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.
For those of us who are seekers or ex-seekers, the word Home is one of those words used in an effort to relate a state of Being. I’ve looked up the definition of Home and some I liked were:
- A place where one dwells permanently.
- Social unit formed by a family living together.
- An environment offering affection and security.
Our physical home may or may not fit those definitions but almost everyone has their own concept of the word Home. I like the last word of the first definition…”permanently”. In a world of impermanence, we could use the word Home interchangeably with the Absolute (where one dwells permanently). You are already Home…it’s not about how to get there, not about waiting for it to open its doors and welcome you in.
The word homesick is defined as “sad or depressed from a longing for home while away from it for a long time”. When we are not present, we all suffer from homesickness which can manifest in many forms with the symptoms and cures being discussed and analyzed endlessly.
I’ve read that your physical home is a reflection of your inner home. Now that’s an interesting concept. Is it aesthetically appealing, is it secure, is it chaotic, does it need attention, is it in need of repair? If it is perfect in every way, are you content?
“Home is where the heart is”. The earliest author given credit for that quote is Pliny the Elder AD 23-79. I guess none of this is exactly a new concept.
I’ve been a pray-er for as long as I can remember. As soon as I became aware that there was a power in charge and there was a possibility of a direct line to that power, I was all in.
Who I pray to and how I pray has taken different forms throughout the years depending on the spiritual practice I was involved in at the time. I’ve gone from simple praying to a personal God figure for help to a more cerebral kind of praying to a scientific quantum level of connectedness.
Praying to myself seemed strange so I used the mantra “Om Namah Shivaya” during meditation which means I honor the divinity within myself. However, that also plays to the illusion of calling forth something for guidance and help that is hiding out someplace waiting for permission to show up. Now that I’m drawn to nonduality…who am I praying to?
Even tho prayer is not a major part of my life like it once was, I still like the connectedness and need to stop analyzing it and just enjoy the silent conversation….with whatever it is….
Sometimes I feel like such a hypocrite. I see myself as a spiritual person, a seeker possessing some clarity and think I have life in perspective. All this is easy and flowing when my life is easy and flowing. It’s when life brings me difficult situations that I pull out all of the tricks in my “awareness/enlightenment bag”.
I’m in a difficult situation now caring for a parent and all thoughts unpleasant are arising from the past. I want to be the spiritual me and see the situation as growth, a challenge, opportunity, practice, learning compassion, staying with the here and now, integrating the past, acceptance, what is. All the words and concepts help when I’m away from the situation but when I am immersed in it….they are not to be found. Emotions are set in the default mode and don’t respond to reason.
During these times I want to whip out my bag of tricks to help get to a place of peace and clarity. I need to meditate, I need to do more yoga, I need to drink alkaline water, I need to eat more organic foods, I need to stay in the here and now, the past does not define me….anything to help.
Maybe the conditionings of the past will never leave…maybe this is who I really am…and the spiritual me is the illusion. These are the thoughts that scare me the most.
I recently commented to a couple bloggers on the subject of thoughts which made me realize how my own understanding of thoughts has changed over the years. I commented that thoughts are also “That” and when I begin to analyze them or try to control them…I am creating a separation.
The study of thoughts has always been of interest and a large part of my seeking to include analyzing them which is never ending and controlling them which is frustrating. I thought I had it when I discovered that I could be the “witness” observing my thoughts…there it was…I was not my thoughts and didn’t have to take responsibility for them, just watch them go by like clouds in the sky.
Now I am realizing that the notion of “I am not my thoughts” is also separation. I have to admit that seeing the clarity of “thoughts are also That” doesn’t give me a sense of freedom yet but is still a work in progress. However, there is a sense of relief that comes from not always analyzing where thoughts come from and wondering why they can be so annoying….. but that they are just as much a part of me as my breath or my heartbeat.
I’ll probably always be interested in thoughts and will continue to watch and get involved with them but now they are considered to be who I am and I’m not struggling so much with them. Now maybe I can see life through my thoughts rather than perceive life as my thoughts.
Why do bad things happen to good people is a question that generates a variety of concepts each constructing a solution to the fairness of life dilemma and how judgments of good and bad are to be made. When circumstances are examined closely there seems to be no direct evidence that there is a method of fairness existing here. It certainly isn’t very comforting to maintain that stuff just happens, that there is no system of justice operating and we are all just here until we’re not.
Strange as it seems, this question arises for me when I look at a windshield splattered with remnants of what used to be a bug. The bug was just flying along enjoying the day, not a care in the world and then in the blink of an eye it’s just bug juice on a windshield. We think nothing of it, it just happened and that’s a bug’s life…. no plan, no justice, just happening, nothing personal about the bug’s life.
Of course, it appears that a human life is much more personal than a bug’s life because we’re so entwined with complex characteristics, memories and relationships. I like the idea that my life is personal and important with purpose and would like to hold on to that idea. However, nothing really makes sense to me except that the bug’s life is no less or no more important to the Absolute than my life….it’s really nothing personal….
This summer I started drafting a chronological account of my spiritual journey. Being a lifetime seeker, I wanted to see any common threads connecting the different paths that have been pursued.
Just last week, I decided to edit my story again with the intention of adding it to this blog as a separate Page tab. I had reviewed it numerous times but this time I finally see the result of my reflections.
My journey started with my first spiritual experience around 10 years old which was significant enough to ignite the longing to pursue several teachers, books, religions, and methods to find the Truth.
What has just occurred to me is that the first spiritual experience that I keep using as a guidepost was obtained without the use of teachers, meditation, classes, reading more books, or higher knowledge. It just happened…before I knew of any outside concepts or ideas…it came from within without any interference.
I have intellectually understood all this and spouted the language of the looking within concepts over the years but always felt there was something else I needed to get.
How is it that “I” have known this for so many years and just now may be “getting it”? My first glimpse was from direct experience…..which is available at any age and requires no prerequisites.