Awakening to your Divine Destiny – Satsang with Amoda Maa
Awakening to Your Divine Destiny
– transcript of Satsang at the Open Circle Center, Berkeley, California (November 2014)
A question that arises frequently in gatherings like this, especially as more and more people are having awakening experiences – there seems to be a kind of quickening in the awakening process on personal and collective levels, so more and more people are asking this question: “If an awakening experience has been had, how can it be integrated into everyday life?” There is a sense that there is an awakening and yet something is missing. The whole picture isn’t quite in place. So the question arises: “How it can be fully embodied or how the truth of awakening can be fully met?”
There is awakening … and there is the maturation of awakening. Awakening is the recognition of who you really are .. the recognition of the light, your essence. It’s like the moment the little bud appears on the branch of a tree. And then the little bud has to open and become a flower. And that’s the maturation of awakening. Somewhere between the bud appearing and the flower becoming itself, there’s a lot of confusion, disappointment and disillusionment and the question arises: “How can it be lived in everyday life?”
The question is premature. The answer is .. wait, and let the bud become a flower. Only the full bloom of a flower can fulfill its divine destiny. Fulfilling its divine destiny is bringing its beauty to the world and releasing its intoxicating fragrance into the world. In full bloom the flower is itself. It doesn’t have to do anything. It doesn’t have to integrate its flower-ness into its existence. It doesn’t have to embody its flower-ness, it simply is itself. There is no inner division. It’s simply the light of its essence, meeting the Totality of Life, meeting the Oneness of Life.
So, you too, in full awakening will fulfill your divine destiny. It is not yet fulfilled when the bud of awakening appears. That is the beginning. It is not the end, it is not the destination. In the full bloom of your awakening there is no inner division. There is a recognition of awakeness in you and there is the recognition of awakeness in everything, in all things. And that which is awake in you moves through you as your life and your life is given in service to all that is awake. There is no conflict, no question of how to embody, what to do. The shape and form of that flower is not up to you. It simply moves through you AS you. And then the Heart of You can meet the Heart of Reality.
And somewhere in between the bud of awakening and the full bloom of awakening is a lot of confusion, a lot of sticking points, a lot of places along that journey, along that maturation process where the veils of ego can still come in. And it gets sticky, it gets tricky.
So, the bud of awakening is when we somehow are catapulted or shocked out of our normal way of seeing things. It’s a radical shift in perception. We see things from a whole new perspective. Things that we have taken as stable structures, mental structures, emotional structures, physical structures, political structures, economic structures, social structures, cultural structures, even biological structures – things that we have seen as stable and taken for granted – suddenly are seen to be impermanent, suddenly are seen to have no ground and are only our own beliefs, our own conditioning or our conditioned thinking and feeling. This is a shock to the mind.
In traditional spiritual cultures this would come from rigorous meditation practice. But these days it’s happening more spontaneously. It may come at times through extreme loss, or extreme grief, or extreme pain, or extreme beauty, or even psychedelics, and maybe meditation practice too. Maybe just reading a book. This is the bud the awakening. And this can be experienced as bliss or peace, a kind of deep restfulness, or a kind of high or joy or ecstasy. To be liberated out of egoic paradigms is such a thrill.
This may last a few hours, or a few days, a few months, or even a few years. But inevitably some parts of the egoic structure, the personality structure or the world structure comes back into view. As well as unbounded emptiness we live in the three-dimensional world in which the ego operates to maneuver the body across the road, to take care of ourselves, to function as a full human being. And so we see the world in three dimensions, we perceive an inside and an outside, an up and a down, a left and a right.
Inevitably when some of this egoic structure which is necessary for survival in form comes back into view, there’s a confusion or a disappointment, even a fear and this can spark a psychotic episode like the world can’t be handled anymore, can’t be coped with anymore. Even though the truth of you rejoices in having been liberated from the prison of ego, a part of the egoic structure that is necessary for human survival starts to scramble to make sense of it all and so then the question arises: “If there has been an awakening experience of such intensity and such beauty, such power, then why is it all not making sense anymore? Why is there still something missing? Why is it not being lived in the ordinary life? Why is it not my experience anymore?”
So what happens is, that a kind of disconnect gets created, a split, a wanting to get back to that state of bliss, to that state of ultimate freedom. This disconnect creates immense suffering, creates a lot of psychological suffering. And so there is a scrambling to get back to that state, to that awakened state. So the question comes back and the seeking arises again and perhaps seeking for another teacher, or another book, or another teaching or meditation practice or another spiritual magnet of some kind. There is nothing wrong with those supports, but what happens is that we are still employing the ego to find that awakened state again. There is still the self invested in the awakened state.
So it’s good to recognize where the sticking points are. When you recognize them conceptually and in your hearts, as you hear these words, you can recognize them when they appear. It’s all about seeing clearly. You can see them and when they are seen and there is some support along the way or if you are lucky, there could be a deeper seeing. Then there is the possibility to rest in that which remains when all that is false falls away … the luminosity of awakeness itself. This is the Stillness of Being, the Silence of Being.
Again, this can also be a sticking place, a place where we can get stuck. Because in the stillness of being there is no movement … and when there is no movement, the totality of life cannot be fully embraced. There is a more subtle disconnect that happens here. This is a lopsided view in the non-dual perspective – the perspective that suffering is an illusion, that there is only emptiness here. And yes that is true on an absolute level, but it’s not the whole picture, it’s not the full bloom of awakening. There is a kind of avoidance of the blood, sweat and tears of being human. There is a kind of avoidance of meeting the pain all the way, of meeting suffering all the way. It is as if the human experience gets in the way of this transcendent unending peace, unending stillness. This is a comfortable place but it’s not the whole maturity of awakening. It is important to recognize this.
The full bloom of awakening, the full flower of awakening comes, when both the relative and the absolute are seen – are seen not just understood intellectually – are really seen as one and the same. This is not the same as being lost in the relative. It’s a very different experience, it has a different texture. It is when both the relative and the absolute are fully recognized as inseparable, as inseparable as the waves from the ocean. There is no inner division, there is no conflict, there is no inner disconnect … both the dark and the light are included. The light of awakeness excludes nothing … no thing. Nothing in you and nothing in the world is excluded from the heart of awakeness, from the light of awakeness, from the truth of awakeness.
So now, suffering which is part of the human condition – pain comes, loss comes, we cannot control that – now, suffering can be met all the way. There is a big difference between the naked meeting of suffering and the story of suffering. The naked meeting of suffering is the unadulterated meeting of raw reality, there is no self invested in this. There is only unconditioned present-moment awareness. The story of suffering is when we manipulate reality to conform to our idea of who we think we are. In other words, there is an investment of self in this. And this investment sounds like this: “This shouldn’t be happening to me.” Or “Poor me, I’m so unlucky. Why do always bad things happen to me?” Or “Why does life always punish me? Why does God always punish me? What have I done wrong?”
There is a self in that, there is a story in that suffering. And as soon as we have a story in suffering, we cannot meet suffering in its depth. To meet suffering in its depth is to free yourself from suffering. To meet it with a story is to defend yourself from the depth of that pain. And in defending yourself from the depth of that pain, you cannot experience life fully. There is a separation and that separation creates the seeking.
This is what it means to say “In order to find God we must welcome everything.” It’s a beautiful line from a poem by Rabindrath Tagore. In order to experience yourself as God, as the Totality of Life, as Being-ness itself – because there is nothing else – then you must wake up to who you are, over and over again, in every experience. There is a great spiritual maturity in this. And it takes time, because as the light of awakeness moves through you as your life, it also moves towards everything that has been hidden in the darkness, everything that is hiding in the shadows, all the feelings and emotions and belief systems and energetic contractions that have been previously unmet in your life as part of your story. Awakeness is the compassionate part of being – the compassionate heart of existence – and it moves towards everything that lies in the darkness. So everything comes up to be seen, to be loved, to be met, to be purified. And it moves towards everything in the world that has been unilluminated by your own perception, your clouded perception.
Our conditioning separates us from the world. Our beliefs and our opinions are based only on the story of our conditioning and not on truth, so we judge the world and what we see as right and wrong, good and bad according to that conditioning. The light of awakeness moves towards this in order to illuminate and resolve everything in the oneness of that light, so that there is no longer a division in you or in the world. It’s as if the Buddha-nature in you moves towards the Buddha-nature in everything. Because even in the darkness – in that which we perceive as dark or evil or wrong or unworthy – even in that, is the seed of light. The light of dawn is born out of the dark of the night.
So awakeness is like a magnet. It moves towards that which is awake in everything, even if it appears to be not awake. Within unawakeness is the seed of awakeness, because it is the inherent nature of everything. So in the full bloom of awakening you become a Bodhisattva. You return home. And you don’t have to DO this. It is inevitable, a choiceless choice. The flower doesn’t do anything. It doesn’t say “Oh, here’s my fragrance, you must come close.” If you come close and imbibe that fragrance, then it’s perfect. And if you don’t, then that’s also perfect. The fragrance is still here. And so it is, as you mature into full awakeness.
Question: “I notice that there are times when the Universe offers synchronicity, flow, blessings and insight… and I have a tendency to want to hold on to all this, to cling for dear life.”
There is a desire to claim ownership of that with the intention to re-create it, to re-create that synchronicity, that miracle, that blessing, that gift that comes from the mystery of existence. And it sets up suffering again, because the nature of life is an ebb and flow, it is wavy and the waves keep coming. Sometimes there is an inflow, sometimes there’s an outflow. This is part of the mystery and yet we try to control those waves because we prefer the inflow to the outflow. We prefer the miracles, the gifts, the blessings and the openings. And we want to avoid the other stuff. But if real freedom is what you are looking for, if real freedom is what you truly yearn for, if it is what your innermost being really longs for .. then real freedom comes from allowing all inflow and all outflow. All of it is part of the design.
Neither grab it nor run away from. As long as there is an investment of self, a claiming of ownership over the inflow and the outflow, there will be suffering. When we like something we move towards it, and when we don’t like it we run away from it. So it’s a horizontal movement, it’s mechanical .. and it is exhausting. The only way is to liberate yourself from the horizontal movement and to fall into the verticality of Being is to open to everything and allow everything. That doesn’t mean you don’t take responsible action when it’s needed. I am talking of an inner dimension. An inner dimension where you see that part of you that wants to grab and you see the futility of it.
“And when the good things stop and bad things happen, how do I know when to intervene, when to allow or not allow?”
There is no right answer to that. In a sense no one can tell you what to do, not even an awakened teacher. When doing arises out of being, it is always right action and only your innermost being knows and recognizes that inner alignment. When an impulse arises and it’s a true authentic impulse that arises not out of division, not out of judgment, not out of conflict in you, it simply is right action. A mother knows when to pick up the child. A mother knows when to feed her baby, when to take it to her breast. It’s an impulse, a natural impulse. So you know in your deepest innermost core, when to take action. And if it appears that you are intervening, then you know it’s not the right time. It is for you to move deeply into the innermost core of who you are and then to move from that place. So really, only when you know who you really are, when you have woken up out of the dream of mistaken identity can you really take right action.
Question: “I am confused about the unfoldment of awakening … there seems to be, in my case, a simultaneous need for the building up of ego as a healthy function as well as the destruction of ego. Do I need to set boundaries in my life and how do I allow my unique expression?”
So, the question is about coming into your power as a human being in the world and how does this relate to this whole notion of the ego dissolving as we wake up out of the dream. It’s a contemporary question as we are not monks or nuns and we are not going to the caves in the Himalayas to hide from the world in order to allow all egoic structures to dissolve. We live in very different times now.
Waking up does not negate the movement into the world as a fully functioning authentic human being. What falls away is the scaffolding that upholds a false sense of self … in other words, the conditioned self that you have inherited culturally, socially, economically. These false structures fall away and so does the investment of self in everything that you do. But that does not take away the human being. It is actually fully empowered by that. There is more power in that and that power might express itself through your unique skills, your unique voice and the capacity to say no and yes – appropriately. So it doesn’t negate that.
When that which is false in you is de-constructed, the true you, the real you which moves through you as a personality, as a human being, moves through your story but is not identified by your story. It moves through the pattern of your life, through the shape of your life, through your body-mind vehicle, to become more of you.
There is one more thing about that – because the question here also often causes confusion – that self-improvement and self-healing gets mistaken for awakening. Awakening doesn’t negate the empowered self, the fully functioning self in the world. But self-improvement itself is not awakening. All the spiritual practices are not awakening and the clinging to those in the hope that they will bring salvation and a pain-free life through this thing called awakening, perpetuates the endless seeking. So use the supports that you need to learn skills, or to find your deeper voice, or whatever it is that is wanting to move through you … but do not mistake them for becoming more awakened or more of a spiritual person. See how they compliment each other but don’t confuse them. Because nothing that you can do touches the core of who you are.
Once you discover who you are, doing can simply happen. Then doing becomes an expression or an outpouring of who you are, the deepest truth of who you are, an outpouring of the light of you. And then doing has its own innate intelligence. There isn’t a question around it then. There is no “Should I do this or should I do that?” Yes, there is the natural act of consideration or contemplation of something, but there is a deeper innate knowing. Doing then happens from knowing, from deep knowing. It’s right … it feels right. When doing happens out of the need to become a better self or a more spiritual self or a more perfect self, then it’s out of alignment, it’s out of sync. The deepest truth of you doesn’t need fulfillment. Looking for it just perpetuates the cycle of seeking.
Question: “I find that if I don’t put my attention on certain spiritual and healing practices then I fall back into unconscious patterns. I’m grappling with the need to keep these practices because they are useful and knowing that the practices are not awakening itself.”
Everything is a paradox, it includes both. Whatever is right for you – as you speak, I hear that it is the right response for you in that situation, in that circumstance – it’s an authentic response for you to practice this opening in the heart in order to allow what needs to be done. There is nothing wrong with that. If you like, your action in that circumstance is in service to the needs of the situation. As the bud of awakening opens into a flower, along the way – even though it is inevitable that the flower becomes a flower – there are supportive structures or methods or movements that can be like the fertilizer to let that flower truly grow. Once it’s fully bloomed, then it’s not needed anymore, it’s not necessary. It simply happens, and your heart is open all the time.
Everything is a paradox. The nature of life, the nature of operating in three-dimensional reality is duality. And the deepest recognition of that, the deepest knowing of that, and embracement of that, is non-duality. Very often there is this idea, even in very established spiritual circles, that non-dual awareness when it’s been recognized means that there is no duality anymore, that duality is an illusion, therefore it doesn’t exist. That’s crazy. It’s a paradox. The nature of being human, of living in form, through form, as form – the nature of formlessness, which is the ultimate reality, expressing itself through form temporarily – IS the experience of duality. The waves go up and the waves go down. We don’t obliterate the waves. And yet you don’t get lost in them, you don’t get lost in duality, you don’t identify or derive your sense of self from the dual nature of the movement of life. So it’s a paradox that cannot be grasped by the mind. It can only be somehow tasted by the deepest core of you, you can only taste the texture, the fragrance. It can’t be grasped by the mind. And these words speaking to your innermost being are always filtered through the mind. So again, there is this crazy paradox. But the mind and the being are listening here, trying to make sense of it all.
“What I’m getting is that there’s a need to peel back the layers with practices and then to stop and take a look at what is really happening here.”
Yes, absolutely … take a look, be open, be curious, be wide open to meeting that conditioned movement and see if it’s real. See if it has any real substance to it. Is it a whisper or a definite movement? Because when you truly see it, it becomes just a whisper.
Question: “I have a sense that my life’s purpose is not about trying to find this purpose, but that when the flower of awakening blooms it will reveal itself and I will have no choice.”
Yes, the desire for it is the little seed that sparks it all off. Again, one of these annoying paradoxes, or beautiful paradoxes! Yes, it’s inevitable … your divine destiny, your highest destiny to awaken is inevitable, it will bloom. You don’t have to go pulling it out of the ground, making it happen, making it grow before it’s ready to grow. But the thing is, as human beings, in order to wake up out of this collective dream of separation, it’s almost like the grit inside the oyster that makes the pearl. It’s the grit that starts this seeking, it’s the grit that moves us to want liberation or freedom. It’s the grit that is the suffering – some dissatisfaction, some lack of fulfillment – that starts us looking, first of all outwardly for the answer, for the fulfillment. And then, when that is seen to be dissatisfying, we start looking inwardly, we go on the spiritual search .. and still something is driving us.
So there is a desire – and it’s your deepest desire – that sparks the flame for truth and when it becomes a burning desire it pulls you towards that truth. Yes, it is inevitable and there is nothing you need to do …. but there is something that drives us to look for it in the first place.
“And recognition will happen anyway, I don’t have to recognize anything?”
Well, ultimately yes … there is no doer. Ultimately, there is the recognition that there is anybody who did anything. That’s when you really see that there’s no one here to take ownership, there is no self to take ownership over it. You can no longer say “I take ownership for that which is awakened”. I can’t say that I did it. It did itself through me. And yet at the same time, as I look over the picture of my life, the story of the movement of my life, there was a strong seeking mechanism happening up to a certain time. So again, it’s being really authentic and true with oneself. It’s where the sense of doership gets in the way, when it has outlived its purpose and can be recognized as a false construct, that there is the recognition of a deeper drive or momentum. This is the evolution of consciousness that is moving through you, driving you towards – apparently driving you towards! – THIS moment of awakening.
Question: “I have read stories about the great mystics and saints who all seem to awaken out of a terrible “dark night of the soul”. What about those of us who have nice lives, can we also awaken?”
It seems that the call home, the true calling to come home to our true nature, inevitably involves a falling into the abyss of Being, into the abyss of “not knowing” and this can be called the “dark night of the soul”. And in some people, there is an extended period of time in which there is a sense of aloneness internally – an existential aloneness, a sense of “I exist alone in the Universe, I am alone in existence, totally separate from the totality”. It’s a kind of existential dark hole and it may be experienced on a personal level as despair, or fear, or bleakness, a very barren landscape.
There seems to be – when we look at the inner dynamics of our psyche – a very deep place that we can come to. It can also be experienced as deep depression. In my case is was experienced as a suicidal tendency, a wanting to kill the self. And when we come to this place, a place where we don’t know anything anymore, where we can’t see, it is possible in that place – if there is a deep surrender to it, not the creation of another story around it of “poor me”, which is the place it’s easy to get stuck on – but the real surrender to the possibility that you do not exist. A surrender to the possibility that the “I” that you think you are is completely and utterly illusory, non existent. Now there is the possibility to allow the self to be annihilated – not the story of self, you can’t annihilate your story – but for the core sense of self to be annihilated, to die. And there’s a deep surrender and in that surrender there is a vertical falling into Being-ness. It cuts through the dark night of the soul and you wake up to who you really are as the Totality of existence … there is no longer any separation.
But again, this is an inner experience and very often it comes when there has been a lot of suffering in a person’s life, with a lot of darkness or trauma or deep depression, because those are the very experiences that pull us into this existential black hole. I don’t know if that’s the case or whether it’s necessary for everyone. It seems that these days there are more people awakening without having to go through that. The danger is though, if there is an awakening without having gone through what we are calling “the dark night of the soul”, there is the danger of the whole process that I described earlier of re-identifying with the awakened state and then the deeper disconnect still continuing. It’s almost like we need to be brought to our knees in order to have the humility to surrender to everything.
“I agree with that, and I often contemplate as deeply as I can what it would be like to be oblivion.”
That’s right. To be totally obliterated and then to face the terror that the egoic self – the self identity that’s been created, the core fixation – scrambles to hold on to some sense of security or stability. And the only security and stability it has is it’s own self identity, it’s definition of itself. So really what dies here is a psychological structure. It’s not real anyway. Your body doesn’t die. Your story doesn’t die … but your identification with it does. So you are free of it. But it’s amazing how there is this terror of death that comes up, when this false construct, this psychological knot of identity, is really faced. And the call is to just die to it, to surrender into it, to be prepared for it to all fall apart. Then you see it didn’t exist anyway. It was just a fabrication of your mind. Then there is freedom … you exist and you don’t exist, there is a self and there isn’t a self. An ego continues to operate in the three-dimensional reality, but the ego is given in service to awakeness, it bows down to awakeness. It no longer serves itself. It stops being the master. And then everything changes. The ego is put in its right place. That’s what changes.
Be identified with no thing. Simply be true to your experience and to your authentic inquiry. That’s all that matters. Be like the sky. Even when judgment comes – even when this apparent thing that doesn’t exist, this thing we call “ego” comes (by the way, it’s just a description of a process) – even when it comes, be like the sky. When the clouds come, the sky doesn’t feel any less sky. Sky-nature is always here. It doesn’t identify with itself. Whether there are no clouds or there are many clouds, whether there are soft clouds or dark and stormy clouds, the sky is always the sky.
You too, are like the sky. Whatever movement happens within that sky – dark or light, like a whisper or like a thunderbolt – you are not that. You are the sky. You are open, unbounded spaciousness. When you are not identified with anything, it all passes through that sky. Whether the ego structure is operating or not operating, you are free. Life is free to move through you as it is, as it does. It’s not for you to judge whether it’s with ego or without ego. These descriptions – with ego or without ego – are all constructs of the mind .. and all psychological constructs are seen to be illusory. Sometimes these constructs support us, sometimes they hinder us. Either way, they are not who you are. So recognize all movements of either towards something or away from something, towards your own thinking or away from your own thinking, towards your own beliefs or away from your own beliefs. It’s all movement. It’s not who you are. Let that movement be – let the clouds come and let them go. It’s not your business.