“That little one never made it”

Who we are

Adyashanti shares an interesting story.  I am paraphrasing from memory, but this is the gist:  A spiritual seeker tells him–I want what you have.  Adya appears puzzled.  What do I have?  The spiritual seeker says–I want to be enlightened, to be awake, to be realized.  I want what you got.  Adya replies something like–oh no, I never got anything.  That young man never got anything.  That little one never made it at all.

This story comes back to me at times.  Like this morning.  Sitting here on the couch, thoughts appear in the background.  They keep referring to a “me”, to a Kathy.  They continue to reference a solid separate person with certain characteristics.  The foreground of consciousness watches them appear and disappear, appear and disappear.

I sometimes want to explain to my friends and blog readers here on line.  To tell them what happened, what shifted, how the outgoing blogger and social media participant dissolved–poof!–now you see her, now you don’t.

I want to make up a story telling you where the person went. “This is what happened,” I will say, craftily spinning a tale, pretending that there is an actual person who can come and go, arise and fall, create stories and fall silent.

But the stories can’t really be told without fabricating more creative non-truths.  I can’t tell you anything about me without shape-shifting into a me.  (Which is perfectly OK if that’s what the Universe wants to do in this ever-changing moment.)

Sometimes, like this morning, there’s a nostalgia which arises for the person.  Oh, that little one, that one, where is she?  I almost want to create her this morning out of sticks and stones and a rib from Adam and some grinning amusement from Eve.  To craft story after story to make a solid character who acts predictably in certain ways, who is dependable as the heroine or villain of the tale.  Or who loves acting unpredictably!

(And some days she returns–oh here I am, darling!  Let’s play today.  What character do you want to be?)

But it doesn’t seem possible right now.  It’s as if the old characters have fallen away into the snowy woods, a snowman melted away, the archetypes empty icicles gleaming in the weak January sun.

Matthew of Biblical fame says it this way:  For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.

The fullness that remains when one dies while still alive! Wow!  What appears in place of the stories is truly amazing in the most ordinary way.  Fingers typing, can you imagine?  The wood stove humming?  Thoughts and stories appearing? To enjoy encounters with people more than before, but without needing anything in return?  All without reference to a central character, a separate person?

Perhaps it was Adyashanti who said that you may lose the separate self but what you gain is the whole world. The whole darn world!  Can you imagine that?

Emptiness AND fullness

Both

Both

Just wanting to share an excerpt from the book “Shift into Freedom:  The Science and Practice of Open-Hearted Awareness” by Loch Kelly.  This book is amazing!  It’s really about (in my opinion) how the rational logical mind can participate in realizing awake awareness by bridging into a new way of being.

Here is what Adyashanti says about the book:  “In my many years of knowing and working with Loch Kelly I feel that he is one of the clearest expressions of authentic awakened freedom and love that I know. This book is a shining gem in the modern spiritual landscape. One that invites you, challenges you, and requires you to fully participate in your awakening to truth and the embodiment of love.”

Here is a random passage in the book that makes my heart sing with recognition:

“We often associate the head with thoughts and the heart with emotions.  When nonconceptual awareness becomes fully developed and embodied, we operate from open-hearted awareness, a subtler way of knowing that includes both thinking and feeling, head and heart, and being and doing–and goes beyond them.  Open-hearted awareness has a quality of knowing that is completely different from dualistic thinking.  One reason people often have difficulty transitioning to awake awareness is because it’s an intelligence that uses paradox.  Our everyday, conceptual minds can’t really understand two seeming opposites as simultaneously true; our conceptual minds are designed to use the dualistic thinking needed to judge if the streetlight is green or red.

This way of knowing may initially feel paradoxical or slow compared to the fast-moving dualistic mind.  In my classes, people answer the question:  “What does open-hearted awareness know?” One person will say “emptiness,” another will report “fullness,” and a third will exclaim, “I agree with both of them:  emptiness and fullness.”  Then the first two say at the same time, “Yes, that’s it!  Emptiness and fullness.  That is what I meant.” The linear logic of our trained, dualistic knowing could say, “That’s illogical.  It’s either empty or full.  It cannot be both!”  But it is both, and the awakened heart perceives and embraces what looks like a paradox to the linear mind.”

Not awake, not asleep.

Not awake, not asleep

Not awake, not asleep

I sometimes get confused with the term “waking up”.

In spiritual circles the word “awake” often seems to describe a state of realizing Oneness, enlightenment or unity consciousness.

It points to a place where primary identification as the separate self no longer exists.

In non-dual groups people will chat about “when I woke up…” as if one day the light switched on, never to turn off.

My experience has not been like that.

Yes, I have had awakening experiences.  But “awake” still does not describe it.  It’s not as if we’re asleep and then we’re awake.  (Maybe it is for some beings.)

Something may definitively shift, eventually, and then we abide without identification.  Adyashanti speaks of how an initial awakening often occurs as ego dissolves.  We may then still operate from a sense of self, albeit a larger more unified self. Later, awareness wakes up from the self, into the realm of no-self.  Bits & pieces of both awakenings are often experienced as coming and going in many of our lives.

Our minds sometimes hear “awakening” and think it’s something superior, something to which we must aspire.  My experience reveals that awakening usually reveals something very humble, connected, compassionate.  Without division, what is there to do but love?  Without a sense of self, what can possibly feel superior?  All our nemesis’ are clearly seen as ourselves.

In 2008 the first awakening experience happened for me.  Driving to a nearby city on my birthday, the “little me”, that essence usually at the forefront, receded.  OK, she seemed to disappear.  What existed?  Spacious awareness fascinated with Life. Peace, delight, openness.

It lasted on-and-off for about three weeks before the “little me” reasserted herself as the primary character in this play. Then the seeking-enlightenment game accelerated tenfold, further cementing “little me” in place.  (She who seeks is definitely an ego.  That’s what an ego does.  Seeks the next cup of coffee, the next tantalizing experience, $100 for the next arbitrary purchase of goods to soothe itself, enlightenment.)

In the next seven years awakening experiences occurred.  The little Kathy would be eclipsed by the sun of awareness. That sun shone bright in the forefront.  And then, two days or three weeks later, it didn’t.  The Kathy then thought she was an independent character, separate from the shining sun.  Separate from the person who didn’t like her, didn’t understand her, didn’t behave appropriately.

In May this year, one fine evening listening to Adyashanti, suddenly understanding of what he spoke down to the tippy toes, awakening happened yet again.  Gone was the Kathy from her throne of identification.  I asked my husband, “Can you tell a difference?”  Nah, he shrugged, giving a familiar resigned look (oh, here she goes again) and said, “Well, maybe you’re a little nicer.”

Awake?  It wasn’t noticeable on the outside.  From the inside it felt incredibly different.  It was as if consciousness shifted. Awareness became forefront.  Kathy appeared as background, almost an insubstantial piece of music playing.  Kathy certainly wasn’t “awake”.  Perhaps awareness was awake to itself.  But even that’s misleading, as awareness has ALWAYS been awake.

This awakening lasted about ten weeks.  Last weekend, filled to the brim with mental activity, confusion, some emotional pain, stories, the sense of Oneness seemingly disappeared again. (Although not in the old drama of “I’ve got it/I lost it.  It’s still possible to physically see Oneness.  To know that it’s immediate.  It’s just that the Universe is investing itself in the personality once again, bringing it forefront.)

Here’s where it gets challenging.  I can’t say anything about where I am today.  Awake?  Asleep?  Those words suddenly have no inherent meaning.

There is only what is arising next.  It can be identification.  It can be compulsively checking email.  It can be deep peace.  It can be bliss.  It can be mental activity.  It can be gardening.  It can be a negative thought.  It can be a positive thought.  It can be a sense of Oneness.  It can be a searing pain.  It can be total delight.

There’s no word for this that makes sense.  Just:  life arising.  Not awake, not asleep.

P.S.  A half hour ago lost this essay.  One minute, here it is.  Next moment, gone.  Not in drafts, nowhere to be found.  I looked around for an internal reaction.  Mild disappointment.  Oh well.  Life wants to move in some other direction.  OK. Then, ten minutes ago, the blog reappears.  Mild satisfaction.  Oh, Life does want to publish this blog. One never really knows…

Mind-blowing

Your very self

Your very self

The body is a sensing instrument of consciousness.  Without the body and the mind, the trees couldn’t see themselves.  Usually we think we are looking at a tree, but the tree is looking at itself through us.  Without this instrument, the tree doesn’t get to see itself.  We are sensing instruments of the Divine.  –Adyashanti from the book “The Impact of Awakening”

Doesn’t that blow your mind?  The tree is looking at itself through us.

Let’s try to wrap our mind around that.  Better yet, let’s look to what is prior to the next thought as we glimpse the tree through the window. Any separation between us and the tree in Direct Experience? Or is it simply a fluid field of awareness, of consciousness?  Can we find a self when we look honestly, without our habitual conceptualization?  Can we find a tree?  Or can we simply find consciousness rising as apparent leaves, bark, fog, color, shadow?  Even that is saying too much.

Does the tree see itself through us?

Who knows or doesn’t know?

What may be important is the way our mind stops dead and can not figure it out.  In that mind-blowing space, an invitation exists to STOP.  What remains when we stop?

Abiding and non-abiding awakening

Grace

Grace

After the awakening experience on January 8th, I am pretty much back asleep in the dream again.

And yet it’s OK.  It’s better than OK.

It feels like someone has opened a window and the sunlight of grace shines in, illuminating shadowed corners.

It feels really good.

After the first awakening experience maybe four years ago, the aftermath felt like hell.  A vicious grasping attempting to return to the wide-open clarity of wakefulness ensued.  A roller-coaster of pushing and pulling, wanting and fearing, controlling and chaos spun the ride faster and faster toward an unknown abyss.

The first awakening opened doors but the strength of the Ego slammed them shut. The Ego then nailed the doors, just to be sure.  But sunlight can not help but stream through the cracks of our powerful resistance…

This time It felt awake for twelve days.  I cannot say “I was awake” because that doesn’t really describe it.  What happened is that the personality fell away like a distant shadow.  What remained was just wakefulness.   (Although I remember thinking that the word “awake” doesn’t describe it at all.  Such a silly term.  There was no term to describe it, because one must re-enter the world of the dream to attempt description.)

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