Category: Spirituality


An inspiring new book born from a profound spiritual awakening. Topics covered: a personal account of the author’s enlightenment, the connection between science and mysticism, the limits of modern psychology and philosophy, the true goal and unity of all religions, what enlightenment is and how to attain it, and the spiritual destiny of humanity.

About the Author

In 1996, at the age of 22, Stephen D’Amico experienced a profound spiritual transformation. Following this awakening, he spent several years integrating and deepening his understanding of this transformation. Then, in 2000, he began writing this book as a way to help enlighten the world.

Stephen is not aligned with any particular religion or spiritual tradition, but his teaching grows out of the supreme truths found at the heart of them all. At the core of this teaching lies the understanding that the enlightened transformation has the power to transform this world into a heavenly paradise, and that the greatest advancement each of us can make towards this divine destiny is to become one in whom the consciousness of God is fully awakened.

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CANADA TALKS RADIO INTERVIEW

Host Richard Garner from Canada Talks radio show What in the World?! interviews Spiritual Teacher Stephen D’Amico, author of the new autobiographical book, The Incredible State of Absolute Nothingness.

All of this back story may be, you know, the Divine Mother saying, “ok, this is as much as we can take and we’re just going to shatter this and the shattering is going to cause tremendous upheaval.” 

So right now, I don’t know what’s going to happen with these refugees from Syria and Africa into Europe, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg when the climate refugees start happening. And I suspect we will all create what Donald Trump just called the other day at the debates, a something force…oh goodness, it was a great term. It was like a deportation force but I don’t know if that was the actual word. But there’s going to be a special army unit to just eliminate…

David Welch: Something about wet back something.

RABBI RAMI: Yeah…it was going back to that original thing from the Eisenhower time I think. But he had a different word for it. But it was, you know…we’re going to use the military in a way to keep ourselves from being inundated by climate refugees. And look, we’ve done this before.

DAVID: Or we can solve the climate problem, I mean the challenges, and not have to go down that road. Wait a minute…

RABBI RAMI: Yeah, we could, but we probably won’t. Yeah, I mean, there are…theoretically there are alternatives, but I’m not sure there’s enough just to stick with those levels of consciousness. I’m not sure there’s enough four energy in the people with power to actually make those kinds of decisions. I think we’re talking about, to be president or prime minister or you know, to be…

DAVID: You’re a politician.

RABBI RAMI: You’re a level three person and you look at the military and this is a hammer and everything is a nail and those kinds of clichés but I’m afraid that we’ll simply do what we’ve done in the past just on a bigger scale. And I have some friends that talk…no, we’re going to have terra-forming or we’re going to go to another planet. We’re going to go to Mars now. And we’re going to turn Mars…

DAVID: Elon Musk, oh, being on Mars, we’ll save humanity.

RABBI RAMI: Yeah, well they’re going to save the one percent and those among the rest, they need to be servants to the one percent, right?

DAVID: Right.

RABBI RAMI: Because they don’t know how to flip burgers but they’ll bring a couple of burger flippers with them so they can still have McDonald’s. Not that they eat McDonald’s. I don’t know what they eat. But you know that kind of thing, going on to another planet. We’re talking about only the wealthiest people who are ever going to be able to afford to do that and then they’ll take the slave class to do the work.

DAVID: I think it’s more important to actually have heaven right here on this earth. Is there anything else you would like to say to the Awaken community?

RABBI RAMI: Yeah, I would say as chutzpah as it is for me to offer advice at all, I would say that continually making the shift from the personal to the transpersonal, level three to level four consciousness, is something that we have to do. If I say religiously, it’s sort of a pun, but we have to do it religiously, it has to become a discipline. We have to really, really challenge and break the narrow tribal stories that we have. I mean, in Judaism one of the things that I wrestle with all the time as a Jew is the “chosen people” story: that somehow there’s a God out there somewhere that chose the Jews among all the people and to receive the only revelation God had to give and to give us the only land that God chose among all the inheritable land on the Earth. You know, that very, what did you call it?…very jingoistic, very xenophobic kind of worldview. And every religion has that. This happens to be mine. But I think we have to challenge those stories and get beyond that kind of tribalism. So I was talking with this Lakota Sage last week and…

DAVID: Who was that?

RABBI RAMI: If I give you his name, I’ll mispronounce it but he was from a Lakota Sioux tribe and he was telling me, you know, “tribe is good, tribe is good.” And I kept saying, “yeah, except when it becomes tribalism.” And so in his world, tribe is maybe…it’s not a problem. But in my world, you know, I think it’s a problem. And I think that we’ve just got these competing religious tribes that are all playing a zero-sum game. I know Jews will say, “well Jews were chosen for Torah, but other people were chosen for this and other people were chosen for that.” That’s just something we made up thousands of years after the original idea because it’s not politically correct to say, “hey, wait…we’re the chosen ones.”

So I think what we have to do is get beyond that, the whole notion. I think we have to get beyond the notion of a God who chooses, a God who saves, a God who damns, a God who writes books, a God who dabbles in real estate. You have to get rid of all that stuff; that’s all Iron Age mythology, which we should, you know, allow to pass away and move into a new story. And people are telling the new story because the story is becoming in vogue on college campuses. You’ve got Brian Swimme and then the universe story and all these different things they are saying to us. Even as an individual, when someone asks me my…I’m going to be 65 in a few months, but when someone says, “how old are you?” I never do this because it’s really obnoxious, but I always want to say, “oh…I’m 13.8 billion years old. But I can’t get a cake big enough so when I get a cake, I just put 64 candles on it or 65 candles on it.”

But when you realize that…when I just even think about it…never mind anything mystical… when I just think about the fact—and it’s a fact—that I am the culmination of 13.8 billion years of cosmic creativity and as are you and as is everyone else…but just thinking for myself about myself when I realize it took 13.8 billion years for the universe to do this: Rami to do Rami. I said, “wow!…what an amazing truth that is and it carries such responsibility, you know? I mean, my family is not just my mom and my dad and all that…my family goes back 13.8 billion years!” Some of those rocks are still around! I have to take care of my sister rocks and my brother dirt or whatever it is.

That story needs to be told much more and people have to realize that. And when I realize it, you know, a lot of the stuff that’s bugging me today really doesn’t matter. I’ve been around for 13.8 billion years. This pain in the neck thing from the email is really not going to get to me so much. I think we have to change our sense of time to realize that we are the cutting edge of this evolutionary experiment. And you know, there’s no guarantee the experiment is going to pan out after all this time. It could be, it could fizzle out, and that’s the end of it. But maybe not…maybe this is the birth pang of the next level of evolution, if we can change the story. But if we just keep living with that Iron Age story, we’re going to end up with an Iron Age result, which is, we’re just going to kill each other because that’s really all we know to do, so yeah. Anyway.

DAVID: I wanted to flesh something out. Am I understanding that you’re getting up at 4 o’clock or very early every morning and this is sort of a sweet time that you write and meditate?

RABBI RAMI: No, not write…yeah, yeah, I do my meditation very early in the morning. My normal day is…and I don’t set a clock, because that’s too jarring.

DAVID: You just wake up when you wake up? You try to go to bed early?

RABBI RAMI: I go to bed at…so around 4 or 5 it’s already, I’ve had my 7 to 8 hours, right? So, I wake up naturally and I do all the silent meditation things, the repetition of the mantra and the silent sitting. Then, if I’m not on the road…if I’m on the road, then I just get up and go about my day, but if I’m not…if I’m home, then after that, I get up and I walk and, sometimes with my dog, sometimes by myself. Sometimes it depends on the weather, sometimes I’ll just go to the gym and walk, if that’s all I can do.

But there’s a place near here called The Greenway. It’s about, I don’t know…maybe a mile from my house. It’s all woods and you can walk out there and it follows Stone River. Lytle Creek flows into Stone River, but there’s this one spot where…I don’t know how to explain it exactly, but the Earth comes in to the water. There’s a big tree that’s sort of curved perfectly for my butt on the roots and some stones and you can actually sit just like it was a, you know, a Zafu meditation. And you can sit there and the water is going right around you and it has a beautiful sound and if you don’t move long enough the deer will come and they’ll drink early in the morning. So I try to go there if it’s not too cold.

So, I do the chanting and then I do the silent meditation and then I do the walking and that’s how I start the day and then I do some silly writing just to get my brain going, then I get to work. That’s how it goes. But there’s something about that very early in the morning time. This is how it was explained to me: is that level three is open to level four; level four is open to level five, you know? It all hasn’t congealed yet, so if I can just stay in that liminal space, it’s a nice place to meditate, to do mantra.

Read Awaken Interviews Rabbi Rami Shapiro – Everything Is God…

Read Awaken Interviews Rabbi Rami Shapiro Part II– The Divine Mother Returns Here…

Source: AWAKEN

Published on Jul 12, 2017

Hoksila Lakota, commonly known as John Lokota is a Native American whose heritage comes from Oklahoma and the Great Plains of North America. Many generations ago his people lived in harmony with all things Universal, “uni” meaning One and “verse” being Song. When a system came in that crippled the people, making them dependent, some stayed and accepted the system and some left seeking broader horizons.

Rejecting the life of poverty and struggle he was born into, as a young man Lakota John fully embraced the illusion of glamour, bright lights and the fast pace of a big city. Trading in his cultural identity and the ways of his ancestors – a way of prayer and Spirit – he was lured by the seductive power of the city’s underworld, chasing the counterfeit lifestyle of money and self gain.

After travelling down many dead end roads in a reckless disregard for life, the light finally dawned, and Lakota awakened to the prompting of Spirit and ancient ancestors calling him back to the Red Road of Sobriety. Finding his innocence, or inner sense, by working through his past, he began to walk the straight and narrow path that leads to the sacred Tree of Life and reunion with the Highest Good, God or Wakan Tanka.

The impact his own restoration had on his life moved him to reach out to others, and ever since he has been involved in the mental health sector and working with keepers of the sacred pathways and knowledge for over twenty years. Through the lifestyle he once lived he is able to recognize the unseen enemy that binds and captivates the soul of man and woman through separation, suppression and sedation. Using the time-tested spiritual wisdom of his ancestors he helps guide others back from the dark world that he himself used to live in; the world of illusion, delusion and separation.


ELEVEN MEN embarked upon a journey in 1894 with one objective:
…to find the great spiritual teachers of the Far East and witness their uncommon abilities.

Since these Masters were scattered over a wide territory that covered a large portion of India, Tibet, China, and Persia, they knew it could take years of searching many secluded villages and hidden mountain communes. Planning each step of the journey became a challenge knowing that countless miles of rugged terrain separated the remote and isolate locations that were imperative to the exploration. Even though they could plot their route on a map and see where they were headed, the destination deep within the souls of eleven scientifically trained men remained uncertain. Baird T. Spalding and the others were practical in nature and the thought of spiritual masters performing miracles seemed impossible. Despite these suspect thoughts, something compelled them to move onward. So they did.

Volume 1: Introduction of the Master Emil. Visit to the “Temple of Silence”. Astral Projection. Walking on Water. Visit to the Healing Temple. Emil Talks about America. The Snowmen of the Himalayas. New Light on the Teachings of Jesus. ISBN# 9780875163635

Volume 2: Visit to the Temple of the Great Tau Cross. Visit with the Master Jesus. Jesus discussed the nature of hell; the nature of God. The Mystery of thought vibrations. Jesus feeds the multitude. An account of a healing experience. Jesus and Buddha visit the group. ISBN# 9780875163642

Volume 3: One of the masters speaks of the Christ consciousness. The nature of cosmic energy. The creation of the planets and the worlds. The trip to Lhasa. Visit at the Temple Pora-tat-sanga. Explaining the mystery of levitation. A doubltless convinced of the existence of Jesus. ISBN# 9780875163659

Volume 4: First presented as “The India Tour Lessons.” Each chapter has text for study as well as guides to teachers for developing and interpreting the material. Among subjects covered: The White Brotherhood, The One Mind Basis of coming social reorganization Prana. ISBN# 9780875163666

Volume 5: Lectures and articles by Spalding; also a brief biographical sketch. Partial contents: Camera of past events. Is there a God. The divine pattern. The reality. Mastery over death. The law of supply. ISBN# 9780875163673

Volume 6: Thirty-five years after the appearance of Volume 5 of Life & Teaching of the Masters of the Far East, ten dusty cartons were discovered in the DeVorss warehouse, some of which held Spalding manuscripts, paper, letters, photographs, and other materials related to this man whose name has been a legend in metaphysical and truth circles.
The New Volume 6 includes: Articles previously omitted from Vol.5, Photographs, The 1935 India Tour and correspondence, Rare letters, Personal recollections of BTS, Spalding’s last days, Spalding biography and memorabilia. ISBN# 978087516988

SET 6 volumes: Handsomely boxed in their own sleeves: Since 1924, when these writings first appeared, they have influenced and inspired generations of seekers. Astonished at the interest in his discoveries and experiences, he wrote Volume 2 (1927). Volume 3 (1935) followed along with a 30 city tour. Volume 4 (1948) and Volume 5 (1955) were compiled from his question and answer material and Volume 6 (1996)contains historical reference to his articles for the Mind Magazine 1935-37. ISBN# 9780875165387

Audio 3CD SET (169 min) The content of this CD is an abridged version of the expedition which takes place in the first three volumes. ISBN# 9780875168180

Baird T. Spalding, whose name became legend in metaphysical circles during the first half of the 20th century, played an important part in introducing to the Western world knowledge of the Masters, who are assisting and guiding the destiny of mankind. Born in England, at age four he went to India. At age seventeen he finished the University and went to California where he stayed two years. He then traveled to Heidelberg, Germany and studied for eight years and then returned to California for post-graduate work in Archaeology at Berkeley and Stanford.
`After years of working with publisher Douglas DeVorss to write and promote the Life & Teaching series, Spalding died in 1953 in Arizona.


Life and Teaching of the Masters of the Far East – Baird T. Spalding | Part 1/3 – Prj new

Published on Jul 11, 2017

In the midst of his career as an artist and photographer, Robert Saltzman experienced a sudden and profound awakening—a deep vision into the actual nature of “myself.” That abrupt change in point of view, along with a subsequent long illness and slow recovery, changed the course of his life. He left the art world, obtained a doctorate in Depth Psychology, and began his practice of psychotherapy, a work he describes as “days in a small room, face to face with pain and suffering.”

As an adjunct to his therapy practice, Robert established a website, www-dr-robert.com that featured his replies to questions about psychology, consciousness, and ordinary problems of living such as relationships, personality disorders, sexuality, mental illness, death and dying, etc. That site became the most popular ask the psychologist web page on the internet, and has welcomed over four million visitors.

In 2012, Robert moved his question and answer work to a Facebook page where it continues to this day. The Ten Thousand Things is a book of words and images about awakening, consciousness, philosophy, and spirituality. Forty chapters–each beginning with a photograph–based upon Robert’s replies to questions posed to him on Facebook and in private correspondence.

Book: The Ten Thousand Things

Website: http://dr-robert.com

David Welch: First of all, I’m a big fan of yours. If you’ve been on the Awaken site, I’ve tried to gather together the teachers…

Rabbi Rami Shapiro: Yeah, I saw that. Thank you for including me.

DAVID: The teachers that can help awaken not only myself but all of humanity. I wanted to have a resource for those in the process of awakening.

RABBI RAMI: Yeah, yeah.

DAVID: To offer positive, uplifting, useful information.

RABBI RAMI: Yeah.

DAVID: I was very impressed with how you described God. So, if you wouldn’t mind, my first question is, if you were going to attempt to describe God, what would you say?

RABBI RAMI: Well, I mean for me, God is reality. So, everything is God. There isn’t anything that isn’t. So, you and I, and the recorder, and the table it’s sitting on, and the chai that we’re drinking…its all a manifestation of the same, you know…reality, and that’s what I call God. So, it’s not esoteric, its not mystical, it’s just the only thing that exists. In Hebrew, we have a saying in the Bible: I don’t know…Deuteronomy 4:34/35 it says, ein od milvado: “there’s nothing else but that…but the divine.” Hindus…Tat Tvama Asi: “you are that.” I mean, it’s all the same. I think when they talk on the mystical level, they’re all saying the same thing and what they’re saying is, whether you call it God or something else, everything is a manifestation of a single reality.

DAVID: So, with that in mind then, what does it mean to awaken? Is there a process?

RABBI RAMI: Yeah, good question. I don’t have a good answer. Let’s talk about process first. If there is a process, then time is involved. And, you know, I go from being, I guess…from not awake, to less not awake, to a little awake, to a little more awake. Or, is it just, Bam!…you’re either awake or you’re not? And, I tend to think it’s the second. It’s more sudden, as opposed to, you know…in Zen, they have the sudden school of awakening and the gradual school of awakening and I’m more inclined toward the sudden school. It’s just…you’re living in delusion where you think that you and I are really not simply diverse manifestations of a singular reality but actually separate realities. You just awaken from that illusion to the realization of the non-duality and that just happens instantaneously.

So, the question is, if there’s no process, are there practices for doing that? And, I would say, no. I would say, practices are for getting you to a place where it can happen, and then it happens by grace. I don’t think you can practice your way to awakening. I think you can, you know…work with your breath and work with your mindfulness practice. And, there are so many different meditation practices. You can work with practices that continually challenge the assumption that I am apart from this non-dual reality. But, I think the actual awakening to being a part of it is not under my control. So, I’m leery of someone saying, “yeah do this meditation for 20 minutes a day, twice a day, or 20 hours a day and you’re going to wake up.” No, I don’t think so.

DAVID: Having said that, do you have any daily practices or rituals? Do you pray? Are there things that you do every day that you feel helps you to be closer to God or helps you….

RABBI RAMI: Yes, but not for that reason. So, I don’t do anything to get closer to God. There’s no way to get closer than to being it yourself, so…you’re already it.

DAVID: Right.

RABBI RAMI: So, I practice. I have a lot of things that I do every day. I have a list of mantras that I do every day with Amala beads. I do them in Hebrew. I do them in Sanskrit. I’ve gotten them from different gurus, different times in my life and I just kept them. I like the repetition of sacred phrases, so I do that regularly, you know, on a daily basis. I have a…I guess it’s a kind of mantra practice, though I guess there’s a different word for it. Maybe because it’s Japa. But, the repetition of a divine name or phrase constantly, as opposed to my more formal, like…this morning, 4 o’clock in the morning, I’m up and I’m doing the repetition of the formal mantra, but, throughout the day, I’ll I have a less formal thing that I repeat over and over again. And then I do silent sitting. Just observing the mind. Nothing more than that. It’s just watching the madness of my mind.

After all these years of practice and going, yeah, nothing really changes. And just watching that, and just resting as much as one can. Having now just turned the eternal subject into an object but resting in that observer consciousness. But, as soon as I say that, I’ve made an object out of what can only be, you know, the singular eternal subject. So, I’m just BS’ing, you know what I mean? I mean, you can’t…anything I say about it isn’t really it, so…

DAVID: Right.

RABBI RAMI: I have a lot of practices that I do, but I do them because I love doing them. I only do it for the joy of doing it.

DAVID: Not to get somewhere.

RABBI RAMI: Yeah, not to get somewhere. And I’ve given up on that idea. And that’s either because there’s nowhere to get to, which is what I tell myself…but that may simply be what I tell myself because I’m too lazy to get where they’re supposed to take me. So I could be wrong. But I do it now just because I love doing it.

DAVID: How would you describe the present moment? And, what is presence?

RABBI RAMI: Yeah, well, I can’t describe the present moment. As soon as, you know…as soon as I can objectify the present moment, it’s already…the moment has just passed. So, I think that there’s an experience of the present, which is just beyond my normal waking-state consciousness to grasp. And I can’t describe it because I’m not there. There’s just that arising or that happening of, you know, me…you…table…oxygen…you know, of the universe happening in that sphere of awareness that I may have. But, I’m not there as an egoic person to say, “Oh yeah! This is the present moment!” I mean…you know…Eckhart Tolle…I admire his work, but, I’ve never been in the now, you know?

DAVID: Right.

RABBI RAMI: Because in that now, if I’m there, I’m fairly certain that if I’m there, the now isn’t. Then I’m always one step behind.

DAVID: If there’s an observer and observed then you’re already in the duality of now.

RABBI RAMI: That’s what I think. Thank you for saying that, I should interview you, you’re much more articulate. Yeah, but that’s what I’m saying. Yeah, that division is a functional necessity so I can get through my day and do whatever I was doing. But, it’s not the absolute reality. And I think you do experience…well, the language betrays us. But, there’s a happening there, but I can’t experience it as “other,” so, I can’t describe it. I’m always leery about people who say, “I had an amazing mystical experience” or “spiritual experience.”

DAVID: In the past.

RABBI RAMI: Well, it’s in the past, that’s fine. But I mean…when I was in India last week, we had this big discussion and, you know, people were saying, well if you’ve…everyone can describe a spiritual experience any way they want and no one can judge it. And, you know, being crotchety and old, I basically said “no, I can judge it.” If you’re having it, it’s not it! You know, if you’re there saying to yourself in meditation, “Oh this is fantastic! I’m having this great experience!” Then, yeah, you are having a great experience, but I don’t imagine that’s awakening or enlightenment or…because if you’re there, it’s not that. That’s my assumption.

DAVID: To the Toltec, there is the known, the unknown and the unknowable. So, my ego immediately went, “oh yeah, the unknowable…that’s where all the real truth is! I’ve got to get to the unknowable!”…right? So, as I got deeper and deeper into presence, what I discovered was that the unknowable was when there is no knower to know.

RABBI RAMI: Yeah, we have this great word in Hebrew for that experience. Reb Nachman of Breslov in the 18…late 17…early 1800’s called what we’re talking about, Rashimu. Rashimu means, “like fragrance.” I think the analogy is, if you buy…you know, expensive perfume oil and you take the stopper out of the bottle, eventually the oil evaporates and there’s nothing in the bottle, but the fragrance remains and the fragrance is the Rashimu. And, that’s what I think we pick up. So, that’s happening without my egoic self—”I.” But, afterwards, when I come back, I have some remnant, something has changed. Iit shifted. I know something I didn’t know, or I felt something and the vibration of that, the residue of that, the Rashimu, the fragrance of that, is still with me, even though I’m there as an observer again.

And, so I don’t think it’s…I think if someone has an experience like, you know, of presence or awakening or whatever it is, while they’re not there at the moment…when they come back—if it was an authentic experience—there is a Rashimu, a fragrance. And the fragrance is always one of justice and compassion. You know your practice…I hate to say, “your practice is working,” I mean…oh, the language is horrible! But, you know something positive is going on, if you are continually in the egoic self…become more open, more just, more loving, kinder, more compassionate. Then you know, “ok, this is worth doing, even if I don’t know that unknowable.”

Read Awaken Interviews Rabbi Rami Shapiro Part II– The Divine Mother Returns Here…

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

Robert Saltzman’s new book is about living the awakened life. The book is a collection of conversations with Robert, artist, pragmatic awakened being and psychotherapist.
When I imagine speaking to a person who for the first time opens the pages of this book, I think of telling that person something like this: “You are about to read an authentic and incredibly lucid account of what it is like to live in this world as an awakened being while simultaneously functioning as a personality with all of the usual habits and peculiarities of an individual self.” Robert’s way of describing his understanding of the human existence from the point of view of an awakened personality is a revelation. His book is a fresh look at the questions that occur to anyone who thinks deeply about these matters, questions about free will, self-determination, destiny, choice, and who are we anyway. ~ Robert Hall, Introduction to The Ten Thousand Things

About the Author
In the midst of his career as an artist and photographer, Robert Saltzman experienced a sudden and profound awakening—a deep vision into the actual nature of “myself.” That abrupt change in point of view, along with a subsequent long illness and slow recovery, changed the course of his life. He left the art world, obtained a doctorate in Depth Psychology, and began his practice of psychotherapy, a work he describes as “days in a small room, face to face with pain and suffering.” As an adjunct to his therapy practice, Robert established a website, www-dr-robert.com that featured his replies to questions about psychology, consciousness, and ordinary problems of living such as relationships, personality disorders, sexuality, mental illness, death and dying, etc. That site became the most popular ask the psychologist webpage on the internet, and has welcomed over four million visitors. In 2012, Robert moved his question and answer work to a Facebook page where it continues to this day. The Ten Thousand Things is a book of words and images about awakening, consciousness, philosophy, and spirituality. Forty chapters–each beginning with a photograph–based upon Robert’s replies to questions posed on Facebook. 

by Steven Taylor PhD: Temporary and Permanent Awakening in Spiritual Traditions…

Many spiritual traditions make a distinction between temporary spiritual experiences and a permanent, ongoing experience of ‘wakefulness’ or liberation. In the Hindu Vedanta tradition, this is the distinction between nirvikalpa or savikalpa samadhi (usually seen as temporary) and sahaja samadhi (usually seen as a stable, ongoing and permanent state of samadhi) (Feuerstein, 1990). 

In Sufism, there is a similar distinction between fana and baqa (Spencer, 1963); likewise in Zen Buddhism, kensho and satori are comparable terms (Suzuki, 1956). 

In the Christian spiritual tradition, there is a similar distinction between mystical experiences, and mysticism as a permanent state, as in the state of ‘deification’ or ‘theosis’ (Underhill, 1960). Maslow (1970) made a similar distinction between the ‘peak experience’ and the ‘plateau’ experience, or between ‘peak experiences’ and the ‘self-actualised’ state.

What is the basis of this distinction between temporary ‘awakening’ experiences and experiences of permanent spiritual awakening? In a study of 161 temporary awakening experiences conducted by this author (Taylor, 2012b), the ‘temporary’ nature of the experiences was emphasised in descriptions of them ‘lasting’ a certain amount of time, and possessing a certain intensity which faded away, bringing a return to a ‘normal’ state of mind. For example, one person commented, ‘I was conscious of not wanting the feeling to go away. But unfortunately it didn’t last long’ (Taylor, 2012b, p.7).

Nevertheless, despite being essentially temporary, the experiences were reported as having long term effects. Although they did not bring a fundamental, deep-rooted shift of identity – or a permanent state of oneness or heightened awareness of the phenomenal world- many individuals described them as bringing a shift in perspective and attitude to life, and a change of values. For example, they were reported as bringing a new sense of optimism, trust, comfort or confidence (Taylor, 2012b). One person had an intense awakening experience following a period of intense psychological turmoil, during which she ‘felt the most intense love and peace and knew that all was well’ (Taylor, 2011, p.4). The experience probably only lasted for a few minutes, but in its aftermath she found that the feeling of dread had disappeared from her stomach, and she felt able to cope again. ‘I looked around and thought about all the good things in my life and the future. I felt more positive and resilient’ (ibid.). Another person simply reported that the experience made her realise ‘how easy it would be to be happy’ (Taylor, 2010, p.7)

For some, the memory of the awakening experience – and the knowledge that this dimension of meaning and harmony existed – had a comforting and reassuring effect. One person reported that her awakening experience ‘Only lasted a few minutes but I remember a sense of calmness and stillness and it soothes me now’ (Taylor, 2010, p.10). (The poet Wordsworth vividly described this soothing after effect of awakening experiences on several occasions. For example, in Lines Written A Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey, he describes his awareness that this ‘serene and blessed mood’ of the present will provide ‘life and food/For future years.'[Wordsworth, 2013].)

One of the most common after effects of awakening experiences is to create a desire to ‘return’ to this dimension of meaning and harmony, which often leads to an interest in spiritual traditions and practices. For example, in another awakening experience apparently triggered by psychological turmoil, a young woman experienced ‘a moment of enlightenment’ in which ‘all my “problems” and my suffering suddenly seemed meaningless, ridiculous, simply a misunderstanding of my true nature and everything around me. There was a feeling of acceptance and oneness’ (Taylor, 2011, p.8). This experience awakened a life-long interest in selfdevelopment. ‘In some ways’, the woman reported, ‘I have spent the last 25 years since exploring what it meant and how I could perhaps go back there’ (ibid.).

Similarly, one person reported how she had ‘spent my life searching for the feeling again because I know it’s there’ (Taylor, 2011, p.7). Another person described how, following her awakening experience, she felt drawn to books about spirituality, began to read about Buddhism, and learned to meditate (Taylor, 2011). While as a final example, a man who had a powerful awakening experience 40 years ago -without having any similar experiences- reported that this ‘tiny glimpse of my potential as a human being has had a huge impact on my life and work’ (Taylor, 2010, p.41).

The last quote recalls William James description of the ‘noetic’ quality of mystical experiences:

[Mystical experiences] are states of insight into depths of truth unplumbed by the discursive intellect. They are illuminations, revelations, full of significance and importance…as a rule they carry with them a curious sense of authority for after-time (James, 1985, p.380).
I suggest that this transformation of perspective and of values following temporary awakening experiences be termed a ‘secondary shift’, or ‘secondary transformational experience.’ The transformation may lead to significant cognitive and affective changes, with different values (e.g. less materialistic, more altruistic), different beliefs (e.g. belief in life after death) and a different attitude (e.g. more optimistic, more trusting). In turn, these may lead to significant lifestyle changes, such as new interests, new relationships and a new career. However, the ‘shift’ is still secondary in the sense that the individual’s previous ‘self-system’ and previous sense of identity remain intact. Since the individual’s ‘ego-boundaries’ remain essentially intact, he/she does not experience the intense connection or oneness or the intensified perception of the phenomenal world which awakening experiences frequently feature (Taylor, 2005; 2009; 2010; 2012b). These individuals experience themselves as the same continuous ‘ego-self’ as before, although they may possess a different ‘cognitive map’ of reality.

Temporary awakening experiences can be seen as a temporary ‘installation’ of a different, ‘higherfunctioning’ self-system’, which does not become established. Although temporarily disabled, the individual’s normal self-system is still intact as a structure, and so re-establishes itself.

The Primary Shift

It is tempting to describe this normal ‘selfsystem’ as a kind of psychic ‘mould’, which exists as a potential even when the system itself temporarily dissolves, so that it is able to re-form. In temporary awakening experiences, the structure is only in abeyance, with the mould still intact. But when permanent transformation occurs- in the form of a ‘primary shift’- not only the structure, but the ‘psychic mould’ itself dissolves away. It is replaced by a new psychological structure, or ‘self-system’, so that the individual does experience a new sense of identity. This shift is therefore more deep-rooted and fundamental. The person may feel that they have been ‘re-born’, even that the only real connection with their previous identity was that they are associated with the same body and name. At the same time, this transformation includes the characteristics of the ‘secondary shift’ described above. The new ‘self-system’ generates significant cognitive and affective changes, with different values, beliefs and attitudes. These typically occur to a more intense degree than a ‘secondary shift’ occurring alone (Taylor, 2011, 2012a, 2013).

This ‘primary shift’ can be seen as equivalent to the ‘awakening’. ‘liberation’ or ‘enlightenment’ described by various spiritual traditions -sahaja samadhi (in the Hindu Vedanta tradition), baqa (in Sufism), satori (in Zen Buddhism) and ‘deification’ or ‘theosis’ (in the Christian mystical tradition)1 .

In a recent study (Taylor, 2013), 25 individuals who believed they had undergone ‘permanent spiritual awakening’ were investigated. This study found that the ‘primary shift’ was most likely to occur in a sudden and dramatic form, rather than gradually. Of the 25 participants, 12 reported a sudden and dramatic awakening, with no previous knowledge or experience of spirituality. 7 reported a sudden and dramatic awakening, with some gradual development preceding this and some previous temporary awakening experiences, while 6 participants reported a wholly gradual process of transformation.

Most of these cases of ‘spiritual awakening’ occurred following periods of intense psychological turmoil, associated with events such as bereavement, illness, divorce and episodes of psychosis and depression. Many participants felt that their transformational experiences were triggered by this turmoil. Of the 25 participants, 9 reported psychological turmoil as the only apparent factor, while for 14 other participants it was reported as an important contributory factor. For 9 of these 14, some form of spiritual practice was also reported as a factor. In other words, these participants were engaging in some form of spiritual practice (in most cases, meditation) while experiencing psychological turmoil. In five other cases, participants were undergoing some form of psychotherapy (e.g. counselling, Hokami therapy –a form of bodywork– or the AA recovery process). Only one person reported experiencing transformation purely as a result of spiritual practice, including the reading of spiritual texts and studying with a spiritual teacher (Taylor, 2013).

When this shift occurred suddenly and dramatically, it was often attended with difficulties. Particularly if the person did not have a conceptual framework to help them make sense of their transformation (e.g. background knowledge of spiritual traditions and practices) and a supportive network around them, they were liable to become confused and to suffer psychological disturbances (Taylor, 2013). However, in most cases, the state did appear to become integrated and stable, even if this process took several years. (ibid.) Conversely, gradual transformations tended to be less beset by difficulties, and to occur in a more integrated and stable way.

This distinction between sudden and gradual spiritual awakening is similar to the distinction Grof (2000) makes between spiritual emergency and spiritual emergence. Whereas spiritual emergencies are sudden and dramatic, and often very disruptive to the normal self-system, spiritual emergences are more gradual and less disturbing. As Lukoff, Lu, and Turner (1998) note, ‘In spiritual emergence…there is a gradual unfoldment of spiritual potential with minimal disruption… whereas in spiritual emergency there is significant abrupt disruption in psychological, social and occupational functioning’ (p. 38).

All 25 participants -both sudden and gradualreported a shift into a new psychological state, with a new sense of identity. One described this as ‘a shift in consciousness and in identity’ and noted that she felt so different that when she returned to her home town she was ‘fully expecting to walk into the room and for family and friends not to recognise me. I felt so different, like a completely different person to be honest. All my internal frames of reference have changed’ (Taylor, 2013). Another participant reported, ‘I’m in many ways a different person now, living a different life’, while another simply stated, ‘I feel like a different person’ (ibid.). In answer to the question, ‘Do you think the transformation is permanent?’, another participant stated, ‘It’s like saying, is birth permanent? There are some things that are done and can’t be undone’ (ibid.).

All participants believed that this new psychological state was permanent, or at least ongoing. They reported it as fairly stable, although with some fluctuations and difficulties. One participant stated, ‘I can tell you that it feels stable. It’s been about three years now and it feels stable’ (Taylor, 2013). A small number of participants were initially worried that the state would fade away, but were reassured by its stability. One reported, ‘I worried that one day I would wake up and it would hit me like a brick, but it is permanent and I feel like I am in a growing developing phase at the moment, its not over yet’ (ibid.). In some cases a significant amount of time had elapsed since the transformation, but these participants did not believe it had faded. Two participants had begun a process of gradual spiritual development more than 20 years ago, while another had experienced sudden transformation 21 years ago. For 7 others, it had been between 10-19 years since their transformational experience, or since the onset of their gradual development.

As the quote above suggests, although all participants felt they had undergone a permanent shift, some believed that the state was not finite, not the end point of their development. As another participant put it, ‘I think it’s kind of raised me up a level if you like. It’s really a building block for me to move from’ (Taylor, 2013).

This deep-rooted identity led to major psychological changes, and major lifestyle changes. The participants experienced new modes of cognition and perception, a new relationship to their surroundings and to other human beings (including increased authenticity and compassion) and new values (including a less materialistic attitude and increased altruism, in some cases leading to a change in career). A thematic analysis showed that the three most prevalent reported characteristics of their new states were wellbeing/positive affective states, an increased ‘presentness’ (including the ability to ‘do nothing’) and a sense that this state is ongoing and stable (and possibly permanent). All 25 participants reported these characteristics. While other major codes, mentioned by 20 or more of the participants, were ‘Reduced cognitive activity/Less identification with thoughts’ (which many participants reported as having a ‘quieter mind’ than before), a ‘Reduced/Disappearance of fear of death’ (including a sense that life will continue in some form following the apparent death of the body); ‘Decreased sense of group identity/need for belonging’; ‘Episodes of intense turmoil or trauma immediately preceding transformation’; and ‘Sense of Connection’ (Taylor, 2013).

The study found that this ‘primary shift’ into a new psychological structure was most likely to occur following periods of intense psychological turmoil or stress, leading to a dissolution of the person’s normal self-system. This was associated with many different types of turmoil and stress, but common types were bereavement, depression, serious illness, addiction and/or encounters with death.

For example, one participant of this study described gradual spiritual development for around 18 months, while performing a meditative practice. Following this, he experienced a sudden shift which he described as ‘a change into silence when the mind quieted. It was the first time I was really aware of a palpable silence. And a lot of the busy-ness of my mind and the seeking energy fell away’ (ibid.) The next day, when he woke up he ‘felt like I was looking at the world from a place that was behind thought.’ This was followed, ‘three or four months later’, by a final transformational shift in which ‘Everything I looked at seemed to have no separate existence from what I was – he absence of all those dividing lines both in space and time. Space was just the dividing line between me and the floor or me and the door. It was as if the sense of time fell away, all those divisions of the past, present and future’ (Taylor, 2013).

In another example, a participant described how she felt she underwent gradual development while suffering from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, during which she was aware of a process of ‘humbling or deconstructing the ego.’ During this period, she had what she described as ‘peak moments that changed the baseline going forward’, including one powerful experience in which ‘I opened my eyes and the world looked different. It was alive. It was infinite aliveness. Everything was bright. Even the space between everything. The colours were incredible and the flowers looked happy. I looked down and I realised I was the sidewalk.’ Following this, in March 2008, as she put it, ‘I moved into a stable state’ after participating in a personal development workshop (Taylor, 2013).

In another study (Taylor, 2012a), cases of ‘spiritual awakening’ following intense psychological turmoil or trauma were specifically investigated. In these cases, individuals typically reached a point where they felt they were completely ‘broken’ or desolate, and had lost everything. Often at the very point of accepting or surrendering to their predicament -the point of ‘giving up’, ‘letting go’ or ‘handing over’ their problem- they would feel something ‘give way’ inside them, and feel that a new self had emerged inside them, with new awareness and knowledge (Taylor, 2011, 2012a). In this study, it was suggested that this process was related to the dissolution of psychological attachments. Psychological attachments can include hopes and ambitions, the sense of status or achievement, wealth and possessions, social roles, and other human beings upon whom the person is emotionally dependent. The dissolution of these attachments is usually the main reason why a person is in a state of turmoil, and filled with a sense of despair or loss. Psychological attachments can be seen as the ‘building blocks’ of a person’s sense of identity. When the building blocks are taken away, the structure itself collapses. And this dissolution or collapse appeared to allow a new higherfunctioning ‘self-system’ to emerge and become established as the individual’s new sense of identity (Taylor, 2011, 2012a).

One participant of this study described her ‘primary shift’ in detail as follows:

‘The way it feels is that I’ve permanently broken through to another state. I’ve moved up to another level of awareness which I know is going to stay with me. One day, a shift occurs, and a different picture suddenly emerges showing you who you really are –an eternal being, far more powerful and amazing than you ever thought possible. I knew without doubt that I’d witnessed the absolute truth and, having experienced it with such clarity, there’s no going back. It’s like the transformation a caterpillar goes through during the chrysalis stage before emerging as a butterfly…

Now I spend a lot of time in the present. In the past, when friends came round and told me about their problems, I’d get really involved, but now my awareness is somewhere else. When I’m with them, I can feel this white light inside me. I can open my heart and let it flow out. Nothing upsets me the way it used to. Nothing fazes me. I know how to make stressful situations pass, by not focusing any emotional energy on them.

Material things don’t interest me anymore. I used to like home comforts, but now I hate having things I don’t need. I feel more inclined to give things away. I have no need for them. Behaviour –our thoughts and deeds– are much more important than material goods. I love being alone –just being still, going inwards. It’s ongoing –the deeper I go the more I realise– and the more I realise the more amazing it all is…

I have much less of a sense of a separate self. After my experience any opinions I’d formed previously about God/religion or other philosophies became irrelevant –there’s only One and we’re joined with it regardless.

When I lost my daughter I felt I’d gone to hell and back but after glimpsing heaven my grieving ceased instantly. There is only love; there’s no real pain or suffering or death. It’s impossible. My daughter could never leave me, except in the movie I’d constructed first in my mind which then played out in the outer world. Time only exists inside our cocoon, outside of it, eternity. She was always me and I was her. I am everyone, everyone is me, nothing is separate’. (Taylor, 2011, p.55).

The ‘Secondary Shift’ and Psychedelic Awakening

The notion of ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’ shifts will perhaps contribute to the long-standing debate on whether psychedelic drugs can be of value to spiritual development. One aspect of this debate is whether drugs can induce genuinely ‘spiritual’ experiences. Religiously oriented scholars of mysticism have doubted that this is the case, reluctant to accept that the experiences can be induced ‘artificially’, without divine assistance (e.g. Zaehner, 1957, 1972; Happold, 1986). This is not the place to debate this particular issue, which I have discussed elsewhere. (In Taylor, 2005 and Taylor, 2010, it is suggested that, although psychedelics can, under certain circumstances, induce genuine temporary ‘awakening experiences,’ there are also significant differences between them and temporary awakening experiences induced more organically, such as those related to relaxation and concentration, or to an ‘intensification and stilling of life-energy’.) The second strand of this debate is whether psychedelics can produce genuine permanent ‘transformative’ experiences. Are they simply temporary ‘glimpses’ into a ‘higher’ dimension, which fade away and leave the individual exactly as they were before, or can they bring about genuine transformation, or even enlightenment?

I would suggest that psychedelics can be transformative in the sense of generating a ‘secondary shift’, but not in terms of generating a ‘primary’ one. It has been well attested that psychedelic experiences can cause a long-lasting shift in perspective, creating new concepts of reality and an openness to anomalous or spiritual concepts (Conway, 1989; Strassman, 2001). This was illustrated by Pankhe’s ‘Good Friday Experiment’, in which 10 members of a group of 20 theological students were given doses of psilocybin, and experienced intense ‘mystical’ feelings and perceptions, including several powerful mystical experiences, similar to those of the great Christian mystics. In a follow up study six months later, 8 out of the 10 students said that the experience had had a powerful long term effect, deepening their sense of their spiritual and enriching their lives. And remarkably, this was still the case after 25 years, when most of participants reflected that the experience had changed them permanently, giving them a deeper appreciation of life and nature, an increased sense of joy, a reduced fear of death and greater empathy for minorities and oppressed people (Doblin, 1991).

In 2006, a study into the effects of psilocybin found that 60 per cent of the volunteers described characteristics of mystical experiences, with just over a third describing it as the most important spiritual experience of their lives, as significant as the birth of their first child. A follow up study two months later found that most participants reported that their moods, attitudes and behaviour had become more positive, while psychological tests showed that they had a significantly higher level of well-being compared to other volunteers who were given a placebo at the same session (Griffiths et al. 2006).

There have been similar findings in relation to Ayahuasca. As McKenna wrote, under the right setting and circumstances ‘regular and long-term hoasca [Ayahuasca] use may result in profound, lasting, and positive behavioral and lifestyle changes’ (2004, p. 122). McKenna cites the example of an Ayahuasca group whose members had a history of maladaptive behaviors such as alcoholism, substance and domestic violence. Following the regular use of Ayahuasca, this maladaptive behaviour disappeared (McKenna, 2004). Winkelman (1995) used the term ‘psychointegrator’ for Ayahuasca and other related plants, to describe their positive psychological benefits.

Other long term positive effects of psychedelic experience which have been identified include mental improvements, reduction or elimination of allergies, cluster headache prevention, anxiety relief and enhanced quality of life (Fadiman & Kornfeld, 2013). LSD has also been shown to have similar effects to Ayahuasca in relation to alcoholism. Several 1960s studies found a high recovery rate in alcoholics after psychedelic therapy, with roughly around 50% becoming long term sober, or drinking much less (Hoffer, 1970).

The transformative effects of Ayahuasca were described by a student of mine. Although he had had experiences of lucid dreaming he was ‘not very interested in anything remotely spiritual.’ He had a successful career as a computer programmer, and described himself as very materialistically oriented: ‘I was motivated by the money, the possessions, and the status that came along with “success”. I was very antireligious and I had donated money to the National Secular Society to support their work. My car was a very expensive “look at me” sports car.’

However, after taking Ayahuasca, his vision of reality and his values were transformed. After believing that he ‘knew it all’ he became aware of how limited his normal perspective was. As he describes it:

‘I saw that the seemingly endless desire for more money, things, and success, was not the key to happiness. My motivation changed to “give something back” to the world that had been so good to me. I retrained as a counsellor and worked as a volunteer with cancer patients at my local hospital. I became interested in “spirituality” and the underlying message of religion, and I donated money to the Lucidity Institute to support their work. My car is now an ordinary and very practical seven-seater. These changes have proved to be long term and the date of the experience, the 28th of January 2005, is as important to me as my birthday.’

As this experience and the others reported above show, the ‘secondary shift’ generated by psychedelics can be very powerful and valuable. Just as described earlier, in relation to awakening experiences in general, they can provide a glimpse into a new, hitherto unsuspected dimension of harmony and meaning, and ideally generate an impulse to return to that dimension, and to investigate spiritual traditions and practices as a means of doing so. As Huxley wrote of psychedelic awakening experiences, ‘The man who comes back through the Door in the Wall will never be quite the same as the man who went out’ (1988, p.64).

However, I believe it is unlikely –in fact, I am aware of no cases of this– that psychedelics can induce a ‘primary shift.’ That is, I have not come across cases of LSD, ayahuasca or any other ‘psychedelic’ substances generating a shift into a stable, permanent state of ‘enlightenment’, a permanent dissolution of the normal ‘self-system’ and its replacement with a latent ‘higherfunctioning’ self-system.

Of course, the ‘secondary’ shift generated by psychoactive substances could possibly lead to a gradual ‘primary shift’ too. As previously mentioned, the experience of this new dimension of harmony and meaning, and the desire to return to the experience, may generate an interest in spiritual traditions and practices, which may, in the long term, lead to gradual, cumulative spiritual development -and perhaps a gradual shift into a higher-functioning self-system.

Conclusion

The ‘building block’ metaphor used earlier -to describe how experiences of loss and turmoil can ‘dismantle’ the normal sense of self and lead to a ‘primary shift’ -can also be applied to the distinction between a ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’ transformative experience. If the ‘primary shift’ is akin to ‘moving out’ of your present building into new premises, the ‘secondary shift’ is akin to remaining in the same building, but making significant changes to it (e.g. renovating or decorating).

The ‘primary shift’ occurs when the individual assumes a new identity, when their previous ‘selfsystem’ dissolves, and a new higher-functioning ‘selfsystem’ establishes itself. This can happen both suddenly and dramatically, or gradually, as a result of a long period of spiritual practice or transformative lifeexperiences. The ‘primary shift’ is the radical transformation of being equivalent to enlightenment, moksha or theosis. The ‘secondary shift’ often follows temporary awakening experiences, including druginduced awakening experiences -a less deep-rooted and fundamental transformation, which does not feature a complete and distinct new sense of identity, but can possibly lead to a gradual ‘primary shift.’

Source: Steven 


Published on Jul 4, 2017

Tara Talks – Soul Recognition: Reflection – with Tara Brach

A practice of seeing and acknowledging the sacred that lives through ourselves and all beings in every moment.


Jude Currivan, Ph.D., is a cosmologist, planetary healer, futurist, author and previously one of the most senior business women in the UK, as CFO and Executive Board Member of two major international companies. She has a Master’s degree in Physics from Oxford University specializing in quantum physics and cosmology, and a Doctorate in Archaeology from the University of Reading in the UK researching ancient cosmologies. She has traveled to more than 70 countries, worked with wisdom keepers from many traditions, and been a life-long researcher into the scientific and experiential understanding of the nature of reality. The author of 6 books, her latest being The Cosmic Hologram: In-formation at the Center of Creation (2017) she is a member of the Evolutionary Leaders Circle, and lives in Wiltshire England.

Website: http://judecurrivan.com

Books: The Cosmic Hologram: In-formation at the Center of Creation CosMos: A Co-creator’s Guide to the Whole World The 13th Step: A Global Journey in Search of Our Cosmic Destiny The 8th Chakra: What It Is and How It Can Transform Your Life The Wave : A Life Changing Journey into the Heart and Mind of the Cosmos

Interview recorded July 1, 2017

synopsis

We spend countless hours training our dogs, but how often do we consider what they have to teach us? For anyone who loves dogs—and who has learned and grown through this special relationship—The Dharma of Dogs brings you 31 essays offering humor, solace, inspiration, and insight into the life lessons our dogs make available to us. With contributions by Alice Walker, Eckhart Tolle, Pam Houston, Mark Nepo, Roshi Joan Halifax, Adyashanti, Julie Barton, angel Kyodo williams, JP Sears, Lama Surya Das, and Diane Musho Hamilton.

TAMI SIMON founded Sounds True in 1985 as a multimedia publishing house with a mission to disseminate spiritual wisdom. She hosts a popular weekly podcast called Insights at the Edge, where she has interviewed many of today’s leading teachers. Tami lives with her partner, Julie Kramer, and their Spoodle, Raspberry, in Boulder, Colorado.

Interview with Tami Simon, Sounds 

https://youtu.be/LbWEdmQw9PY

Published on Jun 27, 2017

Together, Bill & Patricia support you to build a foundation, providing tools for strength in the emotional and spiritual domain, yielding flow and freedom to be who you have come here to be. A life of awakening is not one in which we never fall into a dark valley, it is one in which when we fall, we have learned how to move through it. We develop emotional muscle in order to rise. This is the inner work of the soul.

Bill & Patricia guide you to that which is unhealed, exposing how these hurts and emotions rule our lives. You are able to face yourself, learn to untangle from these aspects that have a powerful impact and influence. In the discovery of new awareness and integration you begin to experience wholeness. Embrace all emotion, letting go of resistance and live in the present moment. With sensitivity, strength and skill, Bill and Patricia facilitate working through levels of trauma, pain, grief and anger in order to guide people to their own divine nature. As these wounds heal, you are able to discover the depths of self-acceptance and forgiveness.

Website: http://evolutionoftheheart.com

 Spiritual awakening is not a special feeling, state, or experience. It is not a goal or destination, somewhere to reach in the future…

I truly attained absolutely nothing from complete, unexcelled enlightenment!” – The Buddha

As the Buddha was trying to tell us (though few actually listened), it is not a superhuman achievement or attainment. You don’t have to travel to India to find it. It is not a special state of perfection reserved for the lucky or the privileged few. It is not an exclusive club. It is not an out-of-body experience, and it does not involve living in a cave, shutting off all your beautiful senses, detaching yourself from the realities of this modern world. It cannot be transmitted to you by a fancy bearded (or non-bearded) guru, nor can it be taken away or lost. You do not have to become anyone’s disciple or follower, or give away all your possessions. You do not have to join a cult. You do not have to follow anyone.

Rather, it is a constant and ancient invitation – throughout every moment of your life – to trust and embrace yourself exactly as you are, in all your glorious imperfection. It is about being fully present and awake to each precious moment, coming out of the epic movie of past and future (“The Story of Me”) and showing up for life, knowing that even your feelings of non-acceptance are accepted here. It is about radically opening up to this extraordinary gift of existence, embracing both the pain and the joy of it, the bliss and the sorrow, the ecstasy and the overwhelm, the certainty and the doubt. Knowing that you are never separate from the Whole, never broken, never truly lost.

Here are some simple principles and pointers:

1 There is no destination; there is only now

There is only THIS; the present scene of the movie of your life. Come out of the epic story of time and space, past and future, regret and anticipation, and the seeking of different states and experiences, even the search for spiritual enlightenment. Relax your habitual focus on ‘what’s gone’, ‘what’s not here yet’ – things you cannot possibly control from where you are. Come out of the story of ‘My Life’ and allow yourself to be fascinated by what is alive, here, right now. Be curious about this very alive dance of thoughts, sensations, feelings and impulses that is happening where you are. Remember, Now is the only place from which true answers can eventually emerge. The present moment is your true home, prior to time and space. It is all there is; the calm in the midst of the storm.

Spiritual awakening is not a goal or destination. Rather, it is an invitation to trust and embrace yourself exactly as you are, in all your glorious imperfection.

2 Thinking and resistance create suffering
Pain is not the real problem; the real problem is our thinking about pain, our resistance to discomfort, our attempt to escape it all and reach an imagined future. The real problem begins when we start ruminating on our pain, our sadness, our fears, our anger; brooding over our discomforts, rewinding and fast-forwarding the movie of our lives! We chew on yesterday’s and tomorrow’s sorrows, rather than directly exploring and experiencing today’s experiences as they arrive. We add an unnecessary layer of rumination and resistance to life, and this creates suffering. The invitation? Come out of past and future, seeking and striving, and meet life in the raw, right now, without judgement, and without the expectation that ‘peace’, ‘relaxation’, ‘enlightenment’ or any kind of shift will result. Meet the moment on its own terms; see it all as a gift. Show up, for the pleasant and unpleasant, the pleasurable and the painful, without an agenda.

3 Thoughts and sensations are not personal, and not the truth
See thoughts and sensations as neutral and impersonal events in awareness. Just like sounds that we hear, thoughts and physical sensations arise and disappear spontaneously, like waves in the ocean of You. They cannot be controlled, deleted, or escaped. Cultivate the same gentle attitude towards thoughts and sensations as you already have towards sounds. Meet all thoughts and sensations with an attitude of kindness and curiosity. See them as welcome guests in your presence.

4 You are the space for thoughts, not the thinker of them
Thoughts are not you, and they are not reality; they are only suggestions, possibilities, rumours, propaganda, judgements, voices, images, rewinds and fast-forwards coming and going – clouds in the vast sky of you. Don’t try to still, silence or stop, drop, delete or control them. Be the space for them, even if they are very active right now! Remember, if you notice thoughts, if you are mindful of them, you are not trapped in them. They do not define you. You are the silent container, not the contained. Be what you are – thought’s unchanging embrace, the vastness in which thoughts can come and go as they please.

5 Breathe into your discomfort and pain; honour it
Breathe into uncomfortable sensations; give them dignity. Honour them rather than closing off to them, starving them of warmth. On the in-breath, imagine or feel your breath moving into the neglected and tender area, infusing it with life and love. Fill the uncomfortable area in your body with oxygen, warmth and dignity. Don’t try to ‘heal’ the sensations, or even ‘let go’ of them. They want to be met, honoured, included in the present scene. Assume that even discomfort holds intelligence; that it’s not ‘against’ you. Know that true joy is not the absence or opposite of sadness or pain, but the willingness to embrace it all.

6 Acceptance is not something you ‘do’, it is what you are
Acceptance doesn’t mean that an unpleasant thought or feeling will go away; it may stay awhile. Don’t try to accept it (as this is often resistance in disguise) but acknowledge that it is ALREADY accepted, already here, already part of the scene. Treat it as if it perhaps will always be here! This removes the pressure of time (trying to make it go away, wondering why it’s “still here”). It IS here, now. Bow before THIS reality. Be curious. And allow any urges, any feelings of frustration, boredom, disappointment or even despair, to come up too and be included. They are all part of the present scene, not blocks. Even a feeling of blockage is part of the scene!

7 There is no ‘always’ and no ‘never’
In reality, there is no ‘always’ and no ‘never’. Be mindful of these words; they are lies, and can create a sense of urgency and powerlessness; they feed the story of seeking and lack. There is no ‘rest of my life’, no ‘for years’, no ‘all day long’. There is only Now, your only place of power. Sometimes even thinking about tomorrow is just too much work. Be here.

8 You can only get ‘there’ by being ‘here’
Often we focus so much on the goal or destination that we forget the journey, disconnect from each precious step, and stress is created, the sense that we are ‘Not There Yet’. Yet joy can only be found in the here and now, and has nothing to do with goals, destinations, or getting what you want. Take the focus off the 10,000 steps to come, the 10,000 steps you have not yet trodden, the 10,000 things that are missing right now, and remember the present step, this ancient living ground, your own intimate presence. Breathe. Feel the life in your body. Often we don’t know where we are headed, and that’s perfectly okay. Befriend any uncertainty, doubt, trepidation that you feel; learn to love this sacred place of no answers. It is alive, and creative, and full of potential.

9 Embrace your stumbling; it is perfect too
If you realize that you’re lost in a story, that you’re disconnected, that you’ve forgotten the moment, celebrate. You have just woken up from a dream. A great intelligence is alive in you, a power to realize and connect. You have stepped out of millions of years of conditioning. Don’t punish yourself for forgetting, but celebrate your ability to remember! The moment doesn’t mind that you forgot it! Forgetting is a perfect scene in the movie. Allow yourself to forget, sometimes! Be humbled by the journey rather than trying to be ‘perfect’. Doubt, disappointment and disillusionment will be constant friends along this pathless path. There is no destination in presence, no image of ‘success’ to live up to. You cannot go wrong, when there is no image of ‘right’.

10 Stop comparing; you are life itself!
You are unique; your journey is wholly original. We may all be expressions of the very same ocean of consciousness, but at the same time, we are all unique expressions of that very ocean, totally unique in our wave-ness! Don’t compare yourself with anyone else! When you start comparing, you devalue your own unique, irreplaceable gifts, talents and truths and disconnect from your unique present experience. Don’t compare this moment with any image of how it could, should, or might have been. Healing is possible when you say YES to where you are now, even if it’s not where you dreamed you would be ‘by now’. Trust, and trust sometimes that you cannot trust. Perhaps even your inability to trust can be trusted here, and even the feeling that you cannot hold the moment, is itself already being held…

Source: Ekhart Yoga

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