers behave responsibility, or to protect vulnerable people. (This is part of the reason why I have written my new book The Leap: The Psychology of Spiritual Awakening.)There isn’t even any reliable means of distinguishing fraudulent or deluded teachers from genuine ones. We only have our own intuition and discernment to rely on – which unfortunately may not always protect us from exploitation.

Steve Taylor PhD is senior lecturer in psychology at Leeds Beckett University, UK. His new book The Leap (from which this article is an edited extract) is published by New World Library (Eckhart Tolle Editions).


Gabor is a spirited coach who frees people from thought addiction, allowing consciousness to awaken and to become the real guide.

Gabor nearly lost his life escaping from communist Hungary at the age of 18. He arrived in Canada with a single minded and insatiable thirst for his first love – power and material wealth. At the age of 30 he was already a multi-millionaire, had his black belt in Hap-Kido, and had degrees in business and engineering. However, he was not at all happy.

And so, Gabor turned to his 2nd love – spirituality. He resided with and was initiated by a Shaman in Ecuador, lived in a forest in the U.S., all the while, attending Ramtha’s School of Enlightenment. He also studied with teachers such as Burt Harding and Bob Proctor, and took every new age seminar within shooting distance. All these served as soul searching pacifiers with an occasional glimmer of “What a great experience! If only I could hang on to it a bit longer.”

Finally, at the age of 40, Gabor found his true Master – suffering. His suffering came in the forms of heartbreak, the loss of his family and his entire fortune, and suicidal depression. Through the grace of this newfound master, Gabor was now able to surrender to his 3rd and ultimate love – Presence, the silence of nothing, where the capitulated mind takes a back seat and becomes the servant.

Having deepened his presence and integrating it into his life, Gabor developed many techniques and the ability to teach the indescribable. For the past 10 years he has been offering seminars and private sessions, online and in several countries around the globe. In these sessions, Gabor not only guides people and teaches the techniques he has developed, but he also helps them deal with the mind’s onslaughts by proxy. Website: http://gaborharsanyi.com


When people allow themselves to connect with what their spiritual life is about for them—what their deep questions are, what their deep yearning is—then they have all the vitality they need

Born in 1962 in Cupertino, California—with the given name Stephen Gray—Adyashanti is a well-known spiritual teacher devoted to serving the “awakening of all beings.” Although he often sounds as though he might belong to the Zen or Advaita Vedanta traditions—and, indeed, he practiced Zen for 14 years—Adyashanti attracts students from all backgrounds and says that his teachings are “not confined within any religious point of view, belief system, or doctrine.” He is the author of The Way of Liberation, Falling into Grace, True Meditation, and The End of Your World.

He recently spoke with S&H from his home in the foothills of the Santa Cruz mountains.

You’ve spoken openly about having awakening experiences. How would you describe enlightenment?

Enlightenment involves waking up to our true nature. One way you might describe it is that it’s like having a lucid dream, the experience of suddenly becoming aware that you’re dreaming. All of a sudden there’s another dimension of awareness that is conscious of the dream while you’re in it.

When you’re not conscious of the dream, you think that everything that’s going on in the dream is completely real and significant. It can be all-consuming. But as soon as you realize that you’re dreaming, there are two different qualities of consciousness. One is that you’re aware of whatever is happening in the dream. But then there’s another quality of consciousness, which is when your awareness recognizes itself.

Is that moment of recognition typically a big, wild experience?

Enlightenment is usually talked about almost exclusively in those terms. As a teacher, I found that the bigness or wildness of any kind of awakening experience has very little to do with what may be going on with a person five years after the experience. Sometimes massive spiritual openings are transformative. Other times, after a year or two, it’s almost as if nothing ever happened. Both of those different outcomes can be the result of the same fundamental insight.

In that sense, I think enlightenment exists on a sliding scale. How well have you integrated those insights into your life? That process of integration is an endless journey and it doesn’t necessarily happen after big spiritual openings, as people often think it does. We think, I’ll have an awakening experience, and then I’ll just know by some miracle how it all functions. Often, we don’t know how enlightenment functions, at least not in the beginning.

How can we meaningfully integrate the insights that come from big spiritual openings into our daily lives?

It’s difficult because in those moments you realize that you are, essentially, something quite different from what you might have imagined yourself to be before that. I think the way we approach the integration of that insight into our daily lives is often misguided. We might think that the integration is going to mean living in a particular state of experience. But it’s more of a question of how will revelatory moments actually trickle down into the way we move through life? One way this happens is that you can become more aware of when you’re out of alignment, let’s say. You can be in the middle of a conversation and feel very overtly the moment you say a word that’s not completely true. I don’t mean that you’re lying or deceiving, but there’s the feeling that one word wasn’t quite right. You feel it in your body, like somebody just put a little poison in it.

In other words, it’s not so much what we do as it is what we notice. Someone who is really attending to integration will notice, right in the middle of a sentence, where they’ve moved away from saying the truest thing. At that moment, they’ll have the opportunity either to just keep plowing forward or to just stop for a moment.

Let’s take a step back. Before we can integrate spiritual insights into our daily lives, we need to experience the insights. Do you recommend or teach people specific techniques to help them awaken?

Sure, there are all sorts of techniques. The two fundamental ways that I go about all of this are meditation and inquiry. Meditation is just taking the time to be still and quiet. When you’re meditating, you’re noticing that which is always still and always quiet. If you pursue stillness and quiet, it will usually disquiet you. So it’s more effective to simply notice what is always still and quiet.

Inquiry practice is directly engaging with the existential questions of life: Who am I? What is life? What is God? What is death? In other words, I don’t necessarily recommend a formulaic question. I want to know: What’s your question? What’s the question you have that seems so big that you almost don’t even want to engage with it because it seems so big? Those are the existential questions we all have. Inquiry practice is when we engage with those questions.

Let me give you a quick example. If a person starts to explore the question, Who am I? the first thing I often ask them to do is to slow down so they can see what happens when they search for an answer. Generally, what happens is we start to look inside. Consciousness does this little U-turn and it looks for you. Often, if it can get back behind the ideas and the images you carry around with you, which it actually does very quickly—there’s something there that’s noticed in a split second that most people turn away from. They get the answer immediately, but they turn away from it because it’s not what they expected.

When you look inside to find you, you expect to find something or someone. If you don’t find something or someone, you might say, “I don’t know the answer to the question because I looked and I didn’t find what I was looking for.” Okay, maybe not finding the answer is the beginning of the answer. You expected to find something and you didn’t. What if you just stopped with that? “What am I? I don’t know.” Well, what’s that experience like? That might not be the fullness of the answer, but it certainly opened the doorway. It just happens in a split second.

You’ve said that after you had an awakening experience, you were able to abide in it and no longer needed a daily practice. Can you say more about this?

Yeah, I didn’t need to do anything to keep it going. A lot of false conclusions could probably get made out of that statement. It’s not like I never practiced again. I had my first opening at 25—and other openings after that—and it’s not like I just stopped practicing entirely.

But it’s true that after those openings my practice—if we can call it a practice—shifted a lot. All the goal-driven part of the practice just disappeared. Even the ways that I understood meditation underwent a transformation. No longer did I think I needed to be meditating to be in a clear space. I realized that I didn’t need to be doing anything in particular to be in that space. That doesn’t mean I stopped practicing all the time, but that sometimes I was sitting in a traditional form, and sometimes it was just waking up in the morning and coming down and having a cup of tea while sitting on a chair on my porch for an hour.

So, awakening is not like a car that you have to keep maintaining so that it will run. How do you know when you’ve arrived there?

I think what happens is that you stop referencing “there.” Whatever “there” is for you, you realize, that was an idea I baked up. If you open up books or listen to teachings, you’ll see that even spiritual teachers define enlightenment in different ways. Which of those ways is going to be the way you measure yourself by? What convinces you that the yardstick you’re using is more relevant or more true than some other yardstick that someone else may be using?

The best thing I ever did was to start jettisoning my ideas about what enlightenment was and just made it into an open question.

Earlier you referred to meditation as taking time to notice “that which is always still and always quiet.” Can you say anything more about silence?

Silence is the foundational aspect of our nature. As soon as we stop talking or thinking, life always falls into silence. All life exists within the space of silence. In that way, silence is really a profound part of our own being and our own nature. Meditation is one of the most profound spiritual practices because it is literally simply listening to silence.

The silence I’m talking about isn’t the silence that we can manufacture through really strong concentration. There is that kind of silence, which is a contained silence. That’s the silence of a prisoner with their hands shackled and a piece of tape over their mouth. We do that through concentration. There’s a time for that and a space for that. But the silence that I’m talking about is the silence that’s with you all the time. It’s simply a silence we notice. Silence is a part of life. It’s the aspect of your own consciousness that’s totally and absolutely quiet, even if there’s a thought or a feeling. They’ll all rise within the space of silence.

I’ve found that we can always tell what we truly value in life through what we give our time and our attention to. If we give time and attention to silence, whether we’re in meditation or driving down the road, then it will grow. And if we just sit around thinking about that idea for a lot of time, we’ll just have lots of interesting thoughts about silence, which will just contribute to the noise.

What’s the relationship between silence and what you’ve been referring to as our “true nature”?

Silence is an aspect of what we really are. It’s not the whole definition, of course, by any means. But it’s part of our nature. It’s a much better way to define yourself than by your memories and all the ideas you’ve ever had. Sometimes I ask people, What survives your not thinking about it? Just be as quiet as you can and notice silence for five seconds. What survives? All the thoughts, ideas, opinions, judgments, the past, even defining yourself as a man or a woman or a son or a daughter—all that may have a relative reality to it. But you see that it doesn’t exist when you’re just being quiet. How real can it all be?

But whatever you are, you don’t disappear when you’re silent. The world doesn’t disappear when you’re silent. The glass of water doesn’t disappear when I stop thinking it’s a glass of water. The reality of life actually exists whether we’re thinking about it or not. I think it only takes those five seconds to see where most of us are actually living our whole life.

Does noticing silence mean we’re ignoring everything that doesn’t seem to exist when we’re in silence?

The silence I’m talking about is the natural silence of awareness before we go into a dreamy place, before we disconnect. It’s prior to all that movement of mind. One of the things that I often emphasize when teaching is that it has to be a vivid silence. If you feel spaced-out and dreamy internally, it’s like you’re leaning too far back. And if you just lean forward a little bit, it comes back into view.

Everything that you’re saying rings true in a way, but I also have this sense that it’s slipping through my fingers as you speak. Can you say more about how noticing silence can take shape in our real, day-to-day lives?

What’s important is where your attention is. Is your attention on this ceaseless narration or dream my mind is having? When you’re talking to yourself, have you ever asked yourself, Who do I think I’m talking to, anyway? Are there two of you? Is there one who’s talking and one who’s listening?

In the context of your daily life it just means noticing the underlying quietness in which your life happens. And that can happen anytime, anywhere. As I said, you don’t have to be meditating to do it. Meditation sort of helps kick-start it because you’re undistracted. But it’s also just noticing what is already there.

Quietness isn’t the goal, but it can be a step in the right direction. What comes next? I always figure that when I’m teaching, I’m talking to adults. Often in spiritual pursuits, people start to think like children. What do I do? How often do I do it? What should I be asking? My response is, “I don’t know. What do you want? Why are you here? What is this to you?” Don’t act like a child. You can actually be an adult, believe it or not, even with a spiritual teacher.

It sounds like people need to define their own spiritual goals. Couldn’t that process easily be coopted by a person’s selfish tendencies?

What I have found over the years is that when someone really allows themselves to connect with what their spiritual life is about for them—what their deep questions are, what their deep yearning is—then they have all the vitality they need. All of a sudden, the direction of their whole spiritual life starts to become conscious. We don’t get there, though, as long as we’re too stuck in thinking, What’s the prescription? How often should I be meditating? As I often say, “I don’t know. How often do you think you should be meditating?”

Yes, most people are really well served if they spend some time in silence and meditation every day. It’s a great thing. Even if you’re not involved in spiritual pursuits, it’s good for you. But unless you’re connected to the deeper issues—asking, “What is this about for me?”—it’s not going to be meaningful to you. Once you get your question, you have all the vitality that you’ll ever need.

Earlier in this conversation you mentioned enlightenment existing on a sliding scale. How do you know where you are on the scale?

That has to be a living question inside yourself. What is enlightenment at this moment? That takes away all of the measuring yourself against an ideal. There are a lot of ideals in the spiritual world. People will tell you it’s going to look like this or that. I think it’s much healthier if we just admit from the very beginning, “I actually don’t know what it is.”

That way the answer can change, grow, and become something different over time.

It matures as you mature. It’s not just the answer that matures, but the question matures. The question can become more and more simple as the ideas of what we think we’re supposed to be like fall away. This is a process of discovery. You’ve opened the door and it’s raining. What happens, in your experience, when you let go of your opposition to the rain? It’s a question you’re asking rather than a directive to do something.

Sam Mowe is a regular contributor to Spirituality & Health. He splits his time between Brooklyn and Garrison, New York, where he lives and works in a former monastery on the Hudson River.

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