The most common spiritual inquiry question “Who Am I?” has been a question of mine since I can remember. Not because of spiritual inquiry but because of wondering what my name really should be. I was named after my father whose name was Harry Carl so the closest female version of that name was …Harriett Carlyn. The label was strictly a namesake because no one ever called me by either name. At some point the “o” was put in the middle name making it the more commonly known name of Carolyn. After that, my label changed many times throughout my life. I just counted seven different forms of identity in my wallet all with different names. This display of aliases has created problems for me at times especially in airports.
Maybe that’s what started my spiritual quest of trying to discover who I really am. I always envied people who were given a name at birth and have never known any other label. It seemed they always knew who they were and I was always wondering. So now that I’m on this road to “no-self” I can finally stop wondering who I am…and just be whatever name pops out of my wallet that day.
How many names would each spiritual seeker have if they changed their name with each shift in perception or with each “Aha” moment? After so many changes the names that identify us would become meaningless…
The Witness has been my identity for the last several years. When I became aware of her I grasped her like a long lost friend and she has been with me ever since. She could be watchful of thoughts, people and things from a distance staying disconnected..being a spectator. I was quite proud and happy that I had her…seeing this as an advancement of my spiritual growth.
It is with regret that I have come to realize that she came just to take over the role of my previous identity. Although she has helped me make great strides in self realization, she has now made me aware that she too represents a separate self and needs to go. She has been a true friend and guide and I don’t want to let her go….maybe I’ll just call on her when needed rather than cutting it off completely…hard to say goodbye.
“Selfy” pics are popular nowadays…Everyone loaded with cameras ready to take pictures of themselves. Today is my birthday and I decided to update my profile pic since I do use it for some sites and it’s been at least a couple years since I took a pic of myself. I got myself cleaned up, did my hair and makeup and started taking some Selfy pics.
It occurred to me how important these “selfy” pics must be to me. I took pics in different lightening, smiled, no smile, messed with my hair, deleted most of them. I was laughing at myself most of the time because I’m totally engrossed in this study of no-self and at the same time taking a pic of myself seems to be a very serious task.
I’m trying to get a picture of that person I “imagine” myself to be. No wonder it’s so hard to capture. I couldn’t quite get the camera to see the person that I have in my minds eye…that’s it exactly….she only exists in my minds eye…
It’s been a long time since I have posted anything here. I know that I’m supposed to be a retired seeker but I fell off the wagon and have been obsessed with reading, listening to videos, seeking for something that is almost within my grasp. These spiritual binges usually start when I come across a spiritual teacher who resonates with me at this particular time and seems to be transmitting exactly what I need to hear. I keep reading and listening because the missing piece that I need to keep this spiritual light glowing might just be in the next book or video.
Most seekers know the old “I’ve had it – but can’t keep it” feeling so the goal is to find the missing piece of the puzzle that tells you how to keep it so there will be an end to seeking and living in a state of bliss will be your norm. That’s just it, seeking with a goal in mind….seeking with an urgency that something else is about to dawn and everything will be cleared up once and for all.
So after almost two months, I realize that the addicted seeker is still alive and active. The addicted seeker is always seeking a different experience than what is happening right now. Don’t get me wrong….I love seeking for Truth and love the way it makes me feel and experience life but now I can see the difference between an addicted seeker and a lover of Truth with more clarity.
The addicted seeker is driven by the desire to re-experience the pleasure achieved through a spiritual experience similar to any addict wanting to have another pleasurable experience. A lover of Truth is not driven to find some missing link that will keep the enlightened state active. A lover of Truth is not looking for anything…only experiencing.
“The experience of “I’ve got it and I lost it” is a very, very valuable experience for the spiritual seeker……..But after living this I-got-it-I-lost-it swing, eventually that me stops believing its own delusion. Something starts to see through it, recognizing that this isn’t freedom………Always waiting for the next experience is bondage.” ~ Adyashanti
There is a birdhouse on my patio that contained four baby sparrows. Three left the nest and I missed their exit. Now there is one all alone in the house and I’m determined to witness it leaving the nest.
The only way the loner knows there is something more outside is when it hears “The Call”. This Call is different from any other bird call in the yard and I can recognize it even if I’m away from the patio. The Call from the mother is relentless. She gives the Call and then goes to the opening to feed it and repeats this routine most of the day so that the Call will be associated with something wonderful coming from the outside. When the mother leaves for a while you can hear a faint calling coming from inside the box because now it’s known there is something wonderful outside of the box but the sparrow is not yet brave enough to venture out and find it.
This Call and response routine went on for two days. At one time there was a community of at least ten sparrows flying up to the birdhouse trying to coax it outside. I’m ready to give up myself but have invested so much time now I don’t want to miss the finale.
Today I saw it venture out of the box. The young sparrow poked its head out of the hole and then back in again several times. There were no other sparrows on the patio for guidance …the exit team had taken a break and everything was quiet. It looked out one more time but this time without any hesitation took a final leap, flew across the patio and into a nearby tree. I saw at least twenty sparrows fly out of the tree a few seconds later and together they all flew to the next tree. I couldn’t see the young sparrow in the distance but assume it is now flying in its new world outside the box.
Would the bird have taken the leap of faith without ever hearing the Call? Probably survival instincts would have eventually forced it out into the world but certainly it must be easier if the Call is heard and more importantly….if it is answered.
I had the basic concepts of most seekers on Oneness, Consciousness, Absolute, Awareness and thought I was moving along the Path, slowly but starting to get it. Now I realize that the ideas that formed those concepts of reality are outdated and a new paradigm has begun which is turning everything upside down and creating a shift in perception.
My old paradigm was…I’m here inside this body and the world and others are out there. I accepted that because my belief was that the me inside was a fragment of the Absolute/Awareness/Consciousness and was safely contained in my body/mind and would show up now and then just to remind me where I came from. My search was to find ways to call up that contained Awareness on demand because that was where happiness and peace resided….and that wonderful thing called enlightenment.
The new paradigm (which is still in progress) is …who I am is not contained inside this body/mind. Sounds like a simple statement and I have said that for years but still held the feeling of being a separate fragment or person. In order to accept this new paradigm as Truth, more investigation into what I am “not” is needed…mainly not this person that seems to be contained in this body/mind. Just that simple investigation can turn everything upside down. Better still is rolling around the notion that objects only “seem” to exist outside of awareness and that the observed and observer are one and the same. My mind would like to make sense of that one but probably doesn’t have the capability and keeps trying to figure it out anyway….meanwhile my idea of reality is turning upside down.
This song started playing in my mind a few days ago as if I were singing it to the Absolute itself so I found the lyrics to “Upside Down, You’re Turnin’ Me” which sums up my feelings at this point.
Filed under Absolute, Direct Experience, Direct Inquiry, Enlightenment, Mind, Nonduality, Reality, Seeker, Spirituality, Truth, Zen
Thinking of the word and concept of freedom today. We fight for freedom and lives are lost for the sake of freedom. This holiday is all about our nation’s fight for freedom.
In my daily spiritual practice, the word freedom is used in almost everything I read or hear. Freedom from the bondage of the separate self, freedom from suffering, freedom from nagging useless thoughts.
The meaning of freedom is “not being confined, exempt from external control or release from bondage“. So the battle for freedom can be fought on two levels. What is obvious is the battle for freedom in the external world. Not so obvious is the internal battle that might be going on for many….except for those who are now engaged in or have been engaged in this battle.
I never really thought of it as a battle since spirituality is all about non-violence even though most spiritual writings use the metaphor of a battle to bring home the point. The point being, if you really want freedom be prepared to give it your all and be brave because in the end you realize that the biggest battle of all …..is being able to surrender.
I started this blog when I began the process of retiring from the search and I have to admit that over the last year there has still been more seeking than non-seeking going on. Nonduality has been my focus and naturally coming out of that is a different kind of seeking, the seeking of direct experience or direct inquiry.
I still hold the assumption that there is someone in here experiencing things and people out there. I have accomplished being the witness of thoughts and things (most of the time) but now what is behind the witness has been my question. Direct experience may be what will eventually replace the witness but letting the witness go is difficult and requires a shift in perception.
This shift in perception reminds me of illusionary art called stereograms where a 3D image is hidden within a drawing and you can only see the hidden image if you learn to re-focus your gaze. When you finally see it, it magically appears out of nothing. Most instructions tell you not to focus on the picture but fix your gaze beyond it. I was never good at finding the hidden images.
I recently reintroduced myself to the teachings of Francis Lucille which led me to again consider the Direct Path experiments by Greg Goode. Maybe the timing is right to get down to some serious direct experience investigation so a few days ago I started the experiments which seem to be similar to learning to look through the illusion and see the hidden images.
The first experiment in the Direct Path involves the perception of hearing because it’s supposed to be the easiest. During the experiment of ringing a bell, at first the sound still seems to be coming from the object of the bell and I can’t get past that. Looking closer…since I am to use only the sense of hearing I just hear the sound without the interpreter telling me that the sound is coming from a bell. Maybe that’s it…my direct experience is that hearing is just happening with or without the use of an interpreter.
One experiment down and 39 more to go….This could be intense but I’ll keep you posted. If there is anyone else out there who has already been on this part of journey and the hidden image in the picture has appeared, please let me know.
There’s supposed to be a shark hidden in here somewhere…I can’t see it yet.
Photo Credit: Wikipedia
I think about the mind a lot, who is doing the thinking and it’s relationship to the brain. There are numerous concepts about the Universal Mind or Universal Consciousness used by different paths regarding the role that mind plays in self realization. It all gets very complicated and the terminology of the different paths make it even more difficult. But then, that’s the way the mind likes to work, to try to understand everything and figure out complex concepts and is part of what keeps the seeker seeking.
Like many, my first exposure to eastern thought was “Autobiography of a Yogi”. Yogananda frequently uses the analogy of a radio when talking of the mind. You can have a radio that works perfectly but it does nothing without some kind of energy source. Even when the perfect radio is plugged in to an energy source it’s still worthless without being tuned into a particular station or frequency. Only static exists if it is not tuned into exactly where the frequency can be picked up. Our bodies are also electrical devices and consciousness is providing the energy source to keep everything going.
I worked for a short time in a mental institution on a closed ward of severely emotionally disturbed patients who had been hospitalized most of their lives. They were totally in their own reality which was just as real to them as ours is to us. It could be the hardware (brain) or software (mind) not functioning properly but regardless, they were tuned into the wrong station to be functional in our society and there didn’t seem to be any way to help them change the station.
All of us have the problem of slipping off the station of our true reality and living on the static fringe of our perceived reality. I like to think that most of us have the ability to keep fine tuning our radio until we have the clearest station we can get….and maybe that’s what seeking is all about.
“O Lord, with the soft touch of intuition I will tune my soul radio and rid my mind of static restlessness, that I may hear Thy voice of cosmic vibration, the music of atoms, and the melody of love vibrating in my superconsciousness.” ~ P. Yogananda
I always think of the women who are not mothers on Mother’s Day. I was not a mother until I was 41 years old so I spent many a Mother’s Day helping others celebrate their motherhood.
Not having children didn’t bother me in my 20s, no need to hurry although some of my friends were beginning to join the motherhood group. In my late 30s I began to realize that I may go through my life without children. I was once told that having children was a blessing and not having children was to live by grace. I didn’t understand that at the time and thought it was an attempt to make me feel better about my perceived lack caused by not being a mother.
Having experienced both being a mother and many years not being a mother, I can say that motherhood may be a more direct path to realizing unconditional love. I was always searching for unconditional love and thought I’d experienced it a few times but now it’s evident that I didn’t have to search for it, it was given to me. Whether you are a mother or not, unconditional love is a gift. You don’t need to search for it because it’s magically there at any time…..waiting to be accepted as a gift.