Leonard's latest posting: Nurturing the Seed of Presence
Nurturing the Seed of Presence
Being present is immensely worthwhile. It opens you into the truth of life. It opens you into peace, love, truth and Oneness. It releases you from the pain of the past and anxiety about the future. It empowers you to be yourself and express yourself fully. It enables you to come into right relationship with your ego and with your feelings. It enables you to transcend judgment, which is one of the keys to awakening.
To be present is your natural state. The only way you can leave the present moment is to think your way out of here. And where will you go? There is only one possibility. You think your way out of the present moment into the world of the mind. It is a world of past memory and future imagining.
The problem is that we are all addicted to thinking. The thoughts never stop and because thoughts are always about the past or future, we become absorbed into the past and future world of the mind. In this way, we disconnect from the present moment. This is what has happened to humanity. It is as if we are all lost in an unimaginably complex maze, an intricate network of thought, memory, imagination, concept, idea, opinion and belief.
When we caught within the mind, we are affected by all the limiting beliefs which formed in early childhood. We live with all the repressed emotions from the past. We live with anxiety about the future. We judge ourselves and others.
The only way to come out of the mind and return to Presence is to bring yourself present with something that is here in the moment with you. If you can see it, hear it, feel it, taste it, touch it, or smell it in this moment, then you can be present with it.
Look around the room. Be present with something you see right now. It could be a flower, or leaf, a chair, or anything else you see in the room. Or you could be present with the sound you hear. Everything that is in the present moment is inviting you to be present with it. You can be present in the movement of your body.
The moment you are truly present, thoughts stop and your mind falls silent. The past drops away, revealing the present moment as it is, free of your ideas, opinions, beliefs and projections. Now you are awake in the truth of life, and this will continue for as long as you remain present.
Each moment you have a choice. Do you choose to be present, or do you allow yourself to wander off into endless unconscious thought. This choice is at the very heart of free will, and your life will be radically affected depending on which choice you make. The more you choose to be present, the more Presence flowers within you.
The flowering of Presence from within is like the mustard seed that Jesus spoke of.
"The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, smaller than all other seeds."
At first, Presence is delicate and it will be difficult to remain present. But each moment that you are present nurtures the seed of Presence. There are so many opportunities to be present each day. Whenever there is no need to be thinking, bring yourself present. Be present as you wash the dishes. Be present as you have a shower or go for a walk. It is that simple. Gradually the seed of Presence will flower within you and you will find yourself becoming more and more established in Presence.
A Call to Presence
To be fully awake and enlightened simply means to be fully present in the moment of now. To be present is the simplest thing. It is your natural state.
Every moment, you have a choice. Will you be present in the truth and reality of this moment or will you allow yourself to be seduced into the world of the mind? All thoughts take you out of the present moment. And then if you believe in those thoughts, which most of us do, you get lost in the world of the mind.
For most of us, we have become so habituated to thinking, that now thoughts never end. They have a life of their own. We are not even choosing to think. Thinking is happening all by itself and we are simply pulled from one thought to another, never really experiencing the sacredness of this moment.
The present moment is free of memories of the past and imaginings into the future. And so the pain and limitations of the past magically disappear when you are present. Anxiety about the future also disappears. You are just here now, fully present in this moment. When you are fully present, your inner experience is one of peace, love, acceptance, power, truth and compassion. Separation and fear dissolve. You exist within Oneness.
When you bring yourself fully present, thoughts stop and your mind falls silent. But there is an even deeper level of silence waiting to emerge. As your mind becomes silent, an inner door is opened, allowing an infinite and eternal silence to emerge. This infinite and eternal silence is the very essence of your Being. It is your true nature. It is the essence of all existence. It is the eternal silent presence of pure consciousness. It is the "I AM" of you. It is that dimension of you that exists in Oneness with all that is. It is your Buddha nature. It is the Christ of you, which exists in Oneness with God. It is awakened man. It is awakened woman.
What Is It Like To Be Truly Present?
To be present is to awaken into that dimension of your self and that dimension of life which is transcendent of the thinking mind. You are silent and you are fully present with what is actually here now. If you are fully present, there is no moment other than this moment. That is what it means to be awake in the truth of life. You are so fully present that you exist in this moment, and only in this moment. You are awake in the eternal now. At the very deepest level of awakened Presence, the past and future have disappeared and only the present moment is available to you. You cannot function within the world of time, for the simple reason that there is no time. There is no sense of your self outside of this moment.
This does not mean that one who has awakened is always functioning at the deepest level of Presence. It is possible to function at a more superficial level of Presence so that the world of time becomes available. Even when you participate in the world of time, you are still deeply grounded in Presence and the present moment is always recognized as the truth of life.
If you are fundamentally awake in Presence you live without judgment, fear and desire. You live in a state of acceptance. You live as Love in the world. The illusion of separation has dissolved. You live with a strong sense of the Oneness of all things and a continuing awareness of the impersonal or eternal dimension of existence. You see 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 you to intentionally harm another. You are compassionate and you always act with integrity. You cannot be dishonest. There is something inside you which simply will not allow it. When you are fundamentally awake in the truth of life, you are substantially free of ego motivations and reactions.
This is not to imply that one who is awake is somehow perfect. At times, you can react like any one else, and experience fear and uncertainty, or feelings like hurt and anger. The difference is that now, you know that you are caught temporarily in the illusion of separation. You do not believe in the story that is presenting itself to you. You know that the past is somehow projecting itself into the present. You do not identify with the experience or any emotional reactions arising out of the experience. And yet, you take full responsibility for whatever you are experiencing. The experience is owned and accepted, but not acted upon as if it is the truth. In the midst of constant change, you know yourself as the One who never changes.
Freeing Yourself From The Past
In truth, there is no life outside of the present moment. Sooner or later, we must all come to terms with this simple fact.
If you are to awaken fully into the present moment, and remain fundamentally grounded in Presence, then you will have to liberate yourself from entanglement in your own past. It is not the true past. It is the remembered past, which you access through the mind whenever you think. You will also have to free yourself from the imagined future, which is nothing more than the past projected forward. It is simply a fantasy.
The true future does not exist in the world of the mind. The true future unfolds through the doorway of the present moment, just as the true past is accessible through the doorway of the present moment.
To free yourself from the past, there are a number of steps you will have to take.
1. If there are feelings from the past, which have been repressed within you, will have to allow these feelings the opportunity to surface into conscious and responsible expression. You are not trying to get rid of these feelings. You are simply allowing them to express. Everything in existence has a right to exist, including the feelings of need, hurt and anger. If they were denied the right to exist when you were young, because they were too painful then or simply not allowed expression, they will have to be restored into the flow of conscious expression that was once denied them.
2. Forgiveness is a powerful force, which can release the past from you and you from the past. Forgive all those who have hurt you and seek the forgiveness of everyone you have hurt. The forgiveness must be authentic. Sometimes, the pain and the anger at those who have hurt you must be experienced fully, before forgiveness can occur.
3. With some people, healing of the past is necessary before forgiveness and release can truly arise. The good news is that, through the power of awakened Presence, which is a state of Oneness with God, emotional and soul healing is possible in a way that defies all reason and is beyond belief. In working with others, I have so often seen their lives transformed, as we successfully bring to consciousness some traumatic experience from the past, either in this lifetime or some earlier life time, which has been unconsciously projecting into and affecting their current experience of life.
4. To the extent that you maintain yourself in resentment, guilt or blame, you cannot be present, simply because these feelings keep you imprisoned within the past. You must bring these feelings to the surface. Bring them to consciousness in a loving and accepting way. Identify, own, confess and express these feelings, but do not project them onto anyone. Do not believe in them. You are allowing them into consciousness, simply so that they are no longer hidden and so they can no longer control you unconsciously. Feelings of resentment, blame and guilt are an indication that you are not taking responsibility for your life or for yourself. It is easier to blame someone, than to take responsibility for yourself.
5. This next point is the most difficult to understand and is the most easily resisted. If you continue to generate good feelings by remembering happy experiences from the past, you will remain in bondage to the mind and ego forever. Identification with happy memories holds you in the world of the mind and locks in place all those unhappy and painful memories you would rather avoid. This is because the mind is a world of duality, and there is no way to avoid duality, other than by becoming so fully present that Oneness is revealed as the fundamental ground of your existence. It is the same with deriving pleasure from the anticipation of a future event. Only the present moment can fulfill you. It is only when we awaken fully into the present moment that duality is transcended and Oneness is revealed.
Overcoming The Obstacles To Awakening
In the last teaching, I spoke about how to liberate yourself from the world of the thinking mind into the world of NOW. I shared the key to becoming present, which is remarkably simple. However remaining present is not so simple. Even if we are present for a short time, most of us are quickly pulled back into the past and future world of the mind.
There are a number of obstacles which we must become aware of if we are to awaken fully into Presence and remain fundamentally present in our daily living and in our relationships.
The first obstacle is the ego itself. The ego wants to become more spiritual. It wants to acquire spiritual knowledge. It would love to become enlightened. It will have you visiting many spiritual teachers and reading many spiritual books. But it will back off very quickly if you find your way into the truth of life through the doorway of the present moment. This is because the ego needs to be in control of your life. It is addicted to its position of power and control. But it can only be in control of what it knows and it only knows the past, which it remembers, or the future, which it imagines. It does not know the present moment, and so it will desperately resist your entering into and remaining in the present moment. In fact, as you begin to awaken into the present moment, it has a bag of tricks to seduce you or tempt you back into the world of the mind.
The second reason that it is difficult to remain present, is that most of us have a lot of emotions repressed within us from the past, particularly from our childhood relationship with our parents. These emotions are continually being activated or triggered, which brings the past flooding in, making it impossible for us to remain in the truth and reality of the present moment. To the extent that you are caught in the emotional pain and traumas of the past, you cannot be present.
The third reason that it difficult to remain present is that there are a number of very powerful hooks that pull us out of the present moment into the world of the mind. Looking to others for acknowledgement, approval or acceptance is an example of such a hook. Fearing rejection or judgment from others is another hook. Anything that entangles you in the mind of another is a hook that pulls you out of Presence.
To awaken fully into the present moment involves disentangling yourself from others so that you are fully with yourself.
To free yourself from the above obstacles and hooks, there are a number of steps you must follow.
The first is that you must awaken to the dimension of Presence within you. It opens up the possibility of true healing.
Then you must come into right relationship with the ego, so that eventually it surrenders its need to be in control of your life.
From a state of Presence, you bring the ego and all its so called negative aspects into the light of consciousness, in a way that is acknowledging, loving and accepting. All judgment of the ego and all attempts to annihilate the ego must cease. As long as you judge or reject any aspect of yourself, the ego will prevail as the dominant inner force, simply because the ego thrives on judgment, condemnation and rejection.
The only thing that will bring the ego to a place of surrender is the energy of love and acceptance. If you love and accept every aspect of yourself at the level of mind/ego, particularly those aspects of yourself that you have been hiding, judging or trying to change, the ego will eventually surrender.
The next step is to allow into conscious expression, all those emotions repressed within you. In my private sessions, workshops and retreats, I offer very clear guidance and support in accomplishing this. It does not mean that you are identified with the feelings. You are simply allowing them to surface into conscious expression. The fact that the emotion is arising is of this moment and so you must be present with it as it arises and expresses through you. But the story associated with the emotion is not of the present moment, and so it is important that you do not become identified with the story. You will have to express the story as a part of expressing the emotion, but the story itself is not the truth. It is of the past or future. It has nothing to do with this moment. Do not believe in it and do not act upon it as if it is true.
The third step is to clearly identify the hooks that pull you out of Presence. These hooks only have power over you to the extent that they are allowed to function unconsciously. If you bring these hooks to conscious awareness, then they have no power over you. You can gently disengage from them as they are activated.
These steps will liberate you from the world of the thinking mind into the world of NOW. I do not mean to imply that you will always be present. But the present moment will become the very foundation of your life. You will come to know yourself as the one who exists in the moment of NOW, and only in the moment of now. This is the truth of who you are. And your life will be transformed. God and Heaven on Earth will be revealed.
Doing The Work
Awakening is simple. In just one evening teaching session, or a private or telephone session, I can reveal to you the keys to liberating yourself from the world of the mind, so that you open up into the fully awakened state of Presence. There is nothing complicated about being present. It is our natural state.
But remaining present in our day to day life is not so easy. We are constantly pulled back into the world of the mind where the ego prevails. Once again we are limited by our past emotional wounds and limiting beliefs. Once again, we become entangled in our remembered past or imagined future. Once again, we become entangled within relationships.
If you want to become permanently established in freedom and Presence, you will have to do the work.
What is the work?
1. Learn how to be present. Remember to be present whenever you can each day. Deepen into Presence. Become more and more grounded in Presence, so that the present moment becomes the very foundation of your existence.
2. Bring consciousness to how and when you are pulled out of Presence.
3. Get to know your own ego. How does it function? What is its role in your life? What are its patterns of control and manipulation? What are its strategies of survival? How does it trick or seduce you out of the present moment and keep you imprisoned within the past and future world of the mind? How can you remain awake and present if the ego is still in control, and allowed to function unconsciously!
4. Who have you become at the level of mind and ego? You must be willing to own, acknowledge and confess every aspect of your ego, with an attitude of love and acceptance. If there is any judgment of any aspect of yourself, or others, you cannot awaken.
5. Bring consciousness to the energy of judgment, blame and guilt within you.
6. You must come into right relationship with your feelings. Learn how to express your feelings responsibly and in a way that leads to true healing. Allow all those feelings repressed within you to surface into conscious expression, for healing and release. If you have feelings from the past repressed within you, they will constantly be triggered. You will be pulled out of the truth and reality of the present moment, over and over again. A painful and unhealed past, and all the limiting beliefs you learned in childhood about yourself, others and life, will continually project onto the present moment, distorting it.
7. Bring consciousness to the hooks that get you entangled in others. To be awakened means that you have disentangled yourself from your own past and future and you have disentangled yourself from others.
In conclusion, I would like to quote a passage which appears on page 149 of Embracing the Present,
A difficult journey
"It has been almost impossible for me to escape from my mind's world. It has been a difficult journey to escape from the entanglements of my own past. What hope do I have if I am caught in your mind's world?
How can I untangle myself from your past? How can I untangle myself from your expectations, your fear, your anger, your hurt, your blame, your guilt, your childhood wounds and unfulfilled needs. These things belong to your past. Not mine. You have no right to take me there. Untangle yourself. Come out of your mind. Be present with me. Remind me to be present with you. Free of the past, let us share the present moment together."
When you become fully present, thoughts stop and your mind is silent. You are not trying to stop the thoughts. It simply happens as you become present. Thoughts stop as you become present, because thoughts are always about the past or future. You cannot think about the present moment. You would have to take yourself out of the present moment in order to think about it. So if you bring yourself fully present with something that is actually here now, you must emerge out of the mind, and the world of thought. It cannot be otherwise. A noticeable shift will occur within you as you transition from the past and future world of the mind, to the world of now.
You cannot stop thoughts. It is impossible. The very effort to stop thoughts is a reinforcement of the thinking process. All you can do is relax, notice that you are in the mind, and then bring yourself present with that which is already present. If you can see it, hear it, feel it, taste it, touch it or smell it, in this moment, then it is of the present moment.
It is not something you are remembering or imagining with your mind. And so you can be present with it. You are not thinking it into existence. It is actually here now and so you Thoughts will stop, and you will experience a deep feeling of peace as your mind falls silent.
But there is an even deeper level of peace and silence waiting to emerge, as you become more and more present. As your mind becomes more silent, an inner door is opened, allowing an infinite and eternal silence to emerge. This infinite and eternal silence is the very essence of your Being. It is your true nature. It is the essence of all existence. It is the eternal silent presence of pure consciousness. It is the "I AM" of you. It is that dimension of you that exists in this moment and only this moment. It is that dimension of you that exists in Oneness.
It is your Buddha nature. It is the Christ of you, which exists in Oneness with God. It is awakened man. It is awakened woman.
The Master Lesson
There are many lessons to be learned over many lifetimes. But the master lesson is that Oneness and the Eternal is already here and has always been here. That which you seek is already here, and has always been here.
It is your seeking that leads you astray. It takes you further into the mind.
Lost within the mind, you are trying to find answers there and this takes you even further into a world of illusion and separation.
You are here to remember who we are. You are here to awaken out of the illusion of separation. You are here to know and experience yourself in Oneness. You are here to find your way home.
The present moment is the doorway home. The present moment is your home. If you can master the art of being fully present, then you have learned the master lesson.
You will have liberated yourself from the prison that is the world of the thinking mind. You will have overcome the illusion of separation. You will be restored to Oneness.
The Resistance Of The Ego
As you become fully present, thoughts stop. But the ego exists within a framework of thought. If thoughts stop, the ego feels like it is disappearing. It feels like death to the ego. Do you think the ego is going to stand by and let you kill it off? Not likely!
And even if you reassure the ego that it is not being annihilated, it will still not allow you to be present. The ego does not exist in the present moment, and so it is not in control when you are present. It is not in control until you think your way back into the world of the mind. And the ego has no intention of relinquishing control. After all, it has been in control since you were just a small child.
A part of this process of awakening and becoming permanently established in presence is to come into right relationship with the ego, and with every aspect of whom you have become at the level of mind ego. No longer trying to change or fix yourself or get rid of anything, you enter into a deep and ongoing process of accepting, acknowledging, expressing and confessing every aspect of who you have become.
This is only possible when you are awake in Presence.
It is as if the Godly dimension of you, which is a silent and awakened Presence of love, acceptance and compassion, encounters and embraces the human dimension of you, which has been journeying through time and has had to endure all the pain of separation that is an inherent part of that journey through time.
If you continue to condemn the human dimension of yourself, which is less than perfect, then who is the one condemning? It is not the awakened Presence, for that dimension of you is completely without judgment. It is just a part of the ego, splitting off to condemn itself.
It might sound somewhat self defeating, but actually, it is exactly what the ego wants. The energy of judgment keeps you bound within the world of the mind, where the ego is in control. The ego thrives on judgment, condemnation and rejection. It gets stronger in the face of such negative energy.
But if the ego is embraced with love, acceptance and compassion, it has no defense to that. It does not know what to do. Eventually it will simply relax and surrender.
There is no greater power than the power of love, which arises from Presence. It overcomes all resistance and aggression.
Being present is ultimately quite ordinary. Occasionally it opens up and reveals the extraordinary, but that only occurs through grace. We must be willing to accept the present moment as ordinary, before the present moment will reveal its hidden treasures. And you must be willing to allow those extraordinary moments to pass, without trying to hold onto them, if you want to remain present and in the truth of life.
This approach will allow you to become more and more grounded in presence. You will keep deepening into presence.
Until one day, you will declare,
"It is accomplished. I am awake. At last, I am here, now."
And the angels will sing, "Hallelujah!"
We made choices in early childhood, which were appropriate then, but are not appropriate now, and yet they continue to govern our experience of life at an unconscious level. It would be wise to review those choices made in childhood.
Here is a list of choices typically made when we were very young. Can you identify the choices you made and the consequences that you might still be living with because of these early choices?
I choose to repress the feeling of hurt because it is too much to bear.
I choose to repress the feeling of anger because of a fear of punishment.
I choose to protect my heart, by shutting down to love.
I choose to give up asking for what I want, because I believe I won't get it.
I choose to disconnect from my needs, because I believe they will not be met.
I choose to hide myself from others, because I am afraid of their judgment or disapproval.
I choose not to speak out because no one listens.
I choose to blame as a way of avoiding responsibility.
I choose to live with resentment rather than forgive and release myself from the past.
I choose to be a victim in the hope that someone will rescue me.
I choose to avoid trying because of the fear of failure.
I choose to judge others because I feel judged.
I choose to judge others because it gives me a feeling of power.
I choose to not acknowledge others, because I feel unacknowledged.
I choose to not attend to others because I feel unattended to.
I choose to be in my mind because I am seeking a solution there.
I choose to be in my mind, because I am seeking to escape there.
I choose to be in my mind, because I am hoping to find someone there.
I choose to please or take care of others as a way of being accepted or included.
I chose to energetically withdraw as a way of protecting myself from being hurt.
I choose to be angry or aggressive as a way of gaining control.
I choose to seek attention, acknowledgement and recognition as a substitute for love and acceptance.
What are the consequences that flow from these choices? You would wise to bring these choices to consciousness, review them and revise them.
Suppose a loved one dies or a tragic or difficult event occurs in your life. It is natural that powerful feelings will arise in response to what is happening. Those feelings arise as a way of working through the painful or difficult experience.
For example, if a loved one dies, grief will arise.
Grief consists of a number of feelings. The first feeling to arise is anger that you have lost someone close to you. You are angry at life. You are angry at God. The second feeling that arises is a deep sense of loss and sadness. It is painful to lose a loved one. The third feeling that arises as a part of grief is the feeling of need. Your loved one was fulfilling a need in your life. A need for companionship! A need for intimacy! A need for someone to share a meal with or go for a walk. The loss of a loved one who fulfilled those needs will mean that those needs might go unmet. This brings up a fear that your needs will not be met. You fear that you will be alone. At the deepest level, it brings up the fear of your own death because no one is there to meet your needs. This fear originates in early infancy.
If you accept and feel these feelings fully, and allow them to surface into conscious expression, it will enable you to cope with the loss or the traumatic event and you will emerge from it in a way that enables you to move on with your life, in a healthy and positive way.
A Larger Womb
When you were born, you moved from a womb that became too small for you (your mother's womb), to a much larger womb ( the world you were being born into).
But you did not have the opportunity to complete that transition. You got caught in the trauma of separation that occurred at birth and instead of entering a world of Oneness, you entered a world of separation.
It was a gradual transition as you joined your parents in the past and future world of the mind. If your parents had been fully present and awake, and not lost in the mind, they could have guided you through the trauma of separation into the present moment. The feeling of separation that arose in the birth process would have subsided and you would have developed within a world of Presence and Oneness. But your parents were not present. They did not know how to guide you into the present moment. Instead they guided you into their world of the mind. It is not their fault. That is what happened to them, and it is passed down, generation to generation.
The whole point of awakening is to return to that larger womb, which is existence itself, revealed through the present moment. You will feel safe. You will feel connected to everything. You will experience Oneness. Now you can evolve into your true nature. Now your true destiny can unfold.
Choose Love Not Fear
Almost all of the decisions and choices we make at the level of mind are motivated at a deep unconscious level by fear and the illusion of separation. Develop the art of looking deeply to see whether the choice you are making is being driven or motivated by fear.
If it is, then you are going further into the mind's world of illusion. You are going further away from the truth of who you are. You are going further away from the place where life is abundant. You are going further into separation. Do not let fear lead you astray. Find that still and silent place within where love abides. Know that the essence of your Being is Love. Let the silent voice of love be your guide.
Keys To Awakening
The most fundamental key to awakening is to become more present in your life. Then you can be unconditionally loving and accepting of yourself at the level of personality. This includes all those things you would like to change about yourself. Jealousy, possessiveness, control, judgment, helplessness, inadequacy, blame, guilt, uncertainty, arrogance, expectation, resentment, anger, sadness, frustration, dependency, just to name a few. To want to change any of these qualities in yourself is a subtle rejection of them, which is not unconditional acceptance. Just identify and own all of these qualities, as they arise within you. Hide absolutely nothing from yourself. Own all of these things. Be willing to accept that at the level of mind and ego, this is who you have become. The more you own and accept, the more will be revealed to you. The more you are loving and accepting in this way, the more you will become grounded in watchfulness and in Presence.
The second key to awakening is to allow your emotions full expression. There are many emotions from the past which you repressed, for good reason then. But they want to be released, so it is necessary to find an opportunity to release old emotions like anger and sadness. Once released, they will be gone forever. And as new emotions arise, allow them full expression. If you are angry, then yell and shout, or beat up a cushion. If you are sad, then cry. But it is important to take full responsibility for your emotional reactions. No one is to blame for them. They are coming from your past which you are projecting onto the present situation. Do not express your anger at the one you believe has angered you. Just beat up a cushion imagining it is the one who has angered you. And if you are total and unconditionally loving and accepting of your anger, it will reveal its secrets to you.
The third key to awakening is confession. This has nothing to do with the Catholic idea of confession. You have not committed any sin which needs to be confessed in order for you to be absolved. There is no need for forgiveness. If you confess these qualities to some one who is absolutely non-judgmental, and who is fully present, it helps you to own the quality to which you are confessing.
In your confession, you are saying "This is me. This is who I have become. I am possessive and controlling." Or "I am blaming." Or "I always get angry when I don't get my own way." Or "I will not allow myself to get too close to people because I am afraid I might be rejected."
By confessing it and owning it, it is released. And you are freed to the level of Presence, where none of these qualities exist. They cannot exist because they are not a part of your true nature. They exist only at the level of mind.
The fourth key to awakening is to accept full responsibility for yourself. This will release you from the world of expectation, resentment, blame and guilt. It will lead you into total freedom.
The fifth key to awakening is to let go. Dance. Lose control.
Dreams falls into three categories. The first is a continuing series of meaningless dreams. Just like many of your thoughts during the day are random and meaningless, it is the same with this kind of dream.
The second category of dream is more meaningful. Dreaming often gives us the opportunity to experience and release feelings like fear, anger, hurt and sometimes sexual feelings that have arisen in our daily lives, but for some reason, we were unwilling to experience these things consciously. Instead, they are worked out and experienced unconsciously within the dream. This is an important part of our rest and rejuvenation, though sleep.
There is another kind of dream that occurs much less frequently. These are dreams that have a profound spiritual significance. They often convey a message, which will lead you into higher consciousness, or they can sometimes be a signpost announcing major transition. At these times, your normal ego structure is sufficiently relaxed to allow a higher and more awakened dimension of you to penetrate through the veils of illusion and deliver a significant soul message in the form of a dream.
Leaving The Present Moment
An excerpt from Journey into Now
We humans are in some difficulty because we don't know how to stop thinking. Isn't that true? How many people can stop thinking and just be here in silence and Presence? And if you cannot stop thinking, then you cannot be present, for all thinking takes you into the mind.
There is nothing wrong with thinking. There is nothing wrong with entering the world of the mind, as long as you know that you are entering a world of illusion, and you know that only the present moment is the truth of life. Then you can play in the world of time, with your thoughts, memories, and imaginings. Enjoy yourself, but be careful! It is easy to get lost there.
If you identify with any of it, or take any of it too seriously, you will separate yourself from the present moment and the truth of life. You will be abandoning God, love, truth, and the present moment for the illusory world of the mind, filled with distorted memories and false promises.
Heaven On Earth
There is a world that exists within the world we know.
It has existed in its perfect state from the very beginning of time.
It is an invisible world waiting eternally to be discovered.
It is God's world. Heaven on Earth.
It is a world of extraordinary beauty.
A world of wonder and amazement. A magical world.
It is a world which is Timeless. Eternal. Perfect.
It is a living world that reaches out and relates to you every moment.
The trees, the flowers, the birds, the animals and even the insects
are all experienced as loving friends sharing this perfect world with you.
Everything is experienced as a Living Presence, a divine expression of God.
This world I speak of is the body of God.
It is not a world of the imagination. It is absolutely real. It is here now.
It is hidden within the world you know. It is hidden within the world you live in.
And the doorway is within you. In a sense, you are the doorway.
The Mystical Experience Of God
When I speak of God, I am not speaking of a God that can be known with the mind. I am speaking of God as the present moment revealed. I am speaking of God as the silent Presence at the very heart of all things present. I am speaking of God who exists at the very heart of silence within you, and who is not separate from you. I am speaking of God as Eternal Is-ness. I am speaking of God as pure consciousness. I am speaking of God as the source from which everything arises and into which everything returns. I am speaking of God as everything and nothing. I am speaking of God as the beginning and the end. I am speaking of God, not from my mind, but from within the mystery.
You Are Love
When you are present, you are love, and there's nothing you can do about it.
You radiate love in the same way that a candle flame radiates light and it has nothing to do with who or what you love. Humanity has become hopelessly lost in love. We lose ourselves in the object of our love and in the process, we lose ourselves. We disconnect from the source of the love, which exists at the very center of our Being. Then we feel a certain kind of emptiness, because we have moved away from the center. We are afraid of the emptiness, and so we relentlessly pursue love outside of ourselves. We want to be loved. We fall in love. We lose ourselves in the object of the love, which takes us further from the center. Eventually, we become so lost in the pursuit of love and all the hope, pain, fear and attachments associated with it, that we can no longer be present. And if we cannot be present, we cannot find our way back to the source of the love, which is at the very center within us.
The truth is that if you love anyone or anything, it simply means that you are love. The one you are loving in the moment might be lovable, but the source of the love is always within you. If another loves you, do not take it too personally. It simply means that the other is love. If I am present and I am love, and you are present and you are love, then why do I need you to love me? Why do you need me to love you? The truth is that we do not need to be loved, for if we are present, we are love. So let us hold hands, and gaze together upon this wondrous world with love.
Love everything. Love the dogs. Love the children. Love the trees. Love your wife or husband. But remember it is because you are love.
Devotion To The Teacher
There is a tendency to project the source of truth onto another. This often happens in our relationship with the teacher and it acts as a barrier to true awakening.
One Thursday evening, at one of my teaching sessions in Corte Madera, Laura raised her hand to speak. She is an earnest young woman who had recently attended one of my five-day residential retreats.
"I feel confused," she said. "A part of me wants to give myself over to you completely. I can feel devotion arising within me. But another part of me feels afraid. I do not trust you and I want to run from you."
"That is perfectly natural," I replied. "When someone is very present with you, it is a beautiful experience. It is the most perfect gift we can share with each other. It is appropriate that you would feel love for me. But the danger is that you will project the source of that love onto me, and that you will lose yourself in your devotion."
She confessed that she had done this with a guru she had been with several years ago.
"There are many people on this planet who happily encourage your projections and are supported by your devotion. They want you to give yourself over to them and it is not surprising that mistrust should arise as a byproduct of your devotion."
I paused for a while to allow my words to be absorbed.
"A true teacher will not allow you to project the source of love onto him. He or she will be very skilled at reflecting the love back to you, until you recognize that the love you feel is arising within you, and that you are the source of the love. A true teacher will insist that you reclaim all your projections, both positive and negative. A true teacher will not allow you to lose yourself in devotion."
I could see that she was relaxing.
"What are you feeling in this moment?" I asked.
"I am feeling very present," she replied quietly. "And I am feeling very intense love for you."
"That is beautiful," I told her. "It is only natural that you would feel love for me if you are very present with me. Just as I feel love for you. Now turn from me and be present with these flowers."
She turned and was very present with the flowers on the table next to me.
"What are you feeling now?" I asked her.
She looked quite radiant as she responded.
"I am feeling very intense love for the flowers."
"Good," I said. "And if you were to behold the distant mountain, you would feel love for that. When you are present, you are love and everything that you are present with reflects that love to you."
Time And Timelessness
If we 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. We can no longer function in the world of time, because there is only now. 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.
One such example is Ramana Maharshi. When Ramana awakened, he did not participate in the world of time. 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 it is time for many more of us to awaken. Enlightenment can no longer be for just a select few, who do not participate in the world. If there is to be an awakening at a collective level, we will have to find a balance between the timelessness of the fully awakened state and the world of time. This means that we must master the art of moving easily between those two dimensions.
To do so, we must know that the present moment is the truth of life. We must know that everything outside of this moment is illusory in nature and so we no longer believe in any of it as true. We must recognize that life at the level of mind is simply play. It is sometimes happy and sometimes sad, because it is a world of duality. We relax and accept the dual nature of life within time. We are no longer for or against anything. We have transcended judgment. Life is accepted fully and so too is death. Joy is accepted fully and so too is pain. But we are so deeply grounded in the moment of now, that we no longer get caught in the movements of the mind and its world of thought and emotion. We are no longer identified with the story unfolding within the world of time. We are no longer defined by that story. We are deeply grounded in Oneness. We can move easily into time and the world of thought, and we are able to return to silence and Presence at will. In fact, silence and Presence are always there as the foundation of our existence, even when we consciously choose to venture into the world of the mind.
Overcoming Abuse In Our World
Humanity is caught in a never-ending cycle of abuse. One lifetime, we play the role of abuser and the next lifetime, we are the abused. The same thing manifests in this lifetime. We are either the abuser or the abused, and sometimes we are both.
We are lost in false power, which is the cause of all the abuse throughout history and all the abuse in the world today. As an inherent part of our awakening, we must discover the true nature of power.
At a deep and sometimes unconscious level, we feel powerless. This usually stems from childhood, when we were not allowed to truly be ourselves, and we had to comply with the will of our parents. In a sense, our innate sense of power was taken from us. It is not our parent's fault. The same thing happened to them and it is simply handed down, generation to generation.
We seek to escape this feeling of powerlessness by feeling powerful, but if the power we feel is in relationship to others, then it is false power.
If I need to feel better, stronger or more successful than another, then I am pursuing false power, and it will always be at someone else's expense. For every winner, there is a loser. Whenever the power we feel is in relationship to others, it is false power, and sooner or later it will lead to abuse. Humanity has been lost in false power, almost from the beginning of time, and our history is overflowing with examples of abuse. Our society is built upon a foundation of false power. False power plays into our relationships in so many ways. False power leads to war, famine, exploitation, and the abuse of our environment, children, women, animals and so much more.
For humanity to survive, we must awaken to true power. True power has no relationship with another. It arises from the center of your Being. It arises from an inner source, an inner font of infinite love, wisdom, strength and power. It is your very life force. When true power arises within you, the feeling of powerlessness from your past will simply dissolve. You will feel free. You will feel empowered to be yourself and express yourself freely and without limitations, and it has nothing to do with anyone else. There is no sense of being stronger or better than anyone else. There is no need to be stronger or better than anyone else, because you feel empowered from within.
With true power there is no possibility of abuse towards others.
True power can only arise when we are fully and fundamentally established in Presence. When we are present, we open into that inner source of true power. As long as we remain lost in the mind, functioning as egos, we will continue in false power and the abuse will remain.
There is another reason for the abuse.
We have been conditioned to avoid painful feelings. This conditioning began in early childhood. We learned to repress feelings like hurt, pain and anger. However, these feelings do not disappear when they are repressed, and sometimes they are quite near the surface.
One of the strategies we have developed to avoid feeling the pain repressed within us, is to inflict the pain onto others. It is a strategy of avoidance, which is widespread and appears in our lives in so many ways. It is another primary cause of abuse in our world. This can often occur in the relationship between parent and child, where the parent passes on the pain from their own childhood to their children, and it all occurs at an unconscious level as a part of this strategy of avoidance. In other words, parents do to their children what was done to them.
Most abusers were abused. It has been revealed that almost all serial killers have experienced terrible abuse in their childhood, and all of their pain, anger and rage has remained repressed within them.
If we are to overcome abuse, there will have to be a revolution in how we deal with our feelings and emotions. We can no longer afford to repress our feelings. We must feel and experience our feelings fully, but always responsibly, and this revolution must permeate every aspect of our lives and reach our children from the day of birth, if not from the day of conception.
We must come into right relationship with our feelings. We must awaken into true power. Only then will we end this never-ending cycle of abuse.
You Are That!
That which 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 into the moment of NOW. Everything is revealed in Oneness.
The dimension of you that has been seeking enlightenment is the ego and the ego will never arrive at that which it is seeking. There needs to be a relaxation, a letting go. The seeking and striving and trying keeps you goal oriented and away from the doorway of the 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. Your 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, Silence, Love and Oneness.
Occasionally, the nothingness at the heart of everything is revealed.
This awakened state of consciousness exists at a level that is transcendent of the mind and ego. When the ego is exposed to this information, it creates a desire in the ego for something that is impossible for the ego to achieve. But the ego will not give up its quest. This has the effect of strengthening the ego, which thrives in an environment of fear, rejection, and struggle. 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 Oneness. If you cannot do it, then how is it accomplished? How can we still our thoughts and open into silence. A relaxation must occur. Simply bring yourself out of the world of the mind and the ego by becoming fully present. The key to being present is to bring yourself fully present with that which is already present. If you can see it, hear it, feel it, taste it, touch or smell it in this moment, then you can be present with it. The moment you are truly present with something that is here in the moment with you, thoughts will stop. Your mind will fall silent. 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?
No more words.
No more thoughts.
No more concepts.
No more understanding.
Just full, awakened, all embracing Eternal Presence. It is the Presence of pure consciousness. 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. I am speaking from personal experience. I have been in this exalted state of consciousness for weeks at a time.
But sooner or later, a sense of individuality will be restored, so that you can function within the world of time. Restoring my sense of individuality took several months, and it was not easy. This does not mean that the ego was restored to dominance in my life. I still have an ego, 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 who have had powerful experiences of awakening. They have identified with the enlightenment experience, which then catches them back into the mind.
Beyond all experience is the one experiencing.
To anyone who declares themselves enlightened, I would ask, "Who is enlightened?" The answer is "I AM." And then only silence remains. Pure consciousness is your true nature. The I AM Presence is your true nature. It is silent. It is eternal. It is impersonal.
But that does not mean that you cannot also exist at the personal level. 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 you become so awake and deeply grounded in the present moment and the awakened state of Presence that you never lose your connection with the present moment, even when you do venture into the world of the mind. In other words, you no longer believe in your thoughts, memories, ideas, beliefs and opinions as the truth. You are no longer identified with any of it. You recognize that life at the level of mind is simply play. It is sometimes happy and sometimes sad, because it is a world of duality. You relax and accept the dual nature of the mind and the world of experience within time. 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 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, and your sense of yourself.
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.
A man went for a walk one day. As he walked, he became aware that he was feeling lost and alone. Rather than push the feelings away, he allowed them to be present with him. "I'm lost. I am all alone," he cried to himself. A deep sadness arose within him.
Suddenly a voice arose from a deeper level. "If you are lost, then where are you?" It was the voice of his Being. It was the voice of truth.
The man paused to consider the question. "If I am lost, then where am I?" he asked aloud. He sat down and as much as possible, he became present with his feelings.
"I am lost. I am all alone!" he repeated several times.
Once again the voice of his Being gently challenged him. "You say you are lost. Then where are you?"
The man tried to see where he was. Suddenly, it became clear to him.
"I am lost in my mind!" he cried.
It was so simple. He was lost in his mind. He was lost somewhere in his remembered past. Or somewhere in his imagined future. One thing was clear. He was not here now. He closed his eyes and became very still. He became very aware of his body and his breath. He became very aware of the sounds around him. He could feel the soft caress of the breeze upon his face. He became silent. He began to feel very present. The feeling of being lost and alone disappeared. He paused for a few moments in silent gratitude. He opened his eyes and his heart exploded with joy as a bird soared into the sky.