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This page will act as a forum for some of my personal rants and ravings
ARE YOU AWAKE?
(Posted April 2007)
Enlightenment has to be the most misused and abused word in our western lexicon. If someone is caring and kind and aware of spiritual issues we tend to call them enlightened. But of course this is not the real meaning of enlightenment.
There is no path to enlightenment, nor can you achieve enlightenment.
Now I am not trying to be cryptic; I am just trying to clear away some of the new age flaky understanding of this state of awareness. Having said that, Enlightenment is the most profound non-event that you can experience.
To be awakened is to know your true nature; to see life in its basic Truth. I said there is no path to enlightenment because there is no where to go. I said you cannot achieve enlightenment, because you do not gain anything; in fact, you lose everything you think mattered.
When we talk about losing everything, people get scared. I remember my own apprehension knowing that it would be the end of my ego. Would the end of my ego be the end of me? Would losing my separation consciousness mean that who I believe to me would no longer exist? Of course not. You don’t simply fade away into the cosmos because you are enlightened. All that really happens is that you lose the drama attached to being you. And you are not going to lose your Ego completely; it is simply no longer going to be running the show.
Maybe we should back up a bit and clarify a few things. First off, the state you are in now is called duality. There is a sense of separateness between what you see as you, and what you see as the rest of humanity, creation, the universe, God or the Divine. Your ego is fully in charge and you identify as being “I” or “Me”. You see yourself as a separate entity from the person standing next to you. You see the drama of your life as being Truth and reality. You may even have the disadvantage of being part of a religion that enforces the concept that you are a separate entity from the Divine. This is the most dangerous of all concepts as it instantly divides humanity with no hope of releasing the separation consciousness.
So I can see the question forming already. If I am actually part of God or the Oneness, why do I experience pain, suffering, and all those horrible reality TV shows? Well, have you ever played hide and seek? Do you remember how much fun it was to search out and find the person? Well God likes to play hide and seek. How can you know yourself if everything you experience is yourself? The only way is to create separation from yourself, and then experience finding yourself again. That is a very simplistic way of understanding what is Enlightenment.
Now I have used the terms Enlightenment and Awakening in this description. Basically in my teaching they are very similar terms, and can be seen on a spectrum of experience with basic Awakening at one end, and full Enlightenment on the other. Basic Awakening is the instant that the veil falls away that has been keeping you blind. It is almost like a hole gets punched through your perception and you can now see the Truth behind the curtain. Awakening is also the death of the search. At this point you still have a lot of conditioning to work through, so you will experience times of utter clarity followed by periods of total engagement with your stuff. This is normal. Ram Dass once said, if you think you are enlightened then spend a week with your parents. On the other end of the scale is full Enlightenment, where all human conditioning and separation consciousness has dropped away. That is Nirvana.
Now the great thing about achieving Awakening is that all your problems in life simply disappear. You sit under a tree in the backyard and dispense sagely advice to followers in white robes. I had you fooled until the white robe bit didn’t I? Hmmm…have to work on that one. Truth is that your problems, trials, desires change very little when you Awaken. The difference is that you now have perspective on them. To an outsider you may appear to be cold and callus when listening to their drama of the week but in reality you just have better perspective. Consider the show Desperate Housewives. Pre-awakened state you believe you are a one of the character on Wisteria Lane; post-awakening you realize that although Eva Longoria is a hottie wearing a thong, it is just a show and you can sit back and enjoy it.
I mentioned that Awakening is the death of the search. Well once you are Awakened there is nothing to look for. The answer is there (as it always was) and now your only job is to sit in that Truth and release layers of your conditioning. As Eckhart Tolle is famous for teaching; all you have to do is be in the Now. There is no where else to go; no one else to be.
So one of the big questions that I am sure is forming is “Robert, how do I Awaken?” Well good question there Timmy. One answer you may get is that you need to have proper posture to open your yogic channels, sit in the full lotus position with your hands held thus, chant some mantras, and oh yeah, meditate like for a gazillion years. Does this always work? Well no it doesn’t; just look at the multitudes of practitioners that spend a lifetime(s) doing just that only to have open yogic channels and a sense of self still in separation consciousness. Now I am not discrediting these traditions, only I am saying that these practices will only help facilitate awakening; they will not create awakening. Awakening starts with a decision to awaken. It entails a willingness to dissolve the sense of “I” as a separate entity. Everything you do and experience in life is only a trigger or facilitator to get you to awaken. This just so happens to be the underlying teachings in Vajrayana Buddhism and is in opposition to the severity of practice in say Hineyana Buddhism. In Vajrayana you could embrace all the experiences and vices of the world as long as it leads you to enlightenment. In Hineyana you better be ready for many a long hour of meditation. Which one is the “right” practice? Neither and both, although I have to admit Vajrayana can be more fun. Seriously though, what ever it takes for your Ego to relinquish control is the right practice for you. Some need the regimented discipline of Hineyana while others may need the coyote foolishness Vajrayana can embrace. I have seen many people with poor meditation posture Awaken (including myself), and many with excellent posture still sitting in separation. For some they will need different practices at different stages of their development. For me it was this way and I have drifted though various traditions including Hineyana, Mahayana, Vajrayana, Thereveda, and Zen. I think that for most people they will need the mental discipline of structured tradition so that they can move past it and embrace a more coyote style. But then again, maybe in your last lifetime you already wore out your mala beads and are ready to let go of all your beliefs in this lifetime. Whichever tradition you follow, in the end though you still have to sleigh the Buddha.
Did Robert just say “I have to sleigh the Buddha?” Yup. Burn the heretic! Oops, wrong religion. This actually forms the biggest stumbling block of anyone trying to achieve enlightenment. The only way you can awaken is if you let go of all your beliefs, teachings and concepts that brought you to this point. I always like Adyashanti’s talks about spirituality being a disease, and Awakening is the cure. Why do people spend decades in practice and never Awaken? In my opinion, it is they are hanging onto their beliefs. Your beliefs may have brought you this far, but they are also that which will deceive you and stunt your growth. I remember before my own Awakening I was shown such beautiful images of a spiritual life, but they were all traps. Your ego is no dummy. Your ego realizes what is happening so it grabs onto the spiritual bandwagon and charges the horses forward. Your ego figures if you are going to go through with this enlightenment game then it might as well lead the charge. It knows though that it can always find another turn to keep you in the house of mirrors. Spirituality and psychic awareness CAN be the biggest traps for your Ego. So in the end you are alone. No beliefs, no tradition, no teacher, no pony.
Now I mentioned that there are many experiences that can help you Awaken. Alone, none of these will make a politician’s difference to your Awakening until you have made a sincere decision to do what is necessary to Awaken. But coupled with that intense desire to Awaken they can be the needed trigger. Some of these would include:
psychotropic/entheogen plants with the intent to awaken and see the Truth of existence
sex (with the intent of connecting beyond yourself)
energy work with the intent of clearing the separation consciousness and conditioning
introspective awareness (going within)
being in a Divine field (in the presence of say Amma or the Dalai Lama)
shamanic journeying with the intent to see the Truth
being aware of the soap opera around you
In the west we tend to divide the world up into good/evil. This of course only creates a greater sense of separation. There is no source of evil other than absence of Divine light. This is the same as a darkened room; there is no source of darkness in the room other than the absence of light. So if there is nothing other than the Divine then all we can experience is the Divine…even if that is the Divine in separation. Got it? In other words someone in deep separation consciousness, fully run by their Ego is still Divine, they just don’t recognize it. There is no duality other than what you create. You weren’t kicked out of the Garden of Eden; the gate was simply open and you wandered off, and you can return at any time. The original sin wasn’t that you ate the fruit (which isn’t an apple by the way) but that you entered in duality and forgot you were Divine. In this way there is no sacred and profane other than what you create. You don’t work for Creator/God; you are God, and so is the person you see as your enemy. You do not have a spiritual sacred life separate from your mundane physical world. Everything in the eyes of creation is sacred. This includes that little BDSM fantasy you had about Eva Longoria last night. Bet you thought I wouldn’t know about that one.
This brings us to a little story; gather round children. I remember being swooped down upon by a bible thumper while I was sitting next to the ocean enjoying a sunny day. He must have felt I was a soul needing saving as he launched into his scripture. He was complaining about pagans that they worship nature and that he thinks it makes more sense to worship the painter and not the painting. What the poor man in separation didn’t realize is that the painter is the painting. End of story.
So, like Keanu Reeves in Little Buddha you have your Awakening moment and say “Whoa, dude”. Now what? Well if Hollywood has taught us anything I believe you find a tree (preferably a Bodhi or something from the fig family) and sit under it until you fade away into the ether. End of story.
Hmmm, you are a little more savvy than I gave you credit for. Well if truth be told, what you do after Awakening is the probably same thing you did before Awakening, although now you will have one of those annoying all knowing smiles. One of the basic teachings of Buddhism is “Joyful participation in the sorrow of the world”, which kind of points to the activity after Awakening. Although most people in the west consider Buddhism to be an escapist philosophy of removing yourself from the world, it is in fact the polar opposite. In Buddhism once you have Awakened you have integration. Eckhart Tolle talks about this being in the world but not of the world. Your goal when you are born whether you know it or not is to Awaken. Your goal once you awaken is to help all other sentient beings Awaken. You don’t achieve this by preaching the gospel (or writing dry witted articles on Awakening) but by living a life of service and loving compassion.
So that is everything you always wanted to know about Awakening but couldn’t be bothered to ask.
Your only thing left to do is
Where Are We Going?
It is all over the news; corruption, environmental
destruction, genocide, brutality and the many other plagues of humankind.
Is that who we are? Is that
where we are going? Although we can
never turn a blind eye to injustice, I think we need to be fair in assessment of
our evolution. In this piece I want
to look at the positive signs that surround us.
Yes there is chaos; but just as the Phoenix needs the fire, we can use
that chaos to create beauty.
Personally I feel humans are slowly wiping the sleep from their eyes and stretching their bodies to greet the new day. Now just as in this reality, some people rise early before the sun and others hide under the covers until well past noon. This is true in the mythic reality as well. While some had their eyes opened in the 1960’s or earlier, others in our culture may take many more life times of sleep before they are ready to Awaken. But what I feel is happening is that we are approaching that critical mass; the hundredth monkey if you will, that will speed our evolution.
One of the most promising signs I see on the horizon is the death of religion. Yup, that’s right, I am happy to see big religion bite the big one. Will this happen overnight? No. Will they give up without a fight? No again. But what I see is the death of religion and the control and lies it represents and the birth of spirituality. Now I am not talking about enlightened religion such as that championed by the Dalai Lama, but instead those that aim to keep their followers in ignorance. For although religion is about control and dogma, spirituality is the quest for Truth and connection to the Divine. People are discovering the Truth behind the lies that unenlightened religion has perpetrated for thousands of years. And that Truth behind the mask is true beauty. Look at the teachings of Christ. While Christianity is losing its control, the beauty in the teachings of Christ and the sacred feminine are finally being heard in the mainstream.
I also see that we have an abundance of teachers on
this new path. What is more is that
they are more accessible. While I
have tears running down my face every time I watch the atrocities committed
towards the Tibetans, we now have the beautiful teachings of Buddhism and its
teachers spread to the corners of the world.
We have a sharing of teachings that is unprecedented in
history. We have the Dalai Lama
leading teachings around the globe; Ammachi giving her Darshan blessing as she
travels; the Hopi sharing their teachings for the first time; the mending of the
sacred hoop by bringing together all nations on the Red Road, the reawakening of
the Celtic path; and the interest and preservation of shamanic paths.
Not only are their more paths up the mountain, but we have amazing teachers showing us the commonality of all paths. Joseph Campbell, Tom Harpur, Ram Dass have all been vocal in helping us find the Truth behind the window dressing.
Our vocabulary is changing to keep up with this burgeoning growth. Even to have words like “Spiritual Journey” in our lexicon is refreshing.
It is not just the vocabulary though; it is new ways of approaching needs and challenges. There has been an emergence of environmentally friendly ways. Some of these methods have been a return to grass roots while other come at us from the world of high tech. Yes we have environmental destruction on a perverse scale, but I am confident we can reverse this course. Sometimes you have to stand on the brink before the need comes to alter course.
Governments are corrupt; but we no longer just believe what we are told. The glimmerings of intelligence are in our eyes. Brutalities are being committed around the world; but more eyes are focusing on the injustices. We have more illness in our world but also the development of more healers and healing systems coming online. Yes we have big scary genetic manipulation of our food and depletion of our soil, but we also have a return to organic practices. Greater resource destruction, but more voices for sustainable living.
One of the most intriguing developments according to many spiritual teachers is right in front of you. No, not my web page (but thanks for thinking of me), it is the internet! Yes there are some scary and nauseating things on the net, but what were you doing looking for them? Hmmm? Think though how the internet shrinks our world. Ideas, information and people are instantly accessible. This includes spiritual teachers and concepts.
My personal belief is that the psychotropics of the 1960’s cracked open enough “eggs” to shake us awake. It made us push our chairs away from the table and say “No more GM foods for me mom, I want a serving of Enlightenment” Since then we have been floundering, but I feel we are flopping our way towards awakening.
(posted May 2006)
"If you are not part of the solution then you are part of the problem." This old gem, although it is well worn, is still worth remembering. Although all life can be considered Maya (illusion) it does not mean that we can sit in a cave and meditate the world away. Buddhists have a teaching that goes "Joyful participation in the suffering of the world". which means that although you should not become attached to the suffering you should integrate the spiritual teachings with physical life.
We all know there are major problems in the world. We have poverty and hunger when there is more than enough food to feed everyone in the world. We have war and violence towards one another that serves no positive end. There is destruction of the environment on all sides. We have a medical system that is out of control and leading people blindly off a cliff. There is wholesale destruction of our rainforests and old growth forests not to mention the animals that depend on them for survival. The pollution and over fishing of our oceans. The tampering and devaluing of our food supply. Contamination and depletion of our groundwater. Violence and devastation surrounding our power sources as we continue to rely on fossil fuels and nuclear even though more sustainable sources are readily available. Religious abuse, sexual abuse, and so ad nauseum.
I do not bring this out just to depress you. I am not someone who focuses on the news every night and immerses myself in the problems and woes of the world. But the sad fact is that some people stick their head in the sand and refuse to look at what is happening. It is to these people that I implore to get involved. It is not enough to cluck our tongues and shake our heads. We need to take some action to alleviate suffering in the world.
There are many was in which we can do this without resorting to extremism. Basically most governments in the world are blind, greedy, immoral and spineless. I know that sounds brutal but all we have to do is look at their leadership. It is rare that an enlightened leader makes the tough choices. Governments make the right choices only when they are pushed to by a rise in consciousness of its citizens. To this end we need to create change though grassroots decisions in our daily lives.
I believe we can impact the earth and its inhabitants in small but meaningful ways. Not everyone is ready to quit their existing lives and form an eco-village , but we can contribute by living our lives more intentionally.
Here are some ways I feel we can impact the world in a positive way:
Not just limit our role to recycling, but also to re-using and reducing. I am a big believer in groups such as Freecycle (check Yahoo groups). We need to break away from our fascination with owning junk. I don't mean you have to live in a one room cabin with only a used sock to keep you company, but think before you buy.
Put pressure on your government to create change. Sometimes as little as a letter written in protest is a enough to cause a ripple.
Buy organic non-GMO foods whenever possible. Support our local growers who are using sustainable practices.
Push for the end to GMO foods such as those created by Monsanto
Be aware in your building practices. Do you really need to cut down an old growth forest in order to build a big house or deck. There are many other building practices that yield beautiful results and have a much smaller impact on the earth's resources.
Grow your own food whenever possible. Try to create as closed a loop as possible to negate the need for mono-crops, soil depletion, pesticides, expensive transportation, and infrastructure, and so on. Compost your kitchen and yard waste so that it is returned to the soil. Wean yourself off the need to have a bright green lawn that requires intense watering and chemicals.
Take part in neighborhood clean-ups.
Use less harmful cleaning products.
Support organizations that are supporting positive change. This could be donations, membership, lending your time or skills, be mindful though whether the organization is actually helping. Do your research and decide if they are worthy of your resources. There are just as many misguided organizations as effective ones. If in doubt send me all your money and I will take care of it. Honestly...
Watch what you surround yourself with. What goes into your body (avoid pop and overly processed food). Be aware of what media you expose yourself too. Most teachers advise to stay away from mainstream media as not only is it overly biased and censored, but carries a negative and sensationalist tone. Watch what company you keep, make sure it is positive and uplifting. All of this contributes to a healthier individual and from which flows a healthier community. Be mindful in your daily life.
Focus positive spiritual energy on healing the earth. All earth prophecies say that is is going to take a spiritual awakening to fully heal the earth and save our self from destruction. I believe this, and feel that it is beneficial to work on a spiritual level as well as a physical level, to heal not only the earth, but our self in the process.
Do I do everything on this list on a daily basis and live a perfect life?...well of course I do! I am perfect....ummm...okay I admit I am just a human being and make mistakes on a daily basis. I make poor choices and have my vices. This is not what this forum is about though. We are not perfect beings. All I am getting at is everyday you should try to create positive change.
Believe nothing merely because you have been told it. Do not believe what your teacher tells you merely out of respect for the teacher. But whatsoever, after due examination and analysis, you find to be kind, conducive to the good, the benefit, the welfare of all beings -- that doctrine believe and cling to, and take it as your guide.