What I talk about here I talk about from direct experience. There is nothing here which is based on beliefs or concepts.
In the last four or five years of exploring, these are things I’ve found:
-Most human beings operate from fear and desire. This is what the Buddha called dukkha, or discontent, or if you want to be cute about it, call it dis-ease. We are not easy with life.
-Most of us have accepted this state of discontent and unease as our natural state.
-All of our troubles arise from self-deception.
-There is a way out, or rather a way back. The way back is awakening out of the delusions of the mind. Start by looking at the compelling identification you have with your thoughts.
-In looking for a way back, the biggest obstacle is the ego. Eckhart Tolle in the Power of Now probably has the clearest explanation of this. The ego (thoughts and emotions about self) and the pain body (remembered patterns of reactivity) are diabolical in the way that they first keep you from even seeing the possibility of awakening, and second, even if you’re lucky enough to see the possibility of awakening, the ego and pain-body will take over the practices and process of awakening.
I am not completely free yet.
But at this point I have complete confidence that it’s just a matter of continuing to look. Allow, and watch, with patience and stark honesty, without judgment or self-blame.
I can release very easily now, I can shift to presence easily, I see through the false self, and I can be nakedly honest with myself.
None of this however is abiding; it takes a conscious decision to shift away from the mind.
And so there is further to go.
I’m not yet sure what the next step is, but, as it has happened many times in the last few years, the next awakening step will present itself in good time. I’m easy about all this awakening stuff now–it unfolds naturally and its own.
I am grateful to depression. It is what brought me here and now. And I can offer hope to people who have depression and anxiety.
Anxiety, and all its cousins, like worry and fear and uneasiness, do go away with releasing.
Depression does not go away with awakening–at least this is my experience. The psychological aspects of depression–the unhappiness and dark futility and desperate feelings of helplessness–all that does go away. And that’s huge.
But some of the physical symptoms can remain, which is not surprising, because the affliction of depression is not just emotional constipation; it has physical causes as well. I have periodic bouts of low-energy, insomnia, weight-shifts, and problems with memory and concentration. But without the accompanying unhappiness and sense of futility, the physical symptoms are easily managed.
I am also now beginning to resolve the seeming conflict between awakening and the practical demands of living. It seemed to me that in the process of awakening over the last few years, my external life got harder, not easier. This was a rather puzzling.
But everything that happens is a reflection of what’s inside, not what’s outside.
With awakening, there is less and less comfort with the conventional codes of society. And we tend to pay more attention to what’s going on inside, recognizing fear and sadness and negativity, and so it might seem that there is greater emphasis on what is wrong than what is right. There is less and less satisfaction in the activities which previously might have seemed highly pleasing to the ego. There is less and less motivation for behavior which previously we might have conditioned ourselves not to look at very deeply.
For example, the motivation it takes to be successful in the corporate world, the things people do to gain advantage and validation in social situations, the things we do to self-improve, in fact, all the things we do to be “successful” with money and security and approval and relationships–these things begin to fade because it becomes harder and harder to pretend. That’s not always comfortable because other people and even our own conditioned selves have expectations of us.
The wisdom I have is to always fully allow, and watch, with patience and love, not with self-judgment or self-blame.
We also have to acknowledge that acceptance and allowing are not the easiest things to do.
It brings up doubts. It can take time. Life moves on inexorably; it doesn’t stop for us while we try to awaken.
And so there is seeming conflict between awakening and the practical demands of life, and this can bring about doubt and disillusionment, detachment, isolation, confusion, anger, embarrassment, a sense of having failed, and so on, and we just have to know that these are a natural and temporary part of the process.
There is a tendency to plan less and less. Of course, the planning for practical things is necessary, but I mean the tendency for psychological planning for future happiness begins to fade. The tendency to think I will be happy when I get more money or a better job or the right person in my life or when I look better or when I’ve fixed certain aspects of myself–this sort of planning begins to fade.
It all comes to down to looking inside, with honesty.
If you want a recipe, here is one:
-Learn a release technique, like the one I have here. This is something which you can do for yourself which has immediate and lasting benefits.
-Read the awakened teachers, the ones who are direct and contemporary, like Tolle and Adyashanti and Jed Mckenna.
-Develop self-honesty. Be on the lookout for the tricks of the ego. Self-deception will angrily lash out at self-honesty.
-Look inside. Some ways of looking inside are awareness, observing thought, meditation, and release.
–See that you do not exist. Who you think you are does not exist. How can this be true? You have to recognize this, not just agree with it.
-Understand what it means to accept. Accepting is not something you do; it is something you stop doing. You stop resisting.
What doesn’t work
I caution people against spirituality.
Spirituality of course a broad term and covers everything from African drumming to Rastas.
And I’m not dismissing all of spirituality. That would be silly.
Clearly, the world’s spiritual and even religious traditions, at their core, are about awakening, and have tremendous wisdom.
But when there is attachment to particular ideology or concepts or terminology, the ego has taken over spiritual intentions.
You must be spiritually suspicious. You must be starkly honest. You must acknowledge that the ego can and does abscond with your spiritual beliefs and practices. The ego will want to build up a spiritual identity, which accumulates knowledge and concepts and beliefs, and behaves in certain compassionate ways, and gets a great deal of validation from this.
A spiritualized ego is a pretty tough nut crack.
And of course there are all the new-age spiritual movements, fringing around sound-bites, and playing up to people’s frantic desires. Positive thinking, the law of attraction, finding purpose and finding passion, affirmations, and the rest of the billion-dollar crap which makes up the spiritual and self-improvement marketplace—these play up to people’s fears and desires.
There is of course nothing wrong with any of this, if you want to go this way, but it really has nothing to do with awakening.
Take positive thinking. How can there be anything wrong with positive thinking–it’s positive after all. When we’re positive, we energetic, we get up in the morning and go, it’s easy to make decisions, we are comfortable with other people, we’re proud of ourselves, we know what to do.
But positivity does not come from cultivating positive thinking. Take a minute, sit, and look inside, with honesty. You’re not going to become positive by convincing yourself you’re positive. Doesn’t it make more sense to allow whatever is, to look, to watch, and to let go? Doesn’t it make more sense to face up to whatever is negative, and to just allow, let it be, watch, and let go?
The law of attraction and The Secret and what not–this is a fascinating phenomenon. The fevered tempo around The Secret would make one think it’s best thing that’s ever happened. And it is, for the ego, because what could be better than getting what you want just by thinking about it? It doesn’t have to work, just the belief that it could work is highly appealing to the ego. Never mind that literally billions of people in world go without basic needs, and these desperate people think about food and water much harder than you and I think about money or relationships or a Ferrari. But in the unconscious mind, we’re pretty good at brushing aside these inconvenient discrepancies.
Now, I don’t pretend to know how the Universe works, so I’m not dismissing or supporting any belief system. But to believe that the Universe responds to the ego’s desirous thoughts is not a reasonable hypothesis. There is nothing in my experience which supports this.
And besides, if the Law of attraction works, then the life you have now is exactly the life you wanted. Give that a think.
A more reasonable hypothesis is that the Universe interacts with what you are, not what you think. And what most of us are, are balls of fear and sadness. So it seems much more sensible to me to awaken out of this delusional tangled-web of fear and sadness than to sit around visualizing my next Ferrari or the girl of my dreams.
I’m not taking a stand against spirituality or the secret or positive thinking–what I’m trying to do here is to show how crafty the ego is in running away with and corrupting your spiritual intentions.
And this is why you need to develop self-honesty.