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Premature Claims to Awakening – Scott Kiloby

Scott-KilobyYes, awakening happens.

Yes, awakening includes not identifying with thought, emotion, sensation.

Yes, awakening can involve subtle to powerful shifts in perceptions about the nature of reality and separation.

Yes, awakening is about seeing no self.

 

 

No, there is not one static event or state called awakening that everyone arrives at in some magical moment, never suffers again, and then holds hands in bliss, light and love eternally singing Kumbaya. Life is way too fluid to neatly fit into those kinds of static myths. That’s the stuff of spiritual poems that are written during spiritual highs. Notice that you often don’t see spiritual poems about the lows of spiritual awakening. It just doesn’t sell.

I can’t be an authority on all things related to awakening. I can only speak from my experience, so that’s what I will do. My experience includes my own unfolding and the thousands of people I have worked with and stayed in contact with through the years. Many of them are teachers.

Mostly, what gets passed off as awakening is a certain shifting that happens, where one sees that they are not the concepts in their heads. In awareness styled awakenings (there are different awakenings that look and feel differently in different traditions – awareness styled is just one), the shift usually involves some sort of non-conceptual realization of awareness, being, presence or no self that seems to be an end point at first. It can be a sudden or gradual shifting but people generally report this kind of change in perception. Things are seen to come and go within awareness inseparably or things seem to come and go but there is no self to be found (again, different teachings style the words and the realization differently). This head awakening, no matter how it is described, is often taken to be the Holy Grail. Some teachings are more sophisticated in the way they speak of this kind of realization, calling it liberation. Liberation is a strong word. I reserve that only for the kind of realizations that warrant such a tagline. And many of those claiming liberation do so prematurely. Remember the “rush to judgment” in the OJ Simpson case? A rush to awakening is the same kind of dire desire to be done, to firmly place on one’s resume “I have realized X and now there is nothing else to see or do.” It’s like shoving a flag in the ground on the moon’s surface. Out of wishful thinking, we think we can claim this territory. But usually it is the mind trying to claim the territory. Our actual experience reveals otherwise, but we often can’t see it at first.

In chakra terms, the head awakening is the opening of the crown and/or the mind’s eye chakra. Because this opening reveals a profound seeing that separate things, including a separate self, are not really there, it is easy to see why the proclamation of “I’m done” feels so appropriate at that juncture. In many ways, one is done – done with seeking as a self in time and in thought. But this is only a head awakening. Even in a head awakening, it can feel as if the body is open and transparent at first. But given time, areas of the body that are dense with the feeling of separation start to become conscious. This head awakening gets passed off as the Full Monte prematurely. We want so much to be done after years of seeking or suffering. It’s no wonder we want a head awakening to be the whole enchilada. But mostly, it is a half-baked enchilada. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve worked with in sessions and at the Kiloby Center who had an initial awakening which was followed by addictions, obsessions, relationship and money issues, anxiety or depression years later.

 

Awakening (Agil Prakoso)

Agil Prakoso

 

The good news is that once the head awakening happens, the rest of the unfolding no longer has to be about seeking a future event (which is often how people approach the head awakening, as something that “will happen to me”). The “me” is made into toast at some point, revealing a lack of an inherent self and its time-bound story. There are plenty of teachings and methods that bring about that “no self” initial awakening. They are helpful and yet they are limited to the extent that they say that one is done when the head awakens.

There are at least two other big areas to be navigated after a head awakening.

  1. The body.
  2. The baggage of mental concepts around awakening itself.

Let’s start with the mental concepts. In my experience, there is a desire in many people to grasp mentally what has been realized. There are elaborate conceptual frameworks devised to “make sense” of awakening, just as this writing is a conceptual framework. Nothing wrong with having a conceptual framework, until it becomes the new mental prison.  Just as there is a rush to a head awakening, there is often a rush to neatly place the realization into certain conceptual boxes. There are many boxes. All the buzz words you hear in awakening circles can be imprisoning boxes including:

  • “we create our own reality”
  • “everything is just a concept”
  • “nothing is true”
  • “life is a divine mystery”
  • “oneness is the ultimate truth”
  • “no self”
  • “awareness”
  • “I AM”
  • “all there is, is THIS”
  • “The Tao that can be spoken is not the eternal Tao”
  • “The Middle Way”

There is nothing wrong with boxes. They can be quite helpful in communication and quite cozy for the mind. But inevitably, when the box is mistaken for moment-by-moment living of the realization, everything that has been realized is reduced to some ideas and memories. People then speak and act from the memory or the ideas about awakening, rather than seeing awakening as a living, breathing, constantly unfolding moment-by-moment adventure. The archetype for this is the spiritual teacher who sits in front of the room proclaiming full realization while being addicted to sweets or involved with sex scandals or control issues in his/her personal life.

People can spend years after a head awakening endlessly identifying with all sorts of mental stuff around the awakening. This is the time when people desire to be teachers. I went through it. It’s really very innocent and comes from good intentions. But what gets passed off is only what a teacher has realized, nothing more.  And many times what gets passed off are ideas about static, fixed things that are taken to be objectively true and real. Spiritual experiences and realizations get concretized into doctrine or dogma or “this is the only way” type thinking.

Illustration by Ae TomaszewskaThe good news is that when one is ready, the boxes can be burned up in the fire of freedom, thrown away like yesterday’s garbage. At that point, what becomes important is the living of the realization itself, rather than the conceptualizing and understanding of it. Conceptualizing goes on, like with this writing. But things are held a lot more lightly and non-seriously. The Living Inquiries were born out of my experience of being first immersed in certain boxes and then turning attention towards the moment-by-moment living and seeing.

The body has its own say in the matter. There are other chakras – not just the crown and mind’s eye. The heart can feel heavy, dense and closed for years after a head awakening. So can the root chakra, the sacral, the stomach and the throat. If you think that none of this matters, watch what happens after a head awakening. You’ll see the continued arising of addictions, anxieties, self-limiting thoughts, grasping after understanding, issues with money, depression, big ego trips, issues with control and jealousy – all of it in one degree or another. I found this out by proclaiming that I was done too early. My issue was the continuation of certain addictions long after the head awakening. In my conversations with other teachers, they reported similar things. It takes a while, sometimes years, after a head awakening to fully see the darker, denser aspects of the body that remain closed. This is why becoming a teacher right after a head awakening is not a great idea. It’s like the blind leading the blind.

If you still don’t believe me, listen to Adyashanti. He speaks eloquently about the post-awakening dilemma. Somewhere between 3 to 7 years after an awakening, the other shoe drops. Everything that was held in the mind and body and that was not seen through in that awakening will come up and bite you in the ass. It’s like it all wants to be seen and released. And it can be painful. You can even wonder why you started the awakening process to begin with.

Again, the good news is that the unfolding can continue in the body, if you remain open. Some of the later work I did on the body (and still do) was truly the most liberating of all. When dense areas dissolve or open, it’s life-changing. If you are working with a friend or teacher who stopped at a head awakening, that’s all you will get, unless you break free of that mold and explore the unfolding with an attitude of complete openness.

Don’t worry, the body awakening part is not about seeking in the same way you were seeking in the beginning. Spiritual seeking comes from mind/head chakras that are closed. The body awakening doesn’t happen through seeking. It happens just from remaining open and working with those energies in skillful ways.

 

 Natural Rest

 

 

To read more about the body opening, check out my blogs here.

The Only Weatherman You Need – Nirmala [We’ve Been Asked]

umbrella

Pic: Jessica Finotto

For this post we have a special Q&A selection from Nirmala’s Blog | Newsletter. We think these are very thoughtful and practical questions and perhaps many of our readers will benefit from exploring. Special thanks to Nirmala for allowing us to share this with you.

 

If someone has low self-esteem, confidence, and self-love, and has not awakened to True Nature, what can be done?

From a non-dual perspective, I know the answer is to wake up. But from a day-to-day perspective, even if we have had tastes of Presence, it is not much use if we are suffering deeply and are caught badly in the snare of mind – where we are barely functional and there is no sign of any significant spiritual shift in the cards.

  • Should we then put aside what we know to be Truth to shore up the ego and restore balance in our mind/body/persona – whatever that may look like?
  • To work on self-love, self-acceptance, little steps to re-engage with ourselves and the world around us?
  • This is a fuzzy/confusing area I find – must we have a healthy/functional ego/mind before we can hope to be free of that false identity?

I have heard some teachers insinuate or flat-out declare that so-called mental illness need not be an obstacle to awakening – and others that it is. And similar comments about anti-depressant/anxiety meds . Also, that we [the seekers] should not expect spiritual pursuit to address mental/emotional/life issues. Even if it may end up helping in these areas to one degree or another.

I have also heard some teachers (and critics) say that the ‘spiritual package’ (i.e. teachers, books, practices, sites, community) can be used as an escape from the things that hound us in our lives. That we can cherry-pick aspects of teachings, and interpret teachings, in such a way that suits our neuroses (such as: remaining single, or celibate, or only associating with like-minded/interested people, or clinging to a teacher as a parental/God replacement, etc).

It would be very helpful if you can speak on these things.

 

“My perspective is that there are many different sizes and levels of truth. These different levels of truth can seem contradictory when in fact they are complimentary, and often the smaller truth is contained within the bigger truth. A simple example of this is how when you are standing outdoors on a rainy day, the sky is cloudy and grey. But if you fly in an airplane over that same spot, the sky is clear and blue. Both things are true at the same time. The clear sky at the level of 35,000 feet is the bigger truth as it encompasses the entire planet, while the clouds and rain are only happening over a smaller area.

So when it comes to questions of how emotional and mental issues relate to bigger spiritual questions, the emotions and mental patterns are like the Nirmalaclouds within the larger expanse of our true nature as the limitless sky. How this practically works itself out seems to be completely unique for every person I have ever explored these questions with. So within the very big truth of the totality of existence, there are people whose spiritual life benefits from psychotherapy and even medication, and others who seem to be able to just wake up even while suffering from very painful and difficult conditioning. Conversely, some people are freed by spiritual teachings and practices and other people are caught by the same words and methods in a net of the ego.

There is no formula that works for everyone. And yet every formula also works for someone. This is why you can hear such seemingly contradictory statements about what matters and what does not matter from different teachers…or sometimes from the same teacher! They may be speaking generally from their own experience, or they may be speaking very specifically to what they see happening in the student or seeker right in front of them. All there is, is truth. Every perspective has at least a small part of truth to it, but there is no perspective that can be put into words that contains all the truth, or even all the truth about just this one question of how to approach our neurosis with a spiritual outcome in mind.

This is why I point to a more experiential way of discriminating the truth using your own heart. The truth is whatever in this moment opens your heart (or your sense of your self) and quiets your mind. And something that is less true tends to contract your heart and your sense of being while making your mind busier. This is a completely dynamic, ever-changing equation that is different for every person at each new moment of their lives. And it is also always relative: for one person a process that heals and clears emotions may be a wonderful expansion of their perspective and capacity to feel Presence, while for another person the same process is a contraction into a smaller truth.”

 

[Ed. Note: you can read more about this way of discriminating the truth using your heart via a free download of Nirmala’s book, Living from the Heart, available here.]

 

 

The important question is:

“What is true for you right here and right now, and at this particular point in your own spiritual unfoldment? Do the practices, therapeutic approaches and teachings you are involved with now generally open your heart, expand your sense of being, and quiet your mind? Or do they generally have the opposite effect? It helps to notice the general overall effect as every practice or therapy will have moments that are more or less expansive, in part because any practice or therapy will also trigger conditioned reactions to the process. Therefore the best question is what is the overall trajectory or overall climate of your involvement with a particular teaching or therapeutic approach? Does psychotherapy with a particular therapist open you up even more to big truths, or does it wrap you up even tighter in your pain? Does a particular anti-depressant free you from an oppressive neuro-chemical imbalance to be able to do spiritual inquiry and exploration, or does the medicine cause a contraction of your awareness that makes you less aware of everything including both your pain and your deeper nature?

It is also possible that the biggest truth is a combination of different truths. There is a tendency when a big truth is seen to use it to discount or ignore the smaller truths. This can lead to a situation where the smaller truth suddenly becomes unavoidable because it has been neglected. I often ask people who say that since there is no separate self that there is no need whatsoever for healing, where they would draw the line? If there is no need to actively address an emotional wound, does that mean there is no need to address a physical wound also? You can see the limitation of using a big truth to negate a smaller truth if you take an exaggerated example: would it make sense to just let someone bleed to death because after all, “There is no one that dies”?

Conversely, it is also obviously limiting to ignore or negate a bigger truth. I have found it a more effective and balanced approach to work with psychological issues within a bigger spiritual perspective. It is often when we are shifting in and out of the different levels of truth that the most profound transformations happen. If we have both feet in our traumatic conditioning, then reliving or exploring the pain often just re-traumatizes us. And if we have both feet in a vast empty experience of the absolute, the experience is profound, but does not usually effectively release or heal our conditioning. It is when we have one foot in both dimensions, or when we are shifting in and out of both perspectives, that the potential for lasting healing and transcendence is the greatest.

It does not make sense to think the world is coming to an end when there are dark clouds overhead, and it does not make sense to carry an open umbrella on a sunny day, just in case the weather might change. The truth that matters most is the weather that is happening now, and if we pay attention to that, we can also learn more about the climate overall. Why limit yourself to only exploring and enjoying one type of weather? Why not explore and enjoy it all, and learn the importance and significance of every size of truth that shows up? Ultimately, your own heart and its direct sense of how true things are can be the only weatherman you need. It is a trustworthy guide when there are so many levels and shapes and sizes of truth out there.”

 

Nirmala invites questions for his blog. Visit:

Endless-Satsang

Lazy Person’s Feng Shui – Joey Lott [Guest Blogger]

I’ll admit, I went through a Feng Shui phase. And, as is not surprising, it turned into yet another thing to stress about. Was my bed facing the correct way? How was my prosperity corner? What about my relationship corner? Should I follow form or compass?

As a side note, I also went through a numerology phase. Same sorts of problems. Lots of obsession. Lots of pointless concern over pointless things.

Oh, and my Feng Shui and numerology phases overlapped. That was hell! I drove all over L.A. looking for the “right” location to rent a mailbox. Couldn’t find one. Always something wrong.

So I’ve recently hatched the idea of creating the Lazy Person’s Feng Shui, which greatly simplifies the whole process.

There is only ONE rule to the Lazy Person’s Feng Shui (and that rule is):

1. “whatever happens, just let go.”

Pic MacKenzie Haley

Pic MacKenzie Haley

 

Because finally, it’s possible to discover that you’re not in control. And I can tell you that from my own experience, that’s such a relief. It’s not that I’m not in control and it’s a scary universe in which other forces are in control. Rather, it’s just the simple recognition that whatever is happening is all that is. There is no separate me – not even an observer. All that is, is this.

  • Ultimately, what am I hoping to accomplish by placing my couch so that it faces due north with a mirror behind it?
  • Am I trying to prevent some future badness or achieve some future goodness?
  • Or, more honestly, am I trying to avoid some present feeling or thought or sensation?

When I really began to look, I found something very surprising: if I try to do anything at all, then I seem to miss out on the utter simplicity of being myself exactly as I am right now. And letting go just reveals what already is – which is more wonderful than anyone could imagine. Trying to control isn’t morally wrong. It’s just impossible. Because eventually it becomes apparent that there isn’t anything apart from this.

Finally, it’s possible to discover that there is a complete impossibility of controlling anything simply because it becomes impossible to find anyone, anything, anywhere, or anytime.

Finally, love reveals itself to be all that is. Completely receptive. Completely unconditional. Nothing else. Only this. Just this.

 

So there you have the Lazy Person’s Feng Shui.

 

 

ABOUT

Joey LottJoey Lott lives in New Mexico with his partner, their children, and a dog.

He writes extensively about his passions – mostly in hopes of saving others from the sorts of needless suffering that he experienced in his years of seeking for something better than what is (Hint: there is nothing other than what is.

You can visit Joey’s website at

I AM HERE – Opening the Windows of Life & Beauty [Georgi]

Pic: Stanley Leung

Pic: Stanley Leung

“In reality there is only the source, dark in itself, making everything shine. Unperceived, it causes perception. Unfelt, it causes feeling. Unthinkable, it causes thought. Non-being, it gives birth to being. It is the immovable background of motion. Once you are there, you are at home everywhere.”

~Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

 

It began with a simple inquiry, arising some seven years after what many would call enlightenment. It was an inquiry born out of a sense of incompletion, experiential curiosity, and a movement of grace that arose in perfect alignment with the need of individual destiny.

The inquiry is into the ‘here’ and the ‘now’, or more precisely, into the ‘here’ which contains and supports the ‘now’. Where is ‘here’? Where am I? How does the here and now (space and time) take form in all that I am?

Just as the ‘now’ can lead to a rapid awakening, culminating into a liberation into a space of pure, non-verbal ‘being’, the ‘here’ seemed to be a great, unanswered signpost to the source.

What unravelled is a potent trilogy of perception, in which consciousness (the waking consciousness of mind and spirit) dances with awareness (the felt sense, sentience, or being), within the great non-duality of emptiness.

 

“The menu is not the meal.”

~Alan Watts

 

I AM HERE unveils a trilogy of perception through the windows of consciousness, awareness and emptiness. In this, the ‘I’ is consciousness, the ‘Am’ is awareness, or feeling sense of being, and the ‘Here’ represents perception through emptiness.

This is an invitation to inquiry. Is it the same perceptive window that releases consciousness, as that which unveils the awareness within our non-verbal being? Does consciousness of consciousness lead to the same expansion as the refinement of awareness, for example in the awareness of loving awareness? What is that which runs through and behind both perceptive windows?

Can we inquire into the differing impact of the Now and the Here? Is there a separate flavor to the experience of peace and that of love? Can we recognize that bliss is different in sensation from the feeling of ecstasy? What is passion? What is unity, true unity, through every layer, expression and experience of form?

As we realize each existential aspect of being here now as non-absolute, a liberation occurs in which we are able to channel these aspects according to the needs of the whole through any moment or situation.

Much of the I AM HERE message is about language, which gives the building blocks of thought, which can give the signposts to experience. The language we use in discourse on non-duality will define and perhaps even limit our ability to communicate with precision. Words, used without a depth of responsibility, can create subtle prisons.

As Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj taught, perception is not absolute, either as consciousness or awareness. It could well be the energy that emanates through all forms in creation, but in itself, it is not an end point.

“Perception doesn’t define who we are. Yet it does define where we are limited, and where we are not yet free.”

[I AM HERE]

 

 

I am here

Please enjoy this special excerpt from I AM HERE

 

Unity

“It is in the dense dimension of physical matter that emptiness becomes most apparent.”

The soul aspect which pervades as a background to the dimension of emptiness is unity. When I first mention this to students, they are often shocked. Unity? In the root? The idea that it is precisely the ‘lower’ dimension – all that ugly physical stuff – which is the opening to sacred unity can appear as a paradox. Yet what we know as the ‘lowest’ dimension – physical matter – is also in some ways the most inviolate, strong and the most suffused with the perpetual sanctity of creation and the emergence of form. It is in the dense dimension of physical matter that emptiness becomes most apparent.

When we contemplate the densest expression of energy available to our perception – the physical world – the world of bones, flesh, cement, mortar and neatly painted asphalt, it becomes clear that there can be no unity which does not contain that. If we excluded the matter of which we are composed as individual humans, it wouldn’t be unity but escapism. In truth matter does not divide us: it is the most tangible, physical proof of our unity.

Our physical bodies, alive as they are, are also the clearest declaration of physical unity. They declare it constantly, these bodies, as they drag behind us as we venture forth in our ‘higher’ process of spiritual development. Loyally, they ground it all. Whether conscious or not, and beyond the furthest reaches of our awareness, these bodies persist as a magnificent composition of universal matter.

Although we can find a thousand reasons why not to think about it right now, these bodies of ours are also in transformation. We will undergo a death process, and the physical body will be cremated or buried in order to slowly decompose into the elements. Even the fresh air we are breathing is suffused with the particles of bodies of those that have lived and died. And this is not only a future event. Within the timeless, vertical dimension of the present moment, our physical conception and our decomposition are coexisting. There is no greater proof and fact of the transience of form than our physical flesh and blood, and the hard ground on which it stands.

So potent is this, that when there is sound it vibrates through every molecule and cell of our physical bodies, whether or not we know or like the other people in the room. We are responding in unity to every passing truck, and each whisper from a baby’s lips, whether or not we allow it within our awareness or know it within our consciousness. At the heart of matter, we are one.

This basis of unity contains the mid-dimension of sentient awareness and the upper dimension of wisdom and peace. It is the infinite empire that allows the stillness of eternity, the stillness of being and the stillness of silence. It is the powerful support to passion, ecstasy and bliss. It is the unending perimeter of self-realization as it turns back towards a refining of enlightenment and awakening.

Dissolving in this soul aspect of unity, behind time and space, within the great and persuasive playing field of creation in the grey space between polarities, we are one.

If we return to the story of the unborn, we notice that in the coming together of two sides of a polarity, man and woman, something new is born: the embryo of all that we are. If this embryo could report, it would be telling that its formation is a kind of vibration, a movement in which it has been separated from the pure atmosphere of peace, love and unity from which it emerged. It would be almost cynical about the division – because it is still composed within peace, love and unity, and it knows the division is transient.

Just as a handful of sand lifted from the seashore is still sand, and knows it can be scattered in all directions across the planet, yet it can never have its ‘sandness’ taken away, even if every grain were to be spiraled through infinite space. Just as a reflection of light gives light and is composed of light. Just as the water in our bodies and in each individual cell is part of the universal element of water, and when it returns to the ocean will become the ocean. Just in this way, we are an inseparable part of creation as it manifests, moment by moment.

 

 

About

Georgi JohnsonSpiritual author and teacher Georgi (Georgina Yael Johnson) has been involved with healing, teaching and meditation for most of her life.

With a passion for going to the depths, Georgi is leading others into an exploration of perception and the realization of the windows of perception: consciousness, awareness & emptiness. Her devotion to this work comes from a keen awareness of inter-being and inherent unity.

Offered together with her partner Bart ten Berge, the inspiring I AM HERE teachings are presently guiding thousands into a process of grounded, spiritual reformation – allowing the manifestation of more peace, love and unity within the spectrum of human experience.

An Oxford graduate in Literature, Georgi presently lives in Israel with her ten children.

Perception.Inner-Growth.org

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