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.
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.
I recently went through some old spiritual books and found a small dog-eared booklet of daily meditations by Roy Eugene Davis, a disciple of Paramahansa Yogananda. Today I have a different understanding of the words than I did twenty years ago. Something has changed and I understand it differently.
Here’s an excerpt of one of the daily meditations:
“It is a mistake to believe in two powers, a good force and an evil force. There is only one Power in the universe but, because of its expression as differing frequencies, man often tends to believe in a power in opposition to God……Seen from the overview, the one Power is doing what It has always intended to do……” ~Roy Eugene Davis
Over the last twenty years I held the belief that I existed as a separate part of that one Power and read the above with an understanding similar to a child/parent relationship, being part of something but still separate. That seemed perfectly logical and comforting to me until this summer.
I had been reading modern nonduality authors and then stumbled upon Liberation Unleashed, a site where guides lead willing people to realize there is no personal “me” or “I”. They are relentless in their mission to dissolve the concept of a separate self. I haven’t joined this group but reading the journey of others created a shift in perception that cannot be undone now.
For me it has helped to change the language that I used in the past. I notice that whenever God is used as in the excerpt above, I fall back into the perception of me being a fragment of something bigger. When I use the word One or Absolute, I don’t hold on to that separation concept.
I thought I was comfortable as a separate self seeking to unite with a vast one Power….Now there is no Power to look “up” to or “find”….I am that Power.
I guess I’ll never read my old favorite spiritual books in the same way again. Nonduality…where are you taking “me”?
I don’t know that it’s possible for a lifelong seeker to retire from seeking. I continue to read something inspiring (to me) almost daily. It’s almost like an addiction. At least I have narrowed down the Search nowadays. I’ve narrowed it down to nonduality writers, who are the ones who talk about ending the seeking but then write the books so you can continue the Search.
So I have come to realize that the Search may not continue in the same way for me. I no longer have a conceptualized path that I am continually trying to work my way “up” by accumulating knowledge from every sage (ancient and current) who claim to know the way. Instead, the Search has taken a different form.
There may be no path, no particular sage and no hidden knowledge to search for and that is the end of the traditional Search that is referred to in the nondual writings. However, another Search has started now (if it can be called a Search) and that is the understanding of direct experience. That would be to stop seeking through second-hand experiences and begin to look for my own direct experience. At this point, though, my direct experience doesn’t seem at all as interesting or as magical as the people who write about their awakening experiences.
Retiring from the search for Truth is much harder than retiring from a job. When I reached the age of retirement the choice was made for me and I knew all my working life that this was going to happen.When I retired from my job, I began dropping the identity of a working professional person but I still had the identity of being a “seeker” which had always been the more important identity to me anyway.
The process of retiring from the Search began almost exactly the same time as my retirement from my job. I didn’t realize that retirement from the Search was part of the process so I didn’t have years to prepare for this phase. Being a “seeker” has been my identity for over 35 years, so when I drop that….who will I be?