Falling Through Fear and Surrendering

Center for Mindfulness and Nonduality at Juniper Level Botanic Garden

Once upon a time, I had major control issues.  Well really, for most of my life.  Let’s take, for example, 1991, which was a fertile year for panic attacks, anxiety, and agoraphobia with a near meltdown. Around that time, a friend and I watched the movie Silence of the Lambs which of course, triggered all my repressed control issues with my father, so between daily life, and all the crap showing up in my head, I was a mess…yet still high functioning at work, which seemed odd at the time.

During the 1990s just the thought of surrendering, losing control, and being vulnerable was so disturbing to me that I knew I needed to see a psychologist and dig around in my head for a few years about why this movie, along with single parenting and broken relationships, shook my control issues to the core.  Perhaps now I can say I am well acquainted with all forms of anxiety, especially agoraphobia and panic attacks.

If you’ve been reading these nonduality posts for a while you know I’ve written at length about our human attempts to better our selves, enhance what we are, and make our selves more spiritual, more humble, less angry, more devoted, and generally polish our selves into a bright shiny probability that awakening will seize us. We seem to get so carried away on the spiritual quest with releasing all our identities, stories, and beliefs, well I did, that we fail to understand we cannot erase the viewer, the point of where we are seeing from, the senses, the eyes, and the impersonal me that seems to be seeing and sensing. Besides, what is is the perfection appearing each moment within and through our sensory perceptions, our dear body.  Yet we name, claim, and label these intense and unsettling perceptions and body feelings as fearful, awful, and unthinkable.  Again, I did this habitually until I finally saw clearly what was happening in the body and how our beliefs shape our biology.

In 1991, I had no idea the tendencies towards panic, anxiety, agoraphobia, and OCD were natural energetic and biochemical expressions of a body hijacked by a brain to see a screenplay of fear.  I had labeled these body sensations as terrible and awful because I was living in the land of thoughts and not noticing and allowing the body to naturally dissipate these chemicals (as the body quickly does) if we don’t create or resurrect a story about what we are feeling and what is seeming to appear.

Center for Mindfulness and Nonduality at Juniper Level Botanic Garden

And here was the shocker for me…I could not fathom the biology and body chemistry of anxiety and panic would remain wired within this body after realizing that there is no lasting personal self.  Erasing anxiety, panic, and agoraphobia were the reasons I crawled down the path to awakening…so all my suffering would go away and never return.  I perceive differently now and see all thoughts, feelings, and appearances as momentary expressions of impersonal awareness though it still feels like there is a me here, now, at the center of this aliveness though now “the me” feels impersonal.

When we can gently, thoroughly, and curiously notice and practice seeing what is appearing without adding the old habitual storyline about of how this affects a lasting and solid me, suffering begins to drop away, and we begin to see all appearances as this fleeting Mystery, this Paradox, seeming playing as a dream of itself.  And though I know I am not lasting as the woman in the body, it sure feels like there is a continuity of perceiving from this momentary vantage point. Is truth stranger than fiction?  Are truth and fiction the same momentary play of light, vaporous water, and magnetism? 

Truly, we as selves, as momentary and fleeting vapors of appearance cannot gain, claim, or achieve any spiritual state of mind, if that is what we are seeking.  Again, we don’t exist the way we believe we do and all we can do is seemingly surrender, let go, (our characters have no ability to initiate or make changes) and question all the mental junk blocking our perceptions of this that we are this very moment.  Suffering is simply appearing…to no one in particular…and yet we claim it as our suffering since it feels located close to or within the body.  We believe the body is our personal territory and self-contained.  Nope.  There are no edges. Close your eyes and tell me where you believe the body ends.  See, no edges. You will only find edges if you use thinking about the past. Even the present is now the past since it dissolves so very quickly…poof it’s gone!

And believing we can direct this pathless path of inquiry and discovery is also a trap as it perpetuates that we have free will and free wont to make these “decisions.”

If you are inquiring or meditating there is no you who initiates this. 

The silly ego claims beingness as personal and wants very much for you to listen to the steam of commentary and reason to perpetuate its illusory existence.  As long as you listen and believe that the voices in your head are personal and important to your wellbeing these voices will continue to impress and frighten you.  Once you see all the inner voices and perspectives are not personal to a specific you, tension fades.  Stress begins to abate and the body seems to let go and relax.  Isn’t relaxation and ease what you are after? 

Deep peace within the body will continue to be fleeting until you see the inner voices as the momentary expressions of this edgeless perfection, this dreamy fleeting illusion, playing in its dream of itself as itself. Nothing is lasting.  There is not one shred of personal energy involved in this play of vibrations, electrical energy, and biochemical body responses.  Panic just appears and disappears as quickly as it arrives.  Two good books I recommend to learn about the biology of the brain are Dr. Bruce Lipton’s – The Biology of Belief, and Dr. Candace Pert’s Molecules of Emotion.  

I am sure I am not in control of this body. I can only verify that the body seems to be appearing here and now, and there is no belief in a sequential time concept anymore.  I am not now, and never have been, driving this human body bus.  How and why any thing at all seems to be appearing is a Mystery.

Life twinkles in and out as appearances and our brains make these energy bits into a solid and sequential story of a me where none exists. 

Center for Mindfulness and Nonduality at Juniper Level Botanic Garden

We suffer because we believe we are linear across a horizontal timeline of past present and future. All I can report is that what is appearing this moment seems more a vertical twinkling of fleeting appearance, ever fresh, ever spontaneous, ever momentary, and incredibly mysterious. It surely blew up the horizontal time line of life.  Best we can do, from my perspective, is to be very quiet, still, and notice what is seeming to appear with openness, innocence, and without any beliefs and preconceived knowings.  

Notice now what is only a momentary fleeting appearance…as an edgeless mystery…from the only perspective you and I ever have, as a me, here, now, an impersonal me, as this fleeting impermanent body. 

When all assumptions and beliefs and concepts fall way, including the belief of being a personal identity with a linear storyline living in time and space, what is appearing is known as simply a Mystery with no solid ground upon which to linger.  And this lack of time, stability, and structures makes most of us bat-shit crazy realizing we must fall into infinite not-knowing while welcoming what is showing up in front of us as fleeting appearances.  

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

 

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

Aware Presence

Center for Mindfulness and Nonduality at Juniper Level Botanic Garden

What can be labeled “wrong” unless thoughts arise of an imaginary thing or imaginary self judging it wrong?  Put another way, what can ever be wrong unless “you” are thinking (imagining) it?

Unless there is a “me” having thoughts about wrongness, does wrongness exist?

Believing in an imaginary “personal” and separate “me” creates suffering. Thoughts have no weight nor importance unless thoughts are claimed as belonging to an imaginary personal “I” or “me.”   Inquiry deeply and see if you can actually find a separate and personal me, or I.

Aware presence…what is…is not personal…has never been personal.

How can aware presence seem personal unless you believe a thought that seems to make it seem so?

anita

 

Ease

Not long after awakening as what is, I withdrew from family and society to spend a month alone in nature. I rented a tiny cedar cabin at a wildlife preserve on a quiet lake in the foothills of Virginia to write, read, be.

Each day at the cabin included long walks in nature. This solitary communion with nature profoundly impacted the body/mind to the point that any remaining perceived boundaries of skin and sky dissolved.

And while retreating in this sanctuary, an unfathomable ease settled into every pore of my skin, absorbing and evaporating the remaining shards of the anita identity.  Nature peeled me to the core, blanched me in the rain, baked me in the sunshine.   Spontaneously, suddenly, I was, in every direction, and with every breath, unified as her, as nature, as impersonal consciousness. And this has not departed…now nearly five years later. The felt experiences at the cabin were like a simultaneous and paradoxical filling, deepening, and emptying. I could no longer locate myself as the center of anything, including the body.

Walking daily, my internal compass fell away. Critters were darting and playing everywhere…squirrels, chipmunks, raccoons, feral cats, foxes, deer.  Birds, insects, and butterflies glided effortlessly as the perfection, giving not a care to any schedules, rules, beliefs, or commentary about what life should be or could be. Just ease with every breath.

No latitude or longitude, nor time and space remain…these concepts died within the brain/mind. There is only here, now. The only valid location or direction is here.  The only valid time is now. There is nothing to strive for…no longings, no hopes, no wishes for this to be anything but what is here…now…as this… aware presence.

There is no more efforting or trying, no special way to be, or to see, no particular state of mind to invoke, or particular emotions to crave. There is only this sense of ease here, now…as this…infinite edgeless awareness and knowing what is appearing is perfection.

anita

Sensating

Exploring the non-dual nature of being and working with self-inquiry we notice a “me” that seems to always be present and aware. So what is this “me” that seems to be present? Most of the world claims the “me” as a separate and personal self where none actually exists. This is why self-inquiry is so very necessary….so we can see the intimacy of the aware presence we claim as personal and belonging to a “me.”  So what is perceiving?

Perceiving is the undivided dance of what is and the simultaneous, instantaneous, perception of it…what we see and the seeing (perceiving/sensating) are one and the same awareness, consciousness, but awareness or consciousness not a thing…awareness is what is.

Awareness is not the sensating or perceiving of phenomena (subject/object) but is the perceiving/sensating itself  —  there are no existing objects or subjects…no existing concepts.

Since we only have relative language to communicate in the dreamscape, we might nudge a bit closer to what is appearing if we look in this direction by using these words:  perceiving is perceiving perceiving…there is no perceiver or perceived.  We can also say awareness is aware of itself as awareness.

Awareness, consciousness, is the perceiving, is the sensating. There is no separate seer, no separate seeing, nor a separate what is (as a subject/object) to be seen. Nor is there a beyond or behind/above/below awareness or consciousness experiencing as the witness, the witnessing, or the witnesser of experiencing…there is only experiencing, sensating, perceiving…as aware presence or consciousness.

As characters we seem to have the conviction/belief that there exists an objective universe “out there” in which “we” exist. So…we (brain/minds) divide what is aware presence or consciousness – seeing, hearing, smelling,  tasting, feeling…and thinking, into a subject we claim as ourself, and the seeming objects that make up our belief in an external reality or world.

And we believe these cherished and revered conceptual ideas and beliefs are true and real…but they only exist conceptually. Awareness or consciousness is already seamless, edgeless, undivided, and has never been separated into anything…into relative subjects and objects, only brain/minds create and project separation and external reality where none could possibly exist.

And since all languages are based on a conceptual world, a relative world…a world of this compared to that, of up and down, of here and there, of past and future…this makes all languages dead. All words are dead…they are concepts. Concepts can never be real…only fig newtons of the imagination!

Emerald Isle 2009 – Just rocking.

Nevertheless, in the dreamscape, humans like to use language to create concepts where none exist….we like to name, claim, and label what seems to be unfolding….we refer to this as life or reality, and we even teach our babies and children how to name, claim, and label everything that seems to be appearing.  

This tendency to categorize and judge happens innocently enough though, since the vast majority of humans never question what they are taught about reality, especially humans in well-educated cultures.

 

Most humans judge and sort life experiences into relative concepts with categories/buckets such as:
“worthy” or “unworthy”
“perfect” or “imperfect”
“loving” or “unloving”
“good” or “bad”
“better” or “worse.”

These judgments, claims, beliefs, opinions, and convictions are the root cause of all suffering. We accept some of life, and push away what we do not like, value, believe, endorse, or condone. We create categories, labels, and names describing what we believe defines who we believe we are.  What if there is no “who” and only a “what?”

And yet, there is nothing really going on. It is seen directly that there are no separate objects divided by space or separate events divided by time. The angst and fear of believing we have control of our characters vanishes and it’s felt as a physical and psychological release of giant proportions.

It becomes obvious that life unfolds spontaneously and uncaused…that the idea of you being a doer is silly. It’s what Paul Hedderman refers to as “traveling lighter.” And it become as clear as day that the dreamscape, the illusory duality/relativity is what allows the experiencing of a perceived self and other. Without duality, there can be no appearances of self and other, no characters to play with. You might awaken to realize your external reality or life is a dream and see that you are a dream character, but you will never escape the dreamscape.

anita

Longing to Awaken

Juniper Level Botanic Garden

I believed I could experience awakening.  Bart Marshall set me straight and let me know awakening is uncaused and spontaneous…appearing to no one and beyond the beliefs of time and space. Perhaps like me, you believe, or you want to believe,  you can experience awakening…but you cannot…but this doesn’t stop seekers from longing to awaken and be present for the experience of awakening. Not going to happen.

Awakening is a very simple (too simple) and child-like seeing with an up-side-down perspective that is always available, and usually overlooked, every moment.  It’s ripe, ready, available, to be blinked with your very eyes, this very moment.  But the “you” that you believe you are is the very roadblock to simply seeing this.

How often do you hear the stark truth about awakening?  I was fortunate to meet Bart Marshall and learn that “nothing of you will remain” (Bart quoting Alfred Pulyan)  so I knew intellectually I had some lingering beliefs to dismantle about the personal self, eternity, and my concept and beliefs about God/Absolute.

Be aware that awakening will demolish and destroy all your beloved concepts of yourself, and all the beliefs you hold so dearly. All beliefs and concepts will die before or at awakening…and awakening will feel like the death of the self.  There will be deep grief and tears.

I found inquiry to be the best and most effective tool for backing away from content and beliefs of the anita character.

Grace knows when the character is seriously committed to jumping in the deep waters of surrender and finally willing to let go and die.  Only in complete surrender and rawness is there enough of a crack to let the Original Face (Zen phrase) shine through.

Upon hearing that the self must die, most expect the personal self to disappear with Awakening.  It does not. The self is merely seen for what it is – an illusory perceptual lens and “global positioning system” for the character reflecting and refracting awareness…aware…that it is aware.  For me, it certainly felt like the death of the personal self.

It is necessary in the dreamscape to have an imaginary two-ness in order to play as dream characters, to appear as self and other, to feel emotions, to experience virtual reality in the dream of separation.

You, dear one, ARE the painful belief in separation and the feeling you are a separate and distinct entity in a world of subjects and objects. You ARE the feeling of lack that cannot be soothed.  There is no inside or outside to what is, no boundaries to what is, to what seems to unfold…so how can you escape it when you are it?

Separation is a self perpetuating loop that cannot un-loop itself.  Yet, somehow (Grace – if there could be a concept of Grace  – all is Grace and/or nothing is Grace…)  the brain may see through the maze of words, beliefs, concepts, and recognize that all separation is simply a projected illusion.

And, with the direct seeing… it becomes apparent that no-thing and no one in the world needs to be fixed, improved, or sanctified. Life is seen as an elaborate game of smoke and mirrors, and then a quiet calm and perfect ease appears as no-thing-ness and floats like a wave upon a deeply profound peaceful sea and the brain/mind surrenders…and floats undisturbed…as ease and peace.

When it is realized and deeply sensed that there are no separate subjects and objects divided by space, nor separate events divided by time, “you” may finally relax as vast perfect stillness, of no-thing-ness and every-thing-ness, just perfect edgeless awareness appearing.

anita

 

Caged

Nonduality at Juniper Level Botanic Garden

We’re conditioned to perceive life/reality as unfolding inside or outside a person/body. This caged way of perceiving life is held by the vast majority of humans and is the root of all emotional and psychological suffering. It’s been said by many folks, many times…with our thoughts we create our world. This is how the brain/mind works…conceptualizing, rationalizing, and objectifying what is perceived…and this is how we are programmed and trapped in the mind’s naming, claiming, and labeling cage.

After the perceptual shift in 2011, I noticed the perception of reality was replaced with a simple timeless, indivisible, immeasurable, unmovable, impersonal lens. I saw clearly…our beliefs and thoughts create and inform what we perceive as reality or life.

Before awakening, I believed I was enclosed within a body as a separate and individual anita.  After the shift, I no longer perceived life as being contained and enclosed within the edges of a human fleshiness named anita. I appeared to extend as far as the eye could see…edgeless, undivided, unbounded, still, and vast.  There are no boundaries to the anita character anywhere…just fleeting appearances of edgeless, seamless, undivided, and timeless aware presence, a metaphorical canvas of no-thing-ness and not no-thing-ness…spontaneously appearing/not-appearing as uncaused and fleeting impersonal awareness.

Seekers ask what is “seen” when my eyes are closed…since I have to use words to communicate, it like this…appearances dissolve into a brilliant-yet-inky silent and aware endless void…the same aware, silent, and inky void present when consciousness ceases and the body appears to die. The felt experience of the anita character is of unbounded and overwhelming sorrowful gratitude that anything at all appears upon the silent stillness.

I know it sounds crazy and as a character would not have believed or conceived of this shift of perception fifteen years ago. These unspeakable shifts of perception and identity appear to arise spontaneously and to no one in particular…ignore words claiming otherwise!  There is no cause and effect in play here, life seems to appear here, now, spontaneously, edgeless, and uncaused.

I understand why the misunderstood and those perceiving differently (including artists, musicians, saints, and sages) are often ridiculed, reclusive, or sedated and locked in mental institutions. Society is generally fearful of what it does not understand or what is outside the leaky edges of normalcy…and the going consensus, whatever the majority agrees upon, is labeled normal.

Perhaps we might consider, even briefly, the nature of what is… a vibrant aliveness we call reality or life…perhaps even consider the scientific evidence suggesting humans are misperceiving themselves and the world. This is a sadly funny exercise for the few who question reality. Quantum physics attempts to describe and explain the unexplainable and unspeakable shift in perception in terms of probabilities and collapsing waves and particles. Words and descriptions move us away from the essence and into our thinking brain/minds so give attention to the intimate feelings of awareness — just don’t claim awareness as your awareness!

What you are…is…what you are…improvement is not possible or needed…as the “you” is simply impersonal awareness, always aware presence, appearing as a vast and edgeless field of fleeting potentialities.  Yes, most misperceive what is and believe what is to be distinct, measurable, and operating within time and space. I have seen the folly and felt the suffering of these tenacious and socially endorsed beliefs.

Our perceptions and sensory experiences are shaped by conditioning, the influences of society, science, religion, philosophy, and various tribal and ethnicity beliefs. There are many perceptual lenses and ways of seeing. For a simple example, just imagine seeing life with the fresh and clear eyes of a pre-verbal toddler…seeing life/reality as a little child sees it…undivided, spontaneous, outside of time, unmeasurable, and fleeting.

What’s looking through your eyes?

anita

 

What is God?

Many pilgrims explore the validity and meaning of God or Absolute when investigating spiritual life, existence, and the afterlife. It seems there is nothing scarier than to ponder an endless oblivion at the end of living, or while living, for that matter. 

As humans, feeling there is something more after death, and believing in an enduring personal soul or spirit in an afterlife seems to draw and sustain many to a higher power or God.  

applied a Christian framework onto God for more than 40 years. God seemed like a devoted loving parent, promising an afterlife in Heaven, if all the dogma and doctrines were practiced and obeyed.

A belief in existing as a personal soul that would unite with God upon physical death and spend eternity with God in an afterlife was at the core of these personal beliefs.

Upon reflection and inquiry, this concept of God implied God was changeable, flexible, and able to exist in a relative relationship  –  God and other – creator and created – bound together in a relationship (relativity) enduring through time and space.

The belief implied that God was divisible, not already everywhere and everything, and that some things were created in the image of God and somethings were not. This belief implied that God was not timeless and ever-present since God was not with those folks or things labeled as evil or assumed to be living in hell, whatever hell is, or those not believing in God.

Is there a clear line of who is accepted by God and who is not worthy of God…does it depend on a particular set of beliefs and an allegiance or commitment to these beliefs? All beliefs and dogma are concepts.  I even taught this dogma to children and adults in Sunday School classes for decades in the Baptist and Methodist Church.

My powerful urge for teaching about the love and divinity of God and for dwelling with God heaven fell away here during a long dark night of the soul, and later in 2011, in a shocking shift of perception and identity.

Now reality is perceived as impersonal awareness which appears spontaneously and uncaused as appearances arising upon relativity (subject and object). You and me. Up and down. Here and there. Now and later. Here and there. Good and bad. Birth and death.  Past and future. In relativity, all things may appear true and factual until they are not, meaning relativity is changeable and dynamic, illusory appearances only.

For instance, humans once believed the world was flat, but no longer.  Humans believed man could not fly, until in seven short seconds, Orville and Wilbur instantly changed that beliefs. And mankind would never walk on the moon, until Neil Armstrong did. And we’ll never make it to Mars…or Pluto. 

Science is now moving towards the paradoxical world of quantum physics, yet another concept…moving awareness beyond relativity and into empty particles, dark matter, and entanglement. This is the fascinating world of exploring the nature of invisible particles and matter just by changing what or how a particle is being observed.

But no matter how deeply we investigate what is appearing, what is will remain as a concept, an idea, an opinion or a collective belief, because it is appearing in an illusory relative world — the world where the brain/mind creates all concepts and beliefs…including the concept of Absolute and the study of potentiality, waves, and particles in quantum physics. 

I spent decades meditating (and still do) to reconcile the scientific facts with spiritual beliefs. I was deeply spiritual all my life and who was I if I was no longer spiritual in the way I was accustomed?  And who was this “I” in relation to what science calls dark energy, which comprises 95% of the cosmos?

And for a while, the mystical teaching of Christianity and the scientific information of quantum physics agreed with my relative and logical brain.  St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross wrote at length about the illusory nature of the separate or personal self. Their teachings lined up with the ancient teachings of Lao Tsu, the Buddha, Jesus the Christ, and Wu Hsin, all describing an unchanging, indivisible, omnipresent, and timeless God. An Absolute God resonated for years in the heart, down into the bones and marrow, until it didn’t…the shift in 2011 blew away all concepts…including the concept of God.

Yes, it makes logical and scientific sense to see and imagine God as Absolute and not relative.  It feels good to an imaginary personal self as it offers a belief, a hope, a concept that perpetuates and lasts beyond the relative realm…survives the concept of death and enjoys an afterlife.

This is a hard realization to comprehend by a relative brain/mind.

In short, all perceptions are illusory appearances of impersonal awareness perceiving itself. No separate self can awaken or be enlightened. At best, an illusory character can realize itself as an illusory character in a dreamy illusion of impersonal awareness and laugh out loud at the possibility of escaping or enduring beyond the moment.

The duality, the relative world, is the only platform, or place, if you will, where impersonal awareness knows itself as conceptual, as itself and as other, by spontaneously appearing as itself as separate, here now, in the timeless now.  

Such mystery!  And if you wanna call impersonal aware presence “God,” , then feel free…but most folks will picture a dualistic God created of their beliefs when you speak the word “God” as most humans crave an enduring existence beyond this moment and beyond death of the body.

anita