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Always Already – Ken Wilber [Random Viewpoints]

Upon arrival, I swelled up in [almost] instant disappointment after learning that my chiropractor appointment was actually next Thursday (I drove almost an hour in fog/rain conditions mind you…ugh). Subsequently I politely excused myself and went to the restroom. I decided to ask the person at the counter if they could possibly accommodate my mistake given the pain I was ‘experiencing’ and since I was already ‘there.’ They said they would try but it was unlikely so late in the day. So I took a seat and found out that there were several other walk-ins that day who were turned away. I decided to park it and take my chances and see what would unfold – if anything.

A few minutes later I was informed that it would be over an hour wait (possibly longer) but they would in fact work me in. I said OK, though she look bewildered that I was actually going to stick it out for that long and or like that was unfathomable in today’s rush-rush society. I thought to myself, now what am I going to do for the next hour [haha] in a nearly jam-packed doctors office at closing time? Out comes the Kindle and the first thing I selected was what you are about to read.

This was the very first time I ever read these words – although miraculously I discovered that someone sent me a .pdf document of this almost two years ago. For two years this sat quietly  in my documents folder on my trusty little Kindle Fire reader.

*It really hit home – especially the body-mind section(s) as I was essentially there for help with my ‘body.’

N-joy!

~CMK

 

 

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The Brilliant Clarity of Ever-Present Awareness

In this excerpt from The Eye of Spirit, Ken offers a most powerful—and beautiful—piece of spiritual writing.

Here’s Ken’s description:

Ken Wilber BIO pic“What follows are various ‘pointing out’ instructions, direct pointers to mind’s essential nature or intrinsic Spirit. Traditionally this involves a great deal of intentional repetition. If you read this material in the normal manner, you might find the repetitions tedious and perhaps irritating. If you would like the rest of this particular section to work for you, please read it in a slow and leisurely manner, letting the words and the repetitions sink in. You can also use these sections as material for meditation, using no more than one or two paragraphs—or even one or two sentences—for each session.”

 

Where are we to locate Spirit?

What are we actually allowed to acknowledge as Sacred?

Where exactly is the Ground of Being?

Where is this ultimate Divine?

 

The Great Search

The Realization of the Nondual traditions is uncompromising: there is only Spirit, there is only God, there is only Emptiness in all its radiant wonder. All the good and all the evil, the very best and the very worst, the upright and the degenerate-each and all are radically perfect manifestations of Spirit precisely as they are. There is nothing but God, nothing but the Goddess, nothing but Spirit in all directions, and not a grain of sand, not a speck of dust, is more or less Spirit than any other.

This realization undoes the Great Search that is the heart of the separate-self sense. The separate-self is, at bottom, simply a sensation of seeking. When you feel yourself right now, you will basically feel a tiny interior tension or contraction—a sensation of grasping, desiring, wishing, wanting, avoiding, resisting-it is a sensation of effort, a sensation of seeking.

In its highest form, this sensation of seeking takes on the form of the Great Search for Spirit. We wish to get from our unenlightened state (of sin or delusion or duality) to an enlightened or more spiritual state. We wish to get from where Spirit is not, to where Spirit is.

But there is no place where Spirit is not. Every single location in the entire Kosmos is equally and fully Spirit. Seeking of any sort, movement of any sort, attainment of any sort: all profoundly useless. The Great Search simply reinforces the mistaken assumption that there is some’ place that Spirit is not, and that I need to get from a space that is lacking to a space that is full. But there is no space lacking, and there is no space more full. There is only Spirit.

The Great Search for Spirit is simply that impulse, the final impulse, which prevents the present realization of Spirit, and it does so for a simple reason: the Great Search presumes the loss of God. The Great Search reinforces the mistaken belief that God is not present, and thus totally obscures the ‘reality of God’s ever-present Presence. The Great Search, which pretends to love God, is in fact the very mechanism of pushing God away; the mechanism of promising to find tomorrow that which exists only in the timeless now; the mechanism of watching the future so fervently that the present always passes it by—very quickly and God’s smiling face with it.

The Great Search is the loveless contraction hidden in the heart of the separate-self sense, a contraction that drives the intense yearning for a tomorrow in which salvation will finally arrive, but during which time, thank God, I can continue to be myself. The greater the Great Search, the more I can deny God. The greater the Great Search, the more I can feel my own sensation of seeking, which defines the contours of my self. The Great Search is the great enemy of what is.

Should we then simply cease the Great Search? Definitely, if we could. But the effort to stop the Great Search is itself more of the Great Search. The very first step presumes and reinforces the seeking sensation. There is actually nothing the self-contraction can do to stop the Great Search, because the self-contraction and the Great Search are two names for the same thing.

If Spirit cannot be found as a future product of the Great Search, then there is only one alternative: Spirit must be fully, totally, completely present right now—AND you must be fully, totally, completely aware of it right now. It will not do to say that Spirit is present but I don’t realize it. That would require the Great Search; that would demand that I seek a tomorrow in which I could realize that Spirit is fully present, but such seeking misses the present in the very first step. To keep seeking would be to keep missing. No, the realization itself, the awareness itself: this, too, must somehow be fully and completely present right now. If it is not, then all we have left is the Great Search, doomed to presume that which it wishes to overcome.

There must be something about our present awareness that contains the entire truth. Somehow, no matter what your state, you are immersed fully in everything you need for perfect enlightenment. You are somehow looking right at the answer. One hundred percent of Spirit is in your perception right now. Not 20 percent, not 50 percent, not 99 percent, but literally 100 percent of Spirit is in your awareness right now—and the trick, as it were, is to recognize this ever-present state of affairs, and not to engineer a future state in which Spirit will announce itself.

And this simple recognition of an already present Spirit is the task, as it were, of the great Nondual traditions.

 

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Sat·Chit·Ananda – Chuck Surface

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When I speak of Bliss, I point to an Experience of Being in which…
The Ecstasy of Pure Being shines into conscious awareness;
Transcendence is shining into and as immanence;
The duality of Formless and Form, vanished;
Not simply “peace”, or “happiness”;
Shiva and Shakti, embracing;
The Heart’s Desire;
Heaven;
Love

 

 

Advaita, as I encountered it during my sadhana in America, only rarely mentions Bliss; often only in precautionary terms in the context of sadhana, and usually only fleetingly, if at all, when describing the Liberated experience of being. I am familiar with the advaitic pedagogical model, and understand that advaita teachers don’t want their students to become attached to transient “states” or “objects” of perception, but rather to feel themselves as That within which all objects, sensations, perceptions, and states arise and vanish. Thus, for advaita students, “Bliss” is often portrayed as a dangerous trap, something to be dismissed (neti neti) as transient, ephemeral, “unreal”, and not to be confused with the unmoving, changeless Absolute, the experience of which is generally described with words like Peace, Happiness, and Joy.

The lack of descriptions of Bliss in the post-Liberation experience of advaitic realization is probably due to the notion that once one is Free, one will know for one’s self the nature of that condition, and therefore there’s no need to elevate what they see as dangerous and alluring “distractions” for those still seeking. Thus, there is rarely a fleeting mention of Bliss; and generally… Ecstasy is right out.

All of that being the case, my experience when I saw my advaita teacher, Jean Klein, was filled with Bliss; a palpable, visceral, extremely pleasurable yet unlocatable Ecstasy that both permeated and was inseparable from the entire Experience of Being. It was, for lack of any better term in relativity, a feeling of Orgasmic Ecstasy that, being “everywhere, yet nowhere”, transcended physicality or any of the other vast and varied aspects of manifest form, and yet… everything existed both “in” and “as” it. For me, the impact of residing in and as the Silence that Jean spoke of was the flooding of the Experience of Being with this Blissfulness I’m struggling to describe. But any mention of this would have been blasphemous, such things being “not spoken of.”

Jean KleinMore than all of his words, more than my clarity of understanding… something about being in proximity to Jean’s physical-energetic locus had this profound effect on me. Many advaitans go off the deep end if you mention such “phenomenality”. But this was my experience. The most “profound” teaching I received, the Transmission of the Flame, was wordless, and had everything to do with my Mystical relationship to this man, and yes… to association and even proximity; though merely the thought of him would give rise to the welling up of Bliss.

Bliss was, for me, unmistakably, a touch of nirvikalpa samadhi (the experience is described below), of formless Pure Being, Shining into manifest experience; water from that Ocean, warmth from that Sun, the Fragrance of what the Sufis call The Beloved, the Ananda of Sat·chit·ananda. How can formlessness possibly Shine into form? Volumes of words would fail to communicate what can only be known in Experience. As Jean would often say, “Now we will talk about that which cannot be talked about.” We talked… but it was not the words which conveyed That which was being spoken of, the Flame in his Heart igniting the ember in mine. Sounds quite dualistic, doesn’t it? However dualistic it may sound, I assure you it was not. This is the Ineffable nature of “true” Guru Yoga.

I already knew not to grasp after this Bliss, seeking to sustain and hold it as a “pleasurable experience”. I had been given this Great Teaching, paradoxically, by Bliss itself. For Bliss only arose when the acute “outer” focus of Attention relaxed “inward”, dissolving into its Oceanic nature as Unlocatable Aliveness. Then Attention, in that instant of inward-turning, was greeted by effortlessly arising Bliss. Shakti (manifestation) fell into the arms of Shiva (formless Pure Being), and the Ecstasy of their embrace became an inherent aspect of the Experience of Being, like wetness to water, or heat to fire. I did not see the inward turning and the upwelling of Bliss as cause and effect – a stance that put me somewhat at odds with Jean’s pedagogical stance – but rather as inherent aspects of Dissolution. For if Dissolution became Absolute, this “alloyed” Bliss would become the Unalloyed Ecstasy of nirvikalpa; the direct experience of formless Pure Being. If Attention grasped after the somatic “experience” of Blissfulness, as it reflexively did, early on… the movement into Dissolution ceased, and Bliss vanished.

My experience is that Bliss is the very fragrance of Pure Being (Consciousness, Awareness, whatever one calls the Unlocatable Aliveness that we are, prior to manifestation). Prior to Liberation, it was the fragrance that drew me to The Beloved, that taught me the “secret” of non-grasping, and abiding as Unlocatable Aliveness. It is the embrace of Shiva and Shakti in union as Shiva-Shakti, a union in which both vanish, all duality vanishes, even, quite impossibly, in the midst of duality.

 

Here’s the story of my first meeting with Jean Klein.

In November of ‘81, using feeling inquiry (before I knew what advaitic inquiry was), “I” died in Nirvikalpa Samadhi.

chuck_surface

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Song of the Soul – Shankaracharya [Poetical Writings]

I am neither ego nor reason, I am neither mind nor thought,
I cannot be heard nor cast into words, nor by smell nor sight ever caught:
In light and wind I am not found, nor yet in earth and sky –
Consciousness and joy incarnate, Bliss of the Blissful am I.

I have no name, I have no life, I breathe no vital air,
No elements have molded me, no bodily sheath is my lair:

I have no name, I have no life, I breathe no vital air,
No elements have molded me, no bodily sheath is my lair:
I have no speech, no hands and feet, nor means of evolution –
Consciousness and joy am I, and Bliss in dissolution.

I cast aside hatred and passion, I conquered delusion and greed;
No touch of pride caressed me, so envy never did breed:
Beyond all faiths, past reach of wealth, past freedom, past desire
Consciousness and joy am I, and Bliss is my attire.

Virtue and vice, or pleasure and pain are not my heritage,
Nor sacred texts, nor offerings, nor prayer, nor pilgrimage:
I am neither food nor eating, nor yet the eater am I –
Consciousness and joy incarnate, Bliss of the Blissful am I.

I have no misgivings of death, no chasms of race divide me,
No parent ever called me child, no bond of birth ever tied me:
I am neither disciple nor master, I have no kin, no friend –
Consciousness and joy am I, and merging in Bliss is my end.

Neither knowable, knowledge, nor knower am I, formless is my form,
I dwell within the senses but they are not my home:
Ever serenely balanced, I am neither free nor bound –
Consciousness and joy am I, and Bliss is where I am found.

 

Adi Shankara

Adi_Shankara

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.

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