I’m pretty much an open book these days, but I’m not some kind of spiritual google that people can ask any amount of questions and I give them the answers. Someone on twitter recently asked me “…does that mean people have no individual purpose?” A perfectly normal and unassuming question as questions go, but all of these questions, do they need to be answered? If you have the answer will it stop all questions, or will it just satisfy that particular question for a second then another one will fill it’s place? Is there a question that will end all questions? Is there an answer that will end all questions and answers? Will this cycle of questions and answers ever stop? Is there something in you that is nothing to do with questions and answers? (Wow, see how many questions I just asked there!!!) Throw out all questions, throw out all answers. They are just more of the same stuff, empty and meaningless. Keep quiet and see if any questions or answers come in this quietness of being.
The utter humanness of existence cradles in it every possible emotion, sensation, feeling & thought. We can’t run from that, we can’t hide from that, we can’t avoid or resist that, and nor should we want to.
It’s our human experiencing that reveals the ever-changing world of perception that we live in – our ‘world’ is constantly being born and reborn in every moment. Embrace this change, embrace it as the play and display of awareness-consciousness (you). This play is set on the stage of pure open, unconditioned and ineffable awareness-consciousness.
This is not the bliss of happiness; the fleeting bliss of phenomenal experience, that shows up when nothing is rocking the boat, the bliss that’s dependent on the content of life being wonderful. It’s something deeper, something more fundamental, something ever-present. It’s like an immovable mountain; the very ground you walk on. It’s peaceful beyond the word peaceful. It’s the very fabric of you.
I didn’t notice it much until now; there have been plentiful moments of the kind of happiness bliss that we all know about, both since this realization and throughout my whole life. But this…I’ve had hints of it, I’ve sensed its unceasing presence; it’s completely without words that can describe it. The nearest thing I know to say is to use the word bliss, but it feels far more primordial than that word can grasp.
You are the awareness that’s witnessing the comings & goings of life. You have no qualities, no attributes other than you are aware – you’re not an object that can be described.
There’s nothing that can show up that can disturb you – for you just ARE. Notice that you’re observing even the thought or feeling of an ‘I’ that wants to identify what’s showing up and why it’s showing up. In this recognition you realize that anything can show up, nothing can be avoided or gotten rid of, life doesn’t need to ‘look’ a certain way, because you are simply aware. You are that awareness, you have always been awareness, you cannot NOT be awareness, for you are aware.
Notice that all that I say is not a prescription for something to do, rather is a description of how it is; you need no instruction or ‘practice’ to be aware.
And so you say “but it’s not always like this”, but it is… are you not always here, always aware? Do you-awareness need anything, does the feeling of peace, space, bliss or lack of thoughts need to be there in order for you to be aware? Are you not aware even when sadness or anger is here in the midst of an argument?
Awakening is the recognition of this awareness to be you. It’s a noticing – a confirmation if you like, that you are the awareness that witnesses all of life.
There’s nothing more than this…. and yet people spend their lives convinced that they’re missing something, not getting something, not where they’re supposed to be, not doing what they’re supposed to be doing. Pretty much focused on everything BUT This, what IS, the present-moment experience.
There’s something in the mind that’s compelled to go with the seeking energy for that ‘greener grass’ over yonder. This constant looking/seeking motion that pulls your attention out of the very now is derived from the attachment to the idea of how life ‘should’ look. Ultimately this is where suffering shows up, where there’s a disparity between how life should look, i.e. your expectations, and the reality of what is actually happening. But if for a moment you can set aside this seeking, this outward searching movement to fulfill expectations and desires, and look to your own experience prior to words and descriptions in this very moment – is there anything lacking here?
When you experience an awakening – the recognition of the primordial nature of awareness, you’re centerless center; often what comes with it are things such as relief, spaciousness, invincibility, freedom, few thoughts and even bliss. It’s quite easy to then start identifying with those qualities as something that has to be present to indicate your new found ‘awakening’.
This can lead you down the path of trouble, because as you go about your life you’ll naturally start to bump into the different flavours of living, some nice and some not so nice. You might start experiencing what you might call ‘afflictive thoughts’ or intense feelings & sensations. Maybe the feeling of invincibility and spaciousness feels like it has lessened or disappeared. This can lead you feel that you’ve lost ‘it’. You then try all that you can think of to get back to those wonderful qualities that you experienced; all the while trying to avoid the shitty thoughts and feelings that are coming up.
We take the fleeting objects of our perception to be solid & persistent – even eternal, and we build our identity based on these beliefs. This illusion can work for a while, but at some point when we find that the ‘solid’ ground we walk is not so solid after all, we tend to hold on for fear of losing our identity, and in that we suffer.
The belief that anything was ever solid was build on unexplored assumptions. Explore and recognise that at the heart of you, there is an emptiness from which all that you perceive arises.
Two years ago today I collided with the Self, setting in motion the falling away of life as I thought I knew it to be. I was smacked over the head with the realisation that who I took ’Imogen’ to be was false. There was in fact no identifiable ‘solid’ form of Imogen that could be found. It’s been quite a journey, a journey to realise that what I sought was always here, looking out at the unfolding of an apparent journey. Although I now see that that collision was ultimately a fleeting experience it was so dramatically felt that it changed everything. It changed my casual interest in spirituality into a search that left everything else in its wake.
The abiding realisation of non-duality came about a year and half later.
The obsessive need to understand enlightenment or anything for that matter, is the very thing that’s stopping you from experiencing this present moment in its fullness. When resting in the present moment it’s seen that there’s nothing missing and no needs are unmet; there’s no understanding that you need that could add or take away from what you essentially are.
You are that which sees everything, you are what is being sought. There’s no understanding that would bring about this realization. Understanding is only ever something that the mind ‘gets’. That’s not to say that some understanding might come; but you as consciousness are prior to any understanding. The understanding arises within you, not the other way around. You exist before any understanding.
Anything other than the recognition that you are formless awareness is born of the mind. There’s nothing that can adequately capture the indescribable awareness that you are. To try and do so will always fall short somehow. But it doesn’t mean that these pointings can’t be useful, that they can’t lead you to the doorstep of recognition, it’s for grace to push you over the threshold. To simply dismiss the importance and power of any or all teachings is to miss the possibility that even a woefully inadequate pointing, that is full of concepts and occlusions may in fact give way to a greater seeing.
It’s so easy to fall into the spiritual trap of feeling like you’ve ‘got it’. After spending many years doing spiritual practices there may be a deepening and deepening understanding of what’s being spoken of and pointed to. This intellectual understanding coupled with spiritual or awakening experiences, and life can start to look a hell of a lot rosier. Maybe you’ve gone through some tough times, some mind attacks and such, and coming out the other side everything feels lighter and more blissful, the annoying person who cut in line isn’t bothering you any more. It’s like the contrast of that tight constricted suffering compared with the light airy, no troubled feeling comes as such a relief. And when it lasts for longer and longer with more frequency and with less and less trouble you can’t be blamed for thinking ‘I’ve got it’.
When I was writing the about page for this website something became quite apparent. Why do we focus on the ‘story’ of all of this? It’s like the story is taken to be so real, it’s seen like a path that has to be followed. That one action led to another, and another, and another until all the actions culminated in “this is how to it was done to reach this outcome”.
It is supposing that all of this description is actually a prescription. So… if you meditate for X number of years, followed by some big event that leads you to question life, and then followed by walking out of your life, giving up everything and going to live in an ashram… these will equate to…… Ta Da!!
After so many years of the word Enlightenment being banded around by spiritual gurus, new age folk and self-help aficionados, I find myself feeling that the word is just seen as another concept that’s predicated on a ton of other concepts about life. It’s an idea that keeps hold of the mind’s interest in working towards the idea of a state of happiness, bliss, no suffering and the ‘perfect life’. On this level it feels like one big ruse, a massive cosmic joke that everyone is aiming towards, but there’s nothing when you get there; in fact there’s no thing and no there to ‘get’!!
We spend our lives gathering information like trading cards, it’s our currency. Knowledge of how to do things, knowledge of what social etiquettes to follow, knowledge of dates, facts and figures. Knowing anything and everything gives this sense of security and comfort. “I know that” means that you are someone to be trusted, someone to listen to. After all what good is someone who knows nothing in this world. How will they get a job and live a successful life without knowing anything. The feeling of solidity and security in this world as a ‘someone’ is heavily wrapped up in how much knowing we gather around ourselves.
I was talking to a dear friend the other day about how to be present for others. Everyone’s had the experience of sitting with someone but not really being present to what they are saying. You are physically there but there’s a sort of ‘half listening’ that’s going on. There’s also the commentary or stream of thoughts going on in your mind.
What’s at the heart of it is to deal with your own stuff. Through the acceptance of what is arising in you there is space created that allows you to be completely present to them. It’s like when your cup is full, there is no space; but if your cup is empty there is space for them. Your emptiness comes from your ability to abide in the present moment and allow what is arising in you to arise. To not be met with any resistance, or to indulging and encouraging whatever is arising.
My relationship to speech and words has completely changed. I used to believe that what I said was the end result of something rolling around in my head, carefully considered and judge and then spat out into the world. There was a feeling that words were informed my memories and impressions, that there was history and knowledge in the words too.
Now when I speak and I have no idea where it comes from. I have no opinions that I’ve formed that come out in response to someone speaking. I actually listen when someone’s speaking, with open heart and mind, it’s not just an opportunity to figure out what to say next!
I had a recent conversation that brought into focus how important it is for someone who overthinks to get out of their head, and allow whatever feeling or sensation that occurs to arise and to just feel it. Don’t analyse it, don’t name it, don’t judge it – just feel it.
The very act of focusing in on the thought to try and ‘figure it out’ tends to perpetuate the suffering that’s being felt. What is being ‘felt’ is literally a feeling or energetic sensation arising within you that is being interpreted by the mind.
I’m so deeply and profoundly grateful to the life that has put me in the way of some amazing lessons. Lessons that have come from many different sources and many different teachers. I see now that these teachers have each come forward at the perfect moment to ultimately teach me that I am beyond all teachings, that I am the One that they point to.
To Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, for giving me TM from an early age, that allowed me to experience transcending on a daily basis throughout my formative years. This gave me the understanding that all of life is unified consciousness and that there are infinite possibilities within this. Without you my whole foundational paradigm could have looked horribly different.
To Amma, for flooring me with your presence and for opening me up to a the possibility of a world outside of TM.
To Wayne Liquorman, for showing me how much power there is in a teacher’s unspoken presence; and for introducing the profound realisation that all of this suffering is from a false sense of doership.
To Adyashanti, for guiding me into the present moment silence of the Self. For encouraging me to love my wounds and pull them closer. And for your reassuring words when the ground had fallen away for the first time.
To Suzanne Segal, for blasting off the doors of the identified body and the illusion that I believed that I was separate from the tree. And later on for showing me that I wasn’t alone in being duped into believing that enlightenment ‘looked’ a certain way.
To Sri Mooji, for showing me what deep abiding love and surrender is. For allowing me to be fully me and for opening up your heart and home to me. You never gave up on me, even when I was ready to give up on this journey.
To Ramaji & RASA, for taking me all the way home. And if that wasn’t enough, allowing me to be so brutally honest and blunt with you. Through you I found my voice.
And to Martyn, my love, for being my biggest ally, supporter and teacher in all of this Leela.
Thank You, Thank You and a million more Thank Yous
For links to these teachers click HERE