Sunday, November 29, 2009

AWAKENING CHIC: The Path of the Walking Wounded



Awakening is all the rage these days!!

Seems everybody’s doing it, which makes you wonder... just how real can it be.

As the "awakening' movement takes hold we can just imagine future conversations at the country club: “Buffy, did you hear Chad had an awakening!” “No! Reeeaaally? I wonder how Margot feels about that?”

Awakening is chic....

Nevertheless, you gotta be wounded first, or it simply isn't credible, and many of our modern spiritual teachers are themselves nothing more than the walking wounded (In my kids school, the walking wounded are referred to as the "emo" clique)

The "awakened masters" report that it was intense suffering that brought them to the “truth.” But, then why do they teach us to avoid that same suffering if it was, in fact, the way to truth?

Why teach that there is a "path to awakening” if they got 'it' completely by surprise? Even the most revered, Sri Ramana, had to experience the throes of death before “awakening” to the truth and Eckhart Tolle virtually became suicidal before his illustrious “awakening” (and his more illustrious collaboration with Oprah).

It seems that traumatic suffering is the way to “awakening." Only through trauma can we realize truth, but not just any old trauma... it must be a profound life changing trauma.
But then, do these teachers of “awakening” do us a disservice by providing spiritual ideologies and techniques that seek to make things easier on us (provide shortcuts) if, in fact, there is such a thing as “awakening?

It seems that everyone can “Awaken”…but first you gotta be royally fooked up!

Just another rule of conventional “spirituality” or “I once was lost, but now am found.”

Rarely will you ever hear: “I was rich, fat and happy… and then I became an awakened master.” Since it’s the disciples who choose the 'guru,' we would never choose a guru who did not pay his/her dues, since to be reputable one must be credible. Inevitably, they must conform to your demands regardless of what they think is “true," because they can only teach what you are willing and prepared to accept (and I'll bet you thought you had nothing to do with it).

In other words, you damn well better be close to death, or else it don’t count and we won't revere you!

You have to play the game of "struggle and sacrifice" before you can be a spiritual superstar. You have to traverse Dante’s Inferno before you can have the 72 virgins, walk through the pearly gates, attain nirvana or experience “awakening.”

Ha! But isn’t that like everything else in the world. No pain, no gain! Without enduring sacrifice and plenty of painful struggle, you can't win the 'prize' simply because that's how the game is played.

Nevertheless, once you finally do hit bottom, it’s easy to “awaken” and that’s because anything has to be better than the bottom.

Yet, what they often fail to convey is that, once at the bottom, you suddenly feel the need to reach out to others, because it was loss of ‘contact’ that caused your plummet in the first place. Therefore, the only truth you've awakened to is how much you need others. Nevertheless, as the enlightened ones always demonstrate, soon as you're standing on stable ground, others are discounted as having anything to do with the new and improved, awakened “you” (same as the old “you,” just a bit shinier).

What they fail to convey is that they have nothing to teach, because teaching is simply an excuse for deeply engaging with the world. Awakening proceeds from engagement, it doesn't result in it. It is deeply engaged in relationship from which awakening is experienced.

But individual ego’s don’t like hearing this, since it obviously negates the "personal awakening” that they alone, ‘achieved.’

Obviously, if you’ve come to love your ‘story’ of awakening then you might inadvertently discount other stories, but without other stories, there would be no story of “you.” Does your wife/husband have a story? Your children? How about your parents, your friends and neighbors?

"Ah…what do they know, they ain’t “awakened” yet!"

Ah.... so that's your story????

The parts cannot realize the whole as long as they remain fixated on parts. However, parts can realize “stories” that result in illustrious "awakening" careers.


Image by Caniglia - "Days of No Horizon"


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Are You LIVING....or Protecting from Fear?


The ego is composed entirely of fear.

Yet, ironically, it has convinced you of the need to protect from fear, requiring you trust in IT to spot threats and alert you to danger.

This is a pact from hell (that literally makes hell “real”). How can what is created from fear protect you from fear? Therefore, in your trusting reliance on the ego-self, an experience of ‘hell’ is your reward.

The ego convinces you that fear must be avoided and it will help you do so. Yet, to be completely without fear would be to annihilate the ego, because the ego relies on fear for its very existence. In your fidelity to the ego-self, what you fail to realize is that the ego constructs the very fear it seeks to protect you from.

That which causes you the greatest fear is that which reflects back to you the fearful nature of your ‘self'...

.... other people.

It is not fear of death to be dissolved, but fear of other people. This is because when fear no longer comes between you and those you experience, life will finally be lived because death is no longer a consideration when one is finally living.

Are you living.... or just protecting from fear?

The chief defining aspect of hell is fear projected into a future based entirely on a past. This is the purpose you apply to everyone you meet and they, in turn, apply to you (notice the reflective effect of duality).

On the surface, our cordiality may often seem evident, but deep down what we deny is that fear keeps us alienated and estranged from one another (even in our closest relationships). Non-duality does not end separateness (or duality), but dissolves alienation (or dualism).

The non-dualism of Christ Consciousness realizes perfect peace because in eradicating its fear of others, fear no longer reflects back upon itself.

Without fear, time has no purpose and the present is all there is. As long as you are in time, you are relying on an ego that requires fear in order to know itself through time. This reliance on your "protector" automatically requires you fear the present, because the ego cannot protect you in the present, simply because in the present the ego does NOT exist.

Therefore, the ego must advise you to avoid the present at all costs and it does this by assuring you that the present could not possibly exist and you must rely on the past to inform the future. This is why every experience you encounter has been manufactured from a past solely for self-protection, providing an illusion of safety in the future. Yet, only in the present can you be free of protection, since the ego knows nothing, and prepares for nothing, but a past projected into a future. This is why your experiences often seem so typical and mundane simply because you only experience what you come prepared to experience and anything else is deemed unsafe and fearful.

There is only one way to secure your present as extended into a future (thereby dissolving both future/past). See no one else as having a past and be free of the need for protection, since all protection from others was learned in the past.

Avoid not one encounter, especially those you distrust. Engage fully without a care for protection, no matter how vehemently the ego screams in condemnation of your ignorance. Recall that the ego constructs experiences that reinforce itself and the only means of reinforcement it knows is fear. This has nothing to do with bodily protection, because our everyday fears seek to protect the ego and not the body.

If you take away its food (fear), it will starve and you will realize its death throes by the joy and peace you experience with, and through, others.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Sex, Drugs and.......Meditation!



The research is indisputable and there is no denying the beneficial effects of meditation upon the body and mind. It lowers heart rate and cholesterol, normalizes blood sugar, strengthens the immune system, improves sleep, etc, etc, etc, on and on and on (Sedona Meditation Research).

If this is all we expect than there shouldn't be any problem. But oh, how we love to stimulate our brain chemicals! Some people live for it (and, as I remember, not much else).

Drug addiction is a misnomer. The addiction is to neurochemicals stimulated through the potentiating effects from introducing a synthetic chemical to the natural mix, creating a lovely neurochemical cocktail.

Nobody’s really addicted to sex, but to the end product of sexual activity (orgasm) which is nothing more than the hyper-stimulation of neurochemicals, i.e., serotonin, dopamine, melatonin, and the opiate receptors of the brain.

It seems there is always a reward that drives us ever onward and for some, that goal is nothing more than neurochemical stimulation.

In fact, some have made that neuro-stimulation a “sacred" reward.

The wonders of science has accurately identified the stimulation of brain chemicals through meditation (Spiritual Competency.com). It is now scientifically established that if you sit in seclusion for long enough, eventually you can be certain that some degree of neurochemical stimulation will occur.

In fact, just like heroin or LSD (been there done that) can cause one to sink into an effortless reverie of pure bliss or synethesia (hearing colors, seeing sounds), meditation is equally effective (just takes a bit longer) at stimulating the pleasure centers of the brain and providing the same neuro-stimulation without the dangers and illegalities of heroin or LSD.

In fact, it seems reasonable to expect that the longer and more disciplined your meditative efforts, the more intense might be your neurochemical stimulation (the Big Buzz!). Therefore, you can essentially train yourself to get 'high.'

However, this appears to pose a problem, since the more intense your brain chemical stimulation the more likely the ego will superimpose some grandiose “sanctified” interpretation (extracted from past religious/spiritual ideologies) upon the neurochemical experience. This inadvertently results in the desire to interpret these intoxicating whiz-bang neuro-stimulative encounters as episodes of spiritual “enlightenment” or “awakening,” “revelation,” “nirvana,” etc, etc, etc.

Unfortunately, the ancient wisdom traditions could not benefit from modern medical science and knew nothing of neurochemical imbalances. However, today when we read about the excesses of the modern gurus, the sexual indiscretions, the greed, corruption (and frequent need for lawyers) we can be confidant that it’s nothing more than clinical bipolar disorder or significant neurochemical imbalances resulting in mood disorders.

If you want your mood-altering neurochemical states to be ‘sacred’ than by all means, call it an “awakening” or even "enlightenment."

However, most likely God will refuse to meet with you until you get off the neurochemicals.


Picture yourself in a boat on a river,
With tangerine trees and marmalade skies.

Somebody calls you, you answer quite slowly,
A girl with kaleidoscope eyes.

Cellophane flowers of yellow and green,

Towering over your head.

Look for the girl with the sun in her eyes,

And she's gone.


Lucy in the sky with diamonds,

Lucy in the sky with diamonds,

Lucy in the sky with diamonds,

Ah... Ah...


Follow her down to a bridge by a fountain,

Where rocking horse people eat marshmallow pies.

Everyone smiles as you drift past the flowers,
That grow so incredibly high.

Newspaper taxis appear on the shore,

Waiting to take you away.

Climb in the back with your head in the clouds,

And you're gone.


Lucy in the sky with diamonds,
Lucy in the sky with diamonds,

Lucy in the sky with diamonds,

Ah... Ah...

Picture yourself on a train in a station,

With plasticine porters with looking glass ties.

Suddenly someone is there at the turnstile,

The girl with kaleidoscope eyes.


Lucy in the sky with diamonds,

Lucy in the sky with diamonds,

Lucy in the sky with diamonds,
(Beatles)


Image by Martina Hoffman - "Lysergic Summer Dream"

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Jesus Is Just Alright With Me


"Christ" is an archetype within the collective consciousness projected outward as form (which some sad fool named "Jesus").

The problem with embodying archetypes in specific individuals is that it tends to deny that, to be an archetype, it must be in each and every mind. The ego denies the archetype by extracting and stripping itself away from it, thereby, separating and dissociating itself from the archetype.

There are many archetypes within the collective consciousness. However, there is only one archetype of truth, although the ego cuts itself off from that truth through numerous forms (living and dead).

If the ego-self is separate and dissociated from the truth (since the ego has given it a form separate from "you") then you're under no obligation to live out and personify in your own form what is separate from you and not a part of you. Truth is therefore, available only to other forms (made "sacred" by the ego) but not the form you identify with as "you." To the ego, "you" are guilty and anything but "sacred."

Therefore, you're off the hook and need not take responsibility for truth in any way whatsoever.

The ego conveniently does this by making forms "supernatural" and "sacred," which is alien and unattainable by "you." Examples of such sacred forms are Christ and Buddha.

Christ could love the 'garbage' and even become the garbage. This is because we made "him" a supernatural embodied incarnation of God, rather than simply an embodiment of a collective consciousness that your localized consciousness is indelibly linked to.

The ego requires sacred forms for two reasons. First, bodies must be conduits to truth, in order that your existence as a body be upheld and reinforced and, second, truth can only be limited to a scarce few bodies, which aids in denying that it is available to all.

Thus, it's easy to resign your 'self' to the fact that you could never do what they did and this is why, after 2000 yrs, no one else ever has and as long as you believe "Jesus Christ" existed...

...you never will.

There never was a form (person) called Jesus Christ nor one called Buddha. However, they both mythically represent archetypes that we all have access to, but must egoically deny. This "story" is in every mind, but if every mind believes only a few can have it, only a few ever will and, as 2000 years demonstrates, only a few ever have. You demand truth and so the ego gives it to you, but only through specific forms, which makes it a very scarce commodity and unattainable by you.

This is the "revelation" that we will eventually realize and "awaken" to and when we realize this collectively, then I imagine there will be nothing we can't do, since all the powers inserted into the forms "Jesus Christ"or "Buddha" will then be available to all of us. Unfortunately, until we can engage in it together, we'll continue to perceive it in only a few "sacred" forms.

Until then, the forms will continue to dazzle the mind with the miracles we could all perform if only we end our idolization of the forms.


Jesus is just alright with me
Jesus is just alright, oh yeah
Jesus is just alright with me
Jesus is just alright

I don't care what they may say
I don't care what they may do
I don't care what they may say

Jesus is just alright, oh yeah
Jesus is just alright Woh oh oh

I don't care what they may know
I don't care where they may go
I don't care what they may know
Jesus is just alright, oh yeah

Jesus, he's my friend
Jesus, he's my friend
He took me by the hand
led me far from this land
Jesus, he's my friend

I don't care what they may say
I don't care what they may do
I don't care what they may say

Jesus is just alright, oh yeah
(Doobie Brothers)


Image by Salvador Dali

Monday, November 16, 2009

Stick Out Your Can, Here Come the Garbage Man!


You discard your garbage into containers and place it out on the curb where it conveniently gets hauled away by the garbage man. Where does it go? What happens to your garbage after it leaves your curb?

Ha! Who gives a rat's ass!

What matters is that you no longer need be aware of it.

It’s not your responsibility any more and you can go about your life pursuing all your big plans for glorified self-fulfillment. Besides, you pay good money to have all that garbage hauled away, why should you have to worry about where it goes or what happens to it?

For many folks “spirituality” serves just such a purpose.

When you embark on your “spiritual journey” all the world’s refuse is conveniently hauled away and you need no longer be aware of it. War, starvation, poverty, economic collapse, unemployment, homelessness, child abuse, murder, disenfranchised groups, AIDS, injustices in the world, etc, etc, no longer need disturb you because “spirituality” has hauled it all away.

Now it’s no longer an obstacle on your “path” and you can simply focus on your pursuit of enlightenment, nirvana, bliss, awakening, realization, revelation, rapture, non-duality, God-consciousness blah, blah, blah, blah.

Hey! It’s okay if people suffer, because suffering is part of life, just another object of consciousness, the oneness of everything, karma, cycle of births and deaths, blah, blah, blah, blah.

As a devoted “spiritual seeker" you know that God doesn’t want you to sweat the small stuff, because it’s His job to haul it all away (remove it from your consciousness) so that you can focus on receiving what you’ve asked for.

So, just hunker down for a brief spell of meditative bliss and let the garbage man worry about the garbage.

For cryin’ out loud! You’ve got more important stuff to take care of and that’s the point of your “spirituality.” It’s not your problem any more, now that you’re “spiritual.”

But always remember, slip up just a little, or fail to vigilantly follow your “spiritual path,” and all that garbage will quickly make it’s way back into awareness and then you’ll be forced to engage with it because, in reality…

…the garbage man is YOU.

So stick out your can, here come the Garbage Man!


More of the same song and dance routines from:
mikeS


Image by Fred Einaudi - "Patriot"

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Grandma Guru Comforts Your Ego







I like Byron Katies game "The Work" (although, like many, she denies being “awakened”). It seeks to throw the ego into a tailspin simply by thought switching and muddying up egoic concepts. This is fairly simple, straightforward, cognitive restructuring or reframing. We merely hone in on the concept that we suffer through by asking four questions:
  1. Is it true?
  2. Can you absolutely know that it's true?
  3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
  4. Who would you be without the thought?
After you get a grip on what concept you’re suffering through, you then simply reframe the concept in the reverse and Katie refers to this as the “turnaround.” For example “he should understand me” becomes “he shouldn’t understand me.” (actually any reverse will do in order for the game to continue, even “I should understand me”).

Byron Katie’s “The Work” has few terms or “awakening concepts” and thus relatively few rules. However, there must always be rules to the game... else, who would take the game seriously.

Katie is seeking to reduce personal suffering by redefining how your ego has come to understand suffering (which, of course, is also a game). She states, “The only time we suffer is when we believe a thought that argues what is.”
“The Work doesn't say what anyone should or shouldn't do. We simply ask: What is the effect of arguing with reality? How does it feel? This Work explores the cause and effect of attaching to painful thoughts, and in that investigation we find our freedom. To simply say that we shouldn't argue with reality is just to add another story, another philosophy or religion. It hasn't ever worked.”
I like what Katie advocates since she is pointing to the ego’s need to be right and defend this righteousness (although Katies doesn’t specify an “ego” she simply calls it “mind.”)

However, I kept wondering why so many seem to consider this program as facilitating “awakening,” since all I could spot was simply another form, albeit lofty and poetic, of cognitive therapy. She does report in one of her brochures that

“Katie’s insight is consistent with leading edge research in cognitive psychology, and The Work has been compared to the Socratic dialogue, Buddhist teachings, and 12-step programs.”

Wow! Katie's a Socratic Buddhist psychologist. Yet, alas, here is the interesting rule in this game:

“I've been using the turnarounds whenever I make judgments, and somehow it doesn't do anything but make me depressed and confused. What's going on?

Katie response: "To simply turn thoughts around keeps the process intellectual and is of little value. The invitation is to go beyond the intellect. The questions are like probes that dive into the mind, bringing deeper knowledge to the surface. Ask the questions first, and then wait. Once the answers have risen, then do the turnarounds. The surface mind and the deeper mind (I call it the heart) meet, and the turnarounds feel like true discoveries.”
Katie’s “practice” consists of intellectual introspection, however, the intellect must eventually be negated as the means of performing this introspection, since she teaches that you need to “go beyond the intellect.”

Here we have the mystical component that must exist in all awakening games. Understanding must come from the egoic intellect, but then there is the demand that the intellect cancel itself by going beyond itself. The ego must essentially nullify itself.

Katie states that the intellectual process alone is of little value, so one must go beyond the intellect. Once again, egoic intellect is of little value in the game of awakening, although it’s needed to get you in the door.

If you finally do transcend your intellect you may wish to become a certified facilitator. To acquire that lofty title you must attend a certification training at “The School for the Work” (currently reduced to $4,245 from $4,995). If you choose not to attend the School, you could simply seek out a certified facilitator, who is available to give you the pure experience of The Work."

Seems like all “awakening games” must have their priesthood or trained ego’s to proselytize the rules of the game. Byron Katie’s game is quite revolutionary, since she markets her rules to the common man/woman and thus, eschews the typical “enlightened master” paradigm with small groups of followers (however, her teaching model is similar to others in that the revered masters sits atop the raised platform while the adoring students in the audience sit at her feet).

Her marketing strategy is excellent as she’s enlisted many other postmodern masters to endorse her game, like Wayne Dyer, Lama Surya Dass and, of course, how far could you go without a good word from the master’s master, Eckhart Tolle.

This is called "The Awakening Mafia"

It’s interesting that Katie, like Eckhart Tolle, required a “dark night of the soul” in order to rise up from the personal fire of psychological hell. However, they seek to help you avoid that pit, through specified practices.

These ‘ego-enabling’ practices may actually do a disservice because, if ‘bottoming-out’ is the rule of the game, the practices obstruct you from entering the rings of fire for yourself.

In fact, the practices merely serve to keep your ego warm and comfy, while you avoid the real ‘work” that comes from recognizing that not only are the “painful thoughts” or concepts not real.....

....none of your concepts are "real."

But who's gonna teach that!


Image by Martina Hoffman - "The Muse of Conscious Awakening"

Other Byron Katie Probes:

Byron Katie & Janaki
Byron Katie's School for the Work
Guruphiliac

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Ego's Directly Experiencing "Direct Experience"




Are there some experiences that are not interpreted by the ego-self construct?

How can that be when, in fact, the ego-self defines experience, because it defines the individual ‘self’ that has an experience. In fact, couldn't we say that to have an "experience" there must be a defining or "framing" of the experience by the 'self' claiming the experience for itself?

In other words, for you to have an experience, there needs be an egoic defining of 'self' before the experience occurred. "you" have set the parameters for every experience you encounter, otherwise, it would not be encountered. Kinda like, "ho hum, la dee da, looks like everything is as usual... oops, what was that! "I" seem to have had an 'experience' of some sort... wow!" (of course, this is a oversimplification).

It seems to me as long as there is a defined "you,” all experiences will be defined by that very same "you," regardless of the content of the experience. What is an experience but 'thought' framed as an 'experience'? Or could it be an ‘experience’ framed as ‘thought’?

You can never know truth without doubt, since the moment the interpretation of truth is made by an ego-self package, doubt is inherent to the interpretation because the ego-self must doubt it exists in order to maintain existence. This is because the moment the ego asserts an absolute existence, or a 'knowing' completely devoid of all doubt, it must cease to exist, since the ego-self is always a relative approximation of itself.

Without relativity, there could be no "you."

We are all nothing but vague and obscure relative concepts of 'self.' There can be no clarity, ever. But, we will seek it and we must forever "seek, but NOT find." Finding anything absolute would immediately spell "your" doom.

Yet, maybe the clarity is in the doubt. I'm not so quick to dismiss thinking, although I do realize at some point thinking will most likely become extremely nonsensical (just read some of the posts on all those non-duality blogs you love so much). However, I think insanity is bit too overly vilified and possibly we all could benefit from some brief swims into the depths of madness (been there and back a few times myself).

Many teach that you should surrender the intellect and the ego’s need to categorize experience. But “who” is surrendering “what”? Here again we have a splitting-off of the experiencer from the experience, through the abnegation of ego-self. I am not 'this,' but 'this,' is a finite game with an outcome, whereas, "not this, not that" (neti, neti) will always keep the game in play.

Your ego loves when you attempt to surrender it, since what you're really doing is surrendering TO it.

The intellect is the ego and the ego is mind and both are nothing more than experience. Seek to reject parts and how can you experience the whole? Can there be a compartmentalizing of experience as if to say, this is egoic intellect and this is "direct experience"? Can there be experience unadulterated by interpretive functions?

Or, can there be a before, during and after to your "direct experience" of “awakening” or "enlightenment"? Who or what determines that? If you say, "once I was ignorant, but now am enlightened" that very statement asserts your continued attachment to time and negates any experience unconditioned by time.

But then, let’s say that this is true and that you can have your “direct experience” separate from the ego-self ("you"). It will be the ego that informs you of that very differentiation you attest to as separate from ego-self. Again, assert a before and an after to your "direct experience" and you prove your attachment to an identity in time, because to be in-time, you must identify with an anchor point or a "you."

But the "enlightened ones" do this all the time and we eat it up, because it's truly the breakfast of champions.

You must first know the ego-self before you can differentiate an experience as ‘not ego.’ In fact, without an ego, how would you ever realize 'egolessness.' This makes the ego a very valuable experience, so why do you wish to transcend what has determined your wish to transcend? (seems kinda silly when you get down to it).

Desire “transcendence” and you inadvertently reinforce the opposite. When you experience anything, you will incorporate the wholeness of the experience employing the whole mind, including your ego.

The ego is not meant to be excluded and that’s because nothing can ever be excluded! In addition, the ego can never be asserted as subordinate to some other 'experience' because this merely asserts inequality, which is a condition of time.

The Tao excludes NOTHING!

If you wish to classify certain, ‘special’ experiences as “awakening,” or "enlightenment" then by all means do so. If you wish to have a “direct experience,” as differentiated, sequestered and partitioned off from other 'experiences,' please feel free to have it. But, allow your whole experiential 'self' to have the experience fully and do not deny your ego is a part of that experience, otherwise the whole truth might be missed.

Good grief man, it was your ego that brought you this far, seems a bit disingenuous to trash it after all that work it did for "you"!


Image by Andy Clarkson - "Soul Searching"