Leonard, what do you mean by enlightenment?
There are a number of levels from which I can respond to your question.
The first is to say that enlightenment is the awakened state of Being. When all thoughts have stopped and you are in a state of deep inner silence, which is profoundly peaceful and still, you are in the enlightened state. You are so fully present with everything around you that separation largely dissolves and you experience Oneness. You feel the Presence of God or the Divine within you and within everything around you.
It is profoundly blissful. A deep inner knowing arises and yet you are in silence. You come to know yourself as love. Profound insights and revelations sometimes emerge out of the silence. Spontaneous healings can occur.
This awakened state is the natural state of your Being. It is the truth of who you are. It is ever present within you. It is just that most of the time, you are so involved in the world of the thinking mind and the past and future that you are largely unaware of it.
At the deepest level of enlightenment, or Presence, all separation dissolves completely. The personal dimension of you disappears. There is no sense of your self in the past or the future. There is no sense of life outside of the present moment. You have become utterly absorbed into Oneness and the mystery of existence in the moment.
However, you cannot function in the world at this level. You would need a team of caretakers to take care of you. I recommend a softer version of enlightenment --- one that allows you to function in the world in an enlightened and balanced way.
This means that you are fundamentally grounded in the present moment, but the world of time is available to you. You are in the world but not of the world. You have a sense of the past and future, but you are not identified with it in any way. You know that only this moment is the truth of life.
Enlightenment is also a process.
Each time you allow repressed feelings, thoughts and memories to emerge from the darkness of your unconscious mind into the light of awakened consciousness, you bring more light into your life and your Being. As you continue with this process of liberating yourself from the wounds and traumas of the past, you will gradually become enlightened, which simply means that there is nothing left in the darkness of the unconscious mind.
I understand the need to be more present in my life, but how do I deal with difficult emotions like anger or sadness when they arise?
If you are carrying repressed emotions from your past, particularly from your childhood, you will need to allow these emotions right of passage through you so that they can be released. Just feel the emotions as they arise within you. Identify them, confess them and express them in a responsible way, but do not become identified with them.
Do not believe in the story that your feelings are presenting. The story is always from the past. The present moment is free of the past. Whatever it is that you are angry or hurt about is not happening now, so it would not make any sense to believe in it. It is just a memory that you are caught in at some unconscious level.
Let the feelings up. Allow them conscious expression within you. One of the keys to awakening is to come into right relationship with your feelings. Everything that arises within you is seeking unconditional love and acceptance, even your feelings and emotions.
It is only when you repress your feelings that you create an inner disharmony which eventually leads to disease.
I recently attended one of your enlightenment sessions and you gave me the advice that my mind was too clever and that I needed to return to innocence. Can you elaborate on this?
The mind, by its very nature, is of the past. It is made up of the sum total of your past experiences, together with all of your concepts, ideas, opinions, beliefs, attitudes and judgments, which have been accumulated by you during your life. The mind/ego can only know things from the past, which it accesses through memory. It then projects that remembered knowledge from the past and all the ideas, opinions, judgments and beliefs of the past onto whatever you are experiencing in the present moment.
This distorts the reality of the present moment and renders it impossible for you to directly experience the true nature of what is present in the moment.
To function at this level of mind/ego creates a certain level of comfort and feeling of security. It is the nature of the ego to be in control and it can only be in control of a world that it already knows. The ego is afraid of the unknown.
When you are experiencing life at the level of mind, at a very subtle level, you are saying to whatever is present, "I already know you. I have already experienced you. I already have my opinions, judgements and beliefs about you. And so, I do not have to be fully present with you in this moment. I do not have to know you in this moment because I already know you from the past."
There is no innocence in that. There is no presence in that.
When you are fully present and awake in the truth of life, you are in a state of innocence. You exist in a state of not knowing. At the very deepest level, it is as if you are seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and touching everything for the very first time. Try smelling the fragrance of a flower as if you are experiencing it for the very first time. Try eating just one mouthful of your next meal in full presence. Try walking through your garden, being fully present with each flower and each tree. Try being fully present with your children or your friends even if it is just for a few moments.
You will begin to feel the difference between life lived in the mind and life lived in the joyful reality of the present moment.
I know that you cannot live in the world like this all of the time. But to spend some of your time each day in a state of innocence and presence will open you up to a heightened awareness of the sacredness of all life. This in turn will transform you. You will begin to remember who you are. You will begin to have a taste of Heaven on Earth.
After more than 30 years of continuous effort to release myself from the burden of a painful past and live more fully in the present moment, I find myself no closer to these goals, in spite of having diligently practiced techniques of catharsis and awareness. Is it possible that one must pass a certain evolutionary threshold in consciousness before one can fruitfully apply these practices?
The simple truth is that it is not difficult to release your self from the burden of a painful past and live more fully in the present moment. Given the right guidance and the right understanding, tremendous transformation should occur within a year, and sometimes much less than that.
I can only assume that your approach so far has been subtly flawed and I feel the highest level of compassion for you in this regard.
More than likely, there has been a subtle or not so subtle desire to rid your self of painful memories and emotions from the past. This is understandable, but not helpful. Usually this desire is involved in the process of catharsis, with many therapists either intentionally or unintentionally reinforcing this desire.
This is extremely unhelpful. Painful memories and emotions from the past must be allowed to surface into the light of consciousness in a spirit of unconditional love and acceptance. Only then will they gently and lovingly relax and dissolve
Any attempt to get rid of those feelings or memories is a judgment of them, and judgment locks them more firmly into place. The only way you can truly demonstrate unconditional love and acceptance of those painful feelings is to allow them to be experienced and expressed consciously within you. They are from the past. You do not have to believe in them or identify with them. Just allow them expression. Allow them to be experienced within you. They will then relax. If they are truly accepted and experienced, they will dissolve, not because you are trying to get rid of them, but because you have truly owned and accepted them.
If you are angry, just express the anger responsibly. Anger is outrageous. It is not reasonable. It wants to scream and shout and cuss and swear. It wants to get even. Allow anger to express itself through you. Give it its voice, but do not believe in its story. Just give it space to express itself. Exaggerate it. Ham it up. Anger responsibly expressed and allowed full freedom leads to laughter. Anger repressed leads to violence or to illness. Anger has every right to exist. Just do not dump it on any one. It is between you and God. No one is responsible for your anger, although your anger would like to blame others. Allow it to blame. Allow it to curse. Just do not believe in it. Do not take it out on the one who you believe has made you angry. That person has given you the opportunity to liberate anger repressed within you from the past. No one can make you angry unless anger from the past is still repressed within you.
It is the same with hurt. Allow the hurt feelings to surface. Cry. Sooner or later the tears will dry up, and you will feel tremendous joy and freedom. There is much more on these topics in my three books. I cannot repeat it all here.
Another thing you might need to understand is that the awakened state of Being is a pre-requisite to the healing of the past. You do not just heal and release the past to awaken into the present. You awaken into the present to heal and release the past. These two steps in the awakening process are inter-dependant and support each other. The first and most essential step is to awaken fully into the present moment. Deepen into that awakened state of Being. Become more grounded in that. I share much in my three books on how to accomplish that. It is not difficult. It is just too much for me to repeat here. As you awaken into Being, painful memories and emotions, which have been repressed in the past, will begin to surface into the light of consciousness. They are received into and experienced within an energy of love and acceptance which is deeply healing. This in turn clears a space for you to deepen into Presence, which in turn tends to bring up to the surface whatever else it is within you that is still in need of healing and release. It is a natural and flowing process, which becomes almost joyful once you get the hang of it.
A similar approach must be taken with the ego itself. Many spiritual paths imply that the ego must be defeated and that awakening involves annihilation of the ego and all that it stands for. The ego cannot be defeated or annihilated. It can only be loved and accepted into a state of surrender.
I would like to encourage you to purchase my three books, not because I am trying to sell books, but because I believe that they will be very helpful to you. They will make a difference. You could follow that up with a telephone session or an attendance at one of my workshops or retreats.
My sense is that the whole of humanity is passing or will soon pass through an evolutionary threshold of consciousness. There is such a thing as timing. Perhaps now is your time.
The only other thing I would add is that, ultimately, practices will fail. Entry into the present moment is immediate. It does not require practice. That is true for any moment of your life. It is not practice that will deliver you, but rather a gentle remembering to be present. Again I speak of this in greater detail in my books, particularly the second book, Embracing the Present.
I hope that what I have shared is helpful to you. Please feel free to follow up with another question if anything is unclear to you.
Do we create our own future? There seem to be two opinions in the metaphysical world on this subject: The New Age thinkers say that whatever you want, you can make happen. You can create your own reality. Then there's A Course In Miracles, of which I am a student, that says that the "script has already been written." In other words, we pre- chose the events and circumstances of our life and therefore, we can't make up a new script. What's your opinion on this subject?
Both the New age approach and the approach outlined in A Course in Miracles are true, but at different levels of consciousness.
Thoughts are creative, but for most people, thoughts and desires occur at an unconscious level. On the surface, you might want a new job or a partner to share your life with. You might pray for these things to appear in your life and yet they do not. This is because, at an unconscious level, you are harboring contradictory thoughts, beliefs and desires. For example, at an unconscious level, you might believe that you are not good enough or that you are unwanted or unloved. Or you might have decided that love hurts or that love leads to pain and separation and so you prefer to be alone. These things are in direct conflict with your conscious thoughts and desires and so life does not know how to respond to you. More than likely, your unconscious beliefs and desires will prevail.
Using the New Age approach, you bring these unconscious beliefs and desires into consciousness and replace them with positive beliefs. An example of New Age methodology is the use of affirmations and positive thinking. By being positive and very clear about what we want, it is created.
To some degree, this is true, but it is subject to a higher law, which flows from a higher level of consciousness. The law of Karma is involved here. Prior to our current incarnation, we existed at the level of soul, and one of our principal objectives in incarnating into this lifetime, is to heal and purify past Karma which is affecting the soul. We are here to learn our lessons about love, acceptance, power and compassion. We are here to awaken into love, truth and Oneness. We are here to deliver our own soul into the conscious experience of Immortality. And so, the script is written prior to our incarnating into physical form and it is intended to give us the highest impetus and opportunity to awaken and learn our lessons. The more open we are to learning our lessons, the less we have to experience pain and suffering.
This level of law, which is reflected in "A Course in Miracles" prevails over the New Age approach. In other words, it does not matter what you want. What will ultimately emerge in your life is whatever is for your highest good, and that is largely predetermined by the soul's script and the law of Karma.
There is yet another level of consciousness, which prevails over the two previous levels. As we awaken into the highest and most exalted level of consciousness, the script and pre-determinism of "A Course in Miracles" is also transcended.
Everything that occurs in your life is a part of God's plan to wake you up and bring you fully present. We are so fast asleep that sometimes God has to shake us up to wake us up. Whatever it takes! Once we are fully present, then basically, God wants us to have whatever we want, because then we are fully conscious and awakened Beings of Love. We know who we and we know Who, What and Where God is and we are awake in the truth of life.
We see that God has already created all that is, and we relax into the perfection of that. There is no need to create anything ourselves, At this level we begin to experience Heaven on Earth and our true and most perfect future unfolds through the doorway of the present moment. It is inevitable. This is a rare state of attainment at this stage of human evolution. But it is our ultimate destiny.
I am filled up with this enlightenment, God-searching, question-asking, never-ending-be-what-you-are business. Dead words of "holy" men are flying like flies out of my ears. And here I am writing this question to you. Is there any end to this bullshit?
To be fully present in the moment puts an end to the "bullshit", at least for the moment that you are present. When you are fully present, you come out of the mind, and all questions and answers disappear. All that is left is silence and the IS-NESS of NOW. It is moment to moment.
You do not have to fully present all the time. But you must be present enough so that Silence and Presence is the very foundation of who you are and the very foundation of your life. You must be able to enter into or return to the deepest levels of Presence whenever you choose. You know that the present moment is the truth of life and that everything else is an illusion. That does not mean that you cannot play in the illusion. It is just that you no longer regard it as the truth of life.
If you find it difficult to remain present, or if you find it difficult to return to Presence, it means that you are caught in the world of the mind, and there are a number of possibilities you may have to attend to in order to free your self.
The first is that some healing of the past may be necessary, and this can include painful or traumatic experiences from childhood and some times even from past lives.
The second possibility may be that you will have to allow some very old repressed emotions to surface into conscious expression in a way that is unconditionally loving, allowing and accepting of those feelings.
The third possibility is that you will have to stop believing in your own memories, thoughts, concepts, opinions, imaginings and beliefs. They are not the truth. Only silence is the truth and only that which arises out of or exists within silence is the truth. That includes everything that is truly of this moment.
The fourth possibility is that you will have to bring consciousness to your fears, desires and attachments. Just bringing them to consciousness with the intention of not acting upon them or believing in them will release you more and more into the present moment. Even the desire for enlightenment will keep you out of the present moment.
The fifth possibility is that you may have to refine your relationship with your own ego. The ego is a powerful obstacle to being present and it will only relax and surrender and allow you to be more fully present when certain conditions are met. The ego feeds on judgment and rejection, so any judgment of it or attempt to get rid of it simply strengthens it. You will have to enter into a relationship of unconditional love and acceptance with the ego if you want to be liberated from it. This is paradoxical and a very subtle part of the awakening process.
I hope that my words do not become dead words flying out of your ears like flies. On the other hand, if enough words fly out of your ears, perhaps you will be left in Silence.
Why are some Paths so seemingly complex, and time-intensive (Fourth Way, Adi Da) and others so seemingly simple (Advaita Vedanta) whilst the "goal" is the same? Why am I attracted to different Paths, and how can I focus on what is True?
You say that the goal of each path is the same. What is the goal? If you are really clear about that, it will cast light upon which path is most suitable for you. What is it that you are seeking on the path? How will you know when you have arrived at the goal?
In some ways, it would be better for you if I stop at this point and let you meditate on this and come to your own answer.
But I will proceed.
The goal of the spiritual path is simple. It is to awaken out of the illusory world of the thinking human mind into the truth and reality of life lived in the present moment. The world of the mind is a world of the remembered past and imagined future. It is a world of illusion and yet almost every one on this planet believes this illusory world to be the truth of life. The simple truth is that there is no life outside of the present moment. It is impossible to live life outside of the present moment. We must come to terms with this simple truth.
I do not mean to imply that life at the level of mind should cease. That is not possible, nor desirable. What is possible however is that we become so awake and deeply grounded in the present moment and the awakened state of Being that we never lose our connection with the truth of life, even when we do venture into the world of the mind. In other words, we no longer believe in our thoughts, memories, ideas, beliefs and opinions as the truth. We know that only this moment is the truth and everything else is a kind of play within time.
The world of the mind has developed its own version of God. It is the ego and it is deeply committed to being in control of your life. Initially its motivation was to protect you in this world of painful illusion. But eventually, that changed into a deep commitment to protect its self, and to ensure the continuance of its dominant role in your life. The ego likes sitting on the throne of God and will not vacate the throne easily.
The ego wants to elevate itself in any way it can. It will happily set off on the spiritual path because it enjoys the feeling that is becoming more spiritual. It loves spiritual knowledge and power. It will continue on the path as long as it continues to accumulate more spiritual knowledge or power. In other words, the ego is becoming spiritualized, which is most unhelpful for one who is truly committed to full awakening.
If you happen to get too close to the truth or to a true teacher, the ego will have you out of there as soon as possible. It will have you reading other books and visiting other teachers. In other words, the ego needs you to remain the seeker. It does not want you to arrive at the goal.
And once again, what is the goal?
The goal is to be still and silent. To be awake in the present moment and know yourself as the One who is fully present. It is known in Silence. It is known as Silence. There is nothing left of you from the past or future. There are no thoughts. Just a silent Presence in a breathing body, which is fully present with that which is present.
Know this state of Presence just for a few moments and you are free. There is no more seeking. As you become more grounded and settled into the present moment, your whole life will begin to change. The Eternal dimension of existence will begin to reveal itself through the doorway of the present moment.
I speak in some detail about how to become present and remain present in the three books that I have written. I cannot repeat it here, but I do suggest that you will find them easy to read and most enlightening.
Now, to that part of your question about the true path.
Beware of paths that fill you with too much spiritual knowledge. You are just feeding your ego. Beware of teachers who elevate themselves above you. Look to their actions and their presentation and not just what they say. Some teachers say that they want no followers and yet, they are surrounded by followers.
Beware of too many practices. No practice will deliver you. Being present is immediate. It is now. Just remember to be present with that which is present and you are free, at least, in that moment. Each moment that you are fully present, you are awake. You are enlightened. Each moment that you are not present, you are not awake. It is that simple.
The Advaita Vedanta tradition is simple and very valuable. Through a process of self enquiry, you can liberate yourself from the illusory world of the mind and ego, into a state of pure consciousness. This state of pure consciousness is the "I am" Presence that I speak of in my books. It is an experience of no-thingness. It is the essence and source of all existence.
To awaken into pure consciousness is to attain liberation, but I have noticed with some of the followers of the Vedanta tradition who have attended my workshops, that there is sometimes a misunderstanding about the true nature of existence. There is a tendency to dismiss manifested form as illusory in nature. That is unhelpful, for what is the point of living in a world of illusion. We might as well leave.
God is both everything and nothing. Everything in physical form is the Body of God. It is God as everything. When I am at the deepest level of Presence, I am in Nothing-ness. I am nothing-ness. Nothingness is another word for full and silent Presence. It is another word for the "I AM" Presence of God. It is pure consciousness without form and without content.
The perfect balance between God as everything and God as nothing is expressed in a line from my third book, Bridging Heaven & Earth which simply states …. "When I am in nothing, God is in everything."
We have to be careful not to make "nothingness" yet another concept which the ego seizes hold of. It is a great way to make sure you never awaken. We are here to wake up into full Presence and behold the beauty of God's creation. Who are we to dismiss the Body of God as an illusion?
The illusion that we need to awaken from is the world of the thinking mind, which includes all our spiritual knowledge and concepts.
Even the spiritual path will ultimately prove to be an illusion.
Finally, you ask how can you focus on what is True. Just focus on what is here now. If you can see it, hear it, feel it, taste it or smell it, you can focus on it. To focus on that which is actually here now (present) with you will bring you into the truth of life. The tree or the flower in front of you has more power to bring you present than all the books in the world and all the teachers who have ever existed. All you have to do is bring yourself present with that which is present.
My life is completely dedicated to being present and I have had a number of awakenings and profound insights as Presence has continued to deepen. I have already begun to experience an almost complete absence of fear and anxiety in my life. One area where healing may still be necessary, however, is in the area of finances. The past affects me in the sense that I have a lot of debt. Do you have anything to share with me about this area of life?
It seems as though your life is unfolding and flowing beautifully as you deepen into Presence, and I am very happy for you. You have mostly answered your own question and there is not too much that I can add.
It is important to identify any limiting beliefs around money, which might still be operating unconsciously at the level of the mind. It is possible that this is the case, because you say that you came into your awakening with considerable debt.
Look at your family. What messages did they give you about money and financial abundance. How did they model the relationship with money for you. Perhaps a limitation comes from past life experience. All you can do is ask deep within for guidance and healing in this regard.
As you know there is a natural law of abundance, but it will not flow through a doorway of belief in limitation.
The more we are aware of and grateful for the abundance of this moment as it is, the more abundance flows freely into our lives.
There is a distinction between living in fully awakened Presence and living within the world of time.
If we live in fully awakened consciousness, there is no past and there is no future. At the deepest level of Being, we cannot function in the world, because there is no time. It is impossible to remember the past or imagine the future.
And yet we live within the world of time. We have to take responsibility for our lives within the world of time. We have to work or do what ever is necessary to earn money and provide for our needs.
How do we reconcile this apparent conflict. How can we live within the world of the mind without becoming lost there? As long as we are not driven by ego desires or fears, the quality of Presence will not be lost. Just see it as play.
Many seekers on the path tend to be dismissive of life at the level of mind. In my view this is a mistake. For me there are two questions which we must come to terms with.
The first is who am I? This question calls us to awaken into the truth of who we are and the truth of life. Very few come as far as you have with this question. But then the second question presents itself. Now that I am awake in the truth of life, how do I live in the world of time? How do I live in integrity in my relationships, my work and every other aspect of my life.
This second question requires us to embark upon a journey of trial and error. We learn from our mistakes.
If you have to go out and take a job, just do it. Do not try to hold onto Presence. That which is real cannot be lost. Do not be afraid to live at a more superficial level of Presence in order to be able to function in the world of time. It is all a question of balance. The awakened state of Presence will become the foundation of life lived within the world of time.
You might want to meditate upon a line from the Lord's Prayer in the New Testament. In demonstrating appropriate prayer to God, Jesus asks God only to "Give us this day our daily bread." In my view, he is sharing with us a principle of awakened consciousness. He is reminding us that only this moment is real. He is telling us not to go beyond today in seeking sustenance. Otherwise we will take ourselves too far into the future. We will take ourselves away from the true source of life and abundance, which is the present moment. We will take ourselves away from God as we enter into and become lost in the world of the thinking mind.
Do not focus on repaying debt in seeking out appropriate work. Simply find work and work for today. Be present in your work. Be Love in your work. Be excellence in your work. Everything else will take care of itself.
Finally, I would say that you should be very careful that you are not repressing any ego fears or desires around the issue of money in your commitment to Presence. If anything is repressed, it cannot be healed.
Ramana Maharshi is famous for these quotes: "The Mind has to be destroyed." "Stay without thoughts and just BE." "Go to the root of the 'I' thought and find out 'Who Am I'?" How would one function without thinking in this world? Isn't the Mind necessary for our normal day-to-day functioning in this world? What does Ramana mean by Destroying the Mind?
I find it difficult to believe that Ramana Maharshi would say that the mind has to be destroyed, but if he did make such a statement, then it is most unhelpful.
The true nature of awakened Being is utterly without judgment. It is neither for nor against anything and so to say that the mind has to be destroyed would be inconsistent with the true nature of Being.
The suggestion or implication that the ego will be annihilated or destroyed upon awakening is a common one and it is a major obstacle to awakening. The mind/ego will never allow itself to be destroyed and there is not a living human Being with the power to destroy the mind/ego, for the simple reason that the intention or attempt to destroy the ego is nothing more that ego seeking to destroy itself and this cannot happen. It is a house dividing against itself. All that happens is that the mind is strengthened. It creates an inner tension and fear and the ego becomes very resolved to make sure that this does not happen. It wants to become spiritualized, but it does not want you to truly awaken.
Ramana Maharshi had awakened to a level where there was very little mind/ego left in him. He experienced the bliss and freedom of a life without the interference and limitations of the mind. But he did not destroy his ego. It simply disappeared. It probably had more to do with his past life preparation than anything else.
Buddha did not destroy his ego. It simply surrendered.
The only way to bring the ego into its rightful place is through love and acceptance. Love is the most powerful energy in existence and ultimately it is only love and acceptance that will bring the ego to a place of surrender. When it is surrendered, it will no longer seek to keep you imprisoned within the world of the mind. It will allow you to deepen into Presence and there will come a time that you will be so deeply grounded in Presence that you will feel that your ego has disappeared. But it has not been destroyed. It has been loved and accepted into the sweetest state of surrender. In fact, the ego has no resistance to the power of love. Its nature is to fight force with force. It is designed to deal with judgment and rejection. It responds powerfully to threats against survival. Can you not see that talk of its destruction will simply call it into defensive and evasive action?
Most people do not know what it means to truly be loving and accepting of your self. It means that you allow and acknowledge as a part of you all those aspects that you have previously been denying, repressing or trying to get rid of. There can be no hint of judgment. This is not as difficult as you might imagine, because at the level of Being, you are love and acceptance. So if you awaken into Being and then allow all those aspects of yourself that you have been condemning to surface and be owned, acknowledged and expressed within the consciousness of Being, a tremendous relaxation will occur. It will allow you to deepen even further into Presence and Being.
You have quoted other statements made by Ramana Maharshi.
"Stay without thoughts and just be"
Of course, this is true. But how does one stay without thought? You cannot stop thoughts. It is impossible. But you CAN choose to be fully present in the moment of NOW. When you are fully present, thoughts stop all by themselves. You are not trying to stop the thoughts, which would be a form of judgment. You are simply choosing to be present with that which is present. You cannot think about the present moment. You can only think about the past or future and so if you are truly present, thoughts will simply stop. To just "be" is another way of saying "to just be present."
If you are fully present, there are no thoughts. If there are no thoughts, then quite literally, there is no time. There is no life outside of this moment. You can no longer function in the world, because there is no world outside of the moment. You would need a team of caretakers to take care of you, or an ashram would have to develop around you to take care of you and receive your enlightened utterances.
When Ramana awakened, he did not participate in the world. He remained in the Silence and an Ashram developed around him. That is the beauty of India, The Indian culture allows for one to enter into that fully awakened state and remain there. They know how to respond to one who is fully awakened
But that is a very limited approach to awakening. It is time for humanity to awaken at a collective level. Enlightenment can no longer be for just a select few, who no longer participate in the world. If there is to be an awakening at a collective level, we will have to learn to function within the world. This means that we will have to find a balance between the timelessness of the fully awakened state and the world of time.
It is a question of balance. When you awaken, the deepest level of the awakened state becomes the foundation of you and it becomes the foundation of your life. You know that the present moment is the truth of life and you never again become identified with life at the level of mind. You know that everything that occurs at the level of mind is illusory in nature and so you no longer believe in it as the truth of life. You are no longer identified with any of it. You recognize that life at the level of mind is simply play. (leela) It is sometimes happy and sometimes sad, because it is a world of duality. You relax and accept the dual nature of the world of the mind and the world of experience. You are no longer for or against anything. You have transcended judgment. Life is accepted fully and so too is death. Joy is accepted fully and so too is pain. But you are so deeply grounded in the moment of now, that you no longer get caught in the movements of the mind and its world of thought and emotion. You no longer believe in your ideas, beliefs, concepts and opinions. You are deeply grounded in Oneness. You are able to return to silence and Presence at will. In fact, silence and Presence is always there as the foundation of your existence, even when you move into the world of the mind.
Ramana awakened fully into the impersonal dimension of life. But the real challenge for us is not only to awaken into the impersonal dimension of life, but to allow the personal dimension to exist as a perfect expression of the impersonal. This can only begin to occur as the ego is brought into a state of surrender.
I sometimes say to those who attend my workshops,
"You had better hurry up and get enlightened because that is the easy part. The hard part is discovering how to live in the world once you have awakened. And that is a long journey of trial and error that will last the rest of your life."
The only thing you will need on this long journey through life is the following question:
"Are the choices I am making in my life supporting me in Presence and leading me deeper into peace, love and Oneness or are the choices I am making leading me away from Presence? Is my action in this moment in true alignment with the deepest levels of love and Oneness, which is my true nature, or am I acting outside of integrity.
Finally, if you adhere to self enquiry as suggested by Ramana, and really know how to ask the question "Who am I?" you will inevitably be delivered into that state of silence and pure consciousness that is your true Being. The question "Who am I? " will ultimately deliver you into the "I am Presence."
As I continue my spiritual work, both on the inner and outer levels, I have stumbled onto some troublesome areas of my childhood. I realize after 50 years that my father abused me. I am furious with him and can now recall quite a bit of detail going back to early childhood. I now have such a hard time feeling and expressing any love for him.. Is it natural to want to address this with him and will it do any good? How does one heal this issue in a spiritual way?
Your question is a complex one. I am not sure exactly how your father abused you, but I will assume it was both sexual and emotional abuse. The real key to healing these wounds from the past is to awaken into the present moment and to live more of your life in the present. The present moment is free of the past and so, as you awaken into Presence, the wounds and traumas of the past simply dissolve and disappear as if they had never occurred in the first place.
It is a two-step dance of awakening.
First learn the art of being fully present. Open up into that dimension of you which exists fully in this moment and no other. If you need guidance in this regard, then seek it out.
Once you know yourself at this higher level of consciousness, the work of healing and releasing the past can begin in earnest. From a place of Presence, you can allow the old wounds and traumas from your past to surface into the light of consciousness. This means that you allow all the feelings to surface and be experienced consciously, but within an energy of love and acceptance. You are not trying to get rid of the feelings. You are simply acknowledging that those feelings exist within you and you are allowing them expression.
In the example you have given, you would allow fury to surface and express itself fully within you. Fury simply wants to have its day. It exists within you and so it has a right to be here and express itself. I do not mean that you express it to your father, at least not in person. Go to your room. Close your eyes and imagine him sitting in front of you and let it rip. Do not hold back. You will know you are doing it perfectly if, after a while, you begin to laugh. You will see how outrageous anger and fury can be, if you do not repress them and you allow them to be expressed fully and responsibly.
To express the anger and fury would only be to get a part of the picture. Underneath anger is hurt, underneath hurt is need, underneath need is fear and underneath fear is love. It is like a pyramid of repressed feelings, which dissolves as you allow all these feelings to be expressed consciously. And it is love that is ultimately revealed. So do not be afraid of your feelings. They key is to express them fully, but responsibly and within an energy of unconditional love and acceptance.
We carry these old wounds within us because we repressed the feelings associated with these wounds when we were children. If they are repressed, they will affect you in a negative and limiting way. And so you must reverse the process of repression by allowing the feelings and memories to surface. At the same time, you remain fully present, witnessing the feelings as they arise within you.
I am not suggesting that you indulge in these feelings. They are from the past. They are simply memories stuck within you. They have no meaning other than that they are stuck within you and need to be brought to consciousness and released through the power of love and acceptance. For one who is truly on a path of awakening, there is no interest in the past other than to bring it to consciousness in a way that heals and releases it. In truth there is no life outside of this moment.
The fact that you were abused more than likely means that there is a soul lesson involved. Abuse or any other kind of suffering often provides an opportunity for deep healing at the soul level. You might need guidance to identify the soul lesson involved.
As for your current relationship with your father, there is no rule or law that you have to love your father or feel affection for him. There is no right or wrong in this regard. In the fullness of the present moment, he is not your father. He is simply another being who in the past acted abusively towards you. If you wish to confront him on this issue, then do so, I would pray for guidance. Will confronting him lead to healing and release? Will it open you into love. Will it empower you. Will it help him in any way?
Finally, I say to you that forgiveness has tremendous healing power, but you cannot artificially forgive. Forgiveness is a function of the heart and usually arises once we have experienced all the feelings of hurt, anger and rage. True forgiveness cannot arise when we are carrying these feelings unconsciously within us. Again, there is no law that says you have to forgive him, although it would be healing for your heart.
I hope my answer to your question is helpful. Please do not hesitate to contact me again if you are in need of further guidance.
I am in recovery from Alcohol and drugs. I find myself replacing these by acting out with deviant sexual behaviour and being filled with all the guilt and shame surrounding these acts. Then I pray and focus on my spiritual condition and cease the self-destructive activities for a while, only to fail again. This binging and purging is taking it's toll. How can I break this vicious pattern of behaviour?
What you have shared brings up a lot of compassion within me.
We become addicted to substances like drugs and alcohol as a way to avoid the pain and isolation we are carrying within us from the past. Most of it can be traced to our childhood relationship with our parents. What kind of abuse did you endure as a child? What kind of wounds are you carrying? How much have you repressed those feelings? It is very difficult to overcome addiction and you have done well to come as far as you have with that.
Deviant sexual behavior is very similar. It is an outcome of not wanting to feel the feelings. When you repress feelings, you disconnect within yourself. It heightens the sense of separation and alienation that you are already feeling at an unconscious.
I would hazard a guess that the more you are feeling isolated in your life, the more likely it is that you will be drawn into this deviant sexual behavior.
The only way out as far as I am concerned is to go through a process where you uncover the repressed painful feelings within you.
IN THE FEELING IS THE HEALING.
It does not have to take a long time. Nor do you have to indulge in it. It is all from the past and so it is not real. The best way to heal these feelings is to allow them to surface without believing in them or getting too involved in the story associated with the feelings. Just feel, own and express the feelings in a responsible way. It is important that you don't dump your feelings on others as they surface within you.
It is also necessary to take responsibility for the isolation in your life. You are responsible for managing your life. Make sure that you have sufficient friends, work, activity and interests that you feel more connected. As the feeling of isolation dissolves, so too will the urges that take you into the deviant sexual behavior.
You might need help during this process. Find a good counselor in your local area who can be present with you and supportive of you as you allow feelings up to be experienced consciously. Do not choose a counselor who is trying to fix you or get rid of these feelings. The goal is for you and anyone with you simply to be present with the pain and the feelings as they surface into the light of consciousness.
I cannot stress enough the importance of Presence in this process. Each one of us is being called into a deeper level of Presence. (Being present)
Sometimes the pain is the alarm clock that wakes us up.
What is fear and how do I deal with it?
Fear is a primal feeling that arises within us when our physical survival is threatened. It is a feeling that is designed to move us to "fight or flight" in order to support our survival. It has played a large part in the survival of the species.
But as we became more sophisticated and moved more and more into the mind and its world of thought and emotion, fear entered inappropriately into that world. The fight or flight response started to occur whenever we felt emotionally threatened. If someone criticizes, insults or rejects us, the ego mistakes that for a threat to our survival and we go into a flight or fight response, but that response has become disguised and distorted in so many ways that we are unaware of it. It also often occurs at an unconscious level.
Fear also comes into play around future imaginings. It is possible to create intense fear by imagining what might happen in the future. The more present you are, the less fear will arise in your life, because you are only responding to what is actually happening now.
If in the moment, your physical survival is at risk, you will not think about it. You will not become incapacitated with fear. You will simply respond with fight or flight. And it is quite rare that this situation will arise in your life.
There is another kind of fear that I have observed in people who have worked with me. When people are unwilling to feel their feelings fully, whether those feelings are of hurt, anger or rage, they disconnect from themselves and this creates a kind of fear within them. It often manifests as anxiety or panic. When they allow themselves to feel the feelings fully, the fear or anxiety disappears.
So what are you to do about fear? The obvious answer is to be more present in your life and fear will rarely arise. Also, be sure to be honest and authentic and feel your feelings fully and express your feelings responsibility and fear will not be an issue for you.
Based upon your definition of enlightenment, what are the salient characteristics of an enlightened person?
One who is awake or enlightened lives predominantly in the present moment. The present moment is always recognized as the truth of life, even when entering into the mind and functioning within the world of time.
At the very deepest level, an enlightened person does not function within the world of time. The past and future have disappeared and only the present moment is available. This does not mean that an enlightened person is always functioning at the deepest level. At other times, he or she might be functioning at a more superficial level of Presence and so the world of time becomes available.
An enlightened person lives without judgment.
An enlightened person lives without fear and desire.
An enlightened person lives in a state of acceptance.
An enlightened person lives as Love in the world.
For an enlightened person, the illusion of separation has dissolved. He or she lives with a strong sense of the Oneness of all things.
An enlightened person lives with a continuing awareness of the impersonal or Eternal dimension of existence.
An enlightened person is compassionate.
An enlightened person always acts with integrity.
It is impossible for an enlightened person to be dishonest.
One who is truly enlightened sees all others as equal and enlightened, even if they are unaware of it. This extends to animals and the world of nature. It is impossible for an enlightened person to intentionally harm another.
An enlightened person is substantially free of ego motivations and reactions.
This is not to imply that an enlightened person is somehow perfect. An enlightened person can, at times, react like any one else, and experience fear and uncertainty or feelings like hurt and anger. The difference is that the enlightened person knows that he or she is caught temporarily in the illusion of separation and takes full responsibility for whatever he or she is experiencing. The experience is owned and accepted but not acted upon as if it is the truth.
In the midst of constant change, an enlightened person knows himself/herself as the One who never changes.
Does God speak to us individually? I want desperately to believe in God.
From my perspective, belief in God is the obstacle to knowing God. Belief is a function of the mind and we can only know God through direct experience. Belief is what we resort to when we do not know God through our own direct experience.
So how does one have a direct experience of God?
God is here now, but we are not! Mostly we are lost in the world of the human thinking mind. It is a world of the remembered past and the imagined future. It is a world of thought, memory, imagination, concept, opinion, idea and belief. When we are in the world of the thing mind, the one place we are not is in the world of the present moment.
God is present. God exists as the silent presence at the very heart of all things present. The present moment and all that is in the present moment is God revealed.
If we are to know God, we must bring ourselves to where God is. In other words if we are to know God, we must bring ourselves fully present. At first, the experience of being present may seem ordinary. But as you remain present, and deepen into presence, the hidden treasure is revealed. Slowly and gradually, you will encounter the living Presence of God in all things present.
The more you choose to be present, the more you will become grounded in that dimension of you which exists in this moment and no other. I am not saying that you cannot continue to function with the mind and the world of time. Of course you can. You do not have to be fully present all the time. What is most important is that you honor the present moment as the truth of life, and recognize everything else as an illusion. Sometimes it is a happy illusion. At other times, it is an unhappy and painful illusion. The unhappy times bring us the opportunity and incentive to awaken, for who will choose to awaken out of a happy dream? Very few!
The direct experience of God is essentially an experience in Silence and oneness with all things present. Everything that you can see, hear, taste and touch is the body of God and so why would you not choose to be fully present with it?
To awaken means to free your self from the limited world of the mind and become fully present.
How to accomplish this is beyond the scope of this answer. I suggest that you read my three books and if you have further questions, I would be happy to answer them. A telephone session is also very helpful in bringing it all together and entering into the fully awakened state.
Does God speaks to us individually? The answer is that if we are fully present we enter into direct relationship with God and so we can speak to God and God can speak to us.
God exists at the very heart of silence within us. If you are fully present and silent, you open the door to God. In conversing with God, speak from silence into silence. And make sure that any response arises from silence and not from some part of your thinking mind. God's responses can come in the form of words, or a visual image or a feeling of peace and love. God's response can also be one of total silence. You will have to surrender all expectations when speaking to God, for those expectations will hold you in the mind and keep you separate from God.
Finally, how God responds to you will depend largely on what you bring to God. My experience is that the more you bring love and gratitude and silent Presence to God, the more God will respond to you.
It is important to know that God is not separate from you and that the deepest level of Oneness is realized in perfect loving silence. Not one word need be spoken.
I have been on a spiritual path now for 30 years and now I find myself in a crisis. I am in a relationship. She is a good, loving & generous person but mentally and verbally there is a great deal of chaos between us. It is exhausting and energy-draining. I am more interested in the Center-less Space of Being, while she tends to dwell on emotional and sentimental things, which I experience as a burden. I feel psychically drained for two or three days after we have had sex. What shall I do? Am I destroying myself in this relationship? Could this be the point in my life, where I have to 'die' to that too and let go of the need to be in a relationship?
Your question is a long one, and not one I can reply to with any kind of brevity. You are clearly caught in a dysfunctional relationship. This will keep you caught in the mind and the past and future, preventing you from deepening into life lived in the present moment.
This is not necessarily a bad thing. We learn and deepen from these experiences. The key is to not linger in the situation longer than it takes to learn your lessons. From your question, it seems like you see her as the problem. It seems like you are blaming her for your situation at some subtle level. This indicates that you are not taking full responsibility for yourself. You need to look very carefully at the events unfolding in your life right now. What is it within you that enables you to be hooked in this way. Take responsibility for those hooks. No one can do anything to you and no one can keep you in a situation that you do not want to be in. Only you have that kind of power over yourself.
How do you give yourself away? What do you need from her? What are you getting out of remaining with her? What are your fears?
Relationship gives us the opportunity to witness certain aspects of our personality/ego, which we would prefer to ignore. Be observant of your control patterns and your judgements. Be observant as to how present you are with her. How do you express love with her? How much compassion is in your heart? I do not mean that you should judge yourself or her in any way, but rather bring consciousness to these things.
If you have done all this, and the relationship is still not right for you, then move on immediately. But do so with love and compassion. You are not responsible for any one other than your self. If she chooses to be a victim, that is her responsibility. To be a victim is a powerful manipulation, although much of her problems would stem from her childhood or her past lives and do not have a lot to do with you. Even feeling hurt is a kind of manipulation. If she is hurting, you are supposed to alter your behavior towards her. It is a strategy learned in childhood, which was not effective then, and is still ineffective. She needs to awaken into her own power. All you can do, is allow her to be herself and express herself. Do not react. Be present with her. Be loving. Do not judge her in any way, But also do not become involved with her manipulations.
Just be present with her to the best of your ability. At the deepest level that is all we want from each other anyway. We are all suffering from the same wound. It is the feeling that no one is really present with us. We feel alone and separate. This wound originates not only in our childhood. It stems from the birth experience itself and from other realms and dimensions of our existence. It is a wound which carries over from our childhood into all the days of our lives until we awaken into that dimension of life and ourselves which exists within the present moment.
We have to heal and release the past, so that we can be more fully present. Conscious relationships are based upon the present moment. In a conscious relationship, we relate to each other in the moment and do not seek comfort from the idea that someone will be there to make us feel safe in one year or five years or for a lifetime. In truth there is only NOW!. We must come to terms with that simple fact. It will open us into a life of freedom, truth and love.
I hope that my answer is helpful to you. You can always book a private telephone session with me or attend a seminar if you want further guidance. My three books also offer comprehensive guidance in these matters. I wish you and your friend all the very best. May love prevail in your thoughts, words and actions.
I was with a teacher for about 5 years who taught a group of us various methods, which were designed to help us to see ourselves more clearly and he also taught us some methods to help break up the habits of consciousness that we were caught in. They did lead to different experiences and insights. I hung onto some of them desperately so as to be free of me and open to something beyond me. But, after awhile it seemed to be a false freedom. I could see this by my limited and stiff responses to the people around me. I wonder if presence requires a remembering. How do you come back to Presence? How do you remain in Presence without it being a doing?
Sometimes, the quest for enlightenment is nothing more than an attempt on the part of the ego to escape aspects of itself that it judges and condemns.
With you, this seems to be the case. In your question, you state that you desperately want to be free of yourself. This implies judgment and rejection of certain aspects of your self. As long as the judgment is there, you cannot awaken. You cannot be free of yourself. It is impossible. You are who you are. It is only when you own and accept every aspect of yourself that you open the door to that deepest dimension of you which exists only in the present moment. This dimension of you is the Truth of you. It is your Being. It is the I AM of you. It is the awakened One. It is the Christ within you. It is completely without judgment and so it cannot arise if you still live with judgment in your life. God is without judgment. You must release judgment if you are to re-enter the world of God.
Make a list of everything about yourself that you want to change. Which aspects of yourself do you want to be free of. You will then have a list of all the things about yourself you must learn to love and accept unconditionally.
The only way you can do this is by owning and acknowledging that these things are a part of you. It does not mean that they are the truth of you, but they are a part of you, and need to be acknowledged.
To the extent that your spiritual practices and methodologies have in the past been motivated by a desire to escape or deny aspects of yourself, those practices and methodologies will fail to deliver you.
Ultimately, all practices will fail to deliver you into freedom. This is because it is the ego that is practicing in order to escape itself, and it will never succeed in this endeavor.
One of the great dangers on the spiritual path is that the ego becomes spiritualized. The ego loves to think of itself as spiritually evolved. It is just another way that it manages to feel important and in control. Indeed, it is usually the ego that sets you off on the spiritual path in the first place. Enlightenment is seen as the ultimate escape or the ultimate achievement
The ego will have you visiting every spiritual teacher or guru. It will have you reading every spiritual book and practicing every spiritual method or technique. But it will insist that you do not stop long enough to actually encounter the truth, and wake yourself up. The truth is found only in the present moment. When you are fully present, your ego disappears. All the spiritual goals and concepts disappear. The judgments disappear.
The ego is suddenly rendered irrelevant. It realizes that it is not the one who will become enlightened. It realizes that if you become more fully present, you will gain liberation from its limited world. It fears being annihilated or abandoned. And so it will put the brakes on. It will seek to escape. It will resort to its bag of tricks to keep you out of the present moment. It will attempt to seduce you and deceive you. And mostly, it is successful.
The solution is remarkably simple.
First deepen into Presence by choosing to be present. It requires a gentle remembering. Just bring yourself present with that which is present. I speak of this in detail in my books.
Secondly, learn to own and accept all those aspects of yourself which previously you have been denying, repressing or judging. This too is a gentle process, which becomes possible only after you have begun to experience the present moment at a deeper level.
As I have said in one of my books,
"Your gift to God is honesty. God's gift to you is Truth."
As far as I am concerned, that is a fair exchange. It is only when you own and accept and confess who you have become, that you discover the truth of who you really are.
I read the teachings of Steven Harrison, and Andrew Cohen. The former is of the opinion that one has to do nothing in order to be free and that no particular practice or meditation could liberate one. Andrew Cohen, however, says that one has to put effort and cultivate the intention to achieve liberation. My question is this: How do I reconcile the teachings of these two teachers?? While one says there is nothing to be done, that meditation is not be the answer, the other says that effort is necessary, and that meditation helps.
Both are right. Steven Harrison is saying that you are already awake and whole and that any effort or seeking on your part takes you away from that which you already are. It creates a desire in you, which takes you away from the present moment into some goal-orientated future. It is the same with spiritual practice or meditation. It is ultimately the ego that is practicing or meditating in order to achieve liberation or enlightenment. But the ego can never arrive at the goal. It is impossible for the ego to be other than what it is. That which you seek you already are. And so, all that is required is some intervention or relaxation or spontaneous awakening that releases you from the past and future world of the mind, which is illusory in nature, into the Eternal world of NOW, which is revealed through the doorway of the present moment. In other words, when you become fully present, the truth of life and God is revealed.
Andrew Cohen is also right when he says that you must cultivate an intention to achieve liberation. That is because the will of the ego is such a powerful force of opposition to awakening. But there are problems with his expression or terminology. Liberation is an abstract word. How do you cultivate an intention to achieve liberation. I know what Andrew Cohen means, but if you have not experienced the fully awakened state, it remains an idea and a concept, and it is just another way of remaining caught in the mind.
The ego has become much too powerful in our lives and it will resist any possibility of our awakening into the truth of life. It is very committed to being in control and it can only be in control of what it knows from the past and what it projects into the future. It must keep you in the past and future world of the mind if it is to remain in control. It is very skilled at doing this. It tricks us and seduces us. Its most effective seduction is the promise of future fulfillment, and we all fall for it. The ultimate seduction is the promise of enlightenment or liberation at some time in the future. Awakening can never occur in the future, simply because there is no future. There is only NOW, and awakening occurs when you realize this and all seeking dissolves instantly.
A more effective way to overcome the power and influence of the ego is to cultivate a deep intention and commitment, not for liberation, which is an abstract word, but for being present.
Each moment, you have a choice Will you be present with what is actually here now? Or do you choose to be in the thinking world of the mind?
If you choose to be present, you become silent, and you emerge from the world of the mind into the world of NOW. You enter into the truth of life and the truth of God. You emerge from separation into Oneness. It is simple. It is immediate. And it requires no definition or understanding.
If you choose the world of the mind, you enter into the world of the remembered past and the imagined future. It is a world of illusion.
Amazingly almost all humans make the second choice, almost constantly. This is because the way into Presence has not been effectively revealed to them. Once you know the way into Presence and you have experienced the awakened state, even for a few moments, the ego's desire to keep you imprisoned within the world of the mind diminishes. Thus begins a gentle transition from the world of the mind to the world of Being. But to complete this transition, you must have the deepest intention to choose to be in the present moment. It is a moment-to-moment choice until the transition or shift is completed, and then you are home. You are free. You are awake in the truth of life.
There is nothing wrong with meditation. It is helpful. But it will not deliver you. All that will deliver you is the realization that I (I AM) is the one who is meditating, and that I (I AM) has been here all along.
To try and reconcile the differences between one teacher and another is not easy. Ours is a multi-dimensional existence. It is bound to be paradoxical. What is true at one level is not necessarily true at another level.
The paradox is best summed up in the following sentence.
"We are on a journey of becoming that which we already are."
How do you reconcile that?
The best resolution is to go to the deepest level of truth, which is expressed in the following three sentences.
"There is no life outside this moment of NOW." "The truth is known in silence." "Be still and know"
How does one deal best with excessive guilt and feelings of unworthiness? It seems my mind never stops coming up with thoughts that disturb me. Even as I learn my lessons, my mind will find something else to prevent any possibility of peace of mind.
What you have described in your question is the way of the ego.
The ego needs you to feel guilty and unworthy in order to keep you in its limited world of the past and future, where it is in control.
Guilt and blame are two of the main strategies of control. It is also the way we avoid living in true responsibility.
If I can blame someone for the way I feel or for what is happening in my life, I can avoid taking responsibility for myself. Some one else is to blame. If I can make some one feel guilty, it is easier to control them and have them assume responsibility for me. It is nothing but a strategy to control others and avoid responsibility for our selves.
It is the same with unworthiness. If you feel unworthy, you will not be in your true power and so you will be easier to control.
When you where a child, you were subtly made to feel guilty and unworthy as a way to limit and control you. It is not that your parents set out to do that. It was probably what they had learned from their parents and they were simply passing on to you what they had learned. It is passed down from generation to generation until some one protests enough to wake themselves up.
To overcome these feelings of guilt and unworthiness, you must bring them into the full light of consciousness. Every time that guilt arises, just be aware of it. Witness it. Express it. But do not believe in it. It is not the truth.
Explore your own patterns of control and the way you avoid taking full responsibility for yourself. These things can be very subtle, so you have to be very attentive and watchful.
These patterns and feelings exist only in the world of the mind. They do not exist in the truth and reality of the present moment.
It is necessary to bring yourself more fully present. This awakens you into a higher level of consciousness. It gives you sanctuary from those painful feelings of guilt and unworthiness. It opens you up to wholeness, love and compassion. It also gives you a bird's eye perspective from which you can view all those things like guilt and unworthiness, which previously you have been condemning. It creates a safe, loving and accepting environment in which guilt, blame, anger and hurt can be brought into the full light of consciousness.
In my workshops and particularly in private sessions, it is relatively easy to heal these wounds and release these limiting beliefs and feelings, which come from the past. I also speak about it at length in my books.
In your question, you speak of how your mind constantly comes up with new problems and issues. Just as you have healed one issue, it brings to the forefront a new one to disturb you in your newly found peace.
Once again this is the way of the ego. The ego's job is to make sure you do not free yourself from its world of the mind. It does not want you awake and present. As I have said in one of my books, the ego will create one thousand problems, so that it can find one thousand solutions. It is never ending.
The only way out is to enter more fully into the present moment. As you become more present, it becomes easier to see through the tricks of the ego. And then you are no longer deceived.
Do not be against the ego in any way. Just watch the way it tries to keep you in the past and future. See through it! One very good trick it uses is to have you make sacred promises to be present. Promises involve you in the future. It has won. It has deceived you. There is no need to make any promise. Not even to God. All that is required is a gentle remembering to be present with that which is present. It is a moment-to-moment choice. There is no promise. There is just a simple choice. Will you be present in this moment or do you choose to be in the world of your own mind, which is an illusory world of thought memory and imagination.
Can you see how tricky the ego is? Another one of the ego's favorite tricks is the promise of future fulfillment. What better way is there to keep us out of the present.
Another is to keep us in the past, through regret, remorse, blame or guilt. The idea that you have made an eternal mistake is an example of this.
On the other hand, we are all living in a kind of eternal error. That error is to choose to be in the world of the mind, rather that the world of the present moment, which is the world of God. We have all made that mistake. It does not mean that we cannot correct it. But the only time we can correct it is NOW.
Rather than keep yourself locked in the past through regret, which is what the ego wants, just be grateful that you have become aware of the error and that you now have the opportunity to correct it.
Choose to be present and you correct the mistake.
You cannot change the past. You can only make wise choices for the present. And the wisest choice of all is simply to be present. That choice brings with it "a peace that passeth understanding."
But the ego is not to be condemned in any way. It is just doing its job. Bring everything into the light of consciousness. Acknowledge the ego and all the feelings, thoughts and limiting patterns and beliefs, and then return to being present.
Gradually the ego will relax. And let you be.
What must I do, what must happen, for me to AWAKEN and be free? How do I do this? Where is the moment from asleep to awake?
To live an awakened life requires a deep intention on your part to be present. Every moment you have the choice. Will you choose to be present with what is actually here now, or will you choose to be in the world of the thinking mind, which is an illusory world of thought, memory and imagination. The choice is yours. It is up to you and no one else. No guru can help you. Spiritual practices will ultimately fail. The present moment is always available. It never withdraws and it never gives up on you. It constantly re-presents itself to you. In truth it never goes away. But you have to choose it.
The more you choose Presence, the more grounded you will become in the truth and reality of the present moment. The more grounded you are in the truth and reality of the present moment, the more you will experience the sacred and the divine in those ordinary moments. If your commitment is to being present, then there will come a time when being present becomes your natural state. The present moment becomes your home and you will have short excursions into the world of the mind, but you never go so far into the mind that you will get lost.
Everything that occurs within the world of the mind is of the remembered past or imagined future. None of it is happening now. If you become identified with your thoughts, memories or imaginings, then you take yourself out of the present moment. You take yourself into an illusory world and deprive yourself of the true life, which can only be lived in this moment.
If there are any wounds or limiting patterns or beliefs from the past, which are preventing you from moving into the present moment, then they will begin to surface and it is up to you to bring them into the full light of consciousness, so that healing and release can occur within an environment of unconditional love and acceptance.
If you are still having difficulty choosing to be present, then we will have to examine more closely what your ego is up to. What is it so desperately trying to hold on to? What is it afraid of? What are its tricks and strategies to keep you in its world of the past and future? All of these things will have to be brought to the light of consciousness.
A complete absence of judgment is one of the principal keys to awakening. Examine judgment in your life. It can be very subtle.
You ask where is the moment from asleep to awake. There is only one possible answer. Here!!! Now!!! Where else can you awaken but here? And when, if not now?
Remember that in truth, there is nothing but the present moment. In truth, you can never be anywhere else. The experience of being somewhere other than in the present moment is nothing more than an illusion which is created when you enter the world of the mind, and become identified with the story that is unfolding there.
In a way, it is artificial to imagine that you can awaken in any kind of permanent way. Even permanence is an illusion. There is only NOW. And so the question that constantly arises is "Am I awake and fully present NOW? And of course, that question arises and is answered in perfect silence.
Awakening is the simplest thing in the world. It feels so much better to be present rather than in the world of the mind. The present moment is the doorway to God. The present moment IS God. Why doesn't everyone choose it?
I don't understand the aspect of sex in one's life. Should one use sex for only producing offspring or should sex be embraced freely when truly in love? Is sex a part of the lower self and in order to become the higher self, one should overcome this aspect of oneself by remaining a virgin?. Should sex be embraced in life in balance with other aspects of yourself?. What are your views on homosexuality is it natural or abnormal?
Very few people are masters of their sexual impulses and urges. The ego is often deeply involved in sexual activity and expression. Sex in today's unconscious world has very little to do with love. We are essentially using and manipulating each other with our sexuality. We are relieving ourselves from stress. We are using sexuality to avoid loneliness. We are using sex as an instrument of control and power, which is often abusive. We use sexuality as a measure of our self worth. We are often unconscious in our sexual expression. Sexuality is sometimes used to manipulate another into relationship with us.
If we are not in a state of inner balance and harmony and if we are not getting the intimacy in our lives that we need, sexual energy often becomes perverted. It begins to express itself inappropriately. I do not mean in any way to be judgmental. It is a simple observation. For example, excessive interest in pornography usually implies a certain degree of alienation in that person's life.
As we awaken, and become more present, then sexuality becomes an expression of love. The experience of being fully present with another as you make love opens both of you to a very deep sense of communion. The emphasis is no longer on orgasm and ejaculation, but rather sexuality has become an expression of love. There is such a perfect harmony in Presence that lovers relax and open up into a deep sense of Oneness. The dualities of man and woman and lover and loved are transcended as Oneness emerges from within the embrace. At the deepest level of Presence, you are not making love. You are love!!
This does not mean that if you are not fully conscious and present, you should abstain from sexual expression. Sex is just like any other aspect of your life. Take responsibility for your unconsciousness. Be aware of old wounds or limiting beliefs that play into your sexuality to prevent you from being whole and fully present. How does your parental and religious conditioning limit you? How have you been affected by social attitudes? How does the relationship between your mother and father and particularly their attitude to sexuality impact upon you?
Bring all these things to consciousness and free yourself from all limitations. You cannot bring these things to consciousness if you abstain from sex.
As you free yourself from these limiting patterns and painful; wounds from the past, then you become more present and sexuality becomes an expression of love. It is an expression of you as love.
The final part of your question is about homosexuality.
This is far more complex. Let me begin by stating that I have no judgment of homosexuals. I take no moral position, nor do I believe in sin. I do suspect, however, that some people take on a homosexual lifestyle as a result of some disturbance in their background. For example, some males might orientate themselves towards homosexuality if their mother was overly dominant and their father was weak or submissive. It leads to a kind of reversal in the context of sexual identification. However, I am sure that there are males and females whose genetic make up leads them into a homosexual orientation.
Who are we to judge them? We are far more endangered by our judgments than their sexual preferences. We all carry within us male and female hormones. These hormones don't always balance out in a perfect way. Imbalance affects sexual orientation in a way that is not yet fully understood.
The only situation I feel concerned about is when homosexual behavior arises within the context of hedonism. That is an indication that we have gone so far into unconscious pleasure seeking, that honesty, love and integrity are no longer qualities that we value. If that is the case, then consequences will flow into our lives. And we will have to live with those consequences. But that is just as true for heterosexuals as it is for homosexuals.
Can you please enlighten me about the subject of sex. I have heard many masters speak of refraining from the act of ejaculation as it dissipates our energies. Do you have any comments or advice on this subject?
It is true that ejaculation can dissipate your energy and so it is wise not to ejaculate too frequently. But this does not mean that you should abstain from sex. The ultimate mastery in the context of sexuality is not to refrain from sexual intercourse with your beloved but rather to abstain from ejaculation. You can be with your partner and she can have multiple orgasms whilst you have none.
If you are fully present and in a state of communion with her, it will be just as ecstatic and fulfilling for you as it is for her. You will experience the joy of giving unconditionally.
In many ways, it will be more fulfilling for you than ejaculating.
When men ejaculate, there is a subtle feeling that it is all over. There is a tendency to want to disconnect from your partner. When you do not ejaculate, a feeling of aliveness and connection continues. You are no longer a slave to your sexual urges. A sense of mastery arises in your life.
Refraining from ejaculation should be balanced with the body's need to ejaculate. Every now and then, let yourself go. Relax fully into it. How often you do this is up to you. I do not believe in hard rules. Pray within for guidance.
As far as I am concerned the most important aspect of sexual expression is that you are fully present with your partner and so you enter into communion with her. You are expressing yourself as love rather than having sex.
I have said that the most important aspect of sexual expression is to be fully present. Ironically, it is much easier to refrain from ejaculation when you are fully present.
What is SPACE? Is it created?
Your question is an intriguing one.
Essentially it requires a mystical response that leads you into a direct experience of space. If you go outside at various times throughout the day and in various locations and feel the question within you, you will come closer to the answer in a mystical way. Connect with the space all around you and inside you. Be fully present with the sky. Sense the infinite nature of existence. It will be an experience in silence. It will be an experience of the infinite and the Eternal. And not one word will be spoken. Not one thought will arise. Just a sense of infinite, eternal space and an all-embracing Oneness.
Trying to define space is like trying to define God. Any attempt to do so will take you into the limited world of the thinking mind.
Space is both absolute and relative.
To the extent that it is absolute, space has always existed and will always exist. It is infinite and it is Eternal. Everything in existence came into existence and continues to exist within the context of space. Nothing can exist outside of space. And when everything ceases to exist, space will remain. Space is like the pure consciousness of God with nothing in it.
If space ceased to exist, what would remain? It would have to be nothingness. And what is space other than nothingness. Nothingness is the field into which everything arises and exists.
To the extent that space is relative, it is like time. Just like time gives us a sense of the difference between now and then, space gives us a sense of the difference between here and there.
Is space created? In its relative sense, space is created by the functioning of the mind. Ultimately it is an illusion. In its absolute sense, it is impossible to answer that question. It is like asking "If God is the Creator of everything, then who or what created God!!" God is. Space is. I am. Nothing more can be said.
In a private session, you told me that I'm not in my power and you called me a "wimp!" Well now I am willing to look at that more closely. It is hard to acknowledge, but my marriage and my work life are hitting me right in the face. I'm a doormat and I don't like it. Now that I'm willing to face this problem and do something about it are there any tips you can give me to start taking control of my power and not be a doormat? I would appreciate any comments on this matter.
To return to a full state of empowerment is rather a large topic to answer here. I suggest that you read Embracing the Present.
But for now I will share this much with you.
When you were born, you were empowered in the sense that you knew what you wanted and you knew what you did not want. And you knew how to express it. It was all very simple then. If you were hungry, you cried.
But that simple power was gradually taken from you as you learned to do what others want. You gradually lost touch with what you want and learned to put up with what you did not want. Slowly you learned to live for others rather than for yourself. You learned to live up to the expectations of others rather than remain true to yourself. You entered into the world of blame and guilt, expectation and resentment, control and manipulation.
In other words, you entered the world of the human thinking mind, prevailed over by the ego.
A return to true power involves a return to knowing what you want and what you do not want, moment to moment. It is very simple. If you are hungry, eat. If you are thirsty, drink. If you are lonely, ring up a friend for a coffee. If you are overwhelmed with too much company, then get away by yourself.
Sometimes what you want will conflict with what another wants. There is no reason why you cannot compromise and find a meeting point, which makes all parties happy, as long as you are not compromising to a point where you are no longer getting what you want, or having to accept what you do not want.
When I speak of knowing what you want and acting upon that knowing, I am not speaking of desire for things in the future. True power arises in knowing what you want now, and having that fulfilled now.
The final thing I would add is that true power is best combined with wisdom.
True power is expressed in the sentence.
"I know what I want. I know what I do not want. And I am clear in expressing it."
Wisdom is expressed in the following two sentences.
"What I want is constantly changing, so I am not attached to the outcome! " and "If I am free to have and to do as I want, so are others, and so I would not impose upon others what I want, nor would I allow others to impose upon me what they want."
I was brought up a Catholic, and have always had the idea of God being a vast "super power" whom I could pray to. Now, I don't understand the notion of God at all and how to pray. I am told that "I am God" yet it is so hard for me to make sense of this because I have always thought of God as outside of me. How can I accept that this sense of "ME" is God when it clearly feels like it isn't? How do I pray? If I am God, then me praying to myself seems a bit silly.
Either we believe in God or we know God. If we are to know God, we will have to come fully into the present moment where God is.
God is real. God is here now. God is ever present. But we are not. Mostly we exist within the world of the thinking mind, which is a world of the remembered past and imagined future. We enter the world of the mind whenever we think. It is a world of thought, memory, imagination, concept idea, opinion and belief. When we are in the world of the mind, we are not here now and so we miss the truth of life and the truth of God, which is always of the present moment.
God cannot be known with the mind. At the level of mind, we create God in our own image and we try to personalize God, so that we will have something we can believe in. As long as we believe in God, we will never come to know God through our own direct experience.
In the truth and reality of the present moment, God is everything and everything is God. There is nothing that is not God. Even nothing is God. The present moment is the doorway to God. The present moment is God. When we are fully present, we experience God, but we cannot define God or even think about God.
In the direct experience of God, we are in total silence. We are fully immersed in the moment of NOW. All separation dissolves and only Oneness is. Only God is. Only the Eternal is. And yet there are no thoughts. Just a silent knowing that you are in God and God is in you and that you are now in Heaven on Earth.
The living Presence of God is revealed when we become so fully present that we emerge from the thinking world of the mind into God's world of NOW.
At the deepest level of Presence, there is no separation. There is no individuality. Prayer to God is meaningless. Who is there to pray? Who is there to pray to? There is only Oneness.
But you will not always exist at this level of Presence and Oneness. When you are functioning as an individual within the world of time, then you have the opportunity to experience your self and to experience God. That is a blessing. Be grateful. Express the love and the gratitude you feel. It is not that you are separate from God. You are still in Oneness but there is enough of a distinction to allow you to express your feelings of love and gratitude. This kind of prayer usually has the effect of bringing you into the Oneness and the Presence. And then the prayer stops all by itself as you enter effortlessly into silence.
If you venture too far into the world of the mind, so that you become disconnected from the present moment, and identified with the unfolding story within time, then the ego is back in control, and you will have no alternative but to believe in God, because the direct experience of God will not be available to you.
I have run into the most intense frustration ever since I was introduced to the Advaita Vedanta community. I just can't "get" what they are saying. They say that there is nothing "to get" - just wake up and you're enlightened!!!. I realize we are all ONE, yet I still feel that I am an individual being. I feel such pressure to try to eradicate the notion that I am an individual. I try to force myself to see that I am the same being as everyone else. I have not slept a decent night's sleep in three months and have the worst kind of headaches and full body energy spasms because I don't know how to be "me", since I am told there is no "me". I no longer know how to "be" because my mind keeps coming in and saying "no, this is wrong, you are not enlightened, you are still believing that you are an individual".
You are lost in a deep misunderstanding. Your confusion arises because there are different levels of consciousness available to us at any given point of time, and what is true for you will depend on which level of consciousness you are functioning at.
The Advaita teaching is essentially true. It refers to the deepest level of consciousness. And the Advaita Teachers are trying to make it easy for you. They are saying that what you seek, you already are. Just wake up and be that. Then you will be in the truth of life. You will be enlightened. You will be in Oneness and timelessness and so there is no soul, no journey, no separation, no seeking and no finding. Everything dissolves in the moment of NOW. All that exists is you in this moment and no other.
The reason that they are trying to make it simple for you is that the dimension of you which seeks to become enlightened is the ego and the ego will never arrive at that which it is seeking. There needs to be a relaxation, a letting go. That which you seek, you already are, and it is the seeking and striving and trying that keeps you future and goal orientated and away from the doorway to truth, which is the present moment.
When you are fully awake, there is nothing left of you from the past and nothing of you projecting into the future. You are utterly here now.
This is the awakened state. It is an exalted state of consciousness.
At the deepest level of this state, separation dissolves and you enter into Oneness. Occasionally, through Grace, the sense of your self as an individual dissolves completely and all that exists is perfect Eternal Presence, Love and Oneness.
But you cannot ask or expect the ego to be this. This awakened state of consciousness exists at a level that is transcendent of the ego. When the ego is exposed to this information, it creates a desire in the ego for something that is impossible. It accentuates the ego's sense of unworthiness and supports the ego's desire to escape from itself. All of this has the effect of strengthening the ego, which thrives in an environment of fear and rejection. The ego can never awaken. The ego can never arrive at the goal. Awakening occurs when the ego is transcended.
So the question arises as to how to awaken into the full consciousness of Being. If you cannot do it, then how is it accomplished? A relaxation must occur. You simply bring yourself out of the world of the mind and the ego by becoming fully present. The key is to bring yourself fully present with that which is already present. Eventually you will know yourself as the one who exists in this moment and no other. Then you are awake in the truth of life.
But who is awake? I AM. And then there is only silence. No more words. No more thoughts. No more concepts. Not even about nothingness. Just full awakened all embracing Eternal Silent Presence. It is the Presence of pure consciousness.
But if you awaken into this level of fully awakened consciousness, you cannot function in the world. Quite literally, there is no time. And there is no YOU to function in the world. You would need a team of caretakers to take care of you.
Very few souls have awakened to this level and remained there. Sooner or later, a sense of individuality is restored to allow them to function within the world of time.
This does not mean that the ego is restored to dominance in their lives. The ego is still there, but it is surrendered. There is nothing wrong with the ego. In fact, to deny the ego its place in your life is to invite it to function unconsciously.
This has happened to many of the Masters who have appeared on the earth. The denial of their own ego and their human-ness has led them into aberrant behavior. Sexual, psychological and physical abuse is common in the world of the Masters. Manipulation of the seeker's ego by the Master's ego is also commonplace. Those who declare themselves God are completely unaware that it is the ego within them that is doing so.
To anyone who declares themselves God, I would ask, "Who is God?" The only possible answer is "I AM." And then only silence remains.
It is the same with enlightenment. To anyone who declares themselves enlightened, I would ask, "Who is enlightened?" The only possible answer is "I AM." And then only silence remains.
Silence and Presence is your true nature. Pure consciousness is your true nature. I AM Presence is your true nature. It is impersonal.
But that does not mean that you cannot also exist at the personal level. At the personal level you are a personal expression of the Impersonal. You are a personal expression of God. This is the whole point of our journey.
It is an absurdity to try to rid our selves of the personal and human aspects of our existence. That would be against the will of God. What is required is that we awaken into the impersonal dimension of existence and that we recognize that Impersonal dimension as the truth of who we are and allow that to be the foundation of our lives. We will never again become identified with the world of illusion. We will never again believe in the past and future world of the mind as the truth of life.
In truth, there is no life outside of this moment and we can relax into that simple truth. As long as you are well established in Presence, and as long as you are not identified with life at the level of the personal, then the ego will not present any problem. There is nothing wrong with the ego as long as it is surrendered, and it will only relax and surrender if certain conditions are met.
The first condition is that you must be genuinely established in a state of silence and Presence, to the extent that that level of consciousness is always available. It never goes away and so the ego can depend on that. This will overcome much of the fear that drives and motivates the ego, because, when you are fully present, you exist as love, strength, acceptance and compassion. This is just what the ego needs if it is to truly surrender.
This makes the fulfillment of the second condition of surrender possible. The ego will not surrender if it detects that there is any judgment arising within you. The ego is programmed to know that the true Master, arising from within, is completely without judgment.
The ego is afraid of annihilation. It is afraid of judgment, which leads to annihilation. The ego must be unconditionally loved and accepted into a state of surrender. That includes all the feelings and emotions and character traits associated with the ego. To deny the ego, or to try to eliminate the ego in any way is a judgment of it, and so awakening will be impossible.
The ego is a trickster. When your mind tells you that you are not enlightened because you are still an individual, it is the ego trying to trick you, so that you do not become present. It has no intention of allowing itself to disappear, but it creates fear, doubt and conflict by telling you that that is what should happen. This is a very effective strategy to keep you out of the present moment and in the world of the mind, where it prevails. Next time the ego intervenes in this way, just be gentle with it and reassure that you love it, and that it is important and that it will not be annihilated. It will relax and then you can be more fully present. Do not try to eliminate your individuality. It is most unhelpful. In fact, in the context of awakening, do not try to do anything at all. Just be fully present and the truth will be revealed.
In your introduction on the web site, you talk about "a total absence of judgment" as the second step in awakening. I find this very hard. I have experienced how judgment hurts me and others. Yet it is so very hard to overcome judgment in my life. Any suggestions that you have will be greatly appreciated.
It would be very helpful for you to read my three books as I provide detailed guidance in the books as to how to overcome feelings of anger, resentment, blame, guilt and judgment. I also offer guidance on how to be more fully present which is of fundamental importance in overcoming these feelings.
I am happy to offer some guidance here though.
Here are some suggestions.
Decide that you are no longer going to be judgmental. You will neither judge others nor allow yourself to be affected by the judgments of others. It is a decision you make and an intention you adhere to.
This does not mean that judgment will simply stop. Old habits die hard. Bring awareness to judgment every time it arises within you. Do not judge it or try to stop it. Do not be afraid to express the judgment, but be sure that you do not direct it onto any one else. It is helpful to hear your own judgments expressed aloud. Express the judgment in a light hearted way. Do not take it too seriously. If you do this, without believing in any of it, you will see the absurdity of it. You will probably begin to laugh. Once you have identified the judgment, simply let it go. The judgments are not true. All they do is keep you in separation.
It is sometimes helpful to exaggerate the judgment. Find creative ways to exaggerate the judgments within you. You will know you are on the right track if you start laughing. For example, you could walk around judging everything in the garden. Make this a daily meditation for a week. Once again, it is a light-hearted approach. Just because judgment keeps us in eternal separation (hell) does not mean we should take it too seriously.
Do not judge the judgment. That is like a double bind that locks you further into it. Do not take it too seriously. It is the nature of the ego to judge. It is up to you to see through it and to demonstrate to the ego that you are beyond judgment and will not even judge the judgment of the ego.
You cannot really transcend anything unless you have the dimension of Being available to you. Choose to be present more often in your life. As you choose to be more present, you will open into that dimension of you which is your Being. It is that dimension of you that lives in this moment and no other. At the level of Being, there is no judgment.
There is a story in one of my books about Adam & Eve. I will include that here in the hope that you will find it interesting and perhaps helpful.
Adam and Eve
In Genesis, we are told that Adam and Eve were ejected from the Garden of Eden because they had eaten of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of what is good and evil. To decide what is good and evil is a judgment. It is judgment that resulted in the ejection of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. It is judgment that prevents their return.
God had warned them against judgment. Now judgment had taken them into the world of duality. It had taken them out of the Mind of God into a world of their own minds. They had chosen to separate from God and go their own way. Now they are condemned to live in a world of their own creation.
Adam and Eve exist within each one of us. It is a story that reflects our original state of consciousness. It reflects our original state of Being. We began in the Garden of Eden. We began in a state of innocence. We began in the Mind of God. Now we are separated from God. We are fallen from God and the only thing which keeps us fallen is our continuing judgment.
When we come to recognize that judgment is the original sin that led us astray, we can begin the long and delicate process of transcending judgment in our lives. When we have transcended judgment completely, we will find that we have been restored to God. We have been returned to the Garden of Eden. We have found our way home.
But to our utter amazement we will find that the Garden of Eden no longer exists within the mind of God. That which began as an image in the mind of God has been manifested into physical form. The Mind of God has given birth to the Body of God. The Garden of Eden now exists in physical form. It is our planet Earth. When we awaken fully into the present moment, we will realize that we have come home. In fact, we have always been home. But like Adam and Eve, we have abandoned God and the Garden of Eden by journeying into the illusory world of our own minds.
The Advaitists believe in a Self or Brahman (hence "Self-realization) but the Buddhists deny any Absolute, but both believe in Enlightenment. Are they different Enlightenments or just different paths at reaching the same goal? Is there any real difference between the two?
Any belief, whether it is a Buddhist belief or an Advaita belief is not the truth, for the truth is beyond belief.
There is only one awakened state. It does not matter whether you call it enlightenment, self-realization or anything else. In the fullness of NOW, there is only Silence. There is only Pure Consciousness, which exists as an all-embracing, ever present, eternal Silence, transcendent of, but also inclusive of, all form and content. The silent Presence and Pure Consciousness I speak of is not separate from existence but is at the very heart of existence. It is at the very heart of all that is.
At the deepest level of Presence and Consciousness, the truth is revealed. But it is revealed in Silence. When we emerge from the silence and the Presence, enough to use words of description, then the mind is back and how the mind defines and describes the experience will, to some degree, depend on the unique culture and language of our times and our past experience and spiritual conditioning.
If you and I are fully awake in the Eternal moment of NOW, our experience will be the same, just as it was the same for Buddha, Jesus, Lao Tzu, and Ramana Maharshi. They might have spoken about it differently. They might have shared what they had experienced using different language and methodology. But the experience was the same. How could it be otherwise? How can the experience of Silence and nothingness differ from individual to individual. It is impossible. The very nature of silence and nothingness determines that there can be no variation. In silence and Presence we enter into Oneness, Love and Truth.
The less the mind is involved in the expression of truth, the more you will find that same truth is being expressed in the same way. The ultimate form of communion occurs in Silence or in words spoken from Silence.
I am in a dysfunctional relationship that causes me a lot of pain, and is very disturbing to my emotional balance, but I find it very difficult to leave her. What am I afraid of?
The deepest fear we have is the fear of being alone. It is a fear of isolation. A fear of separation. The source of the fear is our original separation from God, love and Presence. We try to escape this fear by having someone in our life who we believe will be here for us. It helps us to avoid the feeling of separation. But it does not really work, at least not for long. Instead, our partner reflects to us all the old wounds and unfulfilled needs within us which are still in need of healing and release. We are also forced to face our limiting beliefs, our judgments and our control patterns.
Eventually we will have to awaken out of these old wounds and limitations and live more fully in the present moment. It is only Presence that truly dissolves the subtle feelings of separation.
From a place of Presence, we can enter into relationship, but when we do, we make Presence the foundation of our being together. True companionship, and the opportunity to express love, caring and kindness become the real value of relationship.
If God and Oneness is the foundation of our existence, then why does the ego exist? What exactly is the ego?
When you were born into the physical world, you were fully present, even though you were only a tiny baby. However, you came into a world where most people, including your parents, lived and functioned within the limited world of the mind. To a large extent they were unconscious. They were not fully present.
As a result, you were hurt over and over again. Your needs were not met in a way that would have helped you to relax and feel safe. You got angry in an attempt to get what you want, but that too was not allowed.
It was all too much for you to bear and so the ego gradually developed as a way to protect yourself from the fear and hurt and anger. Essentially, the ego is an aspect of your personality, which becomes a kind of overseer of your internal experience and it also is in charge of how you relate to the outside world.
Its role is to manage the repression and denial of unpleasant and unsafe feelings, like rejection, unworthiness, isolation etc. It also develops strategies for coping in an unconscious world.
All of this is occurring within the world of the mind, so that as the ego develops, you are being absorbed into the world of the mind, just as your parents were, many years before you.
As you mature, the ego becomes stronger and more sophisticated and the distinction between the truth of who you really are, and the ego, becomes more and more blurred. After a while the ego thinks it is you, and so the game becomes one of protecting itself and its role as your protector.
If it is going to successfully protect you against hurt and rejection, and if it is going to successfully develop strategies to gain you love, acceptance and recognition, it will have to be in control of you and everything in your life. Every experience has to be filtered through the world of the mind. Eventually it becomes addicted to the power of control, and it becomes very unwilling to surrender that control.
The ego can only be in control of what it knows and everything it knows is based on past remembering or future imagining. The one thing the ego does not know is the present moment, and so it will resist your becoming fully present. Indeed, it has a very effective bag of tricks to keep you in its world of past and future thought, which will in turn prevent you from entering fully into the present moment. If you do become fully present (awake in the world of NOW) it will not allow you to remain there.
The ego does not mind you being on a spiritual path, because it loves to acquire spiritual knowledge. From the ego's perspective, enlightenment is the ultimate accomplishment, even above fame and fortune. But the ego's desire for enlightenment dissolves very quickly if it comes to recognize that to be awake and enlightened means that you will become fully present.
When you become fully present, it is a kind of death for the ego, and even if you successfully reassure it that it is not dying, it is still very unwilling to surrender its role as protector and controller. The ego is sitting in the throne of God and it loves it.
The transition from the world of the present moment into the world of the mind and ego occurs during the first four or five years of life. Essentially it is a transition from Oneness into separation.
This transition into the world of the mind is a reflection of a similar and more traumatic transition that occurred at some time in your soul's past. It is a movement into separation that occurred at many levels and dimensions of your multi-dimensional existence.
Why would this occur? The answer to this question is complex. It has to do with the Eternal dilemma of God. I do not want to go into too much detail, but I speak on this topic in my third book, Bridging Heaven & Earth.
Let me just say here that the only way the Creator can experience the Creation is within the dance of duality.
That which exists in perfect Oneness can never know itself, for to know Oneself requires the existence of the knower and the known. If God exists as Oneness and Is-ness, then God cannot know God's self.
Thus there was a journey from Oneness into separation, so that Oneness could eventually know itself. It is within the context of duality that knowing arises. The original duality exists in the movement from Oneness into separation. This makes possible all other aspects of duality. Some of the more significant aspects of duality are God as Creator and God as Creation, light and dark, creation and destruction, birth and death and of course, the duality of past and future, which gives rise to the existence of time.
The separation I am speaking of exists within different dimensions. In each of these dimensions, there is a Custodian of the separation. In the context of life lived in physical form, the ego is the anointed custodian of the separation.
To awaken simply means to awaken out of the past and future world of the thinking mind into the truth and reality of the present moment which is the world of NOW. If you truly awaken, the ego will relax and surrender and allow you to become more and more present. As you awaken, separation dissolves and you are restored into Oneness.
At the deepest levels of Presence, you will find yourself in the eternal dilemma of God. For when you are fully present, you are in perfect silence and Oneness, and so once again, you will not know who you are!
What causes physical illness? Is it state of mind, random factors, external influences, karma, past lives, or biochemical? Is it all of the above? Is it different for each of us?
I think you have answered your own question. It really is all of the above. However, there are some significant factors, which I would like to mention here.
One significant factor is that, if we ignore emotional dis-ease, it will most likely manifest as physical disease or illness. For example if you carry resentment within you for a long period of time, then that will have an impact upon your body and will eventually create physical dis-ease. It is the same with repressed hurt and anger. And guilt!
If the body has to carry all these repressed and unresolved feelings within it, eventually it will show the signs of that burden. That is why it is so valuable to live more fully in the present moment. To continually release the past and live more fully in the present moment is very supportive of a healthy body.
As for Karmic factors, the most important aspect in this regard is to learn those lessons that will heal your soul and release it from its Karmic history. Any conflict or disharmony in your life is a good indicator of those lessons. Sometimes a past life can be at the root of a physical illness and it is necessary to bring that past life to consciousness before a healing can occur. That healing can occur at the soul level as well as at the emotional and the physical level and is sometimes quite miraculous.
I once worked with a woman with an inoperable brain tumor. Her life expectancy was very short. When she uncovered a past life, which involved extreme guilt in that past lifetime, her brain tumor disappeared. It is interesting to note that there had been a significant re-creation of guilt in this lifetime, but healing that was not enough. The true source of her dis-ease was in another lifetime.
There are many factors involved in physical illness.
What you eat and how you eat has a direct impact upon your state of health. Your state of mind is obviously a significant factor. If you are constantly stressed or anxious, that will affect you.
If the inner environment is still and quiet and in a state of harmony, obviously that will promote physical well being. If you consistently release the past from you, there is no burden for your body to carry and so nothing accumulates.
On the other hand, if you accumulate the past within you, it becomes an increasingly intolerable burden for your body to bear and eventually it weakens, and illness or dis-ease sets in.
Sometimes illness is simply a result of environmental factors. I worked with a woman who had extreme toxic poisoning from the environment. This had nothing to do with her state of mind. Did her karmic history play a part in her being subjected to the poisoning in the first place? Possibly! But that was not revealed in my work with her.
Another client had been involved in a series of serious motor accidents several years earlier, and she experienced some permanent disability as a result of those accidents. In working with her, it was revealed that her karmic history played into these events, as did her unconscious resistance to actually being here on the earth plane. At an unconscious level, she wanted to leave, which somehow played into her involvement in the accident.
It is difficult to generalize. It really depends on each individual as to which causative factors are prominent. It is even possible that illness is simply a sign that the body is cleansing.
One thing is sure though. Whatever the cause of illness or disease, the actual experience of the illness or dis-ease provides an opportunity for healing and evolving at the level of soul. What is your relationship to the illness and to your body during the illness? How do you respond? Some people find great inner strength in the face of illness. Some people's lives are transformed in a way that is profoundly healing for the soul, even if it sometimes does not lead to the healing of the physical body.
Do you feel that there is any usefulness in numerology and astrology on a practical level?
Anything that helps you to focus your consciousness is helpful. Anything that supports self-enquiry is helpful. Any thing that supports you in embracing true responsibility is helpful. Anything that supports your awakening and helps you to live more fully in the present moment is helpful.
Astrology and numerology can be helpful in all of these ways, in the sense that they raise issues and perspectives and possibilities that you might not otherwise have become aware of. They open you to the more mystical aspects of life, where life is both profoundly mysterious and yet at the same time, divinely ordered.
On the other hand, astrology and numerology can foster a kind of dependency on things outside of you. They can support the illusion that truth and authority is somehow outside of you. They can also foster belief in illusion. After all, in the fully awakened state, there is only the moment of now. Astrology and numerology keep us involved in the world of time and the world of cause and effect.
Even if astrology and numerology are useful, you will eventually arrive at a point where you need to surrender all forms to enter fully into the awakened state. This is true whether the form is astrology or numerology or some other spiritual practice or discipline. Ultimately, even the practice of meditation is surrendered into the moment of now.
In a recent awakening experience, I had the utter realization that there was no "I" and that there was also no other. I saw that my personal identity was simply a set of ideas and beliefs. I also saw that there is no free will, other than the divine. There is no "I" to do anything, but in your books, you talk of free will and making choices. Can you please explain this apparent contradiction. I also saw that I could not choose that awakening experience, or do anything to get it, unless the divine wanted me too. As simply as my awakening came, it went! Now my ego is back feeling all the familiar fear, worry and concern. Please comment.
First, your description of what you experienced is a very beautiful and accurate description of an awakening. I know exactly what you are speaking of. At the very deepest level of awakened Presence, which is the level you experienced, there is no separation. There is just a total immersion into the moment of now. All sense of your self as an individual existing outside of this moment disappears. Indeed, there is no world outside this moment. And so who will choose. At this level, the notion of free will is simply irrelevant. It is neither true, nor is it untrue.
But there are different levels of consciousness that we function at. At the level of mind, we do have free will. We exercise free will constantly and we have to live with the consequences that inevitably flow from our choices and our actions. Most of us are not very adept at connecting the consequences with the choices. It is by connecting the consequence with the choice that we evolve. We bring consciousness to the choices we make. Essentially, I am speaking about the law of karma.
By connecting the choices with the consequences, we will eventually be led to the primary and fundamental choice. Do we choose to live in the truth and reality of the present moment, where God is the Creator or do we choose to live in the illusory world of the mind, where we are the creator? The consequences that flow from this choice are radically different.
In a sense, we have been given free will to lead us to a point where we happily surrender our will to the will of God. What I am speaking of is expressed in the parable of the prodigal son.
For most people, this fundamental choice is not available to them simply because they have not experienced the awakened state and it can only be known through direct experience. You cannot choose something you do not know.
It was by grace that the direct experience of truth and God awakened within you in the way that it did. What you experienced was a state of liberation from the limited world of the mind. You experienced life and truth in the fullness of NOW!
What you experienced can never be lost. But it can be obscured. If you find yourself again caught in the world of the mind and ego, it simply means that God wants you to do the work. You are being called upon to become conscious of how you become lost in the world of the mind. You are being called upon to bring full consciousness to who you have become at the level of mind/ego. You are being called upon to find the way through from mind to Being, so that you will never again become enslaved by the ego or imprisoned within the world of the mind. You are being called upon to bring full consciousness to the choices you make.
Each moment of our lives is being orchestrated by God, even if we are not aware of it. The intention behind that orchestration is to awaken each and every one of us, by bringing to us an awareness of the fundamental choice. Do we choose to be awake in the truth and reality of life lived now. Or do we choose to live in the illusory world of the mind.
Once we truly choose the present moment, a gradual shift takes place. It is an evolutionary shift. We begin to deepen into Presence. We become more grounded in Presence. And then everything changes. We are no longer caught within the world of the mind and under the absolute control of the ego. More and more we experience freedom and the truth of life. More and more, we feel that we are living in Heaven on Earth.
As I have said,, there is one fundamental choice that affects all other choices and that is the choice to bring ourselves into the present moment. To bring ourselves present is like bringing ourselves before God and declaring. I am here now. Do with me as you will!"
In my experience the following passage from your book, Words from Silence is perfect...
Once again, if you are fully awake in the moment of now, there is nothing to heal, simply because in the fullness of the present moment, there is no past.
But if you find it difficult to remain present, then you will have to attend to the past. Many of us are carrying repressed emotions within us from childhood. Many of us are carrying repressed memories of unhealed emotional wounds or traumas from childhood and sometimes from past lives.
As long as these things are repressed within you, they will be activated from time to time, pulling you out of Presence or simply preventing you from being present.
The ego will be constantly on alert to protect you against a recurrence of these painful experiences. And if the ego is on alert, it will keep you in the world of the mind.
These emotions and memories need to be allowed to surface into the light of consciousness for healing and release. When this occurs, we can say that the past is released from you and you are released from the past. This allows you to deepen and settle into the present moment.
If you can remain present in all the activities of your daily life and in your relationships with others, so that you are constantly in a state of silence, love, acceptance, peace and inner harmony, then obviously there is no need for healing. If your ego is largely surrendered and inactive, so that it no longer insists on being in control of your life, there is no need for healing. If you have absolutely no fear arising and no desire that takes you out of the present moment, then there is no need for healing. If you exist without any kind of judgment, either towards yourself or others, then there is no need for healing.
There is a tendency on the part of those who have had a profound experience of enlightenment to deny the human aspects of their existence. The real question is not whether you have had an enlightenment experience, but whether you are able to remain awake in all the circumstances of your life. If you are not, it means that you must attend to the healing of the past.
It does not mean that your awakening was not full, whole and complete. What you experienced was total liberation and the truth of life and God. Everything that was revealed to you was true. There is no separate self. There is no need for healing. There is no choice. There is only the moment of now and the eternal Presence of God and oneness.
But that is only true when you are fully awake in the moment of now.
If you find yourself back in the world of the mind, then a different set of laws apply and an entirely different approach is necessary. Healing is necessary. Right understanding is necessary. Right relationship with the ego is necessary. Right relationship with the past is necessary. It is all necessary if you are to become fully and permanently established in the awakened state of Presence.
You have to own who you at the level of mind/ego if you want to own the truth of who you really are in Presence and Oneness. This is extremely paradoxical, because when you are fully awake, the world of the mind and ego is revealed as illusory in nature.
The paradox is best expressed in the following sentence.
"We are on a journey of becoming that which we already are."
Our task is to resolve this impossible paradox.
Be grateful that God has given you an experience of the awakened state and has revealed the truth of who you really are. Now you have to do the work.
I do not see healing as being in any way a psychological process. It is important to realize that in the process of healing and release, you are not trying to get rid of anything. You are not trying to analyze anything. You are not even trying to fix anything.
All that is really happening is that you are allowing to surface into consciousness all those painful emotions and memories that have been repressed by you because they were too painful to experience at the time. Everything in existence has a right to exist, including feelings of hurt and anger. If in the past, you denied those feelings their right to exist, then you must correct that and allow those feeling to surface into conscious expression. Then they will relax. They will dissolve. And you will be released from the past into deeper levels of Presence.
In the process of awakening, nothing can remain hidden. Every aspect of your ego, including the so-called negative traits must be brought to consciousness and owned, accepted and confessed if you are to gain liberation from domination of the ego. In other words, you must own who you are not, if you are to awaken into the truth of who you are. This is another impossible paradox!
Could you shed some light on how Heaven on Earth manifests for us?
Heaven on Earth manifests to the extent that you are present. The more fully present you are with what is here, the more Heaven on Earth reveals itself. It is not just being present. It is being present in a silent, loving embrace of all that is here with you.
If you are in a garden, be utterly present with whatever is in the garden. Be present with the tree. Be are present with the flowers. Feel the presence of everything in the garden. Feel the presence of the sky. Be present with the sound of the birds. When you are deeply present with everything in the garden and your heart is open in love and gratitude, then Heaven on Earth will reveal itself. And you will find yourself in Oneness, deeply immersed in the mystery of God's existence.
Question: Does this occur after years of practice?
Answer: No, it is right here now. It is available to you in this moment. Everything that is present has a Presence. God exists as the silent Presence at the very heart of all things present. If you want to experience God and Heaven on Earth, you will have to bring yourself fully present with what is actually here now. It is here in the flowers next to me. It is here in this chair. It is even here in the box of tissues on the table. Everything in physical form is the body of God. Bring yourself present with the body of God. It is the deepest form of prayer. When you are fully present in this way, the world that is not of this moment has disappeared. There are no thoughts which take you out of this moment into the remembered past or imagined future. You have transcended fear and desire and judgment. You have surrendered completely into the moment of Now.
Being present in the way that I am describing is not difficult but you must know the Way.
It is a pathless path. It is full of paradox and pitfalls along the way. You have to be very careful when it comes to spiritual concepts and practices. It is the ego which sets off on the spiritual path. The ego loves to become spiritualized. It loves to acquire spiritual knowledge. It would dearly love to be regarded as enlightened. For the ego, it is the ultimate accomplishment. And so the ego will diligently apply itself to spiritual practice in order to get somewhere or to achieve something. But that which the ego is seeking is already here. The seeking takes you further away from the present moment. It takes you into the world of the mind and all the possibilities of future fulfillment. But the promise of future fulfillment is a lie. The promise of enlightenment in the future is a lie. You can only be fulfilled now. You are enlightened only to the extent that you are fully awake and present in the moment of now.
To liberate your self from the illusory world of the mind and ego and become fundamentally established in Presence is the greatest challenge and the greatest opportunity facing humanity. In fact, it is our only hope if we are to survive as a species upon this planet. To awaken into the present moment is like coming home. It is like waking up out of a long dark dream and finding yourself in Heaven on Earth. It is the completion of your soul's journey.
How do we deal with difficult emotions like sadness, hurt and anger, and how do these repressed emotions affect our capacity to be present?
To the extent that you have past emotions repressed within you, you cannot become permanently established in Presence. You can be present for short periods of time, but soon, those repressed emotions will be triggered, and you will be pulled back into the past and future world of the mind. The past will come flooding in to distort the truth and reality of the present moment. If you are to awaken and become permanently established in Presence, you will have to go through a process of allowing these repressed emotions into conscious and responsible expression. It is not difficult and it should not take very long, once you learn the art of being fully present, and once you come into right relationship with your feelings.
When you came into this world, you were a very present little Being. But you came into a world where no one was really present. To varying degrees, your mother and father were unconscious, wounded, and lost in the world of the mind. Very simply, they were unable to be present with you to the extent that you needed them to be in order for you to feel safe in such a new and strange environment. And so, during those early formative years, your needs were not being met. You felt hurt over and over again. And in response to feeling hurt, you became angry. But you soon discovered that these feelings of need, hurt and anger were either too much to bear or were simply not allowed, and so you began the process of repressing them within you. They gradually accumulated into reservoirs of repressed feelings held within the body and now they are constantly being triggered in reaction to events in your day to day living and in your relationship with others. These repressed feelings project onto the present moment and distort your sense of what is really happening. To the extent that you believe in the story behind the emotions, you are caught in your own past, and lost in a world of illusion. You are not in the truth of life. Your experience of life is delusional. If you are to liberate yourself from these projections from the past, you will have to go through a process of allowing these repressed emotions to surface into the light of consciousness.
When emotions arise, do not have the sense that you are trying to get rid of these feelings. You are simply inviting everything that is repressed within you to arise. The feelings will surface with a story from the past. It is important that you do not believe in the story, and yet you must allow the story to emerge. It is as though you are playing two parts. On the one hand, you are needy, sad, hurt, or angry and you express it fully and authentically. On the other hand, you are fully present as the feelings arise. You are witnessing the whole event as it emerges from within you, and you know that it does not have anything to do with the present moment. You know that it is simply the past emerging for completion. If anything, you are mildly amused by the whole experience. This is not therapy. You are not trying to fix anything or get rid of anything. You are simply correcting the earlier decision that you made as a child to repress difficult feelings. You denied those feelings the right to exist. And now you are restoring to those feelings their right to exist and express. But as an awakening adult, you do so responsibly. Do not dump the feelings on anyone. These feelings need you to be present with them as they surface and express, and they need to arise and express within an environment of love and acceptance. They need to be allowed to be themselves as they express. Anger needs to be allowed to blame and cuss and kill in response to feeling hurt. Allow it full expression. But do not identify with it. Do not believe in the story. Exaggerate it until you begin laughing. Anger repressed leads to violence and abuse of others. Anger expressed responsibly leads to laughter, forgiveness and compassion. If sadness arises, then cry. It will soon pass and be replaced by joy. Do not be afraid of your feelings. They cannot hurt you, and if you accept full responsibility for your feelings, they will never lead you to hurt or abuse others. And your body will be extremely grateful to you for relieving it of the burden of having to store these repressed and painful emotions for you.
Q: It seems to be easier to be present when I am in a beautiful place, a quiet place. Would you say something about moving through daily life, and bringing the quality of Oneness and Presence into everyday life?
L: It is like we live in two different dimensions. There is the dimension of awakened presence which is essentially eternal. At the deepest level, it is beyond time. It is impersonal. There is no world outside of the moment. At this level, your question is irrelevant, because there is no time. There is only now. You need at least three caretakers if you happen to awaken to this deep level of eternal Presence. It is an exalted state. It is total immersion in the moment of now. But you cannot function in the If any of us have 5 minutes, or one minute, in this eternal dimension, our lives are never going to be the same again. Everything is transformed, almost instantly in that opening into the eternal. That can occur right now in this moment. The eternal simply means I am in a dimension beyond time. I am so utterly of this moment that time, the past and future are not here. And of course at that level there is no thought, just silence. All thought takes you into the world of the mind which is the world of time.
We live in two dimensions so that you cannot function in the world of time at this very deep level. I suggest we open into this eternal dimension, the impersonal, the I am, the pure consciousnedss and we allow that to become fuller and fuller within us, we relax more ihto this so it becomes the very founcdation of who I am. I know this dimension of me is the truth. This is the truth of me and life in this moment is the truth of life. There really is no deviation from that. I am that. When I do move into the world of experience, mind, time, the ego gradually gently comes to a place of surrender. It relaxes. As you deepen into presence and as you bring to it unconditional love, acceptance and allowing, the ego starts to relax. Then more and more you are able to express in the world, driving a car, making love, going shopping, you are fundamentally present. There is not much thought happening unless thought is appropriate. When it is no longer appropriate it stops and you are present again. Now what you are is a personal expression of that impersonal dimension of you at the very deepest level of your existence. Another way of putting it is now you are an individual expression of God, or oneness. No longer functioning at the level of mind/ego, you are a personal expression of impersonal. That means that in your expression of the impersonal you are expressing all those qualities of the impersonal. All those qualities of God, love, presence, silence, power, truth, compassion. These are all the qualities that begin to express through you as you become a personal expression of the impersonal, rather than an expression of the ego at the level of mind. It is not just about awakening into presence. You better hurry up and get enlightened because that is the easy part. It has taken us about 78 lifetimes or more, maybe 780 lifetimes, it is still the easy part, because once you have awakened and you know the truth of life now, you know yourself in this moment, the question is now that I am awake how do I live in this world?
If we are present, how do we participate in the world of time?
At the very deepest level of Presence, there is no time and so you cannot function in the world of time. Quite literally, there is no past or future. You are simply immersed in Oneness and the moment of now. All sense of yourself as a separate individual has dissolved. All sense of your self from the past and future has disappeared. You are in Oneness with all that is. It is impossible to know what I am speaking of other than through your own direct experience of what I am speaking of.
At this level of Presence, you cannot function as others do within the world of time. You will need at least two caretakers to care of your day to day needs and to lovingly watch over you. This seems to be the highest level of spiritual attainment. But an even greater challenge is to master the art of balance. We must awaken so fully that we are fundamentally grounded in Presence, but we can participate in the world of time, without getting lost there.
Once you awaken, there are two worlds, the world of the present moment and the past and future world of the mind. At this stage of human evolution, we must master the art of balance and flow between these two worlds. How is this accomplished? As a part of the awakening process, we must hold the right intention. Intend to be present often enough that the present moment will become the very ground and field of your existence. This means that you will have to choose to be present many times each day. When you notice that you have drifted off into the world of thought, memory and imagination, gently bring yourself back to the present moment. You do this by bringing yourself present with that which is already present. That is the key which will liberate you from the world of the mind. If you can see, hear, feel, taste, touch or smell it, it means it is actually here now in this moment with you and so you can be present with it. To be truly present with something that is actually here now will immediately bring you out of the thinking mind into a state of silent and awakened Presence. Your second intention is that when you do play within the world of the mind, which takes you into the world of time, with all its memories, imaginings, thoughts, ideas, concepts, opinions and beliefs, you will not become identified with any of it. You will not believe in any of it as the truth. The past is gone. The future will never arrive. Only this moment is the truth of life. Your third intention is to transcend judgment in your life. The energy of judgment imprisons you in separation. To transcend judgment, simply own it, acknowledge it and confess it whenever it arises, without judgment. Your fourth intention is to live as an expression of love and truth in this world, even when you are functioning within the world of time. No longer functioning as an ego in a world of separation, your expression at the personal level, within time, is now in perfect alignment with the impersonal and eternal dimension of you. In other words, you are now a personal expression of the impersonal, and you are an expression of love, truth, acceptance and compassion.
To reach this level of consciousness is a process. You will make mistakes. You will get caught in the mind, or in emotional reaction. When you notice yourself acting or reacting from within the mind and ego, simply acknowledge it and then disengage from it, without any sense of judgment of yourself. Just notice when you are in the mind and then bring yourself present. That is the only solution. There is no other way. You may need to allow the ego its expression, for you do not want there to be any hint of judgment, repression or denial. You may need to allow emotions into conscious expression for exactly the same reason. Do not even have the sense that you need to fix or improve yourself, for that is a very subtle form of judgment. Just allow it all to surface into the bright light of consciousness. Only acknowledgment, love and acceptance of everything that you have been denying, hiding and repressing will bring about the alchemy of healing and transformation.
I have been feeling depressed and anxious lately. Can you speak about depression?
If you have been feeling depressed, it more than likely indicates that you have anger repressed within you. If you repress anger, it turns inward and it can lead to depression and anxiety. If you want to come out of the depression, you will have to learn how to express anger in a conscious and responsible way.
Whenever you feel angry, it is an indication that you are not getting what you want or you are putting up with what you don't want.
Ask yourself the following questions:Is there anything I want that I am not getting? Am I angry about that?
* Is there anything that I am putting up with that I don't want? Am I angry about that? * Did I express what I want or what I don't want in a clear and loving way? If not why not? * Do I even know what I want or what I do not want?
If you don't know what you want, or you failed to express what you want clearly and lovingly, how can you be angry at others if you do not get what you want?
The belief that you cannot have what you want, or you have to accept what you don't want, can form in early childhood, and it then affects the whole of your life. This unconscious belief is often accompanied by a subtle and constant feeling of anger. It is possible that anger has been repressed within you from early childhood.
Anger is usually a response to feeling hurt. We often feel angry as a way of avoiding the hurt.. If you want to liberate yourself from depression, you will have to liberate the feelings of anger and hurt within you. This means that you will have to feel the anger and allow it into conscious and responsible expression. Then allow the hurt or sadness to surface. Have a good cry. You will feel much better afterwards.
Right expression will clear depression.
The true expression of anger is not about catharsis. It is much more about hitting the right note. You have to allow anger its voice. You have to let anger express as anger. Anger is not nice. It likes to rant and rave and blame and hurt. You cannot express anger without swearing and blaming. Anger wants to get even. Anger is outrageous, but you cannot discover this unless you allow it full expression in a responsible way.
It is important that you do not dump your anger on anyone. Do not involve anyone else in the expression of your anger. It is usually best to go to your room, close the door, and in private, express the anger towards the one who has hurt you. Exaggerate it. Ham it up. Let anger be all that it can possibly be. Anger has a story. Express the story, but do not believe in it. The story is from the past. It has nothing to do with the present moment. If you believe in the story, you will be locked into a painful past. If you allow anger to express fully in the way that I am describing, you will start laughing.
Anger expressed consciously and responsibly leads to laughter. Anger repressed leads to illness, depression and even violence.
When you are allowing the anger to express, you are not trying to get rid of it. You are simply allowing the anger the right to exist and express as itself. The anger needs to feel accepted. If you are trying to get rid of the anger, it is a subtle form of judgment and it will not release from you.
Do not be angry towards yourself. To be angry towards your self is extremely unhelpful and unhealthy. You will have to find someone or something outside of you to substitute for yourself. You can be angry at your boss, or your mother or father, or your spouse or your children. That doesn't mean that you go up to them and involve them in the expression of anger. It has nothing to do with them. They are simply triggering anger that was already there, repressed within you. You can even be angry towards God. At least one third of the human population is angry at God, and blames God for their suffering, although it is usually at an unconscious level and rarely expressed.
You can't afford to allow anger to internalize within you. At the end of every day, get in touch with what made you angry during the day. And then take 5 or 10 minutes to express it in a responsible way. You can to make it a daily meditation. Not that you believe in it. Not that you act it out against anyone. But go to your room and swear and cuss and scream and blame and kill and maim, until laughter arises within you.
To be in touch with feelings of anger and to allow the anger conscious and responsible expression is just as important a meditation as sitting quietly and watching the breath. It is impossible to remain present if you are carrying repressed feelings of anger and rage within you.
If all that exists is Oneness, and the individual separate entity is merely an illusion, then why would it be necessary for an illusion to "own" their feelings and what they've apparently "become"? How can an illusion take any responsibility? Isn't all that is, just Oneness expressing itself?
If you are fully present and awake in Oneness, then what you say is true. In Oneness, there is no separate entity, there are no feelings from the past to own, and there is no 'becoming' when one is truly present. There is no need to take responsibility for your self and everything is Oneness expressing itself. If you can remain fundamentally present, then all these things I speak of are irrelevant.
However, if you are unable to remain fundamentally present in your day to day living and in your relationships, and if you cannot remain awake in the realization of Oneness, then you are caught in a world of separation. You are caught in the past and future world of the mind. You are caught in endless unconscious thought. Oneness is not expressing itself here. You are caught in a world of illusion.
In order to release yourself, you will have to bring that whole world of illusion, and how you are caught in it, into consciousness. This involves taking responsibility for your self at many levels. You will have to own who you have become within this world of illusion. You will have to empty out all those feelings repressed within you from your past, and particularly your childhood. You will have to see through the seduction and temptations of the ego. You will have to free yourself from the energy of judgment. You will have to bring consciousness to how you lose yourself in others.
These are all ways to bring illusion into consciousness, for it is only when illusion remains unconscious that it has any power over you. By bringing it all to consciousness, you are arising in Mastery, which is essential for true liberation.
If you are already fundamentally present and awake in Oneness as you live your life, and if your mind is mostly silent apart from those times that you are consciously choosing to think, you can ignore that part of my teaching which deals with liberating yourself from the prison that is the world of the mind and ego. You are already free.
But there are many who are not free and they would be wise to consider carefully these steps to freedom. One of the main obstacles to awakening is an ego that has ingested spiritual concepts as truth, and has become spiritualized. The most difficult illusion to overcome is the illusion that we are awake, when we are not.
I seem to have difficulty maintaining presence when I am in love relationships. What can one do to be present in relationship?
It is very common to lose yourself in love relationships. The very notion of relationship implies time. It tends to unconsciously engage us in the notion of love lasting into the future, which really conjures up all the dysfunctional aspects of relationships from the past. If you want to remain present within a relationship, you have to make being present your first priority. Both you and your partner have to make being present the foundation of your relationship. If you love someone, it is very easy to get lost in the object of your love. It is important to know that if you love someone it is because you are love. Don't fixate so much on your partner that you forget to love the trees and the sky and the flowers. And other people. At the deepest level, love is impersonal. If you go so far into personal love that you disconnect from the impersonal dimension of love, then you will lose yourself and you will lose your capacity to be present.
Relationship is a mirror. It brings to you the opportunity to look into the mirror and identify all the areas within yourself where you are still unconscious, and all the ways you lose yourself in others. If you know how to look into the mirror, you will eventually awaken.
How can I remain present and loving with my partner, when she is caught in her past, and projecting it onto me.
If your partner expects you to be here for her, or you expect her to be here for you, then you are both acting out unresolved issues from childhood. If her parents were not here for her in her early childhood, then she will be seeking that from you, which is really a projection of her unfulfilled needs from childhood onto you. If your parents were not here for you, then you will be projecting that onto her. Most relationships are based on these unconscious projections and unfulfilled needs.
In a conscious relationship, the statement is "I am not here for you, but I am here with you."
Each partner in a conscious relationship must take responsibility for these unfulfilled needs. Own them, confess them, express them if necessary, but do not identify with them. Feel all the feelings associated with these needs.
If your partner is confessing these unresolved feelings or unfulfilled needs to you, encourage her to feel and express her feelings and just be present with her. She needs you to be utterly present with her, as she confesses that which is unhealed within her. In my experience, a woman has a strong need to be heard, and she needs her partner to be truly present with her. You have to give her space to express. If she is truly on a path of awakening, that will be enough to bring consciousness to her patterns, and ultimately it is the flowering of Presence within her that will heal her.
If you react, or get caught up in your own emotions, as she is sharing, then you are still not free. You are triggered, and you will have to take responsibility for that.
At the deepest level, the real gift we bring to each other is the gift of Presence.
In a conscious relationship, the underlying intention is to bring more Presence into the relationship and to bring consciousness to whatever pulls us out of Presence. A relationship is a very effective mirror that reflects what is still in need of healing and what is still unconscious with us. Both partners in a conscious relationship must be willing to look into the mirror.
The more that Presence is the foundation of your relationship, the more fulfilling, joyful and uncomplicated it will be. A conscious relationship is uncomplicated and without judgment, expectation or resentment.
A conscious relationship is a great blessing. It provides you with a companion with whom you can share a loving life. An unconscious relationship is also a great blessing. It provides you with an opportunity to wake up.
At times your teachings appear to be in the Advaita tradition of non-duality and no-self. At other times, you seem very dualistic as when you write "Every leaf falling from every tree is falling in exactly the way that God planned." You also speak of the Creator and the Creation. Please clarify.
It is important to not become identified with or attached to any spiritual tradition. Whilst Advaita reflects and addresses the very deepest level of awakened Presence, it is very easy for Advaita to become a concept in the mind of the seeker. When we become so present that Oneness is revealed, then of course we have transcended duality, which is what is meant by non-dualism. Of course there is no sense of self as a separate individual. But who is aware of that. Who is here in Oneness. Who is experiencing Is-ness. I am. Pure consciousness. Silent Presence. I am that I am. I would call this state God consciousness, but that is just my language. I am not sure what Ramana would call it, but we are speaking of the same thing.
We are multi-dimensional Beings, and to open into the deepest dimension of who we are, is not a denial of those other dimensions.
The pursuit of enlightenment can often be motivated by the desire to escape. There are many spiritual seekers who do not really want to be here. When asked why not, the reply is that there is too much suffering here. And they are right. The suffering exists because humanity is lost in unconsciousness. But without realizing it, they are also rejecting the natural world. If I ask them if they want to be here with the trees, the sky, the mountains or the birds, the answer is always yes.
You have to be very careful that you are not seeking to annihilate yourself in your involvement with Advaita. For those seeking to escape, Advaita offers a certain allure.
When I speak of God as Creator and Creation, I am addressing God as both. But I also say that beyond Creator and Creation I am, and God is. And beyond that, all that exists is eternal Is-Isness.
Another aspect of this is that, if Advaita is dismissive of the physical world as illusion, and I do not know if this is the case, then that would be a mistake. The only way to come out of the illusory world of the mind is to bring yourself present with something that is actually here in the moment with you. If that too is an illusion, then what will you be present with?
For me, this is Heaven on Earth, and everything in physical form is the body of God. When we are awake in the truth of life and Oneness, then we experience the living Presence of God in all things present. Who is experiencing that? I am! Pure consciousness. Silent Presence. I am that I am.
I can not imagine that Ramana would have a problem with that!
I'm reading your book, Journey into Now, and I come across the phrase "truth of life" often. I'm not sure what you mean by this and I didn't see a glossary. Can you specifically define what you mean by "truth of life"? u also speak of the Creator and the Creation. Please clarify.
When I speak of the truth of life, I am speaking of the only life that is really available to you, which is life lived in the present moment. When you are in the mind, you are in the past or future. It is a world of thought, memory and imagination. It is a world of concept, idea, opinion and belief. The mind allows you to participate in time. It gives you a sense of life outside of this moment. It gives you a sense of yourself outside of this moment, but it is all an illusion. In truth, there is no life outside of this moment and you cannot exist outside of this moment. To realize this is to awaken.
You cannot know what I am speaking of with the mind. The awakened state is transcendent of the thinking, understanding mind. The truth of life is revealed as you become so fully present that your thoughts stop. In the awakened state, you are present with what is here now. Your past is not intruding to distort your experience of the present moment. You are not lost in some imagined future. You are not limited by your thoughts, ideas, opinions, concepts and beliefs.
As you deepen into Presence, Oneness is revealed. You open into the sacredness of life.
There is nothing wrong with the past and future world of the mind. Even as you awaken, the past and future remain available to you. You enter that world simply by thinking your way into it, but if you are fundamentally established in Presence, then you no longer get absorbed into illusion. You do not venture so far into thought that you become lost in that world. You know that only this moment is the truth of life and every fiber of your Being honors that truth, simply by being present.
In your latest book, you say that there is a fundamental choice available to us. Either we are fully present in the NOW (Heaven) or we are in the mind (Hell). Do 'we' have a choice, or is it destiny? Advaita says there is no choice because there is no 'you' present.
You ask, do we have a choice, or it destiny? In the context of your awakening, both are true! It is your ultimate destiny to awaken fully into Oneness and the truth of life. But when that will occur depends upon the choices you make. Your choices can lead you into Oneness, or they can lead you further into separation and illusion.
You might also ask "Who is choosing?" That depends. It can be your ego which chooses, which will keep you in the separation, or it can be some deeper dimension of you, which at some very subtle level, remembers the Oneness and longs for it. A choice made from this longing will lead you home.
When Advaita says that there is no choice, because there is no you, my question is "Who is saying that? Who is aware of that."
Of course, when you are fully present, in any given moment, then your mind is silent. There are no thoughts. All spiritual concepts dissolve. There is no doer and there is no choice. But there is no Advaita. There is no Ramana. There is no past or future. There is no opinion. There is no understanding. There is no agreement, or disagreement. There just is!
Is this the ultimate state of awakening? If so, I would ask, "Who thinks so?" Is this the state you desire? If so, I would ask, "Who desires that?" In true awakening, all spiritual opinions, concepts and understanding dissolve. Ultimately, we are left with that ancient expression, "Neither this nor that!"
And beyond that, nothing!
Who is your God , or what God do you believe in?
When I speak of God, I am not speaking of a God that people believe in. To believe in God is an obstacle to knowing God. When we believe in God, we are creating God in our image. It is an illusion, which we create within our minds to help us escape fear and the pain of living in a world of separation.
The God that I am speaking of is of the mystery.
God is One.
God is the One in the all.
God is eternal Is-ness.
God exists eternally as all that is.
Everything is God. Nothing is God.
And beyond everything and nothing, I am and God is.
The source from which everything arises, and into which everything returns.
I am speaking as a mystic.
You cannot know God with the mind, and yet you can experience God from within the mystery.
God is real. God is here now. God is ever present. But we are not. We have gone too far into the mind, with our never ending thoughts, and now we are lost there. We have abandoned the present moment for a remembered past and an imagined future. We have abandoned truth for our opinions, ideas, concepts and beliefs.
If we want to experience God, we will have to come to where God is. We will have to bring ourselves fully present. And as we deepen into Presence, we will begin to encounter the living Presence of God in all things present. God and the present moment are one and the same. The present moment is God revealed.
As we deepen into Presence, we will experience Oneness. At the deepest levels of Presence, God and Heaven on Earth will be revealed.
What are we to make of the myriad of teachers out there today who claim or imply that they are self-realized. Are there levels of realization? If not, are they short of the mark and deluded somehow? Can teachers of a lesser attainment (if there is such a thing) guide their students only so far, and then they would have to meet a more evolved teacher or Master to finish the journey? Surely not all of the Advaita teachers today are fully awakened.
Let me begin with your question, are there different levels of realization?
To be fully awake is to be so deeply present that you enter into a timeless and eternal state. You experience Oneness with all things. You experience Is-ness itself. You experience the source from which everything arises. You experience the nothingness at the very heart of everything. Your mind is silent and you are awake in the truth of life.
You have seen through the veils of illusion and you are fundamentally established in the present moment, which is the truth of life. You are no longer identified with the story unfolding within the world of time. You are no longer identified with experiences as they arise and pass. You know yourself as the one experiencing. You have awakened to Oneness, and you have transcended duality.
But one can have the most profound experiences of Oneness and still not be fully awake.
These experiences are life transforming. They open you up to a very deep level of consciousness. However all experiences, including peak experiences, pass. The real question is who is experiencing? That question cannot be answered or known with the mind, but it is revealed at the deepest level of Presence. If you do not become identified with the enlightenment experience, but rather focus on the question, "Who is experiencing?" then you will be released into the fully awakened state. It is a state of pure consciousness, beyond all experience.
On the spiritual path, there are many who have become lost by identifying with an enlightenment or peak experience, and they try to hold onto it. They will need to release themselves from that identification in order to fully awaken. We must continually release the past if we are to remain fully present, and that includes releasing those peak experiences. Then we can relax into the moment of Now, knowing that this moment reveals all that is, and that this moment is enough!.
In those moments that you are truly present and awake in Oneness, there is no distinction between you and any awakened Master you care to name. In those moments of perfect Presence, there is only one consciousness and we are all expressions of the one consciousness.
As for the myriad of teachers out there who claim or imply that they are awake, they are all of value to those still seeking liberation, and of course there are differences between them. The differences can be understood in the context of depth of Presence, and the degree to which an individual is established in Presence.
The present moment is the doorway through which we enter the essential nature of existence. There are levels of Presence in the sense that you can be more or less present. The deeper the level of Presence, the more you will experience Oneness and the eternal.
There are also varying degrees to which you can be established in the awakened state of Presence, in the sense that it has integrated within you. If you are well established in the awakened state, you will remain fundamentally present, even as you participate in the world of time.
Some teachers have penetrated into the deepest levels of this awakened state and they are fundamentally established there. They exist in an ongoing realization of Oneness and a Way of awakening has been revealed to them, which they can share with others. Some are not as fully realized, and some are deluded and do not realize that the ego has in fact become spiritualized and believes that it is enlightened.
However, we have to be careful when we speak of categories of consciousness. This is only possible with the thinking and dividing mind. It is only with the mind that you can compare one person's consciousness with the consciousness of another. When you are fully present, your mind is silent and all these divisions and categories dissolve. Even the concept of enlightenment dissolves.
I have been a spiritual seeker almost all my life. I have had many wonderful experiences and feel I have grown and evolved immensely. However, there is still one area which I feel has not changed much and that is my fear of dying. How can I overcome this fear of death?
If you are not present, and you are functioning mostly from within the mind, then death is always approaching, and it creates fear in two ways. The first is that we are afraid of the unknown, and generally what happens after death is unknown, and so we are afraid of it. To the extent that you are afraid of death, you will miss life, simply because the fear of death keeps you in the future, and life is only truly experienced in the present.
Fear of death also arises because of our attachments. The more attached we are to people or things, the more we will fear losing those things and so the more we will fear death.
To overcome the fear of death, you will have to become more present.
When you are present, you are in the unknown in the sense that the remembered past or the imagined future is not with you. All you know is this moment, not because you understand it or know it with your mind, but because you are experiencing it, moment to moment. It is very peaceful, and the more present you are, the more you will trust the unknown and the more relaxed and accepting you will be.
If you are truly present, there is no such thing as death.
One moment, you are here, alive. The next moment you are here, alive. If you remain present, then at the point of passing all you will experience is a moment of transition as you leave the body. Prior to that moment of transition, if you are present, you will experience peace, love, gratitude, acceptance and compassion. During that moment of passing, if you are present, you will experience peace, love, gratitude, acceptance and compassion. After that moment of passing, you will experience peace, love, gratitude, acceptance and compassion.
You will also experience a lot of light as you are returned to the dimension of the soul. Before this incarnation, you existed as a soul within the soul dimension. After leaving the body, you will be returned to that dimension, but your experience there will be radically transformed by the level of Presence and Oneness realized in this lifetime. Future incarnations will be radically affected by the level of Presence and Oneness realized in this lifetime.
To be fully present, you will also have to surrender your attachments. You accomplish this by bringing everything that you are attached to into consciousness. Own your attachments. Acknowledge them and confess them. Your attachments keep you imprisoned in the past or future. Your attachments keep you out of Oneness and in separation. Realize that you came into this world alone, and you will leave this world alone. You cannot take anything or anyone with you, but you can take your sense of attachment with you. This will create fear and it will contribute to the soul’s sense of separateness and loss.
In truth, you are the champion of the soul and it is through your awakening into Oneness through Presence in this lifetime that your soul will be restored to immortality. The more present you are in your day-to-day life, the more present you will be in that moment of transition. If you are present, it is truly a moment of great inspiration for those who love you. It is a moment worthy not of grief, but of great celebration.
Is it possible to think and be present?
It is important to know that there are levels of Presence. It is as if Presence exists on a vertical scale or axis. As you deepen into Presence, you cross a point on the vertical axis where time disappears. Now you are in the Eternal realm. There is no time. Life does not exist outside of the moment, and you do not exist outside of the moment. You are completely absorbed into the Oneness. You are completely absorbed into the moment of Now. All sense of separation has dissolved. It is a highly exalted state. At this level of Presence, thinking is impossible. At this level, there is no one here as an individualized Being to think. Any thought would take you out of the moment. Of course, revelations can arise out of the silence, but this is radically different from thinking. A sense of knowing arises out of the silence, but this is radically different from understanding that occurs within the mind. To experience this level, even for a few moments will transform every aspect of your life, including your sense of yourself. But you don’t have to be at this deep level of timeless Presence all the time. As you ascend on the vertical axis of Presence, time becomes once again available. You can use your mind to think, and you can participate in the world of time, but you no longer get lost there. It is more than enough if you are fundamentally present. This means that you are more grounded in Presence than you are lost in the mind. Now you can think, without becoming reabsorbed into the mind. You think consciously, and when you are done thinking, you naturally return to Presence. You are no longer a victim to those endless thoughts that keep dragging you to somewhere in your past or somewhere in your future.
Of course, as a present and conscious being, you are free to think, remember, imagine, and enjoy the world of time in any way that you like. The beautiful thing however, is that you can move up and down the scale of Presence at will. One moment you might be choosing to consciously think. The next moment, you are at the deepest levels of eternal Presence and silence. You are no longer imprisoned within the mind. You can move freely between the world of the mind and the eternal world of Now. Your memories, beliefs, ideas and opinions still exist within the mind, but you are no longer identified with any of it. You know that only this moment is the truth, and you are relaxed in that simple truth.
You can also speak from Presence. When you speak from Presence, there is no agenda that originates from within the mind. You are not speaking from within the mind. You are speaking and expressing from the source, which is at the center of your Being. You are present as you speak. You can also create music or art from Presence. Even Einstein’s most brilliant inspirations arose from the source and not from his mind. In these creative and inspired moments, the mind is simply a clear instrument of expression.
As an “unconscious” parent, how can I help my daughter stay in the world of the present moment?
The best way to help your daughter stay in the present moment is for you to be present with her. If you find that difficult, then you have some healing to do. Most of us abandoned the present moment in childhood, as a way of escaping the pain of living in a world where our parents were not truly present. It was too painful.
We repressed the pain, and then we ventured further and further into the mind as a strategy of avoidance. In other words, we followed in the footsteps of our parents, just as they did with their parents. The outcome is that we are no longer present, and when we have children of our own, we cannot be present with them. In fact, your daughter’s presence can unconsciously remind you of the pain from your own childhood, which makes it even more difficult to be present with her. In order to be present with your daughter, you will have to go through a process of feeling all the difficult feelings repressed within you. In a sense, you have to reverse that process of repression. It does not have to be difficult, and it does not have to take long.
The first step is to remember the present moment, many times each day, so that gradually you become more and established in Presence. Your daughter can also be your teacher. Just tune into her, and she will show you how to be present.
Then you can begin the process of allowing all the painful memories and emotions from the past to surface into conscious and responsible expression. If you are present, it is not difficult, because you know that the feelings are from the past and have nothing to do with the present moment, and so there is no need to continue repressing them. You allow the feelings to surface into an inner environment that is loving, accepting, allowing and compassionate.
As the feelings arise and as you experience them consciously, they release from you. You are no longer avoiding things hidden with you, and so you can be more and more present with your daughter. It will be as much a blessing for you as for her.
I am deeply distressed with my life as I approach my 50’s. I have always considered myself to be a compassionate, spiritual and aware person. I was kidnapped and raped at knife point at 23, widowed suddenly at 32 with 2 children, and recently divorced. "There have also been many unfortunate deaths in my immediate family. Though I am a seeker who reads, meditates, and studies, I have become fearful, depressed, full of anxiety and extremely lonely. I feel like I’m wasting my life and can’t seem to find a way toward peace and happiness." Can you help?
Everything that occurs in your life is directed towards one end, which is your own awakening. Every difficult or painful event is a reflection of what is in need of healing at the soul level, and reveals the primary lessons you must learn if you are to awaken. Every painful experience is an indicator of the limiting beliefs that you acquired in childhood that are affecting your experience of life. Often these limiting beliefs originate in a previous lifetime.
And what do I mean by awakening? To awaken is to free your self from the pain and limitations of the past and open into the unlimited world of Now. It is to know yourself as an Eternal Being, totally transcendent of the circumstances and story of your life, which until now have been defining you and giving you a sense of who you are and what your life is all about.
If you look at the circumstances of your life, you will be able to identify the limiting beliefs that have affected you, the lessons you are here to learn, and what is in need of healing from your past.
More than likely you have been abused or violated in the past, and I am not limiting the past to this lifetime. In a most mysterious way, your experience of abuse in this lifetime is an opportunity to heal a wound that most likely exists at the soul level. Of course this does not in any way excuse your abuser. If he had known the terrible karma he was bringing upon himself, he would never have abused you. He will have to live with the consequences of his actions.
Losing your husband at such a young age is also a reflection of some deeper soul wound or experience. If you believe that life isn’t safe, it will manifest in a way that will affirm this belief. If you believe that others will hurt you, they probably will. If you believe that those you love will die or leave you, it is likely to happen.
These wounds and beliefs are all based in a painful past, and for the most part they function at an unconscious level. As long as they remain unconscious, they will continue to affect every aspect of your life.
This is because the outer world manifests as a reflection of your inner world. If your inner world is filled with these limiting beliefs and emotional wounds and impressions from the past, your life will manifest in a way that corresponds to your inner world. That is why it is so important to bring it all to consciousness for healing, completion, and release.
If you learn the art of being present, you will be completely free of the past. As you deepen into Presence, and heal and release the past, your inner world will open into love, gratitude and peace. You will know that the present moment is safe. What world will manifest as a reflection of your inner world when you are present?
You say that you have become fearful, lonely, depressed and full of anxiety. It is because you have not recognized your true purpose in being here. It is very simple. Your true purpose in being here is to be here. Most of us are not here. We are lost in an illusory world of the past and future. We are lost in a dream. Some people are lost in a happy dream. There is no motivation to awaken from a happy dream and so it is unlikely that they will awaken. But those who are caught in an unhappy dream have a greater chance of awakening. But it depends. Will you choose to remain in the dream, hoping that it will get better? Or will you free yourself from the dream and awaken into the present moment, which is free of the dream? You also say that you feel like you are wasting your life and that you can’t find your way to peace and happiness. The only way to peace and happiness is to free your self from the dream and awaken into Presence.
You speak of a hierarchy of repressed emotions as follows: anger, hurt, need, and fear. I gather from what you say that our needs, other than for survival, are an illusion. Is awareness of these needs all that is necessary for them to be met and to move beyond them? Is there some action we must take?
The only true need is the need for others to be present with us. All other needs are substitute needs. When we came into this world as tiny and vulnerable babies, we had a need for our parents to be truly present with us. But to varying degrees, they were not, and so we did not feel safe. In order to feel safe, we began our pursuit of substitute needs.
“Well, if you will not be present with me, then will you at least love me?”
It soon became obvious that we would not receive the level of unconditional love that we needed to feel safe, so we went after the next substitute need.
“Well if you will not love me, then will you at least accept me unconditionally?”
That substitute need was not met.
“Well, if you will not love and accept me unconditionally, will you at least approve of me, or acknowledge me, or make me feel special.”
With each step we take in pursuit of these substitute needs, we are moving away from ourselves and becoming lost in others.
Most of us spend our entire lives in pursuit of these substitute needs, completely unaware that all we really need is for others to be truly present with us. One who is fully present is loving, accepting and acknowledging. When another is truly present with you, you get it all.
What is the best way to respond to people who are critical of me?
Whenever you feel criticized, the first thing to do is determine whether you are being criticized or whether you are simply being given feedback about yourself. If it is feedback and not criticism, then you would be wise to listen carefully and respond appropriately. Is there something being shared with you that you need to hear? It is foolish to defend against feedback that might reflect areas of unconsciousness within you.
But in an unconscious world, people are often critical or judgmental. It is important that you do not take on that energy. It has nothing to do with you. If people judge or criticize you, that is a statement about them, not you. They are revealing that they are judgmental or critical. At some level, they feel judged or criticized themselves. They are still living with those energies, which most likely originate in their childhood.
If someone judges or criticizes me, I do not take it on. If they want to judge me or criticize me, they are free to do so. I fact, I feel compassion for them, for they are still caught in those limiting and painful energies.
The question for you is why do you take it on? It is your need for approval or acceptance that causes you to take on the judgments or opinions of others. If you did not need their approval or acceptance, then their judgments or criticisms would not affect you.
Therefore I suggest that you bring to consciousness all the ways that you lose yourself in others by seeking approval or acceptance, and then gently disengage from that behavior. It will lead to freedom.
However, it is very difficult to free yourself if you are still judgmental or critical of yourself or others. To completely free yourself, you will have to bring the energy of judgment to consciousness whenever it arises within you. And you must do so without judgment. Just notice it, acknowledge it, confess it and then gently disengage from it. You are simply acknowledging it and so it will gradually relax and dissolve from your interior world. And then other people’s judgments or criticisms will no longer affect you.
Finally, I would say that it is toxic to associate with people who are continually judging or criticizing you. Share with them that it is not acceptable to you. If they persist, then consider terminating your association with them. But do so out of love for yourself and with compassion for them, and not as a judgment of them.
I’m an architect and I deal with processes and tasks. How can I be present at work?
If you are sufficiently grounded in Presence, then you can go to work as an architect and your mind becomes your partner. It is an instrument of expression, but it serves you most effectively when it is a clear instrument of expression. If it is full of all your repressed emotions and limiting beliefs from the past, then it is not very effective. If you are concerned with outcome so that your ego is involved, it is not very effective. But if you are able to relax and become present in a way that leads to a silent mind, then the mind will be a very effective instrument of expression.
At times, your work will be mostly mental. Every now and then, drop out of it. Become present. Allow your mind to be still. Allow expression to flow from the source, which exists at the very heart of silence within you. This is where all true creativity arises from. History is full of such examples. Even Einstein reported that his equation of E=mc2 arose from a dimension which was transcendent of the mind. Many great artists and musicians have spoken of similar experiences. There is no reason why this level of true creativity cannot flow into your work as an architect.
Of course, not everyone can clear the mind in the way I am suggesting. This raises additional questions. How can we free ourselves from a painful and limited past so that we can become more present? And how can we avoid being caught in future outcome which then involves the ego and closes the door to the creative source that I have been speaking of?
I once woke up in the middle of the night and understood all. I was all. I knew like I have never known before or since, that everyone in my life was an aspect of me. There was only I. My mind was totally quiet and yet I knew. It lasted but a couple of hours. How can I be in this state always? Is this what being present is or enlightened? Does this happen when the mind is totally quiet for a long period of time?
The experiences you describe are awakening experiences. They are peak experiences. You awakened into the truth of life, and the truth of who you are. It is the enlightened or awakened state of consciousness. It is a blessing beyond imagining. It is what is revealed at the deepest levels of Presence when your mind is silent and you are fully present and available to what is here now. It is transcendent of your mind and ego. And it is natural that joy would arise out of the silence. But the moment you ask how to be in this state always, you are taking yourself into the future. You are bringing the mind and ego back into play, which will disconnect you from the very experience you are trying to hold onto. From the perspective of one who is awake, there is no always. There is only now. To remain fully present and awake, we have to release our involvement in the past, including peak experiences, and be available to what is present now, even if it is ordinary.
I usually tell people who have had experiences similar to yours to regard it as a blessing to be grateful for. It is as if God had said to you, “I am going to give you a taste of the truth of life. I am going to give you a taste of the truth of who you are. I am going to give you a taste of the Eternal. It will last several hours, and then it will go away, because I then want you to do the work. I want you to bring consciousness to all the ways you are pulled out of Presence and truth. I want you to discover how to function in the world of time, and yet remain fundamentally present. I want you to become a Master of your mind and ego. Otherwise you are not truly free.”
Being present is always instant. You cannot be present a moment from now. Arising in Mastery of your mind and ego is a process that occurs over time. It is a process of integration of the awakened state. I reveal how this is accomplished in my latest book, Journey into Now. It involves coming into right relationship with every aspect of yourself, including your ego. It involves transcending judgment. It involves releasing emotions repressed within you from the past. It involves bringing the human dimension of you that participates in the world of time into alignment with the Godly or Eternal dimension of you, which is your true nature. I describe it in my book as a two step dance of awakening.
How do we remain present in our day to day living?
To be present in day to day living is as simple as being present with whatever is before you, moment to moment. It does not matter what you are present with. Just notice when you are day dreaming or drifting off into thought and then come back to the present moment. Bring yourself very present with something that is here in the moment with you. If you can see it, hear it, feel it, taste it, touch it or smell it, in this moment, then you can be present with it. And the moment you are truly present with something that is here in the moment with you, thoughts will stop. You will emerge out of the past and future world of the mind. Now you are awake in the truth of life, revealed through the present moment. As you deepen into Presence, you will begin to feel the Oneness.
There are so many ways to be present and so much to be present with. As you have a shower, be present with the warmth of the water and the fragrance of the soap. As you eat your breakfast, be present with the taste and smell of the food. Be present as you raise the fork to your mouth. Be present as you chew your food.
Be present as you wash the dishes. If you are truly present as you wash the dishes, it will be a sacred and loving experience. Be present as you walk in the garden. Be present with what you see and hear, moment to moment. Be present with your body breathing.
Be present whenever it is easy to be present. Be present whenever there is no need to think. The more you remember to be present the more that dimension of Presence will awaken within you.
Of course, there are many times during the day when thinking is appropriate, particularly within the context of work or when you have to plan for something in your future. At such times, do not be concerned with being present. Think when you need to think, but be sure to return to Presence when you no longer need to think. And do not go so far into the world of thought that you get lost there.
Eventually, you become so grounded in Presence that it is very easy to remain present, and there is an easy flow between Presence and silence and the movement in and out of thought. It becomes effortless and you spontaneously return to Presence as soon as the thinking process is completed.