Perhaps it is time to write a few words about Christmas, and whatever meaning arises from this date for someone who is fairly enmeshed in the non-dual perspective. Could we be unconsciously celebrating our True Nature at Christmas? As I was raised a Catholic, Christmas had a sacred and magical feeling for me as a young child. I remember staring at the reflections in the globes on the Christmas tree and feeling entranced by the reflections of light.
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.
I am back home in Ashland Oregon now, and although it's cold and damp it still warms my heart to be in this picturesque town with its charming theaters, parks and people. The pace is more nourishing here, with much to be involved in, yet a quieter pace of traffic and only a few thousand people, most of whom are happy just to be here. It is the best of small-town living. I've created a Spring schedule for the non-dual center here, and here are the events scheduled:
Meditations at 9 a.m. Saturday mornings;
Satsang on Sundays at 7 p.m on March 27, April 3 and 17, May 1, 15 and 29;
A workshop on "The Kundalini Process" on Sat. May 14 from 9 to 5;
A Meditation Intensive "Sudden and Gradual Awakening" from 9:30 to 4:30 Sat. April 30;
A Non-Dual Wisdom Discussion group at 7 p.m. for 9 weeks beginning April 14;
A Transpersonal Exploration group on Weds. for 7 weeks beginning April 13.
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you need information or want to register.
On World Events:
What has been on my mind most often these past few weeks are world events. Every day I want to know just what is unfolding in Japan, Libya, Bahrain and all the other unsettled and chaotic places on our planet. I see that what I am includes all of these, even though I as a body/mind have the luxury of living free from harm in this particular or apparent moment in time.
One of the biggest challenges of seeking freedom or liberation is the recognition that so many people and places are suffering. It makes it seem one should not allow oneself to be free of suffering since we are all in this together. Guilt can arise in those who are not in pain along with everyone else. But freedom from suffering already exists in each of us and until we remove the patterns that block this freedom we are not capable of bringing any lasting freedom into the world. All of us as humans have our times to suffer --with losses, grief, illness--or because we are holding on to anger, self-rejection, jealousy or fear (psychological suffering). Isn't most of the horror caused by humans in the world the result of someone who suffers from a rage, or greed, or fear of "others" or desire for revenge? Isn't the need for power just a reaction to all these internal limitations we resent and reject? Some folks are simply obsessed with a greed for power. What fear and rejection of humanity must lie beneath this obsession? It is easy to see how a repressed people would want to gain control over their lives and would battle authority for it, would hunger to overcome the pressure of someone else's power drive. It is harder to see how someone could want so much power over others unless they felt a great lack and fear deep within themselves. Despite all of the horrors we witness on the world stage do we dare to remember our own internal freedom, our natural compassion and love, and the true nature that is empty of all conditions while paradoxically holding all conditions? If we who have the breathing space to wake up and to live as freedom do not invite it into our lives how will it ever penetrate the collective, or infuse the planet with wisdom and love? We cannot force freedom or love or wisdom but we can let go of ourselves deeply enough to remember that these qualities are reflected naturally from the light of what we truly are. We seldom see them in the world because most humans are so identified with the surface of their lives, and fearful of the inner shadows in their psyches, that they do not sit still long enough to penetrate the delusions of mind and heart that trap us. When someone begins a spiritual path it is usually for the purpose of ending suffering within themselves, at least on the surface of things. But perhaps it is really a drive imposed by the universal source or wisdom in order to release just one facet of the suffering in the world, to breathe into the universe a fraction more of freedom. If the repression of Truth and Love ends in you or me, something painful ends and something new and unexpected can emerge. If we are then moved in a way to help others who suffer we then can do so from freedom rather than pain,trusting the capacity for freedom in others, and we can see the obvious fact that anyone who truly lets go, lets go of suffering. Even in pain and loss there is a possibility to discover an endless and eternal freedom of spirit.
Some people believe the reason for suffering is to force someone to go deeper and to wake up. But why wait until you are suffering or struggling with great losses to go deeper? Why not move when there are less outer distractions, before loss, before chaos -- why not move inward to see through delusion and get released to be a force for freedom now? Then whatever happens on our vast and erupting planet can be embraced as part of the whole, with compassion and spontaneous wisdom, with love amidst the pain? All of it belongs to all of us but few are those who can bring harmony into the whole. And this harmony will never come from mind, whose nature is division, but must come from the awakened heart.
I look out my windows and see that Ashland is blanketed in fog this morning. I’m reminded that this is often the condition of the human mind.
There is a cloudiness that causes confusion or blind reaction because so many experiences have happened over the years that leave impressions which dull the light of clarity.
There is a way of seeing that is clear and immediate, open and responsive. How often do you see things that way? Most of us have to wade through many hours of indecision, second guessing ourselves and others, reactivity, mood swings and other aspects of our dividing minds before we make a move. We listen to a myriad of thoughts about ourselves and everyone else as if a mere thought could be true and more significant than the moment in which we are living. It is amazing we ever get anywhere. I am not saying you should never weigh an important decision, but wouldn’t it be easier if we knew ourselves well enough to have an immediate sense of what is right for us. Then we would move with the flow of the river or the Tao as the Chinese philosophers described it. Our life would become more natural and integrated with the world around us.
All of us are part of an unfolding, a movement , of life itself. Each of us is presented with the possibilities of the day every morning when consciousness arises out of sleep and into the world of form. There is a natural and intuitive way to move into the day, in response to what is arising and in tune with our openness to it. Sometimes a morning meditation puts us consciously in tune with this place and we can move on into the day without the fogginess of our cluttered minds. Some people have rituals that help them orient to the day. When I was a young mother I remember having such overwhelm just getting everyone fed and off to school along with myself on the way to college classes that it felt like I was just plowing through life, barely noticing what was going on around me. The spirit is easily overwhelmed when the mind is running our lives like a business.
Today there is a natural rhythm in me that seems to come from the heart or the belly. I have days that are very active and days that are quiet, but this “I “ is no longer goal-oriented or task-oriented. Generally there is a flow into the life, whether there be sun or fog. The spirit is open to either and curious to see what it brings. Life is more peaceful this way.
How do we stop listening to our cluttered foggy minds and get in touch with a deeper awareness within us? For me it has been through the willingness to be still, to drop awareness into the heart, to notice awareness is what moves through the body/mind stirring sensation, looking through my eyes, listening, noticing emotion rising and falling, noticing thoughts rising and falling, noticing everything that arises and falls in life. To be this awareness without attention on that which I am aware of, to get curious about what this internal presence really is, has opened a door into a place more deep and true and clear than I ever knew when I was living in the fog.