Charactering

F Minus Cartoon – News and Observer 6/22/18

I opened our local newspaper this morning and saw this nondual comic while looking to see if my name is listed in the obituaries as Carl Reiner suggests. Apparently I am still here.   

I took myself quite seriously until the early 1990s when I began looking more deeply into the Eastern religions and philosophies. Something akin to Grace swept me towards A Course in Miracles and the teachings of Buddhism in the early 1990s when I saw that I was under the spell of a deeply rooted belief of appearing as a me, a personal self.  I learned through ACIM and the Buddhist studies and meditations that I was being lived as this fleeting appearance of life. 

And yet it certainly feels like we have a center, yes?  On the one hand, it appears this moment I have a centerpoint…yet this moment falls away, so on the other hand, I do not.  I certainly thought I was separate until one day in 1990 I noticed I as Anita was a well-developed concept and set of beliefs.  This beginning of an intellectual seeing was absorbed by studing and practicing the teachings of Gautama Buddha while attended the Kadampa Center in Raleigh.

A realization that we are not separate and lasting is not easy to uncover with all we have been taught and learned about ourselves.  We feel the aliveness streaming through our body and infer there is a center to this sensating  streaming, that there is a me, a thinker, a doer, who is experiencing the streaming aliveness in time and space, right? 

And I know I’m in a minority since most believe there is a personal consciousness with private thoughts experiencing the world.  There is not.  You can begin noticing what is breathing you…walking you, sleeping you, and filling the brain and mind with a steady stream of thoughts and bodily feelings as you claim this river of thoughts as yours and personal to a you.  

And since we can feel this aliveness and these sensations of sight, sounds, touch, tastes, smells, thoughts, emotions, and feelings, we are certain the indivisible symphony of perception has a separate me and you to experience it…but there is no separate perceiver: what seems to be appearing, if anything could appear at all, is impersonal consciousness, aware presence, awaring itself. I love this word “awaring.”  I use it more since I’ve read the writings of Alfred Sorrenson, now known simply as Sunyata. This word “awaring” points more clearly and naturally to the true essence of “awareness” than does the word awareness, in my opinion 🙂

This wondrous and impersonal aliveness, this awaring, fills you, is you, dissolves you, leaving you feeling breathless, and yet, feeling just as ordinary as the oatmeal in your breakfast bowl. And you feel this aliveness but you cannot capture it and squeeze it into a personal body…nor step outside of it…it’s undivided, limitless, and has no edges, like the illusory nature of the sky.  

And for those I’ve spoken with that have become the final answer, most report this awaring is nearly unbearable at first…this realizing you are it, that it is you, and all there is is impersonal consciousness/ awareness awaring and dreaming a relative dream, and not even that.  

This realization can feel like the dry death of all you know and love until the heart finally and completely opens to infinity with unending compassion flowing across all you see as God in action. And I am, and you are, That.

You appearing as a character may be rendered immobile by this seeing, or not. You many perceive and feel this seeing and awaring in the body as a naturalness like walking in the rain or watching a sunset, or not.  And perhaps the acute awe and shock of it all seeps in slowly, or not, and wipes the metaphorical mental slate as clean as a whistle. And sometimes the slate of mental debris appears to continue falling away.  Some pilgrims and teachers feel the deeply rooted mental debris continues to rise up to the light and shed as long as the character seems to appear.  The more I know the less I know.  

Yes, most everyone you know and love may believe you are nuts at first for going against the grain of what we are taught.  If you are lucky enough to be in a tribe of pilgrims searching the depths of the heart and mind – you are blessed.  I cannot imagine not having someone to talk with while walking this pathless path away from untruth.  This compassion is the motivation for writing these posts for you.

On the path, I seem to have left a wake of family and friends who did not understand my need and yearning for questioning everything, for  different paths of spirituality and philosophy, and my perpetual silence, aloofness, and seclusion.  And yet I felt, and still feel, deeply compassionate for all beings and all suffering, my character included, arising as appearances of a dream of what is.  And yes, even the emptiness is empty as Buddhists say. 

If you relate to this post, consider commenting below as I know others readers value your comments.  Sharing your words and perceptions may be just the perfect pointer or question readers of this blog want to read.  And of course, you cannot mess up, make a mistake, or make a wrong turn.  All is well and is as it is my friend.  

anita

 

http://www.nondu.org/understanding-nonduality/

http://www.nondu.org/philosophy-of-nonduality/

http://www.nondu.org/nonduality-self-inquiry/

Addicted to Me

Image – Pixabay – Elisa Riva

In last month’s post I wrote about believing in a consensus reality with a personal me located at the center of experiencing.  We’re wired in this centric way to survive, so lets go a bit further into how we are programmed and addicted to this imaginary self we believe ourselves to be. For as long as we are addicted to beliefs about being separate we will not realize this aware presence we already are.

The bottom line is we just don’t exist the way we believe we do – the way well meaning parents, teachers, scientists, mentors, leaders, and most spiritual teachers and traditions teach and tell us. It’s as though this belief in separate selves, subjects and objects, and forms is a scientifically proven fact and not simply consensus.

Can I Improve?

Have you ever wondered why humans believe it’s possible to improve, to be a better, or more spiritual, more conscious, or a more aware person than we are this moment? This question was helpful in my inquiry practice.  Once we begin unraveling this need or desire – to – be – better – thread, we may eventually, at the end of the thread, find ourselves naked and illusory, but only if we are fierce, diligent, and deeply committed to seeing the workings and ways and beyond the mental stream. And as long as we attempt to better our self, enhance it, release it, open it, cull it, or in anyway polish it…we’re just chasing our tails as my friend Bill says.  Truth shines perfectly as this moment…as you and not you, as me and not me, as form and not form, but we cannot see this perfection for all the “concrete” and mental programming and habits of thinking.

Truly, we cannot GAIN anything if that is what we are seeking on the path to Truth. Again, we don’t exist the way we believe we do. From my direct experience, we can only jackhammer all the mental cement blocking our perceptions of what we are seeing, and what we already are.

Mirror Mirror on the Wall

Here is a quick experiment that really helped me. If you like experiments then I also recommend the Douglas Harding’s headless experiments.  Stop reading now and go gaze at a mirror….and then come back to this post and keep reading 🙂

What you are seeing and perceiving in the mirror is the emptiness momentarily appearing as form, as perfection, as aware presence, this moment. And you’ve likely labeled this reflection in the mirror as a “me” with all it’s stories and programming. And your brain continues on auto-pilot spewing the tired old labels and stories of a “me”  “in a body”  “a male or female”  “a seeker”  “feeling anxious”  “feeling desperate” all these mental comments (beliefs) are programmed and firing within the brain at warp speed.

You likely know that these beliefs veil this aware presence…all the while you are simply looking (or glaring) at the mirror. And remember, all this story-telling in our heads is taking place those few nanoseconds we are noticing a reflection in the mirror. The brain automatically draws a split second conclusion that it already knows what it is seeing based on the past perceptions that are stored in the brain.

Paying Attention

But knowing intellectually about the brain’s antics and completely disregarding and ignoring these antics, these mental programs and beliefs, is another matter all together. This is one more reason why I found meditation so helpful in spotting the stories and beliefs. The brain is doing what it does, it comments, judges, compares, and takes inventory every single waking moment. I’ve learned lately while we sleep at night our brains are quite busy organizing, rebooting, and cleaning the neural pathways. Read, if you are interested, these short articles about the brain from Scientific American here, here, and here.

Without question, meditating, inquiring, and observing how the brain functions and creates stories and concepts about me and my life has been, by far, the hardest work I’ve ever endured. With meditation practice, I slowly seemed to gain some measure of distance between the thoughts and the illusory thinker and learned to ignore the flow of thoughts as the brain and it’s mental processes run their programs.  This work took me decades to uncover some basic inner peace, and I was not seeking to become awakened or enlightened at that time, in fact, I did not hear or know of such a possibility until 1989 when I began studying A Course in Miracles.  This study entirely changed the way I was seeing and thinking and helped me as I was seeking the end of misery and suffering from anxiety, agoraphobia, and panic disorders. Here is a good article about the brain benefits of meditation.

Gently Hit the Concrete

At this point, I’d like to add that a good measure of compassion is necessary, in my experience, for how deeply programmed we are and how we suffer because we believe the thoughts racing through our heads. I also feel it helps to cultivate some slight amusement mixed with sadness at how easily we are duped and confused. This ability to take our suffering a bit more lightly will also help us loosen the concrete that glues our identity so tightly. When we glimpse (I feel this is something akin to Grace offering a peek behind the curtain) how deeply in mental and intellectual bondage we are – then the difficult work begins.

And gratitude, I have found, is one of the keys that also helps the cement lose its hold on us. Surrender is another. When we are holding zero resistance for all of life, all pain, the misery, the incessant suffering, the despair, then we have a bit more evidence that the cement is beginning to shift and loosen.  Suffering, fear, confusion, anxiety, pain, illness, they all appear – but not to a personal or separate me or you. These emotions and states are just passing through just like peace, joy, and hunger pass though. These physical and emotional appearances are simply the body’s amazing biological and chemical processes on display. It is what it is.

Addicted

I’ve also found that addiction to a personal self and to physical form (the world) is THE most powerful addiction there is. I’m a recovering alcoholic with multiple addictions. Dismantling my beliefs and dependence on a personal self was much harder work for me than acknowledging and treating a chemical/substance addiction. With any addiction, our brains, neurochemistry, and bodies are out of whack along with our perceptions.

Addicts like me believe their distorted stories and programming influenced by the toxins we’ve ingested. Our brains are not operating at a healthy level so we’re attempting to heal a physical, mental, and emotional addiction to a substance using a sick brain. Over time, these warped and unchallenged beliefs, along with the damage we do to our bodies, changes our brain chemistry and the biology of the body to the point that the stage is set for protracted and deadly addiction.  Our brains are literally sick and addicted from the chemical toxins we ingest through our mouths, noses, lungs, and in and on our bodies. And now I see that sugar in all forms is more addictive than cocaine.  I miss ice cream in a big way.

Honoring the Messenger

Surely you notice the incessant streaming of thoughts…judgments, commentaries, descriptions and opinions that arise each moment inside your head?  Killing this thought stream – the brain/the thought stream – will not work – for you cannot kill the flow of what is appearing. This incessant flow is the divinity, the grace, the perfection of what is. Let’s honor the flow, the stream, even as we explore it and see how we have mistaken what it is and judged it as good or bad.

That being said, investigating, inquiring, and meditating seems to work – it worked for me to uncover the illusory personal self.  Turning the head, so to speak, and disregarding the thought stream is the beginning of peace. This mean disregarding all of the thought stream, all the mental processes, regardless if they are labeled or judged as positive, negative, or neutral.

It really all boils down to this: be here now as this present moment. There is nothing to hang your hat on as there is no permanence, no time, no distance. There is no solid ground upon which to linger…there is nothing behind you nor in front of you, there is only this brief, sacred, precious appearance, this breath, and then…Poof!  What is.. is precious and a mystery.

Brain Researchers

So what is the mind and where is it located? Can it be located?  Have you ever known anyone to find a mind and place it on an exam table?  Neuropsychologist Dr. Rick Hanson along with neurologist Dr. Richard Mendius scientifically describe the illusory nature of a fixed, permanent, separate self in the book The Practical Neuroscience of Buddha’s Brain.  These behavioral and brain specialists compare the separate self to a unicorn, a truly fictional character, …as the brain strings together moments of selfing and subjectivity into an illusion of homogenous coherence and continuity.”

Dr. Sunil Pandya, a neurosurgeon and thinker on medical ethics, summarizes the scientific aspects of the mysterious relationship between the mind and brain and how this mystery persists, even with each technological advancement.  For deeper reading about the mind, this excellent research paper by Dr. Pandya provides a medical/scientific take on the mind as well as a philosophical and spiritual perspective. 

In short, Dr. Pandya indicates there is “a clear connection between mental functions as we understand them (‘mind’) and the structure that produces it (brain).”  Dr. Pandya’s paper goes on to report the mind… is a virtual entity, one that reflects the workings of the neural networks, chemical, and hormonal systems in our brain.”

Further, Dr. Pandya reports “The mind cannot be localized to particular areas within the brain, though the entire cerebral cortex and deep grey matter form important components. Consciousness, perception, behavior, intelligence, language, motivation, drive, the urge to excel and reasoning of the most complex kind are the product of the extensive and complex linkages between the different parts of the brain.”

Defining ‘Mind’

For most of us, we use the word mind as a general term for the process of thinking, the thought stream, and perceiving while most scientists and doctors refer to the mind as entirely the workings of the brain.

Some of us use mind to mean the same as thought and thinking and the way we seem to talk to ourselves and use phrases like these:
“living inside your head”
“making up your mind”
“changing your mind”
“are ya outta your mind?”

Most of us also want to believe the “mind” is personal and private to a “me” and that no one else can ever know what is “on our mind” or what we’re thinking.

Wiki has a few words to offer here about the mind.

And the dictionary offers us this definition of mind.

Summary Brain Keywords

Let’s get really simple and basic here and look more deeply now into the inner workings of the amazing brain.  Being a predominately right-brain human, I wanted a simple and basic understanding of my brain so I created a listing of brain functioning keywords so I could better understand how my brain is wired. I used this information in meditation and self-inquiry as I investigated what creates the sense of a personal and separate me, as Anita. I offer you these simple brain notes just in case you were also asleep or passing notes in anatomy class.

The brain’s left and right hemispheres communicate through a thick band of 200-250 million nerve fibers called the corpus callosum.

Brain – Right Hemisphere Keywords

  • Being
  • Selfless
  • Silence
  • Openness, enthusiasm
  • Big Picture
  • Images
  • Facial recognition
  • Music
  • Perceives longer wavelengths of light
  • Visual field softens to see boundary-less energy
  • Edgeless
  • Creative
  • Intuitive
  • Forgives
  • Fluid movement/kinesthetic
  • Perceives slower frequencies of sounds
  • Perceives body sounds
  • Unity
  • New possibilities, openness
  • Embraces what is appearing
  • Free from perceptual boundaries
  • Disregards past and future
  • Disregards rules, norms, mores
  • Controls left side of body
  • The ocean as a metaphor

Brain – Left Hemisphere – Keywords

  • Doing
  • Ego Center
  • Analytic – commenting/analyzing/chattering
  • Reminds me I am me
  • Details, organizes, analyzes, memorizes
  • Language – based
  • Perceives shorter wavelengths of light and discerns space between energy packets
  • Visual field narrows to gather details
  • Perceives higher frequency sound waves and discerns and interprets verbal patterns creating/memorizing
  • Weaves stories from memory banks and makes up details to fill in the blanks of actual data inputs
  • Creates boundaries distinctions, categories
  • Logic
  • Judges, worries, ruminates
  • Calculates constantly
  • Identity – reinforcing the (illusory) separate self
  • Focused on the external world
  • Draws conclusions from minimal inputs
  • What I know and what I believe I know
  • “What if”
  • Controls right side of body
  • Wave in the ocean as a metaphor

Here is my Reading List for Learning about the Brain:

 

Mind Time – Temporal Factor in Consciousness – Benjamin Libet, Ph.D.
Thoughts Without a Thinker – Mark Epstein, M.D.
Molecules of Emotion – Candace Pert, Ph.D.
Emotional Intelligence – Daniel Goleman, Ph.D.
An Alchemy of Mind – Diane Ackerman
Minding the Body, Mending the Mind – Joan Borysenko, Ph.D.
Why Isn’t My Brain Working? – Datis Kharrazian, D.H.Sc., DC, M.S.
The Seven Mysteries of Life – Guy Murchie
Thinking in Pictures – Temple Grandin, Ph.D.
The Volitional Brain – Benjamin Libet, Ph.D. Anthony Freeman, Ph.D., and  Keith Sutherland, Ph.D.
Buddha’s Brain – Rick Hanson, Ph.D., and Richard Mendius, M.D.
Toward a Psychology of Awakening – John Welwood, Ph.D.
The Body Electric – Robert O. Becker, M.D., and Gary Selden
Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brain


Compassion

The good news is that personal suffering is optional.  This is not to say that suffering doesn’t happen to me anymore.  It surely does as all human emotions and feelings flow through this body and brain like water trickling down and dripping off the end of a melting icicle.  Now there is no longer a personal Anita believing this suffering is specific to her personal life.

Now I see that suffering is just as pure, perfect, and holy as joy, peace, intuition, and creativity.  There is no longer any psychological or emotional suffering.  Thoughts and stories no longer shout and vibrate personal commentaries that judge, compare, evaluate, and claim any ownership or need to define, explain, nor defend what is appearing. All appearances are seen as holy, complete, and perfect as they are and even the seemingly unpleasant ones are met with compassion.

The thought stream still rolls across the mental processes of this brain/body as before, but now the steam is blessedly more like a gentle trickle than the tsunami that swallowed and terrorized me because I believed all those thoughts were personal to Anita.  I’ve endured thousands of panic attacks, multiple phobias, and many intense fears of what life might bring for more than fifty years. I was a mess in so many ways. Thank God for good therapists and healing practitioners. If I can peel this messy and teary onion of beliefs and stories and heal, so will you my friend!

I know this may sound crazy but now I love and appreciate the mental processes still intact and running the body that help me walk, drive the car, create a new recipe, pay the bills on time, and read a book and a map. I also cherish the processes that provide the swearing, sweating, and a sense of funk and depression.  All is as it is. And if we do not label it we are left with only raw and immediate sensations and openness to embrace this Grace, this Mystery that is appearing here now.

Before Signing Off

As I’ve said many times before, know this: you cannot mess up, you cannot get this human thing wrong, you have never made a mistake, you are perfect just as you are, even if you do not believe it. There is only this…here…now..beyond words and I am, and you are, this…here…now.

I encourage you share your comments and questions about this post below…I’d love to hear from you (yes – you!) and read your comments and critiques and I also value your suggestions for specifics topics and questions you might want to read and explore in new essays topics.

anita

 

Removing Ourselves from Ourselves

Lake Gaston – Island Goats – 2010 – Center for Mindfulness and Nonduality

Consensus Reality

Have you ever pondered the beliefs we cherish about the world we perceive? For instance, do you believe in an external, concrete world that’s tangible, independent, and outside of you? Most of us do, I did, until someone asked me if I ever considered all the beliefs I had accumulated about life, about reality, about the world. It was a head-scratching moment for me.

We are taught to believe a consensus reality of the world with us/me located at the center of what our senses are comprehending.  This is how we are wired to survive. Maybe one percent of us are eventually able to see beyond the relative world to see aware presence, aware of itself as aware presence, as the character or doer, and as Absolute dreaming its own dream as Itself.

When there is a consensus of beliefs this sets up an alternate reality which is innocently shared, and communicated. The world is flat. There is a past and a future. Humans will never fly, or go into space, or land on the Moon. Most of us at one time believed there was one consistent and enduring reality referred to as the world and the universe. We now know this is not so, but I definitely would not have believed this in 2010 even though I had studied the nondual teachings and A Course in Miracles since 1989.

Our human brains are wired to label and compare this to that for our very survival — to measure, judge, and separate reality into inner and outer realms based on a belief in an objective and relative world of subjects and objects. I was surprised to realize the volume of beliefs I held to be truths without ever investigating them for myself. I was living from a consensus belief of the world, and when I realized this I felt stupid. Why had no one ever mentioned we were living in an illusory consensus reality? I wondered if others had been seized by this realization, and if so, where were these kindred folks? I found them at a local Inquiry Group quietly peeling the onions of beliefs and concepts. (This is perhaps one of the greatest blessings in my life, finding my tribe).

Trusting in a consensus set of beliefs, we “miss the mark” of perceiving what simply is because we ignore nature’s laws which are governed by quantum principles and not by mere human beliefs. Did you know the definition of sin is “missing the mark” and this language, as I understand it, is used widely in the sport of archery.

Pivoting

But honestly, how are we to remove ourselves from ourselves while perceiving the world?  We cannot remove ourselves as long as there is a body but it appears we can surrender to being confused, being in pain, suffering, being clueless about what we really need. It is at that tender moment that God/Grace seems to open an interior door allowing us to see we are traveling in the wrong direction and comprehend just how programmed we really are. It’s frightening to realize we are living as robots and readily swallowing a conceptual consensus overlay (culture, science, education, religion, history, philosophy, etc…) added over and covering what is simply original, fresh, pure, and fleeting…as this moment.

How humbling it is to see we are seeking truth in exactly the wrong direction. What is the direction? Close your eyes and pivot, and you have it  — it’s this breath…here…now. The direction of the pathless path is never deeper into the brain/mind. The direction is in the opposite direction, it’s out of the brain and towards the heart…from claiming, naming, and labeling to letting go, surrendering, and being here now without the mental commentary about the now…just innocence, freshness, newness, without needing or knowing a single label, name, or description about what is appearing as this moment.

That’s perfect peace…living here, now, open, completely vulnerable, simply not knowing, and knowing that no amount of knowing will ever explain the unexplainable. Yet we still try to communicate what is beyond words and understanding through music, art, dance, writing, and pointing towards nature.

Brain/Mind Internal Storage – Separate Me and My World

When we pivot, we begin to see the brain cannot record and store this present moment, this now. The brain is only capable of storing and recording a story about the now-that-just-zipped-by in awareness.  In other words, the brain only stores the past, a memory, a story about the moment. The brain can never record this moment since this moment is too fleeting. This moment appears and disappears so quickly that any perception of it or description of it is always in the past. Mostly, we are living the stories of the brain’s memory banks that we tell ourselves about this moment or about me. Rarely are we awake to what is here, now, fresh, original, as this.

I urge you to examine your beliefs, and then examine your examining, and then examine you. This work of dissolving our identities as personal selves is not for the average human as most of us are too comfortable being our illusory selves. I’ve seldom met an original thinker as most of us just swallow what we are taught and graze on the fodder of well-meaning parents, teachers, preachers and the tribal and ancestral customs. I notice there are very few with a profound and burning desire to peel the layers of falsehoods, to deeply look within and explore the dark shadows of beliefs and grasp how we create separation and reality with these beliefs, and finally awaken as original, edgeless, absolute infinite identity.

Subtraction – Backing Away from Untruth

I found out directly that we cannot move towards Truth/God/Absolute/Divine (we already are that) but it seems we can back away from, subtract, and dissolve all the beliefs and concepts that are not Truth thus making an easier go of seeing Truth in all its radiant glory. This process of backing away from untruth is really the basis of the teachings the great sages (Jesus, the Buddha, St. Teresa of Avila, Meister Eckhart) have been pointing towards.  Sadly, most of us do not have ears to hear nor eyes to see these paradoxical truths, nor are we willing to surrender deeply enough to realize the Truth already burning brightly within and without, here, now, as this fleeting perfect moment. 

Dark Night of the Soul

So few are willing to spend time and energy in solitude examining the layers of the little self to see all the layers building up the walls of separation and personal identity. I’ve read a few stories where awakening is spontaneous… Ramana Maharshi quickly comes to mind and there are a few others but most authentic awakenings seem to arise after years, even decades, of solitary introspection, inquiry, and painful dark nights of the soul. There is much peeling away and dissolving into thinner and thinner versions of self. And yes, the peeling and thinning continues. This was/is the case for me and most of the dear ones I know awakening within the dream as the dream.

Know this: you cannot mess up, you cannot get it wrong, you have never made a mistake, you are perfect just as you are, even if you do not believe it. There is only this here now.

Before I close, I encourage you share your comments and questions below…I’d love to hear from you about this post and also read your suggestions for topics or specifics for new essays.

anita

Winter Solstice Gifts

Foggy sunrise at Juniper Level Botanic Garden – Center for Mindfulness and Nonduality

I awoke at sunrise today and welcomed the Winter Solstice rays into my soft belly. Winter’s fading light yields to the darkness so we may dive deeper into the nature of this Mystery, this Creation, this appearance of what simply is.

Over the decades I’ve come to see the Winter Solstice as a perennial teacher reminding me of the power of the unseen and for being thankful for this darkness, especially as some of our 23,000 garden plants are now hibernating below the garden floor preparing for their re-emergence in early spring.

For us humans, embracing Winter’s darkness allows us the quietness and stillness to heal and jettison what is no longer needed – beliefs, opinions, judgments, and toxic emotions and ideas that keep us feeling and believing we are separate, distinct, and small. As we rest in the dark fertile lightness of aware presence, we notice the gifts within all appearances, along with increased creativity, intuition, and wisdom.

So today, and every day dawning, let’s walk slowly, smile, and notice and give thanks for what breathes us. Notice the moment without judgment…it’s present so it’s perfect, until we claim it isn’t.

Let’s pay attention. Listen, smell, touch, taste, see, and above all, smile, and breathe deeply into our soft belly.

We cannot mess up, get this wrong, or be anywhere or anything other than what we are right this moment, this appearance of aware presence awaring itself.

The sun is now rising over the gardens and greenhouses as I type these words. These holy solar offerings of lightrays are songs to tune our hearts and brains. Listen closely and quietly to your heart and know that we are the edgeless, perfect darkness and dawn.

And if you are inclined, be quiet and go within to notice who or what wants answers, solutions, and wants what is to be different than what it already is.

anita

Longing

Center for Mindfulness and Nonduality at Juniper Level Botanic Garden

Most of us long to fix and improve ourselves and make an imaginary entity (a me) feel better, even more spiritual. Religions are famous for perpetuating this notion of being a separate and personal self in need of redemption.  We innocently turn to spirituality, religion, alcohol, drugs, sex, and money to fill the emptiness we feel as separate beings living separate lives, where nothing separate can possibly exist here as this edgeless, seamless, aware conscious presence we call life.

There is no inside or an outside to be found, no edge, no ability to segment or measure what has no beginning and no end. Only Mystery and wonderment that anything at all is appearing. The perception and the recognition are not separate…there is never awareness without perception or perception without awareness. Sit with that and you’ll understand this deeply.

We are programmed as small children through learned words and ideas shared with us, usually from our parents, of the nature of the world and what we are experiencing with our senses. There is a collective, unchallenged belief that we are separate beings so we create and perpetuate the beliefs in a subject and object reality where none actually exists, except as a belief. This is the mental process that we claim as personal and specific to a me.

What we really are is like a transparent lens through which life is aware of itself. There is nothing personal in reality….only impersonality projected on the screen of itself to experience itself as life.

Some of us, very few, come to know that the real problem is our belief in having and being a separate self. To see this common misperception is a huge revelation and game changer – for once seen, then we can drop all the tools and intentions to fix the imaginary separate self which has never existed…and just relax in the ease of being here now.

anita

 

Anxiety and Panic as a Teacher?

Center for Mindfulness and Nonduality – Emerald Isle, NC – 2009

Seems we all have stories of how best to deal with anxiety and fear arising in the body. Those of us held hostage by chronic panic and anxiety sensations usually have compassion for others experiencing this cocktail of chemicals and hormones racing through the body.

For years I was on a mission to learn and practice any tool that offered the promise of relief from panic and anxiety.  As soon as I learned of a new practice or exercise to dampen or reduce anxiety…well, you know what happened. Anyway, I learned and practiced meditation and stress reduction techniques in classes and on CDs, books, tapes, education programs and therapies between 1989 until 2010. Nothing worked and the anxiety only intensified leaving a weariness I cannot begin to describe.

It never dawned on me that panic and anxiety attacks could be a teacher to guide me towards what need to be healed. My dear friend Mary Mooney suggested that anxious energy is spiritual energy. What? No! Once I allowed this possibility, I immediately noticed another freakin panic attack arise to experience this idea more deeply. Nothing like the wisdom of the Mystery right in your face and body.

And like most folks, I believed spiritual energy was better, purer, and more rare that physical energy.  I guess all those years in Sunday School tipped the scales to create the belief that spiritual energy was indeed a higher vibration. And this belief later led to beliefs about categorizing energy into good and bad energy, low and high energy, dirty and clean energy, etc.

Once I really started digging into the basic physics of energy as an adult, I realized all matter and energy is simply tiny particles known as bosons, leptons and quarks. An elementary particle is a particle that is not made up of any smaller particles. Elementary particles are the building blocks of the universe and all other particles and matter in the universe are made up of elementary particles. Listen now to Michael Singer talk about energy.

Anxiety was the driver towards wanting to awaken, wanting to be free of suffering, wanting to have the release of ease and comfort in the body. I was a slave to preventing and resisting anxiety. I took classes and instruction for hatha yoga, meditation, mindfulness, hypnotherapy, stress reduction exercises and tools, classes for breathing techniques, nutrition for wholeness and healing, healing crystals, reiki sessions, chakra clearings, theta healing, matrix energetics, yin yoga, sacred circles, essential oils, cleansing diets, dreams interpretation, and more.

You know the saying that what you resist persists?  Well, I was still anxious and having panic attacks after all the classes and workshops but I had the tools and skills for watching the mental process in full tilt. Then I found self inquiry when nothing else worked and excavated all the beliefs that remained.

In hindsight, anxiety was my greatest teacher, even more influential than the mental Jesus I had created in my head. At my darkest hour, anxiety forced me to choose it or death and I chose death. And on this ordinary December night I chose death and then the story of anxiety and fear swallowed itself and was seen to be the mirage it really is.

Yes, the sensations of adrenaline still arise but now they are simply noticed as energy appearing in the body, nothing more…and they quickly pass through and out the body just like clouds passing upon the sky. I no longer resist these energies…they are just appearances of what is unfolding here now.

So if you are fighting against anxiety…know that it may be a blessing you have labeled as a curse.

Anxiety is really a miracle calling you to surrender to what is appearing…to let go and be vulnerable…to cry…to trust that what brought you to this moment knows more than your tiny brain will ever know, and will ultimately move you towards a deeper and unshakable peace if you simply surrender and lean in to what is appearing now.

anita

Relationships

Center for Mindfulness and Nonduality at Juniper Level Botanic Garden – image from Pixabay

Today’s essay is brought to you by the joys and heartaches of relationships.

I received a note this week from “I’m Outta Here” — a younger fella who is about to strangle his very chatty girlfriend and wonders how awakening impacts relationships. This is a good question as it sends us straight into inquiry to look at the nature of “other.”

Below is my reply to this young man in case this paradox is arising for you too.  ANDRemember we have Self-inquiry Saturday, June  10, 2017 at Juniper Level Botanic Garden from 2:00 – 3:30pm. Feel free to bring your camera and a bag lunch if you want to hang out before or after our gathering to spend some quiet time in the gardens…and you may want to bring some mosquito repellant 😉

Dear I’m Outta Here:

Bart (Marshall) told me when I awakened that the hardest part of awakening is relating to “other”  and he is so right.  Many relationships cannot weather the seismic shifts when one awakens.

 

I continually struggle with wanting to be alone and reclusive while knowing that Tony/other helps me see where I am constricted, judgmental, and selfing.

If I lived in a cave or totally removed from the flow, and I am laughing as I type these words cause I am the flow….there would be so much less texture, emotion, selfing. I am giddy with delight pondering a solitary life in a cave… yet I know selfing can sometimes be shaved clean by scraping against the grain and texture of other.

I feel your pain.  J and I have often discussed how cool it would be to have a “wise-woman-house” so we can go days without speaking or interacting with “other” with no need to explain the pull of silence or the lack of interest with interacting or in offering comments or preferences.

I’m here for you dear one. I know this is a hard topic and hindsight in relationships seems to be 20/20.  I was totally insane to marry again, yet the heart seems to have it’s way and leaves the rational brain in the dust.  Remember we are being lived.  There is no decider.

anita
 

Sounds

Center for Mindfulness and Nonduality at Juniper Level Botanic Garden

I hear the nature communicate her  timeless wisdom on many levels, but this “hearing” is not the same hearing that most people label as hearing.

What I am pointing towards is a pure HEARING, a pure sensation just at it meets the ear canal and before it is processed by the brain and labeled and categorized as the sound of surf, and seagulls, and wind.

Consider there is an instantaneous pure hearing and then a second later there is the human hearing after the brain processes the hearing.

Perhaps you might play around with what you hear without placing labels or judgments on the sound vibrations inside your ear.

The singularity of creation becomes evident when the personal identity dissolves.

anita

 

Paradoxical Jesus

Center for Mindfulness and Nonduality at Juniper Level Botanic Garden

I identified as a Christian pilgrim since the 1960s when I was baptized in a Southern Baptist Church in Raleigh, NC.  As an adult, I began attending the United Methodist Church since, in general, the UMC seems more inclusive to women and gays in the congregational leadership and ministry. But only after the miracle of awakening in 2011 did I fully comprehend the nondual message the historical Jesus the Christ was teaching and preaching for those who had ears to hear.

This discovery about the Jesus I thought I knew so well resulted in heavy ice cream consumption. Truth be told, I drifted from the Christian teachings in 1992 to study the nonduality teachings of Lao Tzu, the Buddha, and Wu Hsin. That I later discovered the teachings of Jesus to be based on a nondual philosophy prompted laughter and tears at how dumb this Anita character really is…and how divinely brilliant, radical, and patient the historical Jesus is portrayed in the scriptures.

Jesus has no need to pander to us with these controversial and mind-twisting paradoxes and teachings. So why does Jesus point towards Truth using parables and paradox, or believe we need to hear these nondual messages and teachings of an upside down perspective of life?  A camel through the eye of a needle?  Give to get?  Die to live?

These paradoxical stories are used to jolt the relative mind into cramping and pausing, if only for a moment. Jesus perceives and lives from a spaceless space beyond the relative mind and understands the root of all suffering. Jesus compassionately and freely offers the remedy to any who have ears to hear this unusual message. If Jesus used the traditional religious words of the culture, the power and divinity of His presence and personality may have entranced some into believing His message without fully understanding the scope of what was being offered…a new and radical path of perceiving life.

The parables and paradoxes attributed to Jesus, these lessons in non-duality, serve a useful purpose. How do you explain an out of the ordinary experience to someone who has not had it? How do you explain the beauty of a rainbow to someone who has never seen one, or describe the busy activity of honeybees?  The parables and paradoxes offer simple mental pictures to point towards Truth. The New Bible Dictionary uses these words:

The parables are the appropriate form of communication for bringing to men the message of the kingdom, since their function is to jolt them into seeing things in a new way. They are a means of enlightenment and persuasion, intended to bring the hearers to the point of decision. Jesus, as it were, stands where his hearers stand, and uses imagery familiar to them to bring new and unfamiliar insights to them. (Marshall, p. 867)

 

And to jog your memory, below are a few of the paradoxical teachings of Jesus the Christ.  I’ll write more about these nonduality teachings and how they impacted the Anita character in an upcoming series of posts. I’d love to hear your thoughts and impressions of the nondual teachings of Jesus if you’re willing to comment or you may send me an email.

  • Give and it will be given to you (Luke 6:38)
  • The last will be made first (Matthew 19:30)
  • We are in the word but not of the world (John 17:14-16)
  • Humble yourself to be honored (James 4:10)
  • To live you must die (1 Cor 15:36-38)
  • Surrender your life to save it (Matthew 10:39, Galatians 2:20)
  • When you are weak, you are strong (2 Cor 12:10)
  • Difficulties are a reason for joy! (James 1:2)
  • Freedom is found through slavery (Romans 6:18)
  • We gain everything through losing everything (Phil 3:7-8)
  • True leadership is found in serving (Matthew 20:26-28)

anita

 

Memory

Center for Mindfulness and Nonduality at Juniper Level Botanic Garden

What is memory and what perpetuates this belief-trap?

Long ago and far away I lived in a state of mind that enjoyed and cherished pleasant memories and disliked or feared the icky and gut-wrenching memories…like the day I peed my pants in second grade…all the kids pointing to me, laughing about my lack of bladder control before dear Mrs. Southerland rushed to my rescue.

We are so deeply programmed by society and well-meaning loved-ones that we naturally struggle deeply with the “concept” of memory when inquiring into our cherished and rock-solid beliefs about the nature and mechanisms of time and relativity.

We discover that a “personal” memory can only operate with a belief in time and space… and a concurrent belief in a personal “me” or “I.”

In fact, the belief in a personal “me or I” also requires believing in the concepts of time and space. Are you seeing just how tricky the split mind is at convincing “you” that “you” are real, are separate, by creating and sustaining the concepts of time and space?

As the character Anita, it certainly appears I experienced a richly textured life with plenty of memories of all shades…bright, white, and grey…pleasant memories, painful memories, repressed memories, and traumatic ones.

We cannot imagine that what we know as a memory is simply an arising thought stream or image appearing here now as this aware presence or impersonal consciousness.

I surfed over to Wiki to look up memory…click here to read more at Wiki.

We so want to believe we exist in time and space, at a location, and a finite point on the map.  Memory helps reinforce this illusion. But don’t take my words for this…inquire for yourself. Is it possible for a memory to appear separate from an arising thought?

If you believe memory can exist without thought then how specifically does this occur?

Investigate – to your own satisfaction – that all thought streams and memories are not what is appearing here now…as aware presence or impersonal consciousness.

anita

Politics

Center for Mindfulness and Nonduality at Juniper Level Botanic Garden

I received these current events questions below via email:

Anita, here are some questions for you regarding conscious responses to the current political unfoldment:

  1. How to Be the accepting of all as is while saying no to actions that create suffering?
  2. How to resist harmful actions by seeming others without inner resistance? 
  3. Having no idea that anything should be other than it is while outwardly speaking and acting to create change?
  4. Would you share anything that arises for you about this?
 

Replies:

  1. How to Be the accepting of all as is while saying no to actions that create suffering?
    True nature, what you already are, accepts all as it is and welcomes all. True nature does not suffer. Suffering only arises to an illusory “you” a split-mind, a relative/dualistic mind that maintains separation of  “what is” into subjects and objects to name, label, measure, and compare.  The illusory person wants change so finding the source of the illusory “you” will help unravel the beliefs in a world of separation with a “you” at the center.
  2. How to resist harmful actions by seeming others without inner resistance?
    What wants to resist? Find the source of resisting…is there a personal “you” offering incessant commentary, labels, and descriptions of what is?  If so, inquire and locate this “you.”  
    Resisting may appear but there is no one resisting…there has never been a person who resists. Resisting appears spontaneously and uncaused, but not to a separate “you.”   Resisting is the same perfection as not-resisting, and neither is prompted by or owned by a personal and separate “you.”
  3. Having no idea that anything should be other than it is while outwardly speaking and acting to create change?  Changing may appear but there is not a personal or separate “you” initiating change.  Again, changing is the same perfection as not-changing, and neither is prompted by or owned by a personal and separate “you.”  Changing and resisting arise spontaneously as the dreamscape, but not to a separate you, a separate person.

Would you (anita) share anything that arises for you about this?   Notice the thought stream that is not happy with what is appearing and wanting change.  This is key.   Be still and inquire to uncover and notice the source, the root of what wants to divide, name, claim, and label life into subjects and objects…me and you…yes or no…good or bad…right or wrong…here or there..now or later.  Notice the energy, the voice, the thoughts wanting life to be different than what is appearing.

Once you determine the source of what resists, what wants change, what does not fully accept what is…that is the work of self-inquiry….of uncovering the millions and billions of beliefs, concepts, stories that appear to create a separate self and cover the infinite and changeless stillness that never moves, was never born, will never die.

Self inquiry was pivotal in perceiving and uncovering the silliness of maintaining any beliefs and concepts that supported an identity as Anita, as a separate self.

Here, now, as aware presence embodying as the concept of Anita, the imaginary personal self died in 2011 and nothing remains to prefer or desire what is appearing to change. There is only infinite capacity to accept all that is appearing and what is appearing is seen as perfection reflections of the intelligent light of awareness. Personal suffering and fear fell away.

As an aside, I see the newly elected POTUS as sadly entertaining storyline…the candidate I voted for did not prevail. Regardless of who is elected as POTUS, or what is appearing as life, the character as Anita is watching the nightly news, reading newspapers, and living life…and it feels like sitting in a theater chair and watching a juicy movie.

Life appears as what is ….just streaming upon a giant screen. In this analogy, I am the movie, I am the movie screen, I am the characters, I am the movie projector, I am the theater, and I am the edgeless, infinite, indivisible empty space of presence that all appearances seem to be appearing upon.

I am, and you are, indescribable…infinite, edgeless, formless, vastness, and more like the glowing no-thing-ness that holds the vaporous appearances of the every-thing…. and I would not change a tiny particle of this perfection we call reality….it’s how as human dream characters we feel and experience self and other as duality.  What a miracle that anything at all appears…and yet we as characters want to change it…aren’t we silly?

The dreamscape is an imaginary stage where the concepts of self and other can play as characters in a relative/dualistic movie script to experience the textures and feelings of duality, of separateness. And yet, not even no-thing truly exists, there are only fleeting appearances, just like the appearances of dreams while you, as a dream body believe you are sleeping.  When you inquire into the concept of time, you will realize it does not exist.  Not kidding.

Please email anita@nondu.org if you have questions.

anita

 
 
 

Karma

Center for Mindfulness and Nonduality at Juniper Level Botanic Garden

Many pilgrims worship and explore the nature of an Absolute or God when pondering a spiritual life, existence, and the afterlife. It seems there is nothing scarier than to imagine an endless oblivion at the death of the body, or while appearing to live, for that matter. 

As humans, most of us yearn for there to be something more, something enduring at the last inhale since most of us deeply believing in a lasting personal soul or spirit when the body dies. This powerful belief and conviction seems to draw and sustain many to an Absolute being-ness or God.

 

A Christian Perspective…

applied a Christian framework to my definition and beliefs in God for more than 40 years teaching adult Sunday school classes, Bible studies and women’s groups. I attended a progressive Baptist or Methodist church for most of my life with God secretly being my admittance ticket at death promising an afterlife in Heaven…if all the teachings and doctrines were practiced and obeyed. At the core of this belief was a personal soul as Anita that would unite with God upon her physical death and spend eternity with God in an eternal afterlife or heaven.

Fast forward to 2009…and with several years of deep reflection, writing, and self-inquiry, my understanding of God became clearer and clearer…shocking, in fact, as I saw that I viewed God as relational and able to exist in a relative relationship – God in relation to other as creator and created and bound together in a relationship (relativity) enduring through time and space. How could this be? It made no sense. This belief also implied that God was divisible, not already everywhere, and everything.

Dark Night of the Soul…

This deeply seeing my concept of God was disturbing to say the least and propelled me into a Dark Night of the Soul and a deep depression and confusion. Did I fabricated a God that is relational like humans, and if this is the case, did I invent God according to my beliefs? I dived into self-inquiry for several years…withdrawing from family and friends while I sat in a simmering stew of darkness and confusion. I prayed incessantly to God, whatever God is or isn’t, to deliver me from the hell of my thoughts and understandings and to show me Truth at all costs.  All costs…even if I had to die to know Truth.  

Aware Presence or Consciousness… 

Mystery, or something totally undescribable and unknowable, opened wide “my” perception in 2011 to perceive deeply beyond the brain/mind, and know directly that I am appearances of Aware Presence or impersonal consciousness in a dreamscape.  Several months later during a solitary retreat I saw the teachings of Jesus the Christ as instructions for living as gratitude, acceptance, and worry-free as aware consciousness presence.

From this perspective, Jesus is not about establishing or teaching any particular beliefs or dogmas…but simply reminding us of what is…already here, now, and fully available if we only change the way we see…change our perceptions, our perspectives, to receive what is here now as little children see and perceive…with openness, acceptance, and a sense of wonderment…without judging, naming, labeling, or claiming what is as belonging to a separate person or entity as a “me.”.

Jesus pointed towards…

Jesus points towards a Truth beyond words…beyond the relative brain, beyond the imaginations of the dualistic or split mind. How else can Jesus the Christ, or Buddha, Krishna or Lao Tzu communicate to brains/minds that cannot comprehend what is beyond a relative nature, beyond relativity? Of course it now seems clear — these Masters used paradoxical words and stories….which make no logical sense to a relative human mind. Using relative or everyday language to describe “This” or “What Is” will never convey or describe what is beyond the relative brain/mind. Period.

For those interested in re-reading the paradoxical words of Jesus in the New Testament, a quick internet search will produce many websites offering these paradoxical teachings of Jesus. I love Jesus and His teachings though I never understood the deeper meanings behind His words until I awakened to see the personal self as a mistaken belief perpetuated by 99% of humans.

Is there a me…

Of course, we can feel the experience of seeing and perceiving life from a localized point we label as “I” or “me” yet we never investigate this “I” or “me” to see what it really is….we just blindly assume a “me” is located at the center of our perception. The existence of a personal center or “me” is the greatest lie every spoken, revered, and claimed as true.

Jesus and his disciples knew this belief in a “me” was the root of all suffering since Jesus awakened to his true nature as infinite brilliant aware stillness, and Jesus knew the strength and seduction of the belief in a personal self.

Jesus wanted to point the way to joy and freedom…to the essence and peace that is beyond the understanding of the dualistic brain/mind. He appeared as the embodiment of impersonal aware presence or consciousness and was deeply committed to sharing this truth…even to the cross and the illusion of death.

Within and without…

All perceptions and all appearances of reality feel quite intimate…and we believe these appearances and bodily feelings occur “within” this center we refer to as a “me” or a “you” and this creates safety for the personal self when there is no personal self, and no separation into a “within” or “without.”  What we call life is the appearance of indivisible, edgeless Aware Presence. Read Jesus’ words again, if you are so inclined, and look for the paradox he is pointing towards…you will not be able to miss it. Jesus says it’s easier for a camel to pass through an eye of a needle than a rich person to enter the kingdom of God. And yes, awakening feels like being squeezed through the eye of a needle as the beliefs in a personal and separate self fall away and leave only the appearances of an infinite, seamless Aware Presence and Consciousness as a miraculous dreamscape. And it doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor, it’s still a squeeze, although the rich may have more attachements and beliefs to sever.

And with awareness of the mistaken identity as a personal self, the confusion between what one is believed to be and what one appears to be can be explored and perceived as the imaginary character is it. Using a paradoxical spiritual analogy to point towards what I am saying here would be like this:  The “characters” as “me” and “you” appearing on the “movie screen” may change, but the “movie screen” itself does not. I am, you are, like the movie screen…as infinite, seamless, causeless, stillness….a void of nothingness upon which the everythingness as Aware Presence or Consciousness appears.

Realization and enlightenment…

This is the realization…actions are appearing through “you” as a dream character and not by a separate and tangible you that was born and will die as a  “you.”  Life appears like action verbing….for example…writing appears but there is no writer.  Listening appears but there is no listener.  Doing appears but there is no doer…..it just action verbing…..look deeply and see this…only verbing appearing.

So now, we’ve nearly reached this end of this post about karma and reincarnation. As you now may have concluded, karma and reincarnation are only beliefs and stories created and perpetuated by the relative or split-mind and applying to an imaginary personal self.

Logically, since there is not, nor has there ever been, a personal self, karma and reincarnation can be seen as false beliefs just like the belief of a personal self is false. Is karma or reincarnation even an issue when there is no doer, no “you” or “me”?

anita