Tag Archives: Enlightenment

What does it feel like to be me?

Honestly, I have no idea.

In examining this issue closely I wonder if the question itself is even valid. If I were to actually FEEL my own self, it would be implying a duality that negates the entire experience.

For example if I were to come to believe that it feels peaceful to be me, there are actually two things occurring. There is the peaceful feeling, and there is the noticing of that peaceful feeling. Which one is me? Now I could then move on and say that I am the noticer. But again there are two things happening. There is the noticing, and then there is the awareness of the noticer.So which one of those is me? On and on and on it goes.

Every experience requires a duality. In the quest for the true self our attention is always placed on the flavor of the experience. We want to EXPERIENCE our true selves. We want to somehow watch it from afar, see that it is beautiful, and then take solace in that beauty. We want that beauty to be eternal and never leave us. My spiritual journey is packed with attempts at searching for the perfect experience that is infinite and blissful.

But now knowing that no experience will ever show me my true self where does that leave me. It is pointless, or even insane, to keep searching for bliss, or joy, or peace. I know these only as different kinds of experiences. On the flip side it is also pointless to avoid those undesirable experiences such as fear, shame, and guilt. These must also be irrelevant and not indicative of WHO I am.

My true self is not something I can run toward or run away from. I can’t find it. I can’t avoid it. I can’t use words to describe it. It is not a song or a painting. It is not love or hate. It is not happiness or sadness. I am left with nothing but a blank space.

There is no next step. There is nothing to do to finally get it.

* I was about to write that I don’t need any time but i felt a huge panic attack sweep over me. On a deeper level I know this means I am on to something but the feeling is quite overwhelming. Like I am about to pass out at a moments notice and maybe not wake up again. Perhaps that is enough for one day 🙂 

The Divine Nature of Losing Faith

I have been searching long and hard for answers to the nature of my own existence.

Why am I here? What am I supposed to do? How should I be in this world?

And all I have managed are teasers. Momentary experiences of peace. Realizations that though they are powerful, they are far too brief in their duration. I watch videos, read books, meditate, walk through parks, sit in silence, and all I have obtained is this false sense of progression.

I look for changes in my day to day life. Of how I react to certain situations and if it is reflecting any spiritual growth. When I argue with my wife, attempt to board an airplane, or deal with any of my natural fear triggers, am I reacting in a spiritual manner?

These reactions, whatever they are, form the basis of the definition of what it means to be me. If I don’t like what that definition is then I head back to the drawing board. I watch more videos, read more books. meditate more, try to have more peaceful walks through parks, etc, etc, etc…

This is the cycle that has repeated itself over and over. But ultimately I have reached a point where I have lost faith in this process. Nothing Eckhart Tolle can tell me will provide me with the ultimate answers to my questions. No Mooji video will leave me completely enlightened. No walk in the park will lead me to heaven.

This world can offer me nothing concrete for the answers I seek.

So I stopped. I stopped trying to extract proof from this world. I stopped burdening my experiences with divine answers. I stopped asking life to reveal my true nature. And I stopped looking to my reactions as a definition of me.

And it was wonderful.

Have you ever looked at something without expectations? I don’t think I ever have, at least not for a long time. When I would see a tree, I expect it to teach me stillness and beauty. When I spend time with my children, I expect them to show me what joy is. When I listen to a river I expect to learn about the natural flow of life.

And so I had placed walls around my experiences. And even though these expectations were created in pursuit of the ultimate truth, I had fixed the game right from the start so that I could never find the answers that I seek.

By losing faith I tore down these walls.

This loss of faith revealed that the truth cannot be pursued externally. Anything that comes to be through perception will never become the truth of who you are. This realization frees not only yourself but the world around you. The tree can now just be a tree, the river can just flow downstream, and a child can just be joyful. In this playground of infinity your soul will rejoice.

Who you are can never be defined by experience. When you know this, when you truly know this, you are free.

Your expectation of something unique and dramatic, of some wonderful explosion, is merely hindering and delaying your Self Realization

“Your expectation of something unique and dramatic, of some wonderful explosion, is merely hindering and delaying your Self Realization. You are not to expect an explosion, for the explosion has already happened – at the moment when you were born, when you realized yourself as Being-Knowing-Feeling. There is only one mistake you are making: you take the inner for the outer and the outer for the inner. What is in you, you take to be outside you and what is outside, you take to be in you. The mind and feelings are external, but you take them to be intimate. You believe the world to be objective, while it is entirely a projection of your psyche. That is the basic confusion and no new explosion will set it right! You have to think yourself out of it. There is no other way.”

– Nisargadatta Maharaj

The Relationship Between our Individual and Collective Spiritual Journeys

Our spiritual journey is unique. It will be different than anyone in history who has ever undergone this transformation before. Such a realization can be incredibly lonely and frightening.

When we start down this path we find our first guru and we read about the circumstances of their enlightenment. We understand their suffering deeply and believe that we feel exactly as they did prior to their shift. We read about their dark night of the soul, or their dramatic shift in perception, and helplessly try to recreate it for ourselves.

We start out treating enlightenment as if it comes with a manual. Sometimes even the most profound spiritual texts initially sound like this. We all know the instructions. You must surrender. You must accept the present moment. You must be still. You must be the witness. It’s almost like a to do list that we need to scratch off to become enlightened.

And after numerous attempts at mimicking the transformation of spiritual gurus I came to the realization that my journey is completely my own. I don’t know if, or how, I will become enlightened so I can not walk on the path as if I know where it’s going. I can not do something and know if it is helpful or a hindrance to my transformation.

It’s at this point out of sheer desperation that we reach out to the collective. We share our experiences and listen to the experiences of others. We scour the internet for wisdom and then share it with those like minded souls. We meditate, do yoga, have a realization, and then have this powerful instinct to communicate with those undergoing the same struggle.

It is this desire to share with the collective that fuels my individual journey.

What if I couldn’t blog? What if there was no YouTube? No Twitter or Facebook? Many of us may think that the world would be a much better place, and to a large degree I believe they may be right. But from another perspective social media has enabled me to create this huge community from which I find wisdom, and hopefully to which I contribute some myself.

The simple existence of this community has kept me moving forward. It has propelled me deeper into spirituality than I ever would have gone without them. Through my community I find encouragement, compassion, empathy, guidance and knowledge.

However, there is most certainly an element of sharing that strengthens the egoic “I”. It is the part that feels good when a post gets a lot of likes, or the part that feels excited when an original quote gets retweeted. The irony can get quite thick when you get a large response on some wisdom you had shared about not being your thoughts, and as a result start thinking how clever you are.

But perhaps the ego has a vitally important role to play in my personal journey. That as my ego seeks validation through a increasingly larger spiritual community I am also pulled deeper into the realm of spiritual seeking. As I surround myself with vast amounts of spiritual texts, lectures, and gurus, I increase the chance that I will ignite my transformation through encountering the right person, or hearing the right bit of wisdom.

Or maybe, and this is what I believe now, the greatest lesson I will learn through immersing myself into all things spiritual as a means to enlightenment will be its complete and undeniable failure. Perhaps this is where I will finally learn what surrender, acceptance, and stillness truly is.

Enlightenment on Death Row

In the Eckhart Tolle clip below he mentions an American woman, Karla Faye Tucker, whom while on death row for two brutal murders underwent a intense spiritual transformation and became an incredibly peaceful being. Listen to Eckharts description first (I have started the clip at the right time) and then I have included an interview with Karla in another clip just below that.

Am I in control of my thoughts?

There is no difference in being aware of a tree and being aware of a thought.

So why is it so easy to align my identity with the contents of a thought and not the condition of the tree? The tree could be beautiful or ugly, tall or short, alive or dead, sturdy or weak, and it does not affect the “I” in any way.

A thought on the other hand can be kind or harsh, pure or impure, moral or immoral, and the “I” is always drastically affected. We align our identity with the thought and then cast judgment upon it. This judgment will either make us want to hold on to that thought or run far away from it as fast as we can. This conditioned reflex to become one with the thought is based solely upon the following statement.

“I am in control of my thoughts”

In the pursuit of our own bliss it now becomes imperative to either prove or disprove this statement above. In beginning this investigation the first and most obvious question is this: Who is this “I”?

If we are going to know the “I” we must first understand our own capacity to ‘know’. Knowledge in the conventional sense is perception analyzed with thought to create concepts. The bottleneck in this process is perception itself. What can not be perceived can not be turned into a thought, and thus not turned into a concept.

Digging deep into the act of perception we can see that there are actually three things required: the perceived, perception, and the perceiver. In the example of the tree we can understand that the tree is the perceived, eyesight is the perception, and then what is the perceiver? My first instinct is to say that it is the brain.

But is my brain also perceived? I can’t see my own brain, though I suppose I could with some major surgery and a mirror. I could also touch it through similar means. So then, can the brain be both the perceiver AND the perceived? I mean, it is the brain that translates what has been perceived through eyesight into an image.

So the brain must be a part of perception and NOT the perceiver.

Who is this damned perceiver then? The celebrated YouTube guru Mooji knowingly points seekers by asking “Can the perceiver be perceived?”. Nisargadatta Maharaj says “The very act of perceiving shows that you are not what you perceive.” Initially this leaves us with a most unsatisfying conclusion. If I can not perceive the “I”, then I can never truly know who I am.

Getting back to the original statement we are examining, if I can never know the “I” then it would be nonsensical to assume that this “I” is in control of my thoughts. In fact in not knowing the “I” it is meaningless to lay claim to “my” thoughts at all.

That leaves us with “control”. Can thoughts be controlled? Do you know the next thought that is going to pop into your mind? It seems that we often get the thoughts we want the least. Through resisting a thought, that for all intents and purposes appeared randomly in your consciousness, we empower it. Continual resistance trains your brain to think your most undesirable thoughts at a most distressing frequency. It is only when you give up this control unequivocally that you release it.

A resisted thought is like a prisoner in our brain.

Eckhart Tolle rhetorically asks “What could be more futile, more insane, than to create inner resistance to what already is?” Such a thought is being denied it’s own existence and therefore can not run it’s course into nothingness. It is the nature of things to come and go.

The idea of control is problematic on many levels. We can’t define that “I” who is doing the controlling; the thoughts that I want to control can’t even be “my” thoughts without a known “I”; and any attempts to control thinking seems to have a substantial negative effect.

Lets modify the primary sentence in question. Lets toss out the first word “I”, and along with it the last two “my thoughts” as we know them to be either false or unknowable. The middle phrase “in control of” seems to be rife with issues so lets drop it as well. That leaves us with just one word, “Am”. Seeing a similarity to ‘Amen’ I performed a quick etymology check revealing it’s intended meaning as “so be it” or “truth”.

Let us conclude with the only truth to be found in our initial sentence; Am. There is an obvious temptation to use the phrase “I Am” which is extremely popular in spiritual texts and discussions. But in this context I see “I” and “Am” as two words carrying the same meaning. There is no “I” apart from being, and no being apart from “I”. Perhaps the best way to express this is to write it: “I, Am”.