Humanity’s Fundamental Choice – Leonard Jacobson

We have been given free will, which simply means that we have the freedom to choose. Every day we make choices and the choices we make lead inevitably to the consequences that follow. For example, the food you choose to eat today will affect your weight, health and sense of well-being tomorrow. If you choose to remain angry or to hold onto past resentments, or if you choose to repress your emotions, there are consequences that will affect your life and relationships. Many of the consequences that we are living with today can be traced back to choices that we made in the past, sometimes going all the way back to childhood.

If you are not happy in your life or your relationships, try to identify the choices you made in the past that have led to your unhappiness. By connecting the choice with the consequence, you will see that you are the creator of your suffering. You will recognize that you are responsible for whatever is happening in your life, which will free you to revise your choices. You can make new choices that will result in different outcomes for you.

However, at the very heart of free will, there is a fundamental choice that most of us are unaware of. This fundamental choice not only affects every aspect of our lives but it also affects the life and journey of the soul. It will lead to a transformation of how we choose to live upon this earth.

As it is now, we live with a constant stream of thought, most of which is unconscious and unintended. Our minds are rarely silent. All thought takes us into the past or future. There are no exceptions. This means that we are living almost exclusively in the past or future world of the mind. We are living in a world of memory, imagination, concept, idea and belief. Essentially, it is a world of separation and illusion. It is as if we are living within a dream, and we do not realize this until we awaken out of the dream.

To awaken out of the dream is to awaken out of the past and future into the present moment. It is to awaken out of illusion into the truth of life revealed through the present moment, free of our projections, judgments and beliefs. It is to awaken out of separation into the realization of Oneness.

To come out of the past and future into the present moment IS the fundamental choice. Until you awaken into Presence, something very significant is missing in your life.

When you are truly present, your mind is silent. You are an awakened Being, at least for those moments that you are present. And as you relax into Presence you will experience feelings of peace, love, truth and Oneness. To be present is your natural state. It is as simple as bringing yourself present with something that is here in the moment with you. If you can see it, hear it, feel it, taste it, touch it, or smell it in this moment, then you can be present with it.

The only way to leave the present moment is to think. All thought takes you into the past or future. And if you believe in your thoughts, opinions and beliefs as somehow being true, then you will become imprisoned within the world of the mind.

There is nothing wrong with thinking. I am not against thinking, nor am I against using the mind. Without thought, you cannot participate in the world of time. The problem is that most of humanity is addicted to thinking. Our thoughts never stop. When you are living and functioning within the world of the mind, you are living with all the limiting beliefs, emotional wounds and traumas that formed in early childhood. A painful and limited past is projecting onto the present moment, distorting your sense of yourself and your experience of life. This is what has happened to humanity over thousands of years.

Very few know that this fundamental choice is available to them. Even if you are aware of this choice, it is not enough. You have to know how to become present and relax and settle into Presence. And you have to know how to integrate awakened consciousness into everyday life, so that even when you are participating in the world of time, you never go so far into the past or future that you disconnect from Presence.

But it is not that simple. When you are lost in the mind, the ego is in charge. It is the custodian of the separation. It does not want you to become present and it is very skilled at keeping you imprisoned within its world of the past and future. It will bring up thoughts and feelings of anger, blame, resentment, guilt, shame and judgment, all of which take you into the past and imprison you there. It can just as easily tempt you out of the present moment with the promise of future fulfillment, which will take you into an imaginary future. When you become famous, successful or very wealthy, you will be happy. When find a new husband or wife or build a new home you will be happy. But these are false promises designed to keep you in the future and under the ego’s control. It can even seduce you with the promise of enlightenment at some time in the future, but enlightenment can never happen in the future. It can only happen now.

Now let us compare the ego’s false promises with what the present moment has to offer you right now. If you bring yourself present with something that is here in the moment with you, your thoughts will stop. You will open into peace as all the pain and limitations of the past drop away. Anxiety about the future will dissolve. You will open into an entirely new dimension of yourself and of existence.

When you are present, you are love. You are acceptance and compassion. You are without judgment. You are empowered from within and you feel free to be yourself and express yourself honestly and authentically. As you deepen into Presence, you will open into Oneness. At the deepest level of Presence, you will experience the living Presence of God in all things present. At the deepest level of Presence, Heaven on Earth is revealed.

There are so many opportunities to be present each day. Whenever there is no need to be thinking, bring yourself present with something that is here in the moment with you. Gradually, the seed of Presence will flower within you and you will find yourself becoming more and more established in Presence.

It does not matter what you are present with. You can be present with a flower or a tree. You can be present with a bird as it soars through the sky. You can be present with the distant mountain. You can close your eyes and be present with your body as it breathes or you can be present with the sound you hear, moment to moment.

For thousands of years, awakened masters have been sharing the way of awakening with us, but very few of us have responded in a way that leads to liberation. Sooner or later, every human will have to ask the question, “Which world do I choose to live in – the past and future world of the mind or the world of now?” The consequences that flow from this fundamental choice are radically different. One choice leads to Heaven on Earth. The other leads to a kind of Hell on Earth. Our ultimate destiny will be determined by this fundamental choice.

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. He has been teaching people how to become fundamentally present and arise in mastery of the mind and ego for over 30 years. Find more of Leonard’s work at http://www.leonardjacobson.com.

Source: AWAKEN

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Looking Through the Eyes of Another – Transforming Separation Into Shared Consciousness – Tara Brach


I often talk about how suffering arises from the unseen, unfelt parts of ourselves. Only when we become aware of what is here and bring presence to what we have been running from can we discover wholeness and freedom.

The same is true when we explore our relationships to each other and the world. We cannot be free if we are pushing anyone out of our hearts. If we are discounting, rejecting, or turning away, we are not living from our wholeness. It creates suffering. When we live in resentment, we have separated ourselves and pulled away from our belonging.

Trance of the Unreal Other

All life forms are designed to perceive separation. It is part of our evolutionary story. And in moments that we find ourselves stuck in reactivity or in some conflict or division, we create what I call an unreal other. Rather than a living, feeling Being with wants, needs and fears, another person has become an idea in our mind and is not subjectively alive or real to us. They are two-dimensional and flat. The more stressed we get, the less real they become. We are the protagonist of our own story and the other is like a puppet or a pawn. We begin to see them as something that can help us, hurt us, or as simply irrelevant.

We create an unreal other any time we begin to sense aversion and distance with another. There is the anger, blaming, and resentment that we sometimes feel in our close-in relationships, but there is also a level of pushing people out of our hearts on a larger scale, where our perceptions of ourselves and others are being filtered through stereotypes. Too often, we are not even aware that this is happening. We may have labeled a group of people as differentinferiorbad, or maybe even dangerous. Whether it is with a partner or a child, a political candidate, or even more global, when we are caught in aversive reactivity, we have created an unreal other.

The Suffering of Stereotypes and Predispositions

When we are in the narrow identity of perceived separation, we don’t have access to the more recently evolved parts of our brain that can be mindful and compassionate. We all have strong filters that differentiate us from others by defining us in terms of politics, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender-identity, socio-economic status, and physical appearance and we have all been in situations where we have been subjected to these biases – when people viewed us through a filter that was not true. When we are not aware of how we are shaped by these predispositions, they create separation and that sense is amplified by our culture and the society we live in through its standards, attitudes, and stories. Like fish in water, we are unaware of how much it shapes our reality. We are so accustomed to the judgment, yet it creates tremendous suffering.

Building Bridges is a program that has brought teens from different backgrounds — in this case, Palestinian and Israeli — to live together for a week or two and get to know one another. It’s an incredible experience based in mindfulness and compassionate listening.

In one group, a Palestinian girl shared her story about the Israeli soldiers that barged into her family’s house and beat everyone up and, after realizing they were at the wrong place, they left without apology.

The group facilitator then asked an Israeli girl to repeat the story in first person, as though it had happened to her, including the feelings – the rage and terror – that she might have felt. After listening to the Israeli tell her story, the Palestinian began to weep. She said, “My enemy heard me.” [1]

Looking Through the Eyes of Another

Opening up into a larger sense of Being always starts with sensing how we have turned on ourselves. If we are not able to open to the places of shame, fear and hurt inside our own bodies and hearts, we cannot have the courage and presence to be with the suffering of another.

The next step is to begin to explore looking through the eyes of those we might be feeling some distance with in our immediate circle: our partner who keeps going back on their word, our child who is behaving in a disrespectful way. This is the domain of our practice where we can notice when we are in the trance of separation and have created an unreal other and begin to deepen our attention. How are you doing? What is this like for you?

In Buddhist compassion teachings, this full presence is the grounds of Taking and Sending — a compassion practice that guides us in taking in the experience of another person, and then sending them care. This practice awakens us from the sense of separateness, and we can begin to live from the reality of our shared belonging.

I love the words of Henry David Thoreau:

“Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eyes for an instant?” [2]

You might take a moment to reflect: What would it be like, in this moment, to look through another’s eyes? To widen the circles of compassion and be part of the healing of our world?


Tara Brach: Evolving Beyond “Unreal Othering”

What motivates us – as individuals and a society – to build walls and knowingly hurt others? This talk explores the evolutionary roots of “unreal othering” and how when we are hijacked by fear, it can take over and disconnect us from the very real suffering of others. We then look at how meditative strategies awaken us from othering, and reveal our intrinsic belonging. Finally, we apply this to our own lives in a reflection that helps us respond to someone we have turned into “unreal other” with compassion and wisdom.

Freedom Is Our Essential Nature


Published on Jun 1, 2018

A man wants to know what becomes of good and bad, free will and coincidence if everything is awareness.

Surfing the Heart of Darkness: Suffering as a Doorway to Liberation by Amoda Maa Jeevan

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.”

2017 Freedom Award Atlantic Council presentation to Ani Choying Drolma

Adyashanti – Finding Your Own Integrity

Adyashanti responds to a questioner who writes in asking about the role that responsibility plays in freedom. How can you be sure that the ego doesn’t hijack your motives and twist them into something else? By getting in touch with a deep integrity that resides within you, responsibility flowers into being, and self-obsession naturally dissolves away. Adyashanti brings you back to your natural concern for the world around you—how that keeps you grounded—and the infinite potential that lives within each of you.

Video excerpted from the live broadcast of “A Quiet Place Within,” November 4, 2015.
MP3 available at: http://tinyurl.com/hct2nu2

Quotes from this video:

“When we really experience genuine unity, then we really do experience that all beings and all things are not apart from us—that in their most fundamental sense, they are us.”

“The aspect of spirituality that is concerned about the world around us is very important because it keeps you honest and it keeps spirituality real, and it’s the protectant to spirituality becoming an object of the self-centered ego.”

“An immature idea of freedom is that it’s the freedom to do whatever I want to do whenever I want to do it, irrespective of the consequences or the effect it has on others. That’s actually a delusion. That’s really not freedom. That’s the mind’s idea of freedom. That’s the ego using freedom in order to indulge in its own self-obsession.”

“Part of becoming conscious is also becoming more and more aware of that orienting principle inside—what I call one’s integrity.”

“Freedom does come with responsibility.”

Why Self Development Does Not Lead To Enlightenment

Awakening to Enlightenment

With my practitioner hat on (rather than my academic one), in this post I’m going to explain why spiritual growth [and self development] doesn’t lead to enlightenment; but of course a lot hinges on what we mean by those terms.

First of all, we should get clear that ‘enlightenment’ is in many ways more of a Western concept than a traditional Asian one. The Sanskrit word bodha means, depending on the context: being awake, knowing, understanding, wisdom, intelligence, perception, awakening, awareness, blossoming, opening, or expanding. It’s an everyday word, not an abstract noun, and it doesn’t imply some final state of perfection.

When used in spiritual contexts, it connotes being awake to and aware of one’s real nat ure, of the true nature of reality, or both. The English word ‘enlightenment’ implies (to most people) some kind of super-wisdom and/or a higher state of consciousness that elevates the one who has attained it above the mass of humanity. The Sanskrit word is sweeter, simpler, and humbler: it connotes waking up to the reality of what you really are (and always have been), and becoming generally more aware and open. Abiding in this awake alive open awareness is the goal of the spiritual life as conceived in the Yoga traditions.

In our culture, however, the pursuit of ‘enlightenment’ (which really means abiding in direct awareness of reality) has become confused and mixed up with the self-help / self-improvement project. People talk about wanting to grow and become a better person, and often imagine that the terminal point of this growth process is something like enlightenment. This demonstrates a real lack of understanding of the nature of the spiritual path (as conceived in the Asian traditions, anyway). Not only is abiding-awakeness not the endpoint of the growth process, it doesn’t even lie in that direction.

What??!

Look, if you stop and think this through, you’ll see it’s obvious: according to all the Yoga traditions, your true nature is always already perfect, the core of your being is pure radiant divinity, and you are always already one with the infinite divine Consciousness which gives rise to and supports the entire universe. TAT-TVAM-ASI: you are That, here and now. Therefore, realization of this truth does not depend on any degree of personal growth. Rather, it is a paradigm shift in which you stop identifying with the phenomena within Awareness (e.g., thoughts, emotions, body-image, etc.) and wake up to the fact that you are Awareness itself—the only constant in the ever-changing world of your experience.

And yes, it is possible to become so awake that you never fall back asleep again. You don’t become a categorically different kind of person, you just finally see the truth so clearly and completely that you can’t unsee it, and thus you dwell in a different paradigm from before

Now, despite fanciful stories about ‘sudden enlightenment’, this doesn’t happen overnight. Just as it can take you a while to wake up from physical sleep before you’re fully awake and clear, in the same way, once you’ve touched into the truth of your Being, you have to keep touching in and deepening your awareness of Awareness for months or years before it becomes your default state. In that process, there is a kind of growth that is necessary: reaching a level of maturity where you know what you really want and your daily-life actions reflect your heart’s deepest longing. In other words, you have to grow up enough to get out of your own way and make room for the awakening process to unfold. But this kind of growth is a necessary ancillary to awakening, not its cause.

So you have to ask yourself: are you subconsciously holding the belief that abiding in awakeness to your real nature has to wait until you’ve completed your therapy, or until your life’s not a mess, or until you can retire to a forest retreat, or until you’ve attained samādhi? Are you spending a lot of time and energy on a self-improvement project that yields only incremental gains, without first accessing the source of unconditional love within? If so, you’re suffering. And you’re not alone.

This is what looks really weird from where I’m sitting: a lot of people doing self-improvement type spirituality are working really hard to acquire the traits that are natural byproducts of abiding in awakeness (bodha-stha). This is going at it back-to-front. First wake up to what you really are, then integrate that realization into all the aspects of your life. Waking up is actually the easy part compared to integration, but way harder than both is trying to integrate a realization you haven’t really had yet. Which is what most people in this game are trying to do. I know, you’ve had powerful experiences in which you tasted your divine essence; but this is really not the same as properly waking up out of the belief that your thoughts, memories, and story have anything to do with who you really are.

It’s this simple: you cannot heal the ‘broken self’ as long as you believe that you are it. Or you can, but it’s ridiculously difficult. By contrast, if you wake up to and become centered in your real nature, then you can lovingly address any misalignments in the body-mind that need addressing. If you’re willing to do the work of integration, every layer of your being becomes permeated with the powerful energy of awakeness. You start to then embody that awakeness, which is beneficial to all beings. If you don’t do the work of integration, even if you’re centered in your divine core, you’re not really benefitting anyone else.

This is important. Some people wake up to their real nature and then dismiss the body-mind and its problems rather than work with them. This is called ‘transcendentalism’ by my teachers (and ‘spiritual bypassing’ by others), because such people seek to simply transcend the body-mind. By contrast, on the Tantrik path, we seek to allow the energy of pure Awareness (chit-shakti) to permeate all the levels of embodiment and aspects of daily life. This is called integration. But again, in order to do that, you have to be able to access the energy of Awareness at will, which takes practice.

So integration is the real spiritual growth, but it has nothing to do with trying to recondition oneself to conform more closely to an ideal found in books on spirituality or in the mouth of a teacher (which is what most people call spiritual growth). Rather, it means doing whatever is necessary to open up the body-mind system in such a way as to allow the energy of awakeness to flow unimpeded and permeate every aspect of your life (when actualized, this is called mahā-vyāpti, the Great Pervasion, in Tantrik Yoga).

Dwelling in the midst of the sea of nectar, with my heart-mind immersed solely in the worship of You [as the substance of every experience], may I attend to all the common occupations of man, savoring the ineffable in every thing. ~ Utpala Deva

This process of integration-and-embodiment involves a lot of looking. When you hold up a thought or self-image and look at it in the Light of Awareness (again, assuming you have access to that Light), you can clearly see to what degree it is misaligned with your deepest nature and discard it (by definition, they’re all misaligned to some degree; but the less misaligned thoughts can be useful for a particular purpose). For most people, this doesn’t happen automatically; they need to actually do the work of looking & discarding; or, in the case of saṃskāras or unresolved experiences, looking & digesting; this is a crucial distinction. This explains why some people can be ‘enlightened’ but unintegrated; and if they become teachers, they usually cause harm. There’s a difference between having access to the Light of Awareness (prakāsha) and doing the work of seeing what does and doesn’t reflect that light in its fullness (this is called vimarsha, or self-reflection).

Artwork by Jungle Eye

Someone who has done a lot of vimarsha and has therefore shed their self-images and digested a lot of their unresolved experiences dwells in a state of freedom called moksha. Such a person is called jīvan-mukta, liberated while still in the body. This is significantly less common than awakening or even abiding-awakening. It is the ultimate goal of the spiritual life, but it’s not an attainment since nothing has been attained; rather, something has been lost. It’s a state of being truly unburdened and free. But even this is not a terminal state, since there’s always more saṃskāras that can be digested and more integration that can be done. Still, there is a tipping point beyond which you could never go back to the state of bondage and delusion. Passing this tipping point is what caused the Buddha to say simply and humbly, kṛtyaṃ kṛtam: that which needed to be done is now done.

What would it look like for you to drop all self-improvement projects based in a sense of unworthiness and spend your practice time learning how to access and abide in your already-perfect innermost Self? This is not as easy as it sounds, since it means going beyond enjoying a feel-good idea of your own divinity and accessing the real deal, which humbles and softens you more than it exalts and affirms you (‘you’ here meaning the body-mind-personality complex).

What if you stopped trying to be a ‘better person’ and simply learned how to fully embody the being you already are?
✽ ✽ ✽

By speaking to important misunderstandings of the goal and clarifying the nature of the path (according to tradition, my teachers, and my own experience) this post addresses #1 in my list of the Eight Great Pitfalls on the spiritual path: that is, lack of alignment of View, Practice, and Goal. Alignment of these three, by the same token, is #1 in my list of the Eight Keys to sustainable Awakening. I’ll be posting on all Eight going forward (I already posted on #2, Energy Leaks.)

Do you want to understand the awakening process in more detail, avoid a major pitfall, and ensure alignment of View, Practice, and Goal? In the Trika lineage of Tantrik Yoga, we find an important teaching about three primary phases to the awakening-and-liberation process. In the first phase, you awaken to your divine core or real Self or ‘soul’, then integrate that awakening (which entails shedding a critical mass of what’s not alignment with your ‘soul’).

In the second phase, you awaken to your oneness with the entire universe, your seamless unity with the whole field of energy, then integrate that awakening. In the third phase, you awaken to the formless ground of being, the field of absolute potential ‘beyond’ manifestation (yet permeating it), then integrate that awakening. (To be more accurate, you don’t awaken to the formless ground, it wakes up to itself through you, and ‘you’ dissolve. No more you; only the One.) In Sanskrit, these three phases are called:

  • āṇava-samāveśa ~ immersion into your soul-essence or innermost Self
  • śākta-samāveśa ~ immersion into the whole field of energy
  • śāmbhava-samāveśa ~ immersion into the ground of being

When a person intentionally or unintentionally tries to reach phase two before phase one, or phase three before either, the results can be messy. It’s more or less impossible to sustain and integrate phase two or three without stabilizing the prior phase(s), my tradition argues. This explains why so many people who experience unity-consciousness (phase two) or the absolute void (phase three) can’t seem to integrate the experience in a sustainable or healthy way. It’s crucial to be stabilized in your absolute center (phase one, ‘Soul Immersion’) if you want to actualize phase two or three in a sustainable manner. (Not that it’s about ‘wanting’ it; you’re either called further or you’re not.)

Written by Hareesh (Christopher Wallis)

What is Awakening?

Most people have heard about a phenomenon called “Awakening”, but what exactly is human Awakening, what does it mean experientially, and how does precise understanding of it clear the path of its most common obstacles?

Nearly every spiritual tradition names awakening to your true nature and/or liberation from mind-created suffering as the goal of the spiritual life, and this has been true for millennia. So why aren’t we surrounded by awakened beings by now? Partially because people on the path today don’t have access to some of the key insights of those who have come before, especially regarding the successive phases of the awakening process and the many areas where a person can get “stuck”.

This workshop outlines in clear and precise language the three main phases or stages of Awakening, drawing on the Trika lineage of classical Tantra.

Through clarifying the nature of the path and the goal, and understanding the obstacles and the pivotal forks in the road, our path suddenly seems shorter and clearer. We see that we have what it takes to walk the path — and our whole life is energized by that conviction.

The sequel to the above video is on the 8 common pitfalls on the path: vimeo.com/livetru/8-pitfalls

Adyashanti – Freedom” 

Published on Oct 7, 2017

Adyashanti – Freedom

Check out this talk of him explaining what it is like to be awake:

Free Will Is the Echo of Absolute Freedom

Published on Oct 6, 2017
A man asks Rupert to comment on the idea that ‘thoughts create one’s reality’.

Embodied Enlightenment: Living Your Awakening in Every Moment by Amoda Maa Jeevan

In Embodied Enlightenment, contemporary spiritual teacher Amoda Maa Jeevan dispels the outdated view of a transcendent enlightenment and instead presents a new, feminine expression of awakened consciousness for all—one that is felt and known through what our everyday lives are made of: our emotions, bodies, intimate relationships, work, and life’s purpose. This book is a direct invitation to awaken in a profound, embodied way, and to participate in a collective evolution that can create a new world.

When many of us think of enlightenment, we may envision a life of seclusion and contemplation, transcending the body and worldly attachments, or the achievement of karmic perfection. But what if, rather than something reserved for the mountaintop meditator or sage, the call to awaken is meant for us all? And how can we consciously live that awakening in the midst of our complex, messy, modern lives?

Speaking from her own awakened experience, Amoda Maa Jeevan offers a timeless wisdom, busting some of the common myths about enlightenment and addressing topics often excluded from more traditional spiritual conversations—from the connection between consciousness and the body to relationships to planetary health. In addition, she covers the unfamiliar territory of what happens after enlightenment, delving into awakened action, creative expression, and more.

There’s an urgency today to evolve beyond humanity’s current ego-based paradigm, and along with it, a unique expression of enlightenment is emerging. With clarity, passion, and grace, Embodied Enlightenment invites you on an exploration of consciousness that embraces both the messiness of your earthly experience and the non-duality of pure awareness, offering guidance on how your daily life can bring you into alignment with a divine destiny of individual and collective awakening.

Amoda Maa is a contemporary spiritual teacher, author, and speaker. After years of spiritual seeking, meditation, and immersion in psychospiritual practices, an experience of the dark night of the soul led her to a profound inner awakening. Then, after a long period of integration, she began speaking from silence in small gatherings. She offers meetings and retreats, and is a frequent speaker at conferences and events, attracting spiritual seekers and people looking for peace and fulfillment in an increasingly chaotic world. Her teachings are free of religion and tradition, and she brings to them a deep understanding of the human journey, born out of her own experience.

Amoda Maa is author of Radical Awakening (formerly How to Find God in Everything) and Change Your Life, Change Your World, both of which arose out of a mystical vision around the time of her awakening. In this vision, she was shown the key to humanity’s suffering and the potential for the birth of a new consciousness and world. Embodied Enlightenment is based on both her vision for humanity and the conversations on the cutting edge of spiritual inquiry in her meetings with people from all around the world. She lives with her husband and beloved, Kavi, in California. To learn more, visit http://www.amodamaa.com.

Foreword writer John Welwood, PhD, is a psychotherapist, author, and teacher specializing in the integration of Eastern spiritual wisdom and Western psychology. His books include Journey of the Heart, Perfect Love, Imperfect Relationships, and Toward a Psychology of Awakening.

This Moment Loves You

Published on May 25, 2017

An excerpt from Amoda Maa’s new book ‘Embodied Enlightenment.’

Where is Your Soul on the Path of Spiritual Evolution? By Frank M. Wanderer Ph.D [updated May 24, 2017]

There are three transformational processes within the evolution of the Consciousness. These are, in fact, three levels of development. At these different levels of development the state and functions of the Counsciousness show entirely different signs. If we are aware of these characteristic signs, we may easily recognize what state of development of the Consciousness we are in: ordinary Consciousness, awakening or the level of complete freedom.

The Level of Ordinary Consciousness

This is the lowest level of the evolutional process of the Consciousness. Ordinary Consciousness is rooted in, and feeds on, past times. The present moment is less important for it, it is only a gateway leading to a future we long for. Future is nothing but an improved and beautified version of the past, a future in which we will be successful in the all the things in which we have failed in the past. For ordinary consciousness, only past and future exist, it lives in those and feeds on those.

In that state of Consciousness the appreciation and opinion of others are very important for us. We want to meet the expectation directed at us, we are pleased to play the social roles that are dictated by our community. We thrive to be good parents, a good husband or wife, useful employees and law abiding citizens. Our willingness to play these roles is caused by our complete identification with those roles. Our entire indentity is based upon those roles. We do not look for true answers to the question ”Who am I?;” we are content to be told that by others.

In the state of ordinary Consciousness, the dominant character of our life is the Ego; we wish to make it larger, brighter and more individual. That is why we are learning, gathering knowledge from others, until the end of our life, in the belief that we will thus become more and more intelligent. Still, we become less and less self-confident, and we do not have enough courage to face the challenges of life on our own. We therefore need a guide, a support. We do not long for complete freedom, we follow pre-determined rules and respect authority.

The Level of Awakening

The advent of that level is indicated by moments in our life when we wake up from our ordinary life, and recognize the reality that we in fact live in the captivity of our thoughts, emotions and social roles. Under the effect of those moments, a profound desire for freedom and truth arises in us. We then begin to search for the paths leading to the desired freedom. We intend to become more conscious and alert, to find the truth for ourselves about who we are and what our mission in the world is.

We no longer want to obey the old rules, old leaders, traditions and authorities. We no longer accept ready-made, second-hand theories and explanations. We are not ready to depend on the opinion of others any more. Instead, we want to acquire knowledge and experience from the world for ourselves. We take pleasure in discovering new things, and we embark on new journeys without fear.

It is at that level that real self-control is created in us. This self-control is not rooted in fear of punishment or hope of reward. Many people are able to develop a high degree of self-control in the fear of Hell or the hope of Heaven, or merely because they want to work together with something they regard as larger than themselves. That kind self-control will, however, only produce temporary results, since it is the based upon suppression. Its maintenance requires constant effort from us. If, for some reason, the degree of effort declines, the suppressed desires, anger and emotions burst out, causing us even more suffering.

Real self-control is not born in us out of suppression, but out of the recognition and understanding of the meaning of Life. That kind of self-control will liberate our Consciousness from the state of identification with the world of Shapes and Forms. It will create a space between us and the functions of the Mind, and in that space the ability of seeing and understanding will be born.

Real self-control does not have any rules, and there is nobody around to tell us how to do that. Everybody must create that self-control in themselves without any external pressure, putting aside all kinds of authorities, and using their own personal experience. Everything created for us by others is transitory, but what we create for ourselves will be lasting and permanent. Everybody must find himself or herself what he or she is looking for.

The Level of Complete Freedom

This is the highest peak in the evolution of the Consciousness. The most important characteristic feature of this level is alertness, the acceptance of the present moment, an openness to the existence, and a celebration of life.

In that state of Consciousness an entirely new dimension of existence opens up for us, showing us Existence from a completely new perspective. The unity behind the controversies is revealed in front of our eyes, and we no longer insist on looking on the sunny side of life, as we are able to discover beauty on the dark side, too.

We accept life as it is, and it is not done under pressure, since that acceptance is the result of our complete freedom. The freedom is, in turn, a fruit of our escape from the world of Shapes and Forms. We have understood and experienced the process of awakening. The time has come for us to take control over our mind whenever it is required by the circumstances. When we do not need the work of the mind directly, let us give it some rest.

Everything will be quiet and peaceful in us. We are beyond all good and evil, we are a mere Consciousness that does not analyse or judge, only contemplates. We realize that the same contemplating soul lives in everybody, so the differences between human beings are only superficial, and deep inside we are all the same. Experiencing that unity will bring us the ecstasy of Life, the perfect joy of Existence.

This article is excerpted from the book, The Chant of the Heart: Enjoy the Nectar of Being…
The of the Heart: Enjoy the Nectar of Being

By Frank M. Wanderer

What is Liberation?

Rupert discusses liberation.

Adyashanti – Why We Struggle


Published on Oct 30, 2016

Adyashanti – Why We Struggle
Satsang Talk From: Santa Monica CA, 4/10/1999

What Are The Three Doors of Liberation? By Thich Nhat Hanh

The Truths We’re Distracting Ourselves From

Dualistic notions, such as birth and death, being and non-being, sameness and otherness, coming and going, are the foundation of all afflictions. Meditating on the three doors of liberation helps us throw away these notions. The three doors of liberation, which are taught in every Buddhist tradition, are emptiness, signlessness, and aimlessness. Contemplating these three profound truths can help liberate us from fear and suffering. They are our doorways to freedom.

Living mindfully and with concentration, we see a deeper reality and are able to witness impermanence without fear, anger, or despair. Nirvana is not a place to get to. It’s not something in the future that we’re trying to reach. Nirvana is available to us right now. Emptiness, signlessness, and aimlessness are called the three doors of liberation because if we meditate on them, they will liberate us from all kinds of discriminative thinking so we can touch our true nature.

The three doors of liberation – emptiness, signlessness, and aimlessness.

The three doors of liberation – emptiness, signlessness, and aimlessness.

No Self: The Perfect Communication

The first door of liberation is emptiness. Emptiness is not a philosophy; it is a description of reality. Suppose you have two glasses, one full of tea and one without any tea. You would describe the glass without tea as empty, but empty of what? The glass is empty of tea, but it’s full of air. And the glass itself still exists, whether or not it contains any tea. Emptiness does not mean non-being. There is a big difference between emptiness and non-existence. In order to be empty, you have to be there.

Emptiness is always emptiness of something, just as consciousness is always consciousness of something. When we look into a beautiful chrysanthemum, we see that everything in the cosmos is present in that flower—clouds, sunshine, soil, minerals, space, and time. The flower can’t exist by itself alone. The glass, the flower, everything inside us and around us, and we ourselves are only empty of one thing: a separate independent existence.

The simplest description of emptiness in the Buddhist teachings is this sentence: This is because that is. A flower cannot exist by itself alone. To be can only mean to inter-be. To be by oneself alone is impossible. Everything else is present in the flower; the only thing the flower is empty of is itself.

Looking in this way, we begin to see that everything has the nature of emptiness. Sometimes that nature of emptiness is called non-self. But don’t worry, non-self doesn’t mean that you aren’t there. Just as the glass that’s empty of tea still exists, you still exist too, even without a separate self.

When we look at an action, we believe there needs to be a separate actor existing behind it. The wind blows, yet really there is no blower. There is only the wind, and if it doesn’t blow, it’s not the wind at all.

When we have a thought, we may believe there’s a thinker existing separately from the thought. As we cannot find a blower outside of the wind, nor a rainer outside of the rain, in the same way, there is no thinker existing outside of a thought. When we think something, we are those thoughts. We and our thoughts are not separate. When we say something, those words are us; there’s no speaker outside of the words. When we do something, our action is us. There’s no actor outside of the action.

When we think something, we are those thoughts.

When we think something, we are those thoughts.

There is a verse that’s sometimes recited before bowing to a statue of the Buddha that goes:

The one who bows
and the one who is bowed to
are both by nature empty.
Therefore the communication between us
is inexpressibly perfect.

A buddha is made only of non-buddha elements, just as I am made only of non-me elements. If you remove the non-me elements from me—the sun, the dirt, the garbage, the minerals, the water, my parents, and my society—there’s no me left. If you remove the non-buddha elements from a buddha, there’s no buddha left. Communication is perfect when we can understand that the one who bows and the one who is bowed to are both empty. This is meditation.

If we look at a child, we can see that we are fully present in every cell of that child. If we can’t understand how that child could possibly act a certain way, it’s helpful to remember that the child doesn’t have a separate self. A child’s parents and ancestors are inside of him. When he walks and talks, they walk and talk as well.

When we can see those around us with this understanding, instead of with anger and attachment, we enjoy the fruit of the contemplation on emptiness.

A child’s parents and ancestors are inside of him.

A child’s parents and ancestors are inside of him.

No Form: The Wonderful Journey of Singlessness

The second door of liberation is signlessness. A sign marks the appearance of something, its form. We recognize things based on their sign, but we are often fooled by the outer form of things. The Buddha said, “Where there is a sign, there is deception.”

For example, when we look up at the sky, we see a particular cloud. But if we look long enough, it seems the cloud we are looking at disappears. The cloud has become rain, mist, or snow, and we don’t recognize it anymore.

If you’ve grown attached to that cloud, you may think, “Oh, my beloved cloud, where are you now? I miss you. You’ve passed from being into non-being. I can’t see you anymore.” Maybe you don’t feel this way about a cloud, but this is certainly how you feel when you lose someone who is close to you. Just yesterday your friend was still alive. Now it seems that she has passed from being into non-being.

But in fact, our cloud is still there, because it’s impossible for a cloud to die. It may become snow, hail, or rain, but it won’t become nothing. It’s impossible to pass from being into non-being. Your beloved one is still somewhere there. If you have the wisdom of signlessness, you can still recognize your beloved one in her new forms.

Imagine that I pour some tea from a teapot into an empty glass. When I drink the tea, it changes form. If I give a talk soon after drinking that tea, the talk will have a little bit of tea in it. So the tea is not just in the pot. It has a journey. It travels and has many forms.

This is true for us as well. We are not only the body, thoughts, and feelings we have right now. Every thought, word, and action we produce continues after our bodies have disintegrated. We don’t need to worry about no longer existing. Our forms change, but nothing is lost. Whether the cloud has the form of a cloud, the rain, the river, or the tea, it continues on its wonderful journey.

Whether the cloud has the form of a cloud, the rain, or the tea, it continues on its journey.

Whether the cloud has the form of a cloud, the rain, or the tea, it continues on its journey.

No Goal: The Happiness of Aimlessness

The third door of liberation is aimlessness. Aimlessness means you don’t put anything in front of you as the object of your pursuit. What you are looking for is not outside of you; it is already here. You already are what you want to become. Concentrating on aimlessness releases your longing and craving for something in the future and elsewhere.

You may be running all your life instead of living it. You may be running after happiness, love, romance, success, or enlightenment. Concentrating on aimlessness consists of removing the object of your pursuit, your goal. If you are running after nirvana, you should know that nirvana is already there in yourself and in everything. If you are running after the Buddha, be aware that the Buddha is already in you. If you are seeking happiness, be aware that happiness is available in the here and now.

This insight helps you stop running. Only when you stop running can you get the fulfillment and happiness you have been looking for. A wave doesn’t have to go and look for water. It is water right in the here and now. A cedar tree doesn’t have any desire to be a pine or a cypress or even a bird. It’s a wonderful manifestation of the cosmos just as it is. You are the manifestation of the cosmos. You are wonderful just like that.

Only when you stop running can you get fulfillment and happiness.

Only when you stop running can you get fulfillment and happiness.

We are taught to think that if we are aimless, we won’t get anywhere. But where are we going? We think we are born and we have to achieve something before we die. Suppose we draw a line from left to right, representing the course of time. We pick one point—call it Point B—and we call it birth. Someone is born in this moment. We make a birth certificate for this baby, thinking that person exists starting at Point B. But in fact, the child was already there. Even before the moment of conception, the seeds of the child existed in other forms. Point B is a moment of continuation. There is no beginning.

We think there will be a moment when we stop being. On the imaginary line we have drawn, let’s call it Point D, death. We believe that at birth we passed from non-being into being, and we believe that at death we will pass from being back into non-being. Looking deeply into our notions of being and non-being, aware of the emptiness and signlessness of all things, we touch the reality of the birthless and deathless nature of all things.

When we walk through the doors of liberation, we extinguish all notions. There is no longer any need for fear. If the wave knows how to rest in the water, she enjoys going up and she enjoys going down. She’s not afraid of being and non-being. She’s not afraid of coming and going. She is capable of touching the ocean in herself. The three doors of liberation remind us that we are no different than the wave: empty, signless, and able to touch the ultimate inherent in us at any moment.

Source: UPLIFT

‘Effortless Freedom’


Published on Aug 26, 2016

For more information about Unmani’s Meetings and Intensive Retreats see: http://www.die-to-love.com
Freedom is not dependent on any circumstances. It is not dependent on how you feel or who you’re with. It’s not dependent on how hard you meditate or any old conditioning playing out. This Freedom is radical. It is the Freedom of Who You Are. Who You Are is always free. It is simply aware of what is happening. And although you may be completely touched by what is happening, paradoxically Who You Are is untouched.

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