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

 

 

Easy Breezy Waking Up

Center for Mindfulness and Nonduality at Juniper Level Botanic Garden – Southwest Patio Garden

I am not surprised to read the misleading content below from a well known and respected website about the science of nonduality:

“Nonduality is the philosophical, spiritual, and scientific understanding of non-separation and fundamental intrinsic oneness.

For thousands of years, through deep inner inquiry, philosophers and sages have come to the realization that there is only one substance and we are therefore all part of it. This substance can be called Awareness, Consciousness, Spirit, Advaita, Brahman, Tao, Nirvana or even God. It is constant, ever present, unchangeable and is the essence of all existence.

In the last century, Western scientists are arriving at the same conclusion: The universe does indeed comprise of a single substance, presumably created during the Big Bang, and all sense of being – consciousness – subsequently arises from it.

This realization has ontological implications for humanity: fundamentally we are individual expressions of a single entity, inextricably connected to one another, we are all drops of the same ocean.”

With “factual” information like the nonduality information above circulating over the web no wonder seekers are popping up everywhere lately as they “awaken to their true nature.”

“That there is only one substance and we are therefore all part of it.”  Tell me please how this works – how do you have parts and parcels of an essence that is timeless, edgeless, undivided, seamless, infinite?  Can you divide the sky and be a separate piece of the sky?

Nonduality is a philosophy of appearances as appearing as not-two, undivided, indescribable, immeasurable. But it certainly feels really good to hold hands and sing that we are all part of the same aware consciousness while ignoring the main tenets of nonduality: there is no personal self, is no personal consciousness, no personal awareness, no time, no location, no space.

The universe or reality may seem to appear as awareness here, now, this moment, but there is no external reality. There is no separation into seven billion human units each with their own private thoughts, desires, and feelings.

There is only one…as in not two. And there is not even nothing beyond nor before this moment.

Moments cannot be strung together unless you are creating a fictional story or an irrelevant running commentary about what is appearing now. Even those claiming awakening are still believing in concepts of time and space, still believing in something, some essence, lasting beyond this perfect moment.

Be careful of most nonduality teachers until you completely vet them…some will use your innocence and take your money all the while feeling good and helpful since they honestly believe they really are enlightened.

Here is the gritty grit….it’s much too difficult, if not nearly impossible to awaken to absolute truth. The nonduality and new agey groups, seminars, programs and churches popping up now are teaching oneness, nonduality, and enlightenment but are sadly misinformed and/or they are misperceiving nonduality teachings and offering pleasant and upbeat pablum to folks to fill the offering plates and their wallets.

We long to uncover the natural, peaceful, and intimate timeless perfection as awareness since we have forgotten what we are…and it feels like a wound that will not heal.

And what better way to ensure the survival of the new-agey seminars, conferences, and churches than to tell you that you are part of the oneness, part of the whole, part of the infinite love and joy. Sounds so empowering and peaceful, right?

Certainly I am not suggesting all leaders of new agey programs are intentionally misleading the public…they may believe they are teaching nonduality.  A little bit of nondual language may seem impressive, and may soothe the hurt until you come upon a fully awakened nonduality teacher and begin seeing beyond the fabrications and the pretending. And yet, this too, is the perfection of the appearances.

So what’s the difference between human truth and absolute truth?  Let’s have a brief look below while knowing this topic seems unknowable from a relative perspective.

Truth projected from the relative brain/mind of a human appears to be the sum of thoughts woven tightly from complex concepts, hypotheses, theorems, laws, norms, prevailing wisdom, consensus, facts, and conclusions accepted by all as collective truths. Like gravity, time, location, and chocolate 🙂

Absolute truth is a different critter… beyond the limits and dualistic nature of the relative human brain. So in order to awaken to what you already are – and always have been – it may be helpful to understand how the brain/mind is programmed – – to ensure you continue believing you are separate.  

  • Absolute Truth is not relative and the human brain is  relative.
  • Absolute truth is not describable with languages based on subjects or objects.
  • Absolute truth cannot be taught, shared, described…only pointed towards. If it is describable it’s not Absolute Truth.  Words like abyss and void come as close as any words I’m familiar with but even these words conjure beliefs and opinions of what a relative void or an abyss is, is not, or could be and not be.
  • Absolute truth is.
  • Absolute truth cannot be earned, bestowed, transferred, diminished, expanded, refined, defined, or claimed and comprehended or understood with a brain/mind.
  • Absolute truth is not measured with time, location, distance or any other relative system of measurement since Absolute truth is all there is …and yet is ignored, overlooked, and dismissed by 99% of humans.
  • Awakening is not what you think. 😉 

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

 

Identity Trap

I was stuck in an identity trap for decades believing I was a separate person with a personal awareness and ability to make decisions. Of course, believing that I was a separate being also ensured I was often suffering, longing, and discontent with what is.

I define the Identity Trap as a core set of self-referential beliefs and concepts which perpetuate the false sense of a separate and personal self identity.

Reinforced by family, society, educators and dogma, these beliefs and concepts veil the natural flow of impersonal consciousness always here, now, as this breath.  We overlook and ignore this perfect presence, this perfect peace by veiling it with a personal identity.  Are you stuck in an identity trap?  I’m here to help you uncover what you already are and are not with self inquiry..

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

Sages?

Years ago, the words and concepts of Nisargadatta Maharaj and Ramana Marharshi pointed this pretend pilgrim towards the illusory nature of self and reality. The conceptual framework of notions about who or what we are is often held in place by what others, especially teachers, sages, and spiritual authority figures…like Nisargadatta and Ramana, tell us about ourselves.

Humans are a collection of tightly held beliefs and concepts misperceived to be real and tangible. We are and always have been illusory and imaginary characters playing in an illusory dream of separation projected as impersonal consciousness. And it seems as though we must also question Nisargadatta and Ramana’s words, which are simply concepts too…projections appearing as impersonal consciousness dreaming a dream of itself.

So how do illusory characters notice and discern the nature of the personal self?  Realizing the illusory nature of a personal self cannot be accomplished by a separate or personal self.  If an illusory character realizes the illusory nature of itself and the dream, no one will know or see anything as humans are illusory.

If realization spontaneously appears,uncaused, there seems to be a knowing of impersonal consciousness turning and noticing itself playing a game…living as separate imaginary characters, living a dream of separation, as itself as impersonal awareness in a dream of itself.

Once the separate self and the world are seen to be illusory tightly-held beliefs and concepts, living simply appears…uncaused, spontaneously, flowing appearances and projections of awareness as choiceless characters, appearing human, reflecting an illusory and unspeakable silence and stillness which cannot be comprehended, dreaming a dream as itself.

anita

The Seeking Self – Part 1 of 4

The separate or personal self that is seeking is the hinderance or roadblock to uncovering what is already present. It’s a simple case of mistaken identity.

There simply is no separate self or personal identity, only appearances of impersonal awareness appearing as what is. The personal self is an illusion. There are no separate selves, no separate objects, only a seamless, edgeless, uncaused and spontaneously appearing aware presence as everythingness in an edgeless and illusory appearance.  But why do I feel separate, you might ask…

We’ve noticed the intimacy and sense of an immediate and unique presence since we were small children, and we’ve been taught that this presence is personal and specific to us because this is what most believe to be true.

Small children are always in touch with the impersonal awareness they already are.

As older children and adults, we’ve simply forgotten what we are, and/or we’ve never explored our identity and only accepted what others have told us.

The concept of “I” as a separate or personal being with a name is a learned concept taught to babies and small children by well-meaning parents, family, teachers, neighbors and society.

Most humans follow the leader and embrace the beliefs and customs passed down from authority figures through the ages.

Those who question the deeper nature of identity, beingness, awareness and consciousness, are usually few and far between, and for those few, it’s often a catastrophic event that launches the deep inner journey to examine reality and self through self inquiry

Most understand the state of unconsciousness found in dreamless sleep, while under anesthesia, or in a coma, as the state of being unaware and unable to process sensory inputs from the body. There is no sense of a personal or separate self to be experienced in dreamless sleep, coma, or unconsciousness.

On the other hand, during periods of dreaming while sleeping, the brain/ mind is active and the sense of being a watcher or observer is experienced. Occasionally, lucid dreaming occurs when the sense of beingness as a dreamer senses that dreaming is occurring. Upon waking each morning, ordinary awareness arises and we take this awareness or consciousness to originate within and belong to a specific person, “me.”

Considering we spend at least one third of life unconscious, it appears this routine period of unconsciousness each 24 hours is critical to health and wellbeing. Scientists and physicians validate this need for deep restorative sleep. Is the source of the unconscious state during dreamless sleeping the same source that experiences dreaming sleep and the conscious state in waking hours? Where is the personal “I” in dreamless sleep?  How does the personal “I” arise when waking from sleep?

If you explore these questions deeply you will eventually discover the personal self is an illusion, a concept or complex set of beliefs reinforced by the widely-held beliefs and concepts of time and location. When the beliefs in the passage of time (past/future) is dissolved, the beliefs holding together the personal self eventually dissolve as well.

Beliefs are mental constructions, shadows on the wall, the stories created and claimed by the mind. There is only aware presence appearing, but the brain/mind must objectify all appearances.  Seeking arises spontaneously, to no one in particular, as fleeting appearances in the vast, empty, uncaused and spontaneous appearances of what simply is.

anita

 

Awareness

The belief that creation unfolds at the feet of seven billion individuals, each with a personal awareness and consciousness, is the belief of the vast majority. I also believed this until 2011 when I witnessed the falling away of the personal identity I claimed as mine. I had been consumed for decades with spiritual introspection, and later self-inquiry, about the nature of existence, what happens after death, and the purpose of life.

I eventually realized, that the omnipresent awareness always seemed to be seeing from behind my eyes had never been personal or separate. I had mistakenly decided/believed/been told that I had a separate and personal awareness and I never questioned this belief since it was widely held by the vast majority of the world.

Jesus the Christ seemed to be pointing towards this mystery in the New Testament, but I did not have the ears to hear what he was pointing towards when he said he and the father are one.

There is only aware presence and it is indivisible. Whatever is seeming to appear in front of these eyes, and behind these eyes, is awareness as appearances. Awareness is the sum and substance of the appearance of creation or reality.

Yes, it may appear that seven billion individuals are here because we have all been taught to believe we are separate and exist in the concept of time and space. This is false.

Awareness appears as the momentary dreamscape called life. What’s looking through these eyes at this moment is this very same awareness observing and animating the energy of the momentary appearance of this human body as an ordinary person in a lovely dreamscape.

Today, from behind and in front of these eyes, it seems all human emotions and thoughts are still in play, and the dreamscape feels tangible….but this, what is, is simply fleeting appearances of aware presence.

There are no longer any beliefs and commentaries running about time, space, distance, becoming or improving. Nothing adds to or takes away from the raw seeing and perceiving of what simply is…what is appearing here, now, as this moment. 

anita