Gina Lake and Nirmala: Non-Duality and Christ Consciousness Transmissions

Gina Lake and Nirmala: Non-Duality and Christ Consciousness Transmissions

This conversation is part of a series of live, online conversations with non-dual spiritual teachers. The first part is a conversation between Grace, Gina, and Nirmala, and in the second part, people ask questions. To find out more about the live online conversations go to http://www.living-from-love.com.

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Both the Depths and the Surface of the Ocean Are Wet by Nirmala

Q: In your recent blog post, “Playing 3-d Chess with the Absolute” , you have written about “authentic individuality” or soul… I want to know whether by “soul” you mean that which takes rebirth. This is normally not talked about in non-duality, where it is stated that there is no self.

A: Thanks for your very good question. In many teachings of Advaita or non-duality, there is a strong emphasis on the absolute truth. Reality is considered to be that which is unchanging and which never comes or goes. That way of pointing is useful and powerful in pointing awareness beyond appearances and beyond all that does come and go like souls, bodies, objects, thoughts, etc.

I tend to point with a more relative definition of reality. I would suggest that how long something lasts is an indicator of how real or how true it is. So a thought that lasts at most a few seconds is not very real. A body or incarnation is more real. And a soul that lasts through many incarnations is even more real. But all of these are still appearances that come and go within the ultimate reality that cannot be named or described. So they are real, but not as real as the absolute substratum of existence that does not come or go.

A nice metaphor is the ocean. The depths of the ocean are relatively still and unchanging, while up on the surface there are lots of waves that come and go. In my way of seeing, the waves do exist, but only for as long as they are individually happening. However, when you are being tossed to and fro by the waves, there is no question that they do exist, just as when you have taken birth as a body, there is little question whether that body exists for you. And also there is no question that when the waves subside or the body dies, that they no longer exist.

The soul is like the deeper currents that are also moving and changing and yet have a tremendous effect on the appearance of many waves. These currents persist for a much longer time than any individual wave, and can generate many different waves over time. These currents would have much more effect on our journey than any individual wave. And for those who can sense it, there is no question that the soul still exists when the body dies, just as the currents still exist when the waves subside.

Eventually all currents and all waves subside back into the stillness of the deepest water. And surprisingly, the depths are the most intense and powerful level of the ocean of Being that has the most profound effect on our consciousness. Sensing the depths and vastness of the ocean can put the entire journey into perspective and allow us to see that it is all one beautiful play of splashing, flowing water. Since we as souls are also made of that same water, nothing can harm us or do any damage to our eternal nature.

All of these levels or depths exist simultaneously, and they are all one ocean. The biggest truth is that they are all made up of water, but the smaller truths of currents and waves appear within that one vast body of water. The appearance of waves does not contradict the vastness of the ocean, and the existence of the infinite stillness at the depths does not contradict the arising of the currents and waves. These different levels of truth are all true simultaneously, and they are not separate from each other. The currents and waves exist within the eternal ocean of Being.

A good question is what level of truth is functional or useful in this moment. For discriminating how to steer a boat on the surface moment to moment, being extremely aware of each wave is useful and can even keep your boat from capsizing! For navigating across wide stretches of ocean, then understanding and appreciating the deeper currents becomes useful and functional. And for putting it all in perspective and touching the depths of your Being, then it is appropriate to sense beyond appearances and form to the underlying reality of the infinite ocean of water itself. The flexibility to shift awareness between these different levels of reality allows the most appropriate response in each and every moment to the ever-changing and yet also eternally unchanging experience of the ocean of Being. There is no right or wrong level of truth, there are just all of the different experiences of water here for us to explore. Both the depths and the surface are wet, and they both can be refreshing and rich to play in.

I hope this is helpful.

Source: endless Satsang

What Is Spiritual Enlightenment or Spiritual Awakening? by Nirmala


A definition of spiritual enlightenment or spiritual awakening is hard to pin down.

This is, in part, because “spiritual enlightenment” and “spiritual awakening” have been used in so many ways to describe so many things, similar to the way in which “love” is used to describe everything from a preference for ice cream to a merging with everything. And it is also because spiritual enlightenment and spiritual awakening are such rich and complex experiences that they are innately hard to define.

Some definitions are very specific and narrow. One such definition for spiritual enlightenment is the complete dissolution of one’s identity as a separate self with no trace of the egoic mind remaining. This sets the bar very high and means that very few people qualify as enlightened.

The opposite approach is to say that everyone is enlightened, that there is only awake consciousness. In this view, it’s only a question of whether this natural awakeness has been recognized or not. Of course, when a word describes everything or everyone, it loses some of its usefulness. If everyone is enlightened, then why even talk about it?

Combining perspectives on spiritual enlightenment

Perhaps there’s a definition that includes both of these perspectives, which recognizes that consciousness is always awake and enlightened, but the amount of awakeness, or aware consciousness, that is present in any moment can vary. This definition acknowledges that there’s a difference in the amount of awakeness, or enlightened consciousness, that different people experience or that one person experiences at different times but still suggests that the potential for full awareness or becoming enlightened is the same for everybody. If every apparent individual consciousness is infinite in its potential, then each can also be infinite both in its capacity to expand or awaken and in its capacity to contract or identify with a narrow or limited experience.

If all consciousness is made of the same essential awareness and light, and if everyone has an equal potential for enlightenment, then all expressions of consciousness are equally valid and valuable. Everyone truly is a Buddha or enlightened being, at least in potential. So defining enlightenment in many ways now makes sense, depending on what is being pointed to. One may use the word enlightenment to point to the state of self-realization beyond the ego or to point to the innate potential for this realization in all of us.

As for differentiating between the words enlightenment and awakening, “enlightenment” implies a more finished and constant state of realization, while “awakening” has more of the active quality of a verb and therefore suggests a movement or shift in consciousness. An awakening may be defined as a sudden increase in the overall amount of consciousness an individual is experiencing. There can be small awakenings and bigger awakenings. Not only does consciousness have unlimited potential for the amount of awakeness, but it also has an unlimited potential to shift in any way, at any moment. Consciousness can and sometimes does shift from contracted states of fear, anger, or hurt to expanded states of peace and joy in an instant. Unfortunately, it can also shift in the other direction. Consciousness has no fixed state.
What about the spiritual awakening happening now?

As it is being defined here, a spiritual awakening is a sudden expansion or shift in consciousness, especially a more dramatic one (we don’t usually refer to a minor realization as a spiritual awakening). Enlightenment, on the other hand can be used to mark a particular level of realization or awakeness, even if the exact definition varies depending on who is using the word, as it does with every word.

What really matters is what your awareness is doing right now. How is your consciousness appearing or shifting in this moment? Are you realizing more of your experience and Essence right now? Or are you contracting and limiting your awareness with thoughts and identification? Is any shifting happening from reading these words?

Enlightenment or awakening is a profound mystery, and the best definition may be found in the actual experience of your own shifts in consciousness. Just as it’s more nourishing to eat an apple than read about one, so it can be more rewarding to explore the movements of your own awareness than to try to understand these things mentally. While definitions of such things can be helpful, it can also be beneficial to not have too many concepts, which could interfere with your actual experience. It’s a good thing that language isn’t so fixed or defined when it comes to spiritual unfoldment. Maybe the best definition of enlightenment is no definition. Then there is only what is found in your own direct experience of awareness.

(The above is from the free ebook: That Is That: Essays About True Nature available here.)
The Flower of Spiritual Awakening (a recent blog post from Nirmala’s blog)

What are the causes of spiritual awakening or enlightenment?

Consider the miracle of a flower. What is it that causes a plant to flower? Does sunshine cause a plant to flower? Does lots of water? Or is it good soil? Maybe all of these together? Or is there really something more subtle in the nature of the flower itself that causes it to flower? Is it something in the DNA of the plant? Does that mean the whole process of evolution over eons of time is involved? What other factors might cause the flowering? Does gravity play a part? The season and the temperature? The quality of the light? (Some plants will not flower under glass or artificial light.) What about animals that eat the fruit and spread the plant? Or the birds or bees that pollinate the flower? Do they cause the subsequent flowering of the newly established plants? Are there even subtler influences? What about presence and love? The intention and attention of a gardener? And is the existence of the world of form itself necessary for a plant to flower? And what about consciousness? Is there an ultimate force that directs the creation and unfolding of all expressions of form that is behind the appearance of a rose or a daisy?

What if it is a combination of all of the things mentioned? And also what if they have to all be in the right proportion? Is that proportion different for every species of plant? Some plants need lots of water or light to flower. Others will die with too much water or light. There is a unique formula that is involved with the appearance of the simplest apple blossom and the most complex orchid.

When you consider all of these influences and even more that were not mentioned or can’t even be known or imagined, then it truly is a miracle when a flower happens. It is impossible to say what causes it to happen with any certainty or completeness. Yet, it’s an act of incredible grace whenever all of these diverse, subtle, and gross influences come together in just the right way for an iris or a bird of paradise to open its unique petals to the sky. Ultimately, if you trace all the factors back to all their causes, you find that everything that exists is somehow intimately connected to the cactus flower or dandelion in your front yard. We need a vague and powerful word like “grace” to name this amazing interplay of forces and intelligence. Obviously, to reduce it to a formula doesn’t come close to capturing or describing the vast richness of variables and forces at play. There is no formula complex enough to capture the whole mystery of a magnolia blossom…

Spiritual awakening is a kind of flowering of consciousness. When consciousness expands and opens into a new expression, we call that a spiritual awakening. And while there are as many kinds of awakenings as there are flowers, they are all equally mysterious. What is it that causes a child to start to awaken to the nature of words and language? What causes the awakening of sexuality in a teenager? How does one suddenly know they are falling in love? Or even more profoundly, how does one explain the birth of unconditional or divine love?

Finally, what are the causes of the most profound spiritual awakenings, where consciousness suddenly recognizes its ultimate true nature? Why does that type of flowering appear in one consciousness today and another one tomorrow? If the formula for a simple petunia is a vastly complex interplay of earthly, human, and even cosmic forces, then imagine how complex the formula is for the unfolding of a human consciousness into full spiritual enlightenment as one’s true nature. The good news is that we cannot and do not need to know the totality of the formula involved to grow some petunias, and we cannot and do not need to know the formula for spiritual enlightenment. Yet, we can be curious about all of the factors involved and even play with them to see what effects, if any, they may have in our individual experience of consciousness unfolding.

Sometimes the mysteriousness and unpredictability of the whole process of awakening leads us to shrug our shoulders and say it is all up to grace or to God. And, of course, that is true; and yet, does that mean there’s no place in this unfolding for our own actions? Is there a place for spiritual practice? What about meditation, self-inquiry, or study of spiritual texts? And how about devotional practices or the transmission of presence from being with a great teacher or master? We can easily become disillusioned with any or all of these activities because the results they produce are so unpredictable and varied, and it can seem simpler to avoid the question of their role altogether. Ask any gardener if it works every time to water and weed and fertilize a plant? Or does a plant sometimes fail to flower no matter how well it is cared for? But does that mean you never water or fertilize your plants?

At other times we can be overly convinced that our practice or inquiry will lead to the desired results, often because it seemed to work at least once for us, or for someone we know. The only problem with spiritual practices is that they occasionally work! Then we think that we have the formula and that every time we sit down to meditate or ask, “Who am I?” we will have that same experience of expansion or awakening again. That is like thinking you will always have a bumper crop of marigolds every time you plant them.

There is a middle way between denying the importance or role of spiritual practice and having unrealistic expectations that self-inquiry, meditation, or devotional practice is going to, by itself, cause an awakening. We can experiment and play with these processes, just as a gardener will experiment with different fertilizers or watering patterns to see what happens. It ultimately is all up to grace, and yet, what if grace works through us as well as on us? What if spiritual practice is as much a part of the mystery of existence as anything else?

Maybe we can hold the question of what role inquiry, devotion, effort, surrender, transmission, meditation, gratitude, intention, silencing the mind, study of spiritual books, involvement with a teacher or master, ripeness of the student, karma, grace, and luck play in our enlightenment with an openness and curiosity, instead of a need to define their roles once and for all. The flowering of consciousness in your own existence is as unique as every flower, and ultimately we are all here to discover how it is going to happen uniquely this time around. What is your consciousness like right now? How open is the flower of your awareness? Is it still budding or has it blossomed? Just as every flower fades and another comes along, what about now? And now? What happens this time when you meditate? What happens now when you inquire “Who am I?” How does it feel right now to open your heart with gratitude even if nothing much is happening? What impact does reading this article or any other piece of writing have on you? Every stage of a plant’s existence is valuable and even necessary for its flowering. Your experience is always adding to the richness of the unfolding of consciousness in this moment. May you enjoy the garden of your true nature, including when spiritual awakenings are blooming, and when spiritual enlightenment seems far away.

(From the free ebook: That Is That: Essays About True Nature available here.)

About Nirmala:

Advaita spiritual teacher, Nirmala has been offering satsang and spiritual mentoring in the U.S. and internationally since 1998. Nirmala offers a unique vision and a gentle, compassionate approach, which adds to the rich tradition of inquiry into our true nature. He is the author of several books, including Nothing Personal: Seeing Beyond the Illusion of a Separate Self and Living from the Heart. In his books and mentoring sessions, Nirmala points to the wisdom within each of us, and fosters the individual’s own potential for spiritual awakening.

‘Beyond No Self’ by Nirmala

The spiritual journey is a movement away from over-identification with the body and mind to the rediscovery of our true identity as infinite Being, and this can be two different movements. The first is disidentification with the body and mind. Since identification is simply a movement of thought, dis-identification is simply a movement away from thought. The ego identification that we experience most of the time is the result of repeated thoughts about “I”, “me,” and “mine.”
‘Beyond No Self’ by Nirmala explores these ideas, practices other nondual themes.

After a lifetime of spiritual seeking, Nirmala met his teacher, Neelam, a devotee of H.W.L. Poonja (Papaji). She convinced him that seeking wasn’t necessary; and after experiencing a profound spiritual awakening in India, he began offering satsang and Nondual Spiritual Mentoring with Neelam’s blessing. This tradition of spiritual wisdom has been most profoundly disseminated by Ramana Maharshi, a revered Indian saint, who was Papaji’s teacher. Nirmala’s perspective was also profoundly expanded by his friend and teacher Adyashanti.

Download the entire ebook here

Sudden versus Gradual Realization, Satsang with Nirmala

Does self-realization happen suddenly or gradually? In this satsang with Nirmala, he points to how self realization can happen suddenly or gradually, and how ultimately every experience is a part of Being realizing itself.

Nirmala is a nondual spiritual teacher in the Advaita tradition of self inquiry. He offers satsang gatherings across the United States and around the world as a celebration of the possibility, in every moment, of recognizing the limitless love that is our true nature. He also offers Nondual Spiritual Mentoring, or spiritual guidance, in one-on-one satsang sessions either in person or over the phone. He is the author of several books about nonduality, spirituality, enlightenment, and spiritual awakening, including a collection of spiritual poems entitled Gifts with No Giver.

Self-Inquiry: Part 1 to 3, Satsang with Nirmala


In this three-part satsangs with Nirmala, he explores the process of self-inquiry into your true nature.

Nirmala is a nondual spiritual teacher in the Advaita tradition of self inquiry. He offers satsang gatherings across the United States and around the world as a celebration of the possibility, in every moment, of recognizing the limitless love that is our true nature. He also offers Nondual Spiritual Mentoring, or spiritual guidance, in one-on-one satsang sessions either in person or over the phone. He is the author of several books about nonduality, spirituality, enlightenment, and spiritual awakening, including a collection of spiritual poems entitled Gifts with No Giver.

Self-Inquiry Part 2, Satsang with Nirmala

Self-Inquiry Part 3, Satsang with Nirmala

Meeting the Mystery: Exploring the Aware Presence at the Heart of All Life by Nirmala

> What is the source of the aliveness and awareness, which are fundamental to all life?
> What is the nature of desire, and how do our desires relate to suffering?
> How do we know what is true?
> What is the nature of belief, and how do our beliefs affect our ability to experience the deeper reality that is always here?
>And in the midst of these mysteries, how do we live our daily lives in the most satisfying and integrated way?

Meeting the Mystery explores these questions and will help you discover new dimensions and possibilities in your life. This collection of articles and answers to questions posed by spiritual seekers is a springboard to ever deeper inquiry into the greatest mystery of all—Presence, which is who you really are.

Also included with this book are links to seven mp3 recordings of talks given by Nirmala that expand on the material in the book. These talks are not available anywhere else, and the links are found at the end of each chapter of the book.

Here is a sample quote from the book:

“Awareness is a fundamental quality of our Being. Awareness is always here in everything and in every experience. We need to be aware in order to experience. If you could turn off your awareness, then the world, your body, your thoughts, and everything else would simply disappear. Since we are constantly having experiences, it must be true that awareness is always here.

And yet, what a mystery this awareness is. Why is it we have this capacity to register and notice what happens? Where does this capacity come from? Does it come from our brain and nervous system or from something beyond our physical form? Are you aware of anything at all in this moment? What is that awareness like? How do you know you are aware right now? And what if the source of awareness is also the source of everything else?

Because spiritual seekers seek expanded awareness, they often overlook the mystery of the awareness that is already here. Just as a single drop of water is wet, the awareness that is reading these words has all of the qualities of your true nature as pure awareness. Does the part of you that is already awake need to wake up, or is it already profoundly and mysteriously aware? Just for a moment, instead of seeking more awareness, find out more about the awareness that is already here.

The awareness that is here in this moment is alive, spacious, discriminating, and full of love. Everything that really matters is found in this awareness. Love, peace, and joy flow from within us to the experiences we have of the world. Seeking the source of peace or love in the world is like looking for the source of the water in the puddle that forms under a water faucet. Not only is the source here within us, but it is flowing right now as the simple awareness that is reading these words.”

Nirmala

After a lifetime of spiritual seeking, Nirmala met his teacher, Neelam. She convinced Nirmala that seeking wasn’t necessary since everything is already here within us; and after experiencing a profound spiritual awakening in India, he began offering satsangs (gatherings for inquiring into the truth) and individual spiritual mentoring with Neelam’s blessing.

Nirmala offers a unique vision and a gentle, compassionate approach, which adds to the rich tradition of inquiry into the truth of Being. He is also the author of several books including Nothing Personal: Seeing Beyond the Illusion of a Separate Self. He has been offering satsang throughout the United States and Canada since 1998. Nirmala lives in Sedona, Arizona with his wife, Gina Lake.
Nirmala – Buddha at the Gas Pump Interview

After a lifetime of spiritual seeking, Nirmala met his teacher, Neelam, a devotee of H.W.L. Poonja (Papaji). She convinced him that seeking wasn’t necessary; and after experiencing a profound spiritual awakening in India, he began offering satsang and Nondual Spiritual Mentoring with Neelam’s blessing. This tradition of spiritual wisdom has been most profoundly disseminated by Ramana Maharshi, a revered Indian saint, who was Papaji’s teacher. Nirmala’s perspective was also profoundly expanded by his friend and teacher Adyashanti.

Nirmala offers satsang in gratitude for the love and grace that flow through his teachers, Neelam and Adyashanti, and for the Truth brought to this world by Ramana Maharshi and H.W.L. Poonja. Advaita satsang is offered as a celebration of the possibility, in every moment, of recognizing the truth of who we are. Nirmala offers a unique vision and a gentle, compassionate approach, which adds to this rich tradition of inquiry into the truth of Being.

“What is appealing about Nirmala is his humility and lack of pretense, which welcomes whatever arises within the field of experience. In the midst of this welcoming is always an invitation to inquire deeply within, to the core of who and what you are. Again and again, Nirmala points the questions back to the questioner and beyond to the very source of existence itself-to the faceless awareness that holds both the question and the questioner in a timeless embrace.” – From the foreword by Adyashanti, spiritual teacher and author of Emptiness Dancing, to Nirmala’s book, Nothing Personal: Seeing Beyond The Illusion Of A Separate Self.

“Nirmala is a genuine and authentic spiritual teacher, who points with great clarity to the simplicity and wonder of nondual presence.” — Joan Tollifson, Advaita spiritual teacher and author of Awake in the Heartland

Nirmala lives in Sedona, Arizona with his wife, Gina, and their two corgis, Bodhi and Gracie. Contact Nirmala by using the contact form here. Read an interview with Nirmala here. More information about Gina and her books, including Radical Happiness: A Guide to Awakening, is available on radicalhappiness.com.

More of Nirmala’s books:

That Is That: Essays About True Nature
Gifts With No Giver: A Love Affair With Truth
Living From The Heart
Meeting the Mystery: Exploring the Aware Presence at the Heart of All Life

Interview recorded 6/2/2012

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