I see a guru as a transitional object. It is not the person that is a guru, but rather the guru role is thrust upon him or her through the emptiness that is available when one has fallen free of personal conditions. This role can be used freely by those students who are seeking the understanding of their true nature until they are ready to find the guru within -- their own direct connection with inner wisdom, unconditional love and a liberated life, free of old patterns and conditioning. When this inner realization is known there is a deep relaxation of the mind, so that inner judgment and preoccupation with the senses fall away, leaving a quiet presence and openness that allows others to feel a transmission of peace.
I'm facilitating a study group around Adyashanti's latest book Resurrecting Jesus: Embodying the spirit of a Revolutionary Mystic. This book is a wonderful invitation for those of us who have drifted afar from Christian teachings to rethink the story of Jesus, reflecting on his life as a metaphor for spiritual awakening. Great myths are metaphors for deep truths, and have a way of grabbing the unconscious and paving the way for transformation of the psyche. When they are penetrated and taken in they bring new hope and a bit of understanding of the mystery of human experience. They impact how we think and act.
This book about Jesus is ground-breaking, because Adyashanti brings to it his deep realization and the depth of his years of Zen practice, blending this with a transformative recognition of love that he encountered when exploring the deeper meaning of Christ. In a world that sorely needs hope and fresh ways of understanding the true radiant source of human life this book offers a way to penetrate the experience of the early Christians, before the church fathers created a business and behavioral philosophy around it. He says churches have ignored the sacred and the true potential for understanding how all of us are the sons and daughters of God, and instead limit that potential for the divine to the man Jesus, and tend to preach politics, morality and guilt, rather than transformation. It appears they ignore the model Jesus gave us of living a radiant life that reflects our own divinity, and is anchored in truth.
The story of Jesus parallels the journey to enlightenment -- the simplicity and the gifts of the magi at his birth (we all have both), his disillusionment with organized religion, His initiation symbolized with baptism, the release of his siddhis or powers and the need for healing, the struggle with his inner demons in the desert and in the garden of Gethsemane, the surrender to his fate, forgiveness, and transcendence. Implied in his life is also the theme of an engaged spirit.
Today, as in the time of Jesus, spiritual awakening must go beyond transcendence and calls for an engaged spirituality. Those who fully awaken are reborn into a service or destiny with the world, not one defined by the ego but rather a movement from the depths that longs to be followed. Adyashanti blends the wisdom of awakening with service through his teachings and his transmission, and this book in some way catches that energy and gift so that it can be an experience for the reader and not just an intellectual study.
He urges us to clarify our "aspiration" and to reflect on our two "orders of being", the human and the divine, the form and the formless. Just as Jesus expressed his humanness and his divinity it may be possible, even essential, for more and more humans to discover this possibility, go through the shedding of our old identities, and surrender into our destinies,
I've always felt the tragedy of the death of Jesus, not because he was god but because he was human. All humans that are subjected to the betrayal and horrific suppression that he was dealt are equally caught in tragedy. Every violent death is as horrid as the death of Jesus. As we learn of people, innocent or guilty, who are slaughtered by those who are ignorant of the sacredness of life we can feel the suffering that the family and friends of Jesus must have known, and find some hope in the archetypal resurrection of this timeless story. Jesus lived the whole of life, the beauty and the trauma, just as most of us must. Can his life as myth or metaphor give us hope, and new direction for awakening out of the blind collective adherence to the mind's divisive point of view about who is valuable and who is not? This is never the perspective of an awakened heart.
If Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims and all the rest of us alike began to see the truth of who we are, just as Jesus did, who would be left to cause such harm as crucifixion? Or murder families? Or drop bombs?
The challenge is that all of us must crucify our blind adherence to separation, collective belief systems and conditioned reflexes before we can be awake as a species. It may never happen, certainly not in our lifetimes. But if we as individuals can play our small part in the whole perhaps in time the collective field will transform just as the inspiration of Jesus must have intended. Ignorance may always exist but so does the potential for transformation and resurrection.
The yellow and gold roses outside my window have a way of bursting into life, falling into ruins a few days later, and then rebirthing and recycling themselves again and again. Some days their bush is a mix of baby buds and depleted blooms. It is a nice metaphor for life, which is always in a mix of birth and decay, growth and faded beauty, glory and collapse, softness and thorns. The difference between humans and roses is that the roses never complain!
How do we find that place in our self that, like the rose bush, sweetly accepts whatever arises in our place and time? It is nature's way to be in continual flux, and however we may resist this we are part of nature. We will always have new life arising with loss. We are part of constant change because that is the only way fresh possibilities and growth can enter life. Like the roses, the cells of our bodies are in continual modes of living and dying, even though we cannot feel it but only notice the changes months and years later.
What if the rose bush complained and wept over each fallen rose, or agonized about the coming of winter? What a noisy and less joyful world it would be! But we humans have that privilege. We can think ahead and worry and fret that things might get worse, loss might happen, we might make a mistake or take a bad detour when we make choice. Unlike the rose bush, which is unlikely to ever count its losses over time (how many roses have I seen and lost?) we can feel emotional pain for every dream or opportunity we missed or lost along the way. We can miss enjoying our present beauty and the wonder of the new potential always in our grasp.
People who read my books "The Awakening Guide" or "The Kundalini Guide" sometimes write me asking help to awaken their energy with the idea it will change their life into something more magical, more powerful or more successful. They have not yet seen that the culmination of such awakening is more like becoming the rose bush or the tree -- more at peace, more present with the essence of our true nature, engaged as the pure beingness of life itself.
It is the dropping away of resistance to what is, along with the openness to change that leads to creativity and beauty, compassion and appreciation for what exists. Whether spiritual awakening will help anyone become more of anything other than his or her true nature is impossible to predict. More likely they will become less of their conflicts, regrets, and neurosis. With awakening it becomes possible to stand where you are free of the past and the future, be aware of what is true, and move with clarity, spontaneity and acceptance into each unfolding in life. We not only "stop and smell the roses" but we recognize our oneness with them. You really do not need a spiritual awakening to do this, you simply need to let go for a moment and be your true Self. But awakening energy and consciousness will help to prune away the old faded debris of the psyche and shift with more stability into the natural state.
It's supposed to reach 108 degrees today -- here in Oregon --I'm not in Las Vegas!It will be the hottest day on record here, and with this and the flooding issues as rivers rise in some parts of the country, and the drought in other parts, it is simply astonishing that anyone dares to deny the fact of global warming. It is an example of how the human mind is capable of denying what is right in its face -- one's own direct experience, and clinging to a thought that is not only false, but self-destructive. Why are we often so afraid to question our thoughts and beliefs, to challenge assumptions, to look objectively at the world around us?
It is easy to blame greed and self-serving goals for many of the stumblings in our political structures. But there is a broad base of people who vote for these people despite some of their statements that appear on the face of it anti-humanity, destructive to the very life of the planet. I have found that many spiritual people are pro-life in the sense they support whatever would improve and nurture the health of the planet, the cooperation of cultures, the alignment with a universal respect for nature and for one another. They may support a person's individual choice, but at a universal level they believe in supporting the lives that exist here and now. For many spiritual seekers a huge barrier to feeling free is all the agitation that arises in them when they observe what is happening in our political structures and to our planet and the people on it. How can one be free when turning on the evening news brings international horrors and national insanity, obvious inequalities, and a continual impulse to support killing in order to achieve national goals, and a political emphasis valuing personal arsenals for "self" protection over innocent lives?
Although we are spirits living in human forms, our society is not spirit-driven, it is mind-driven. As soon as forms and thought emerged in the vastness of space, division emerged. The opposites came into being. Light and dark, day and night, inner and outer, space and form, sound and stillness, peace and violence, right and wrong -- everything has its opposite in thought. A great yogi, The Mother, who was the spiritual partner of Sri Aurobindo, once said of the experiences that arise in yoga (something like) "You can be sure that if there is a great darkness, there is a great light hidden beneath." This insight can offer us hope and direction in our human struggles with politics, weather, one another, and even within ourselves. Is there a light hidden beneath the denials of global warming, the migrating children upsetting our patterns and beliefs in immigration, the rapid accumulation of guns designed only to kill humans or many of the other issues that seem insane to someone who has awakened not only to spirit but to life? Take time to look for this light and see where it is functioning in the world. There may be kindness among your neighbors, charity, personal moments of great connection and even joy. Deep inside of you there will be light. But thoughts can keep you ever distracted from it.
Perhaps some political practices and beliefs have to become so obviously dysfunctional and unworkable that they collapse under the weight of their own confusion. There was a time when child labor was common, and women were not allowed to vote. Our "united" states once suffered with a civil war. Perhaps political issues must become intense before they provoke a need for greater clarity and compassion, and old structures are recognized to be past any usefulness. Where will new possibilities emerge? Is it possible for thoughts to shift on a great enough scale that we can heal the divisions while still recognizing the inevitability of opposites, which are not likely to go away? Is an intuition and understanding greater than thought available within us?
I know on a personal level that division within me dissolves when all I want is to know what is true, free of any conditioned beliefs about how I want it to be. I know truth is found in silence, presence, and a willingness to be open and flexible and to consider another's needs as equal to my own. I know it is helpful to trust that within each human is the spacious open availability to love and beauty and truth, even though it is often immensely clouded by beliefs and positions that are self-destructive. Sometimes a mental illness, a desperate childhood, or a huge traumatic life event overwhelms the capacity to be free or see clearly who we are. But for those who have choice and who love life we will be soothed by taking a backward step into our own silence, opening our heart, trusting the core of human life is the spirit of universal life, and being willing to hold the dissonance that arises within the human condition we all share. Today we may all be sharing heat arising, and we need to find creative responses to it. Will the answers come from the divided mind or the loving heart that cares for all humanity?
I just returned from a few days in Sacramento where I presented two programs about kundalini and awakening experiences based on my new books, ("The Kundalini Guide" and "The Awakening Guide") at the invitation of some close friends. Their gracious treatment and care for me has prompted some reflection on the deep value of friendship. All of us thrive in the warmth of a few intimate friends, and no matter how awake or how spiritual we are, this quality of friendship enhances our lives. We humans need to share and reflect upon our experiences, consider new ideas, express feelings, care and be taken care of, and take time to play. Sometimes family members are our closest friends, but more often your closest friends become family. In my many years of spiritual searching there have been times when I have been too introverted or preoccupied to fully appreciate friendship. But as I am aging it is more and more clear how crucial these connections are to mental, physical and spiritual well-being. I've noticed that older adults with meaningful friendships have vitality, enthusiasm, creativity and a sense of adventure that is lacking in those who are more isolated. Invitations, options, connections and affection make it more fun to be alive and give a reason to awaken and meet each new day.
The people I met through my good friends this week are all exploring life and contributing to others in many ways, such as teaching yoga, hospice work, healing practices, alternative medicine, centering prayer or meditation groups, facilitating radio programs, channeling, counseling, painting and in many other expressions of their passion and engagement in life. They are enthusiastic friends interested in giving to one another and being nourished in return. Many are in a spiritual awakening process.
Non-duality can seem like a dry teaching at times, stripping one of identifications and old patterns of thinking, or making a person feel disengaged from the ordinary preoccupations of the world and socially detached. Waking up to Oneness can make being alone restful and peaceful, but also somewhat empty. Many people who write to me have expressed the feeling they can no longer relate to old friends because their interests have changed and they no longer like listening to "stories" or problems. But underneath the surface of the non-dual realization is the recognition we are one consciousness playing these many roles in life, reflecting many facets of potential and each in our own unique dance. Compassion and love are stirring. So it is the case that even if we are illusions, we are still a reflection of the infinite and can enjoy the many other dancers around us. I've often thought how the source of life must love diversity as it seems one of the most consistent patterns on the planet. No two of us are exactly alike and we evolve consciously as we meet ourselves in this multiplicity of divine expression.
So we can enjoy friendships with those quite different from us, and find new depths in ourselves through those quite similar. We learn and grow through friendships. A good friend is someone who listens, shares their truth, laughs with us, explores possibilities with us, feeds us whatever we may need at the moment, and whose projections upon us make us feel wanted in their lives.
We do not awaken in a void. Although I am a person who spent many hours meditating in a darkened room it is through my connections with others that the barriers of separation often fell for me -- sometimes a chance encounter, at other times through classes, retreats, music, therapy and in a myriad of ways. The gifts of friendship and the openness to what another spirit had to offer opened the possibility of seeing Truth, or feeling the bliss of unitive moments through chanting, movement, or shared silence. Friendship encourages expression and contribution to the world around us.
If you wish a vital and spiritually full life find a friend or a few who are open to exploring life, Truth and potential with you, and treasure them.
Many of us spend a good part of our lives trying to "transform" ourselves, improve ourselves, or discover new ways to be present in the world. This is what keeps psychotherapists, body therapists, hypnotherapists, self-help writers, spiritual teachers and even academic institutions in business. There is a deep internal drive to learn and grow, create and improve, and find new ways to enjoy life. One of the great tragedies of war and poverty is the limitation it puts on the children and adults in societies that are burdened by them. There is not much time or vision for healing and expanding into a better life. Perhaps they offer through suffering another kind of transformation, one honed by suffering. Whether we are transforming through effort or through suffering, what is often overlooked as we search to transform our self is the deep potential of the inward passage, and the exploring of the nature of our awareness. Beneath all the introspection and searching in the average life is the subtle noticing of what we are. This noticing -- let's call it our present witness-- is the aspect of us that sees, senses, and feels what is happening before there is any labeling or judgment of it. We are spirits witnessing a life -- witnessing movement, opportunity, choice, beauty, tragedy, sensations, experiences, our selves and others. This present witness is an awareness that is so open and receptive that it is shocking to experience in its full power of presence. Like a flash it is all that exists in a moment of crisis or awe, great concentration or passion, and sometimes in a transcendent meditation. Purely there, available, awareness is never in need of transformation. It is the foundation of who we are, the pure consciousness, and if we turn deeply into it we will discover our source and the universal connection with all.
Spiritual awakening happens in those moments when awareness returns home to itself, triggering a flash of insight, connectedness, expansivemess, and sometimes radiant joy. It is a moment beyond thought when there is only being. Such moments are only truncated if the mind interferes or the personality tries to step up and claim them. Language may point to the moment but generally limits it. In the way a great feast cannot be tasted in words, so awakening cannot be translated. It is said not to be an "experience" because what happens is awareness awakens to itself, and awareness has always been present, only hidden behind the tendencies and interpretations of thought and language.
When awakeness happens it opens a person to the possibility of true transformation. How this will unfold is part of the mystery and always unknown and unpredictable. It is beyond any goal or fantasy of the mind. Those who live awakened lives have surrendered to the surprises of each moment. They may experience great shifts of energy, lifestyle changes, the uprushing of old stories that turn to ashes before their eyes, the releasing of much of who they thought they were and new capacities they never asked for. In time there will be peace and a sense that everything is okay just as it is, even if there could be improvements.
This is a passage into the heart and a softening mind, a willingness to live with the opposites of relative form without attachments to them, an opportunity for clarity, relaxation, and trust. If you are on this improbable journey you may have challenges but you probably know you are very blessed.