When we show ourselves to others, fully open and vulnerable with our hidden tender aspects, without self censoring and hiding, we step into the conversation, into the relationship in a new way. Through this we also invite others to free themselves of their constraints and speak their tender truth too. It’s a true gift, the gift of openness and love.
Come as you are, no agenda and no expectations, heart open and ready to be met. There are no boundaries between us, no gulf to be filled. Meet me in this moment where you are, without pretence, without posturing or needing to be anything or anyone. Without judgements of good or bad, better or worse, just tender openness.
If you find yourself being uncomfortable been seen fully without a mask of pretence take a breath, it’s in those moments that it takes great courage to stay open, to stay present, to stay vulnerable and trust.
There is a great strength in vulnerability and openness, a strength and power that brings with it such freedom and sweetness that all else melts away in that moment.
This is my invitation to you, to meet your fear of being seen and judged with the fierce love of courageous openness.
When we experience a strong emotion or felt response to life there is a call to be present, a call to sink into it. It’s not the moment to run away and avoid. It’s not the moment to reject and try with all your might to change the course of life. Life is giving you a gift, an opening, the natural call to Self, the great unknowing by which all becomes known, accepted and loved. Don’t be afraid, the call into the unknown is the call home, the call to the ground of your Being, it’s the natural call of freedom and peace. In this moment attention is your true power, your place of healing. The only doing is the seeing, is the accepting. Tender loving attention embracing the aliveness of life.
We’ve lost the focus of a spiritual centre in communities and culture today. Don’t get me wrong I am not advocating for religion in its traditional sense, but what I am noting is that life used to have a balance of both the practical or material and spiritual. At the heart of our communities used to sit a church or maybe a temple or synagogue, a mosque or even a shaman’s huts. These were places to contemplate deeper and bigger ideas, bigger aspects than the day-to-day practicals of life.
They also provided sanctuary of contemplation and silence, a place to look inward. Currently Martyn and I travel around almost constantly never staying in places for more than a month or two. In each of our adventures we seek out these places of quiet. It’s in someways strange that I’m drawn to these spaces of worship because my parents never brought me to church (or to a synagogue as the case maybe) as a child. But in later life I have been drawn to the silence and contemplation that I find in these spaces. If you look around they are actually the only places where one can sit quietly, no phone in hand, no distractions, where one can sit in silence without drawing a strange stare.
I am not religious, I am spiritual. I do not subscribe to any one particular set of beliefs. To me they all point to the silent awareness at the core of our being. Some attribute this feeling, this sense of contentment and the sense of peace to a God or Gods, but to me it’s all pointing back to the Self, to Consciousness, to primordial awareness.
I cherish these places. I’m sad that they are losing their place and their bricks and mortar in this world. I think these spaces need to evolve, to cast off the chains of dogma and ritual that have no connection to the lived experience. These traditional religions hold people in conceptual bondage. Laying concepts on top of concepts that pull someone away from their natural inclination towards the ineffable silence of the Self.
But the physical buildings and spaces that allow for silent introspection, and the guides that are sometimes found in those spaces, I believe this when lost is a tragedy for society. If you look around any modern day town how many spaces do we have that focus on the material and practical, outward expressions and parts of our lives. I believe these spaces are just as important. We have to create space in our lives to balance both the silent, introspective realm and the physical outer dynamic experience. Without both life hangs precariously out of balance.
I charge you with next time you find yourself near a space of contemplation, be it a church, a temple or something similar, that you take a moment out of your day to sit quietly. It doesn’t matter what the denomination is, it’s about the broad focus of these spaces. These places have a gravity to them, a gravity towards silence. You can feel the very visceral experience of presence and silence in these spaces. Presence is enlivened, almost as if it is imprinted in the very bricks and mortar of the building.
They are sacred spaces, not because of any particular set of beliefs, spiritual dogma even, but because each and every person throughout the ages that has stepped foot in the spaces is focused on something other than the ‘small self’. And it’s my experience that this in itself leaves a lasting and powerful imprint. One that we would be wise to take advantage of while these spaces still exist.
Many of us have experienced trauma and hurt from abusive, harmful or dysfunctional relationships of all descriptions and types in our lives. I bow at your courage to try and move beyond it and heal. Equally if you’re not quite there in your journey that’s okay, I honor that too. I feel conversations about this topic are so vital so that we can explore these sorts of things together, both individually and in a broader sense within our communities and society at large. This is where I think healing happens, through open dialogue and exploration and I believe a lot of healing needs to happen overall as the world seems to have a lot of traumatised people who in turn perpetuate and carry on this cycle. Shutting the conversation down isn’t the answer, opening it up is, even though it opens up those wounds. Those wounds need to be seen and given some TLC to be healed so that the cycle can finally come to an end.
But it doesn’t mean it’s an easy topic to talk on, the courage and vulnerability it takes to even go into this subject from any angle (and as reader or writer) is not to be underestimated. We each have our own unique path through the hurt and healing that life shows us and I just want to encourage each of you to listen to yourself as far as what to take or leave in my words. I only aim to speak from my own perspective and experience here, which I’ll try to keep as broad as possible, but it doesn’t mean this is (or should be) YOUR experience. Honor your own journey and path.
Where To Start
I’ve had first hand experience of being in relationships where there’s a harmful or dysfunctional dynamic, the damaging effects of this had a deep effect, effects I’m still healing from. That healing has gone through many cycles and in some ways I was reluctant to put this out into the public domain because while this is certainly a part of my past, it’s not necessarily where I am today. Nevertheless, it does provide some context to my journey and possible a different perspective for yours…
So how did I broadly go about healing from this type of dynamic?
Well firstly recognition was key for me. Seeing it. That Ah-ha moment came quite late on for me after an off-hand joke someone made about abusive dynamics and suddenly it was like someone had turned a light on and the room that I was standing in lit up completely. Up until that point I had been so ‘in it’ that while I knew there were some major issues, I had tended to blame myself as the relationship itself offered no validation to what I was feeling. So this was the first thing for me, acknowledging and see that it was a dynamic, both an external and internal (conditioned super-ego) dynamic that had come about through that person’s wounds and their own conditioning.
[I just want to interject here and say I believe we all have wounds and conditioning that we can quite easily lay down on another, it’s for each of us to break and heal from this cycle. So in this way, I don’t blame this person now, although at the time of this Ah-ha I very much did. I actually believe that’s was a healthy thing for me at the time: “It’s you not me,” as this was part of the problem, them always blaming the other and never taking any responsibility.]
Initially it was impossible to get the kind of closure, validation and accountability I sought, and that I felt I deserved from them. I had to actually walk away, unhook and focus on myself and my own healing in the broader sense. So sometimes the most closure, and therefore the peace is in the realisation and acceptance that you can’t get closure, and then in time this becomes all the closure you need.
How I came to this is I asked myself is who is this need for closure and resolution really hurting, them or me? The answer was ME and ultimately what I wanted was not to hurt anymore. I had tried going down the route of reasoning, explaining how I felt and trying to ‘fix’ them, showing them their wrongness of their actions & ways many times, but the first real step of healing for me was disconnecting. Physically disconnecting but also very importantly, mentally and emotionally.
I was perpetuating the hurt within myself by having my attention on them and their wrongs rather than my emotions, feelings and thought patterns in their own right. The only thing in this equation that I really could and should be focusing on was ME.
Focusing on how to stand in my truth and not give into the conditioning that I had taken on in life that was so destructive. For me it really meant learning to not be afraid of my emotions or the physical sensations and thoughts that came with them. Learning to life fully, even if it meant falling flat on my face. Learning to stand in my own emotions, not suck them up in favour of someone else’s needs.
This mean also learning to give space to the parts of me that I hated, ignored or felt shouldn’t be there, even embrace them like I would a small child – this was a big part of that, learning to be tender and forgiving of myself. This helped me to learn that whatever reared its head, that was okay, I was a big enough space to let it pass through me. In this way I found acceptance and love of myself and all that I had gone through in life. I stopped making any affliction or troublesome thoughts and emotions that I was going through wrong, even the meta feeling of wrongness. I had to learn to love myself and recognise that I was important, deserved to be seen and loveable, even though I wasn’t ‘perfect’ and I made mistakes. This wasn’t a quick or easy processes by any means.
The Road of Forgiveness
Later down the road forgiveness was also necessary for me to fully be free and ultimately be at peace. And for that I need to come to a deeper level of understanding, which is partly what that ‘Being Human‘ piece was talking to, that we ALL have deep and dark areas of ourselves, we are ALL capable of deep and destructive hurt whether it’s on purpose or not. That goes for hurt of ourselves AND others as the way I see it our hurt to others is often (but not always) a reflection of our own inner world and vice versa.
Damaged people (can) cause damage to others. So from the tender shoots of this recognition I believe forgiveness and ultimate healing can come about. As difficult to accept as this might be, I feel every person is doing their very very very cutting edge best in any given moment. And sometimes that best is just not good enough, but it’s still their best. Their actions may be coming from their own deep wounds and trauma, leading to the inability to act from anywhere else. To leave room for this possibility is to leave room for that possibility in ourselves too.
You might be thinking, “Well for some it comes out of a conscious ‘choice’ to act in a harmful way,” but even in this I feel we always have to eventually go deeper. What made them feel that they needed to act in this abhorrent way? Defensiveness, fear, lack of love, low self-esteem so that hurting another made them feel bigger, better? The list goes on and on. For me these dynamics seem to come from a deep seated sense of lack, lack of love, lack of security, lack of control and if you’ve been badly conditioned and taught to look to fill and fix this sense of lack in destructive ways… well we see what happens all over the place.
I want to be VERY clear. I am NOT talking about letting someone off the hook and saying “Oh they were hurt or damaged, that means I have to forgive them and excuse them.” I’m also NOT saying that you have to be physically or emotionally in relation to them. NO!! I’m saying that it is possible to hold the seeming paradoxes inside of you – The acknowledgement and self validation that “Yes what happened happened and it was destructive and horrible.” But ALSO that we are all human and we all make mistakes and act in ways that are less than. This understanding helped me to realise those final hooks of hurt and move into a new era of healing.
We all have to have accountability to ourselves and others but also forgiveness. We need to be able to acknowledge wrongdoing but also move on – in others and also ourselves. Without both of these aspects healing is difficult.
Like I said in that ‘Being Human’ article, we all have a darkness and a light inside of us. It’s part of the lived experience of being human. No one is exempt. Those who show most compassions to others often have accepted this in themselves. When we hide from our darkness we put it in shadow, we make it unconscious. When it’s unconscious it pops up in the most unexpected and often violent ways, like a hole in a cracked bucket. You plug the hole but then the water bursted and breaks through the cracks anyway.
At least if we can see our darkness, we’re aware of it, awake to it, then we can know it’s shape, it’s boundaries, we can work with it, not against it – we can accept it. Which is why I encourage others to see this in themselves, to not be blind, afraid or ashamed of these darker aspects of our human experience.
Root Out Any Conditioning
I do also have one practical thing that was of help to me and may be of help to you, but always measure any advice (mine absolutely included) against what feels right for you – stand in YOUR TRUTH, listen to yourself.
So my ‘advice’ as it were: Root out any implanted conditioning or views that this person or persons has laid on you. Those doubts, those fears, those uncertainties of who you are or what is right or wrong. Root them out, question if they’re true. Question if they’re your actual views or something that you’ve taken on without question, taken on as an assumption of Truth. Was it their projection and their own wounds being laid on you, or were they pointing out something in you that is actually true and that you feel yourself? Being able to tell the difference and throw out those untruths can be very healing and I believe totally necessary.
I still on occasion have that little voice of the super-ego that was actually just their conditioning implanted in me, telling me I am this or that, I should behave and do this or that in x,y or z way. Without identifying and rooting those out you can find yourself still stuck in a cycle of self abuse, even though the ‘abuser’ is long gone.
Healing is possible, but it’s YOUR healing, not theirs. Take care of yourself, learn to love yourself, learn to accept yourself.
This is part of your story, it’s part of what makes you you right here, right now. You can’t cut it out, but you don’t need to wear it like a badge of honour for the rest of your life either. Can you forgive and accept yourself for falling for it, for letting yourself be in that situation? Can you grow and move beyond it, free from it but still grateful for the lessons it taught you?
I know this is a difficult and painful processes. I’ve been through it intimately and am still learning and growing from it. Today I find myself with gratitude to all my life lessons. Would I like to go through them again? Hell no! But I also see that they made me into who I am, warts and all. They made me seek freedom and peace, they helped me to find true happiness, they brought me to a clarity that wasn’t there before.
Like I said earlier, please do only take what feels true to you. I offer no advice here, just a perspective on part of my journey and how it unfolded. None of this is easy, it’s messy, there are no right answers.
I find it funny that the further into this journey of life I get the less and less ‘spiritual’ I become. Granted, I never self-identified as particularly spiritual, but at least outwardly I certainly was a card-carrying member of the ‘spiritual seekers brigade’. I was brought up surrounded by spiritual types, I meditated from aged 6, I went to a spiritual consciousness-based school and university. I worked for companies where every single employee was a meditator and spiritual seeker. I’ve lived in spiritual communities and Ashrams. I’ve lived like a monk, albeit a married one, but a monk nonetheless (and I still do pretty much live like one).
For a while my focus was well and truly on the abiding recognition of awareness, consciousness, the absolute, the silent awareness at the heart of all experiencing. Seeing that the kaleidoscopic arisings of the content of life was just that, an arising, a happening, a dream.
And while I find this to be true, the primordial ground of life as I know it…. but also there IS a life as we know it and that’s not to be ignored or denied, it’s to be LIVED.
So now I find myself focusing instead of on spiritual attainment or awakening (at least in the traditional sense), it’s shifted onto what it means to be human, to walk in this world, the grounded and intimate experience of life. It’s a messy and beautiful business being human, it’s not something you can do ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. It’s full of heartbreak, disappointment, intense experiences and pain. It’s also full of joy and love, connection and so much more.
We are all fumbling around the best we can and to me the most compassionate and loving thing I can do for myself and others is to turn up for that, to walk hand in hand and support one another through life lessons.
Life isn’t a sterile experience to be witnessed. Life is a heavily felt and embodied experience. It astonishes me the capacity for each and every one of us to experience what we experience, the full-on aliveness that asserts itself in every moment. Yes we are the vessel that experiences all of this, yes we are prior to all of this, yes we are the witness to all of this. But ALL of this is US TOO!!!!!!!
There is no ‘me’ and ‘it’. There is just THIS. The full-on multifaceted, kaleidoscopic, multi-sensory experience of life. The good, the bad, the ugly, it doesn’t matter, it’s ALL OF IT. The freedom is in seeing this, knowing this, not being in denial or resistance to this.
It’s not to escape it, it’s to embrace it. It’s not to run from it, it’s to know that you ARE it. You are life. All of this is for you. All of this IS you. (And I am NOT just talking about the nice fluffy cuddly bits ;p)
Awakening to me is waking up to your nature, seeing life for what it is, the transient, ineffable life that is experienced, felt, lived. When seeing the nature of how things are you find yourself not in resistance to life, you find yourself free from the bondage of ‘should’ and instead standing in the freedom of what IS.
There isn’t a box where the lines have to be coloured inside of in-order to be ‘the most spiritual’, ‘the best human being’, ‘the most enlightened’. Freedom is to step outside of your false self-imposed gilded cage and see that there are no boundaries and rules as to what the experience of life should be. No rights and wrongs, just this, just experiencing itself.
So this, this is where I find my energy, my focus, my attention. Not by design, but because life continually asserts itself as something that is full of experiencing. So full that all that we can do is jump in feet first and buckle up for the ride, because it is a ride, we’re not in control of the steering wheel, but we’re fully along for the journey. Let go or be dragged, either way… it’s happening.
I was asked the other day how I deal with being around others, particularly when there’s a level of pretending or not speaking your truth that seems to be required of you.
I too know all too well this feeling of suffocation in the company of others. The subtle unsaid permissions of what you can say, which topics you can touch on and how deep that can go. The unsaid permissions that someone can’t give for fear of threatening their own sense of Self, views and place in the world that they hold so tightly so as to keep the facade of security and knowingness intact.
I think this is why the idea of Sanghas can be so enticing, a place to commune with others who were of like mind and place in their journey of unfoldment, of seeing. A place when you can find common ground and openness, common experience and views. Alas it’s not as easy as it sounds to find the ‘right’ sangha!
You are lucky if you can find this in a partner or in a close friend or two – this is what I have with Martyn and this is what I am eternally grateful for. Alone together and full permission and delight of me to be me and him to be him. The freedom to be as we are, the freedom to plumb the depths and go anywhere – no ‘sacred cows’ that are off-limits.
You asked how I deal with the difficulty of pretending with others. Firstly I take plenty of time to go into my aloneness, isolation and unknowingness and revel in the freedom to be. This place of ‘only don’t know’ is such a beautiful place to be. Beautiful and vulnerable. Delicate, embracing and loving but powerful and full of strength. It’s in this space that we can truly see ourselves and breath in the fullness of existence. Taking this time of solitude is incredibly important, especially for me being the hermit and introvert that I am.
But these days when I am with others I find myself laying it all out to bare, trusting in this process and letting the chips fall where they may. Standing in my truth, being open and honest and trusting. Trusting that even if I get push-back or hurt that I can handle it, that they can handle it too and the freedom to be me, the freedom for them to be them is much more important than any particular outcomes. It has meant the loosing and changing of many relationships, but it has also meant the discovery of those relationships that can withstand this vulnerable nakedness of openness and truth that I find myself standing in.
Then of course there are those relationships where masking and pretending is absolutely necessary. Practically speaking I try to minimise the amount of time spent in these types of interactions, that certainly helps. Making sure that I do have plenty of alone time and nourishing relationships where masking and pretending isn’t needed so that there is capacity for those relationships where it’s not possible. Also in those interactions to find as much openness and compassion as is available in any given moment. To not shame or blame the need to protect, defend or set unsaid boundaries, but honoring and accepting those boundaries where we find them. Understand that they are often there for a reason, even if it’s a reason I (or they) can’t see or understand.
From a broader view of this topic generally for me it was the attachments to outcomes and desires in terms of interactions and relationships that had to go. The attachment to the desire of people liking me, people seeing me, the desire to looking a certain way, to be loved or even liked. Even the attachment to the desire to connect deeply or in a certain way, to be understood and acknowledged.
The power in the lack of attachment has been enormous for me, scary but completely freeing. I have nothing to lose, I have no rights to certain outcomes of how I think things should go. I just am who I am in any moment, it’s raw and risky feeling but it’s real and honest. And so in this I’m eternally grateful for what I do have, for all that comes across my path, forget about ‘good’ and ‘bad’.
There is only so much that one can repress and suffocate themselves, the cracks begin to show. The holes start forming and things start to escape in more violent and unpredictable ways.
I encourage you to breath into the fullness of your experience, let the chips fall where they may and find those moments, those people, those spaces, those pages even, where you can freely be YOU.
There’s so much focus on enlightenment and awakening in the abstract. In the projected ideas and ideals of what people, seekers, see in their idolisation of gurus, teachers and enlightened sages. In the goals and focus of wanting never-ending bliss and happiness, and superhuman abilities and powers because they think that’s what it’s all about. The person becoming bigger and better, the person becoming enlightened.
But what is enlightenment really about? What happens when someone awakens, how will their expectations match the reality? This is what I’m interested in, exploring this, the lived experience, the embodiment of awakened living. Not the projected and imagined experience and the constant trying (and failing) to match up to this – but the actual lived experience. That lived experience can’t be codified, it’s a moment to moment exploration without rules. It’s a free-fall through the groundless experience of life.
As a spiritual mentor I’m not interested in making promises, I’m not interested in creating students who feel they need to learn from me, I’m not even really interested in ‘awakening people’ as a goal. I’m interested, or rather I find myself being called to be totally present to those that find themselves knocking on my door. I’m called to hold space for someone to be as they are without judgements of “you’re there and you should be here” or making anyone wrong or bad, but instead to help someone to come to a better understanding of what causes their suffering and seeking. To provide a sandbox of exploration for this crazy, messy, unfiltered life. To hold space for the unfoldment and awakening that is already happening within them.
All I’m really interested in is holding someone’s hand and showing them that they can accept all of themselves, and in fact in the accepting of all of themselves they might just find the freedom, happiness and peace that they are looking for. They may just find that they awaken to their nature, that all of this experience is Self, is them. They might just notice that this is all happening spontaneously within them anyway. The pull and the draw to the Self is already occurring.
It’s not about attaining and achieving, about learning or being the best devotee or surrendering the most. It’s about unmasking themselves, dissolving held concepts and conditioning and learning to be open and vulnerable. It’s in that openness and vulnerability that they will find their strength, they will find the strength that they inherently have, they will find the peace and joy that they inherently have, that they most likely missed while looking for it!
I’m not ‘giving’ anything. As I see it, even with the ‘Shaktipat Transmissions’ that I offer in my session I’m not ‘giving’ a transmission. I am encouraging and aiding the taking of time to focus on this aspect of our experience, the non-conceptual fundamental basis of existence that is at the heart of EVERYTHING – consciousness. I am taking the time to focus and put attention on that, and in that space, to silently encourage them to do that too. To reestablish the known connection with self, with consciousness, with the divinity of our ordinary base experience.
So really it’s not a giving, in terms of one person to another. It’s the attention being placed on that awareness or presence of consciousness. The attention gets amplified, simplified, but it was always there, consciousness was always at the heart of existence, of experiencing, whether known or not.
I know lots of teachers have many different views on this stuff. But the fact is, it depends on how and who you are talking to in any given moment. Even for me, my description changes depending on the situation or moment. Because even in that simple description, I see the flaws, the other ways of describing it, the mystery of transmission, the mystery of awakening because it’s just that, a mystery. There are explanations of these things from the absolute view, but there are also explanations from the relative view and everything in between.
Yes in absolute terms – there is no me, no you, no transmission, no awakening. It’s just life playing out, consciousness forming different forms of existence. Forming a ‘teacher’ and a ‘student’ and even the experience of a transmission, the experience of awakening – all the while all these characters and ‘props’ playing out on the stage of awareness – your awareness, not someone else over there. YOUR AWARENESS. It’s an assumption, a short hand, a concept, even a courtesy that there is even a ‘someone over there’. All you really know is that you are, you are aware. Everything else is an assumption, part of what’s showing up TO YOU.
But in the relative terms, yes paths show up, teachers show up, others show up, experiences show up. Thoughts and desires to learn a meditation technique shows up. Even the wish to be happy versus not happy shows up. And in that I’ve found that this thing we call “Shaktipat Transmission” shows up, and it shows up in a way that apparently helps others to see that the binds of the mind that they think hold them aren’t quite as solid as they thought they were. That life is full of ideas and concepts and shoulds and should nots, but really what life’s really about is WHAT IS HAPPENING.
So my ‘job’, my role right now seems to be showing up, hand holding and reassuring. Because awakening happens in this apparent play. That awakening is actually a waking up from thinking things are a certain way, and waking up to realise that that certainty was actually misplace, because when you look close enough, that certainty falls apart. And in that falling apart, so do a lot of things. So life as we know it falls apart. The illusion is seen through, the dreamer realises it’s a dream.
And then within this we have to learn to live again and this can be hard and messy.
We have to learn to live in this new space where everything is exactly the same, and yet the relationship to everything is completely different. It’s hard to explain, it’s not something someone can ‘grok’ because you can’t change your perspective without jumping all in. And when you do jump all in.. there’s no going back.
You have to let go of the ledge and trust eventually.
You have to open yourself up and take off the heavy armour of conditioning and concepts that you thought to be you, and see that actually you were always inside, underneath, tender and whole. Just so hidden that you didn’t even notice. Your true nature, your SELF was always here, so intimate, so ordinary, so known, that you missed it completely.
So this is my role, pointing you back to your own experience to help you to see that which was here the whole time.
The only way forward and through this life is to embrace our humanity, not run from it. It’s no good hiding in “nothing is effecting me” and “I am beyond it all.” While true on an absolute level, it doesn’t account for the lived, embodied experience of being human. To be beyond it all is to accept it all. You can’t hide from it, you can’t run from it, you have to lean into it, breath into it and feel it all, right from your fingers to your toes.
What does it mean to embrace our humanity? It means to accept all and reject none. It means that even in the midst of messy, ugly, complicated life that you embrace all of it as part of you. Does a tree reject its gnarly root?
What are we afraid of? What is it in our humanness that we don’t want to look at, don’t want to accept?
There’s a darkness in all of us. A devil, a serial killer, a narcissist, a hateful, arrogant, egotistical bad boy or girl waiting to show itself and most people can’t, don’t or won’t see this. It’s those people who see this, accept this and learn to not be afraid of those aspects of themselves, they find themselves living in freedom.
I am not perfect by any stretch. I’m not just saying that either, I know it, I know my deep dark crevasses, I’ve gotten intimate with them. I’ve learned to honour and love them, embrace them. I’ve brought light to them. Not that happy-shiny-blissful looking concept of ‘light’, just ordinary awareness light. I’ve brought a lamp into the dark corners of my experience, I know they’re there, they’re not hidden.
The less you avoid, the more freedom you have. Can you release yourself from bondage, can you embrace even those hard to reach depths of your humanness and still somewhere in there, embrace them.
This is love.
It’s easy to love your friend, it’s a different story to love your enemy.
So what is your enemy within yourself? What is that part of yourself that you’ve gone to war with? Which part of yourself do you want to cut out and never see again?
We have to go looking for these parts and learn to at the very least accept them, know they exist.
Because if you can’t accept them in yourself, who can you accept them in? And if you can’t accept them in anyone or anything then are you going to spend your entire life in perpetual avoidance, at perpetual war with what is?
Embracing our own humanity is embracing all others as well. It’s having compassion for what it is to be human. It’s having compassion for the internal struggle of full acceptance that we all go through.
Embracing our humanity is to put down the internal war that you have with yourself, to wave the white flag and find some harmony in which all of your experience can finally be accepted.
There is a mask that we’ve all experienced. Many even have several masks, each for a different set of circumstances, a different set of people. The mask that you wear for your boss is not the same mask that you wear for your grandmother, which is not the same mask you wear for your friends. All a partial view of who you are, what you’re feeling, what you’re thinking.
But what happens when the cracks in the mask begins to show? What happens when that mask full of pretense and fake smiles becomes heavy and suffocating? When the toll of not showing the full range of your human experience, showing your whole vulnerable self becomes unbearable. What happens when you find that mask slipping off or not fitting anymore? So what then?
Can you leave the mask off, let it fall away, step out from hiding behind it and accept your reality? Or do you go back to trying to shove it back on and avoiding? What if it was supposed to crack, can you accept that? Accept that life has other plans for you right now, plans that you maybe can’t see, and certainly can’t control.
Can you be brave and stand up straight, hold your head high and walk forward into this next moment without reference to past, without wallowing in self pity? Can you hold your arms up to life and say, “Okay life, I’m ready for what you want of me, I’m here, I’m open and I’m listening.”?
If you say you’re done wearing this broken mask a million times does it make it so? Saying “I’m done” doesn’t make it so. BE done. Not tonight, not tomorrow, right now. It’s an action and a movement that rises up from within. An action that you can notice happening spontaneously. An action of Grace saying not next, not back there, but here – right now. Stay present. Drop any thought that says otherwise. Cast aside any thought that draws you into past and into future.
Life is making the wearing of this mask too painful, too impossible. So listen. Listen to life. Life is making it clear… “no more mask”. Can you stand true and listen to life, can you open yourself up to that vulnerability and stand naked without the safety of your mask, your mask that is so painful, so heavy, so constricting. What happens then? What happens when you set aside your mask and stand naked without it?
You are believing yourself to be weak and small, but maybe the cracks that you’re trying to hold together with sticky glue and tape actually were correct all along. Maybe they needed to break open. Maybe you can’t be contained by this false mask, this false shell anymore. Maybe the light that shines from within is making its escape through those cracks.
You find your life is falling apart. So what makes you think that it’s correct to try and tape and hold it back together? What happens when you let go?
I know it’s difficult. But when life falls apart you have two choices…. try and put it back together or acknowledge it and move on. Acknowledge that life wants something else for you, life is going in a different direction for you. So which will it be? The old or the new?
You’ve interacted with life in a particular way, with the mask and conditioning that has got you this far. Now life is taking that away from you. Now life is giving you the chance to move in a different way, without these crutches. They were only ever temporary, they were always going to fail at some point.
Life is for you, not against you. But it’s not necessarily in alignment with the mind’s ideas about what’s best. It’s in alignment with what’s actually needed, not what you think is needed. So where does your loyalty lie? With the mind’s ideas about what’s best, or life, reality, truth? Do you hold on to these ideas, or do you move forward, boldly step into this moment of life, raw, open, vulnerable but most of all with the strength of conviction that this is the only way. Will you falter? Will you stay loyal to the past? Or will you bow your head in acknowledgement that life has far bigger plans than the mind can conceive of.
When a door closes life is giving you an opportunity to walk through the window that it has just opened. To try another way. To leave behind the burdens of your past, to let go of the heavy mask of personhood. This is your chance to step up, to step out, to move beyond yourself, your small, controlling, afraid mind. To step into the darkness of unknowing with the light of Self and say, “Not today, today I make a different choice, today I choose myself not those doubts and fears. Today I take off my mask for the last time and stand free in the vast expanse of it all.”
Step into your new reality, step into your own light. It’s right here now and it cannot be overshadowed, it cannot be taken away. It’s right at the core of your being and you don’t need to run away from it any more.
All your choices have led to this, they are not something to be ashamed of, they are not something to second guess. Your choices ARE your path, your path has lead you to crack open, for the mask to become unbearable. Your choices are choice-less and so all you can do is accept that it’s all Grace. Every single choice, every single thought, it’s all Grace. Grace doesn’t pick and choose, it’s all of it. The sun doesn’t pick and choose what flower to shine on, it shines on all.
Don’t dwell on your past, it will do you no good. Accept where you are, see that it’s all meant to be exactly as it is. Life’s showing you that you’re not in control and whatever is happening is just part of your path.
Let your old life go, let it fall apart and be ready and willing to step into the great unknown, ready for Grace to show the way. But you can’t take your baggage and past with you. All you have is this moment. Your past does not define you, this moment does, and this moment is gone as soon as it came. So be undefinable, just BE.
Where you see brokenness and endings, I see beginnings and the shell of personhood breaking away to reveal your true Self – open, fresh and full of possibilities.
What if your true Self was something your mind rejected, found disgusting or worthless, what then?
Would you spend your whole life rejecting what is at the core of your Being? Or would you give up the constant resistance and accept what the mind won’t?
It’s exhausting to be in resistance to what is.
What is it in you experience that takes no effort? What is it in your experience that you cannot NOT be?
Discover this and discover the natural omnipresent awareness that is you at the center of all. The unshakable core of your Being. It may not, no – it WILL NOT be what your mind dictates it should be. It might not even be something your mind likes or even respects. It might not be something you mind can grasp and relate to. But does this make it any less true?
Where do you go from there? Where do you go when the insight and discovery of who you are doesn’t match up to the mind’s view? Which will you find yourself choosing? Where will your loyalty lie? With yourself, or with the thoughts and concepts of the mind?
We deny our humanity. We hide in the ideals of ‘The Absolute’ and yet it’s the absolute that contains all of humanity. It’s the absolute (field of awareness) from which all of this springs. Does awareness have such distinctions? Does awareness *need* life to look a certain way. No! That is the small limiting notions of the human mind, too feeble to comprehend the magnitude and the mystery of how life is playing out.
It’s easier to think that we don’t have to deal with difficult emotions and wounds. It’s easier to think that all our problems will be solved when we are established in silence, in the absolute. But silence is only half of the equation, silence may be the ground of experience but from that ground springs forth the full diversity and experience of life. And included in that is the story of our personal life where wounds and traumas and relationships have a deep impact on our emotional, physical and energetic experience of life. So we can’t hide in the silence expecting that those experiences of life will fade away.
What does happen is that when established in silence, in Being, in the Self, when faced with those hard truths, those hard experiences, those very human experiences, that when faced with this we find that the capability and the capacity to hold space for these in the ground of our Being is infinite.
When established in Being, this is when the true work begins. When the strategies no longer work when they are seen through and seen as temporary Band-Aids for the work that is inevitable.
Don’t be afraid of the radical honesty and difficult work that life requires of you. It’s in this that you see the pure power and magnificence of humanity. It’s nothing to be afraid of, it’s a glory to behold, the complicated and messy magnificence of being a human. Don’t run from it, if anything, run towards it. It is in the full embrace of all that you are where you will find your freedom, where you will find your peace.
Peace and freedom don’t come about from limiting and controlling your experience. Peace and freedom come about from blowing the doors, and walls, and floors, and ceiling off of life. Peace and freedom come about when you are no longer trying to avoid any experience that shows itself in your life.
There is a lot of emphasis in spiritual circles of the wonderful, blissful, joyous experiences that can happen in life. But life is so much more. Don’t be tempted to only go towards the “light and good” experiences. Don’t be tempted to run away from the “dark and bad” experiences. Instead run towards all experiences, run towards and beyond all experiences. You are beyond all experiences. All experiences appear to you, you are greater than them and therefore need not be afraid of them. Experiences come and go, you are that which witnesses and knows those experiences. Don’t be tempted to identify only with those experiences, see that they come and go. What you are is far more and therefore cannot be overwhelmed by any experience.
Let go into the void of Being. Let go your notions of how this should and could go. Let go of any limits and any concepts of what life will look like. It is the height of arrogance to believe that you can figure out and control the mystery that is life.
So see that anything that does show up in your experiencing is a gift and bow your head to the feet of life. Surrender your small notions of personal authorship. Bow to the feet of the unknown, let life and Grace carry you through. Give over your need to pen the story, instead bear witness to that story. That story is your path and your path is uniquely yours. Never can you stray from your path, never can you take a wrong turn. Never is there a moment when you are not carried by Grace. Grace is at the centre of all actions, don’t be the judge of Grace.
So in the depths of strong emotions, and fears, and memories, and projections, fear not, even this is being held in Grace. Even this is the destiny of your path playing out. Even this is a gift being given to you, a gift that you are capable of receiving. Strength is not found in ease and comfort, strength is found when all else is lost. Strength is found in vulnerability. Strength is found when you let go into the unknowing. Strength is found at the core of your being.
Give life a chance to show you this. Take a leap of faith. Let go of the steady ground you think you’ve found and take the next step, even though you don’t know the one after it. Have faith that Grace will carry you.
Life is the ultimate mystery. Not ‘life’ in some mystical imagination of the mind, of some projection of what you think I am talking about when I say life. But life in its very ordinary and mundane and very human experience. This is the mystery, nothing more than this. This is mystery enough, we need not try to hijack it with imaginations.
Life is mystery enough.
In my travels it’s become very clear to me that to talk about acceptance is to talk about love, and to talk about love is to talk about acceptance. They are one and the same. They are the key to peace and freedom. They are the key to the recognition of your own nature. They are the key to everything. And they are happening right now, right under your nose – whether you recognize it or not.
When you fall in love with another person you accept that person, you accept their differences, you accept who they are. Similarly when you love an aspect of yourself, you accept that aspect of yourself. Equally, when you hate an aspect of yourself you are attempting the futile rejection of that part of yourself. In this way love and acceptance are seen as synonymous.
You have all the tools, all the things you need in life. You are not lacking in anyway. You are not broken, you just need to accept all that you are… accept even the seeming imperfections into the wholeness and you will see that your light was there all along… hidden under the rock of self doubt, strategies and egoic-mind. But the light of your true Self is far too infinite and vast to be hidden by a rock.
Emotions, traumas and experiences, all of it are life’s way of showing you that it’s alive and kicking. Don’t be tempted to create separation where there is none. You contain multitudes and that’s a beautiful thing…not something to run away from, minimize or control. But something to be embrace, accepted and integrated.
When you notice the pernicious tricks of the mind creeping in, simply let go and return. Let go into the unknown. cast aside the tendencies of the mind to grasp and ‘know’. Notice this dynamic and let go, anything other than this simple act is a distraction.
So notice and return to the core of your being… everything you are, everything you think you need, right there at the bedrock of your experiencing all that time.
You are perfect.
What is the ground of your experience?
Is it the world?
Is it the body?
Is it the thoughts?
Is it the sensations?
Or is it the simplest form of non-conceptual awareness, aware of all of *this*.
Search for the gap in between the content.
We are all figuring out life best we can, in our messy and imperfect, perfectly human way. Life includes in it the whole spectrum of experience and there’s no guidebook or rule book, there’s no one way to live life.
A lot of the people I meet along the way are looking to others to give them answers. But other people/ gurus/ teachers (even life) are only ever a mirror, a reflection of your own awareness, your own subjective experience of life, pointing you back to Self. That mirror can be crystal clear or that mirror can be partial and muddy. I encourage each and every one of you to look into your own direct experience, use your discernment, listen to what others have to say and mark it against your own internal compass and intuition. Drop all your judgements about what you think you know and take a careful look, take a look prior to your assumptions, observe. See if whatever they (or I) are pointing to stands up to scrutiny, does it point back to Self? But don’t take my word for it…. go looking for yourself!
Q: Is the whole old spiritual paradigm collapsing?
The old way of doing things may well be, the very strong hierarchical Guru-lead spiritual organisations as an example. But I feel there will always be the search for connection to, or rather awareness of Self (it’s like consciousness forgets itself, just to for the delight and play of remembering itself too!) and those ‘big’ answer-less answers will be searched for as long as there is suffering in the world. What that search looks like, and if it’s so widespread that it’s not to be seen as ‘special’ or different (fringe) anymore… yes I think this world is changing, but then it has done before and it will do again.
Q: Is it time to truly realize that there is no need to heal, to transmute, to work it out at all? To “heal” others, to “heal” ourselves? Is the healing subject rather antiquated even though it seems to be such a part of mine and others journeys, to attend workshops, classes, …..to give workshops and sessions…
As long as it’s taken as a personal “I am healing” or “I am being healed” there will be suffering, because sometimes healing happens and we take pride “I did that”, sometimes it does not and we feel pity “I failed”. That’s the ego taking claim and ownership – good or bad it doesn’t matter. Then we get stuck in the cycle of expectations & wanting and avoiding & rejecting rather than accepting what is and that we actually have no control of any of this.
But in my experience healing happens, things get worked out, attending workshops, retreats and satsangs happens, spiritual practices such as meditations happens, a ‘journey’ or ‘path’ happens. It’s a natural part of life and whatever is showing up is what is meant to happen – the non-personal (egoic) view of life, that this is spontaneously arising. Just as the leaves on the tree grow, the tree doesn’t take ownership.
As an example… ‘I’ Imogen offer spiritual guidance & shaktipat transmissions, I see benefits and changes occurring with my ‘students’, but ‘I’ don’t take it personally, as ‘me’ doing it, I see that that’s what is happening, that’s what life is presenting in that moment, what life is calling forth. Who am ‘I’ to say it should or should not happen that way? Who am ‘I’ to take claim or ownership over this??
It’s the two truths thing that in time is integrated and accepted – on one hand we have the absolute view…. consciousness is, no healing, no person, no other, no changing, no need to ‘do’, no past, no future, just consciousness. Then we have the more relative view… things happening, changing, morphing, diversity, differences, experiences, one person giving something to another (whether it be bread or ‘healing’) – the human experience of doing, of living. The relative is the play and display of the absolute. The multitudes of experience are happening IN consciousness, AS consciousness. Do you see? Yes on one hand consciousness doesn’t need to heal, consciousness IS – NO. MATTER. WHAT. … But on the other hand, consciousness plays out on the stage of life, healing and living and growing and changing.
Which leads me to answer your next question………
Q: Is an ability such as being sensitive with energies and healing those energies, just a phenomena like painting, writing, or even drinking tea?
YES. But….just in the same way people have a natural talent for painting or music while others don’t and have to apply themselves diligently to study and learn… the sensing of ‘energies’ is just the same sort of thing, not more ‘special’ just more unusual maybe. There’s no point denying these relative differences in people. So in (your) consciousness shows up all these varieties of human expression, some that are energy healers, some that are painters, some that are engineers. YES it’s phenomena, the experience of existence IS phenomena, without it……….. well 🙂
Q: Is it a subtle addiction – never be good enough, to keep on seeking and digging? Haven’t I done enough of it the past 20–30 years? Is this an old wheel in me that should stop? All of this “I see this in you” and “I see that in you” over and over again like a ping pong ball. Isn’t that exhausting and separating rather than connecting? Are we are still operating based on old patterns inside of us, many of them so well hidden that we maybe will never be aware of them, or of somewhat “knowing” them. Is this the biggest trap, the need to seek to be ‘better’?
YES, but that’s what’s happening.
I’d say… for you… give it a go, drop it all (if you can) see what happens.
Again I think it comes down to the ‘ego’ person owning that searching vs the acceptance that searching is happening. It seems to me consciousness likes to have a bit of grit in experience, something to rub up against, otherwise why would it be there. It would all be a bunch of nothingness with no point to ‘manifest’ this world, experiences etc. etc. etc. Might as well be no person, no body, no other, no world – nothing. But that’s NOT WHAT IS SHOWING UP… all of THIS is!!! And I think it IS consciousness trying to connect with itself, to know itself, to experience itself.
Q: Is there a fully integrated awakened being walking at all this planet or is even this a idea?
Awakening is a total mystery, in fact all of this is a mystery, so who knows!!! That’s why WHY’s are so tricky.
What does that even mean to be ‘fully integrated’? It’s a subjective value judgment that someone equates a certain set of x,y & z’s to equaling ‘full integration’.
It’s like saying a ‘fully healed body’ – the body is sometimes worse and needs attention on certain things, but it’s ALWAY changing and growing and better and worse, sick/healed in some parts, sick/healed in others. But we can we can subjectively go… ‘I feel ok’ or ‘I feel terrible’, or roughly judge others “that person looks healthy or sick”.
Awakening however is about awakening or being en-light-ened to the nature of your essential Self, prior to all concepts and conditioning based in the ego-mind. How that recognition and realisation gets integrated into your lived reality, well that’s a completely unique journey and there are no wrong answers for that one!
Q: We only have this famous pictures of Ramana Maharshi that has this Aura of “he is this entirely”, yet, what do we know. Is it human nature to still need a saint to even keep on striving after the shift?Quite possibly, something to aim for, yes sounds about right! Isn’t consciousness a trickster and joker!
Q: Is there only permission to speak and teach once ones reached a certain level of awareness? This will never happen, we are humans. Look around, EVERYONE is speaking in one way or another, spiritual or not spiritual, everyone has opinions and views and they voice those views and beliefs ALL the time. Life gave us the gift of communication… and communication is everywhere and in everyone.
As for permission to be a spiritual teacher – there are MANY MANY MANY different teachers, teaching many many many different techniques and practices, views and concepts. Some more skillfully than others, some more effective than others. Some more established in their broad and primordial nature of open-awareness. But again… I’m going to sound like a broken record…. this is what’s showing up, there’s no ‘spiritual government or police’ that decides who gets to speak or teach. It’s just life, throwing up a myriad of ways to recognize the nature of itself, some ways more pertinent than others.
Q: Is there only permittance to speak from the heart, what’s wrong to speak from the mind? Isn’t that still a differentiation between right and wrong? Who is permitting or not. One speaks from wherever speech comes from.
Q: Isn’t the ultimate liberated love just to be exactly like we are? EXACTLY LIKE WE ARE? YES, but most have trouble to see this, and they suffer this. That’s not to say it’s ‘wrong’ just that that seems to be what shows up, a suffering of this lack of acceptance.
Q: Isn’t it time to fully accept ourselves and each other YES YES YES YES YES YES!!
Q: Aren’t we specialists in looking for the “wrong”, after years and years of searching and seeking for the ultimate…better…whatever? haha YES, this is always what I am trying to point you to.. to accept all, to stop making yourself ‘wrong’. Even if, for example you are triggered and reactive to a deep seated fear of rejection… accept that that is what is your experience, it’s not wrong… it just IS
Q: Is this a human condition in general, as an evolution in our genetics? Is even the pointing and the integration a continuing “wrongness” in the rightness? What’s wrong with drama once in a while? What’s wrong with energies of the past? What’s wrong with all the layers?
Aren’t we all of that?
YES WE ARE, THERE IS NOTHING ‘WRONG’ WITH IT. THIS IS WHAT I’VE BEEN SAYING ALL ALONG!!!!!!! Literally, I feel this is pretty much ALL I’ve been saying in our sessions!!! 🙂 Accept, accept all of it, see that it is perfect, just as it is, see that it can both be perfect and completely imperfect all at the same time. See that life is messy and diverse, and complicated and simple, and ugly and beautiful… ALL OF IT, no wrong, no right, just WHAT IS.
Q: All of a sudden there is a full stop inside of me…
Q: I see all the people in all their beauty exactly as they are
YES EXACTLY – but that also includes their healing, their journeys, their processes, their ‘awakenings’ – ALL of it. It includes when I sit down with you (or anyone), I don’t see you as broken, I see you as perfect, I see everyone as perfect, all of it. But questions come, answers come, healing happens, shaktipat happens, awakening happens, friendship happens, mentorship happens, teaching happens, LIFE happens. EXACTLY. BEAUTIFULLY. AS. IT. DOES.
Q: Is even this old structure of student and teacher and helping integration master collapsing entirely? Even if it’s on a face to face friendship base?
In you, in this moment, this structure is being see through, being seen for what it is. It was always an illusion of consciousness playing out in itself. No student, no teachers, no integration, just consciousness. Just consciousness showing up as student, teacher and integration. Again…. WHAT IS
Q: Have I forgotten through the years of spiritual search just to talk about normal stuff?
YES quite possibly… give it a try… lol.
Q: Why am I constantly reflecting?
Because that’s what’s happening right now, maybe in the next moment that’s not what’s happening
Q: Why not just living?
Like I said… give it a go… get a hobby, play, enjoy, live, jump in feet first and see what happens! (If you can)
Q: Can I even return to a “regular” basic simple life?
LOL I don’t know…depends on what you see as ‘regular’… for me the jury is out on what is ‘regular’. Again, stop with rejecting one way over another. See that whatever is happening is what is meant to happen. If you find yourself getting a job in the supermarket, then that is what is happening, if you find yourself doing ‘healing’ work that’s what’s happening too. I personally have ZERO attachment to this kind of ‘work’ that I find myself doing right now, I’d be fine if I ended up working in a supermarket tomorrow. Yes we have a life that the majority of people don’t have, but honestly I don’t give two hoots about it, if we suddenly start living a ‘normal’ life and never utter words like ‘spirituality’ or ‘consciousness’ again then that’s what’s happening and I’m totally fine with it. So if the impulse is to go and get a ‘regular’ simple life… see if that’s what happens, see if you find yourself making those kinds of decisions.
Q: Did the spiritual search absorb me so tremendously that even after ‘the shift’ I am still somewhat searching in the not searching (may sound crazy?) and don’t even know how to operate outside of the ‘spiritual playground’?
Yes this is possibly quite true. But I don’t think that will last…. the fan is still spinning even though the ‘seeking’ power has stopped for the most part. But who knows….. Maybe this email that you wrote will be enough for you to see that you’re not operating in the ‘spiritual playground’ now… you’re operating in the LIFE playground 🙂
Q: Is there a global shift taking place where there is this huge awakening and besides this, huge collapsing of ‘wrong-ness’ and ‘not worthy of awakening’. Are these really old structures dying away with such high speed that we just can’t follow?
We live in a very interesting time (although I’m sure people have been saying that for millennia) and there certainly does seem to be more and more people awakening to their primordial nature, in a much more democratised way, I believe the Internet has played a big part in that. But honestly, I don’t know….time will tell. But I don’t NEED to know either; I’m just present and here to whatever comes up in each and every moment. Any projections of the future and analysis of the current systems and paradigms are just one perspective where another million perspective can be found too.
Q: Maybe even ‘awakening’ is dying away?
You can name it however you like, but I do see that consciousness enjoys to find and know itself (right now anyway), maybe that won’t be the case sometime… if so cool… if not… cool too…… who am I to say awakening should or should not be showing up as awakening… it just IS what’s happening in some, maybe everyone… who knows???
Q: Are we sensing so much going on, that we are just having a hard time to sort it out, maybe we think it is us, yet it’s the world, do you know what I mean?
Yes… again I don’t know. To me the world IS me. They are one and the same… but if your experience is different…….. take a look and see what you find.
Q: Dearest….that’s what’s going on???? HAHAHA, there’s the whys showing up again ;P I love the whys… they send one right into a loop of unknowingness and mystery because they can’t ever be truly be answered!!!! BUT IT’S NOT ‘WRONG’ THAT THEY’RE SHOWING UP…. 😀
Q: I feel so hurt, so vulnerable, so wrong, so right, so confused, so clear, so young, so old, the rejected child, the grown woman standing up for myself, some played out character in this, no ability to influence a thing, an energy arising in all of this, no different from the sun in the coloured leaves outside,
YES ALL OF THIS… welcome to my world and more!! Accept it, don’t accept it, love it, don’t love it…. doesn’t matter…. but it’s easier and dare I say a lot of fun, if you can. It amazing what life can throw up all at the same time, seeming contradictions and paradoxes all at once. This messy beautiful, human life is so full of life, so full of experiencing, it’s a wonder to behold.
Q: A fear of being abandoned for speaking up, and yet not to be stopped, it’s shaking the ground, it’s shaky all together.
Yes there is NO SOLID GROUND OF EXPERIENCE…. it shifts and changes constantly.
Q: Is this a typical stage of integration?
It’s hard to say ‘typical’ but have I see it before, in myself and others? – YES YES YES YES YES
Q: I feel like walking on the edge between old /before the shift and new/after the shift (no shift and yes shift) and both doesn’t work at all, as both sides even seem to not exist.
BOTH SIDES that is the key. It’s not one side or another, it’s all. At first we had talk as if moving towards one side (new post-shift) in a ‘manageable duality’ kind of way… now that doesnt work. You’ve moved beyond that even. then it all collapses… and life just becomes LIFE. No awakening, no non-awakening just WHAT IS. But it’s hard to explain this before someone can hear it… I do try to. But ultimately you have to taste the strawberry, not be described what it tastes like from someone else.
Q: It feels like these very old patterns between women and men are finally pushing through the surface with such force that the dimension is ungraspable. But is even this is a story?
Yes it’s all a story, doesn’t mean we don’t get into the story, get invested in the plot and the characters, enjoy it, hate it etc. etc. etc.
Q: Is everything just a story arising in all of this, full of emptiness and yet fullness and richness?
YES YES YES YES YES YES YES !!
Q: One moment there is a validity in what’s happening even the integration with you and an apparent path showing up, the next moment it’s entirely gone.
ALL OF IT, don’t be scared of the apparent paradox and contradictions, it’s JUST WHAT’S SHOWING UP, WHAT’S HAPPENING. Consciousness (for what of a better word) is fine with contradictions and paradoxes, if it wasn’t then they wouldn’t be showing up… do you get what I’m saying yet? 🙂
Acceptance of WHAT IS is the key to all of this.
If you have a question you’d like to ask me please get in touch via email, social media or even post your question in the comments below. If your question (and therefore my response) could be helpful to others I may even do another ‘conversations & questions’ post (don’t worry, all info connecting to you personally would be removed!)
“We are already enlightened”
This statement seems overused in many spiritual circles and is in serious danger of creating concept fatigue. It’s been placed up on the spirituality pedestal as something teachers, gurus and seekers alike say but for many it has become an abstract ideal to aim to understand but never truly a reality to reach. So what use it is other than to dangle a carrot and perpetuate the seemingly endless cycle of seeking?
Don’t be tempted to throw the baby out with the bathwater just yet; what is being pointing to is the fact that our inherent or primordial nature is one of open awareness (consciousness). Within this arises the sensory phenomena of experience – thoughts, feelings, sensations (body/world). Included in that are all those beliefs, views, conditioning, embodied memories, traumas and concepts – everything that we experience and call ‘life’.
In my life journey thus far I’ve had to transgress two* major spiritual paths/groups/movements that were both whole-life encompassing – Guru, lifestyle, friends and family, home, job, it felt like a lot could and would be lost. It’s was for sure a very difficult thing to navigate but I feel it’s important to share and talk about as I see a lot of people dealing with this, particularly in the realm of spiritual organisations.
Over time I’ve actually come to see that it’s a totally normal and healthy part of ‘spiritual’ development (I say spiritual lightly as I actually believe it’s not spiritual, it’s LIFE). Moving beyond our seemingly secure boundaries of experience, paradigms and conditioning – the known. It’s a hugely vulnerable place to be – the unchartered territory of our life, where we let go of the known and step forth into the openness of the unknown.
“You’re losing your way”, “you’re falling off the path” these were ideas that were offered up and I became fearful of, that I would ‘miss my chance’ for enlightenment and make a wrong turn/decision. Choose the wrong door, and therefore closing the other doors forever. Take an irreversible action. Being judged for that. That my life would fall apart, my source of income and/or home (which was tied in) would be gone forever or that my support network would reject me. That I would be left all alone with no support and no stability. These are touching on fundamental human fears and it’s terrifying to be faced with them.
It seems like a lot of groups (not just spiritually orientated ones – but that’s what I’m focused on here) like to have partisan loyalty in addition to claiming proprietary ownership of spiritual ideas, techniques, sadhana. “My way is the best”, “my way is the only way”. And the sanghas around them seem to naturally enforce this with the tribal pressure to be part of the group – after all we love to have this feeling of “I belong.”
So when we are faced with the reality that we find life moving in a different direction (path) or moving beyond what we have got already going on, what then? When our inner light and intuition is calling us somewhere else.
The Guru/organisation/technique/practice that we have held so dear, that has changed our life, that has provided a sense of comfort and belonging, or has given us huge amounts of growth and insight – what do we do when our loyalty to this is at odds with what is now showing up? Maybe a new Guru or technique has caught our attention. Or it maybe in our heart we see that we need to drop the prescribed practice or orthodoxy given to us in favour of something else, or even… dare I say… to drop it all! But in doing so we are going against our Guru, our Sangha, our community. Then it feels like a decision needs to be made: Do I stay within this current paradigm, or move out of the comfort and follow this new thing, transgressing the status quo, risking stability and everything I hold dear and drop it all?
There are no answers that someone else can tell you what you should or shouldn’t be doing in the face of this – there is no right or wrong.
But anything – person (Guru), organisation or otherwise, that is trying to limit your expression and experience of life (especially by fear and/or control) will cause you to hit up against the ‘wall’ or boundary of that doctrine at some point – it’s for you to see what happens, does that wall crumble or does it stay intact… either way there are no wrong answers.
There are no mistakes in life, we are presented with exactly what we need to learn, grow and expand – no exceptions. The mind can argue either side of an argument that it’s presented with in apparently logical ways – so no help and comfort can be found there.
What actual actions/decisions get taken are a choice-less choice, it’s all a happening – any ‘choice’ is a commentary or story of the mind. And while there’s nothing wrong with that, it can feel disempowering, confusing and sometimes at odds (heart vs head stuff – all is fickle). But yes, choices appear, our life moves on regardless of those choices. We have to accept our reality as it happens, (talk about real-time updates!!) and have no loyalty to the fear of the future or to the past/past ways of thinking.
For me it was about ‘the next obvious thing’, it wasn’t about analysing it (although it would have been all too easy to go there). Life presented the next obvious thing and it was a leap of faith and trust that this was what was meant to happen and that it was for the good. That ‘next obvious thing’ for me turned out to be following my own light and transgressing, transcending and to some extent including, each group/teaching that I encountered. It wasn’t about surrendering to the fearful projections of what might be, it was about what was happening right here, right now. Looking back, those transgressions were absolutely necessary for me (and I would argue most other people too).
So what am I saying…Transgressing prescribed spiritual paths is part and parcel of growth: we use the raft to cross the river but then abandon the raft at the other bank. But it doesn’t mean it’s not hard. Group dynamics instill a sense of stability, duty and fear, offering pressure that it’s “this way or none” and that you’ll miss your chance at the promised land. But when a natural growth beyond these boundaries occurs then it’s nothing to be fearful of. What happens is what is meant to happen. We don’t know what the future holds (unfortunately this gives no comfort to a mind that wants guarantees and plans). But this to me is where trust, surrender, courage and humility come in.
Open your heart and have the courage to be a light unto yourself, shake off the shackles of shoulds and step forth into the unknown and trust yourself, trust your inner truth, surrender to what is unfolding.
*[Addendum: Little did I know that a matter of weeks after writing this that I would be faced with a 3 for 3 scenario and we would be parting ways with another spiritual Guru/organisation/teaching. Like I said nature throws up the next obvious step, the next unfoldment. So we are at the start of our next chapter, hopefully that is it for us and spiritual organisations…. but who knows what the future will hold ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Watch this space……! ~ Imogen 8/8/18]
Can anyone else relate?….
The feeling of nothing to hold on to, of no solid ground, of no control and no stability, can bring terror to the forefront of our experience – particularly when we find ourselves in resistance to this free-fall. And yet when you realise that this free-fall actually brings with it the total freedom of no limits and no boundaries, when you realise that this groundless-ness brings with it the capacity for any and everything to show up – there, there is the moment that you sink into the feeling of pure joy that there is nothing to be fixed, just a new norm to be enjoyed.
This exploration of life requires great vulnerability, earnestness, openness, radical honest and deep inquiry. It’s a truly destructive process, one that burns everything that you are not with such a fire that not even a whisper of the false is left. But what this can mean is that which we hold so dearly, so tightly, for so long doesn’t fit into this new paradigm that is tenderly cracking open. Our once core beliefs and truths don’t feel like ours any more and so we’re required to drop them, to move on, to take a leap of faith into the unknown.
It’s this continuous release into the unknown where freedom lies. It’s not a position to take but a
Life is such and unbelievable gift, how often do you stop and smell the roses? Appreciate the little simple ordinary moments? Without reference to the past or thoughts to the future.
We miss the beauty of the moment so easily. Ordinary life has become so throwaway, so undesirable. Instead marked with the next glamorous instagram shot, the next big ‘experience’, the next enviable goal. Next next next. We miss the sheer joy of this extraordinary, but divinely ordinary moment.
Whether that moment be filled with anger, joy, sadness or bliss it doesn’t matter. Just the fact we are alive, that we bear witness to all of this. Oh the magnificence that
This morning I came across a beautifully articulated post on Facebook by Unmani (one of many I might add). She recently unexpectedly lost her husband and has been sharing openly her journey/processing throughout this difficult time – it’s beautiful, raw and brave and I see that this is very much what she is being called to do, for the benefit of herself and for all those who read what she writes.
In yesterday’s online open meeting someone asked me a very interesting question that I feel has been coming up for many people around my recent sharing on Facebook.
What is true spiritual attainment if a so-called spiritual person can be so human? Usually being or attaining a spiritual state is assumed to mean that you rise above the ordinary human emotions, sensations, thoughts etc. Here I am, as a so-called spiritual teacher, revealing that actually I am very human and have a wide range of human experiences that many people can relate to. If you have put me, or any spiritual teacher, up on any kind of pedestal as being the ideal to aim for, then you will most likely be disappointed by my down-to-earth humanity. I am just like you.
Perhaps you have come to the spiritual search to overcome the discomfort of this human experience. And at first when you wake up to your true nature as the Awareness of it all, then it seems that you do rise above the whole of experience. But don’t build a comfortable nest and get stuck there. Yes your/my true identity is Awareness, but this is only one side of the coin. There is no safety in knowing your true identity. If anything it strips away all the safety that you previously believed in. It allows you the freedom to lose yourself into the human experience, knowing that you are never limited to that. You are always the Awareness of the human, but you are also the human that lives, experiences, feels, and explores this life experience.
True spirituality is living this paradox.
I find this to be a common idea that she’s addressing here, something that I myself very much bought into for years – that ‘spiritual attainment’ somehow means you ‘rise above it all’. In reality it’s a much more intimate and raw experience, one that precludes nothing. It brings into light the full experience of humanness, those shadows, those once hidden aspects. It’s a constant unfoldment, movement and changing of life’s experience. Not always pleasant but honest and true. All the while, all this experienced in the ineffable and un-bounded ocean of silent open-awareness itself. Not separate from at all…….in the dirt, in the mix, having fun!
Awakening or freedom/liberation/Moksha is a waking up and freedom from the constrained ideas and ideals of shoulds and should nots. It’s the recognition and abiding realisation that you are not the body-mind that is limited to these concepts, that you are the Awareness, Beingness, Isness that is experiencing this, but is not limited or bound by this. That you are big enough, to contain the multitudes of human experiencing, that you cannot be overwhelmed and taken over by this, but that you ARE this, but not ONLY this.
Suffering comes when there’s a denial of this, that you ‘should’ feel a certain way that you ‘should’ rise above and only experience all the ‘good stuff’, the higher vibrations, the positive outcomes, peace, love & bliss (only) and not the dirty, messy, human frailties. Not the anger and hurt, not the loneliness and uncertainty.
Life is vibrant and muddy and messy and beautiful. Life is changeable and spontaneous and unpredictable. Life contains EVERYTHING from purest silent awareness of nothingness to loud crazy chaotic experiencing. You ARE that life, don’t be tempted to diminish and limit the infinitude of this experience, it is after all what it means to be an embodied human being.
There’s so much of my spiritual path/story that I haven’t yet shared on this blog or social media. Not because I feel the need to hide it, I’m not particularly attached to privacy even, but because I’m still living it each and every moment. The implications not yet seen, the fullness of understanding not yet known. And yet the more I walk this path, this world, the less and less the need to understand, the need for certainty seems to matter to me.
These days I find the words are there less and less. The *need* to communicate less and less. But somehow these last few weeks it feels like there’s an elephant in the room that I’ve not been addressing, in the past few months its been somewhat stopping me from publicly writing more than a few snippets here and there. More and more my private writings seem to be addressing this. There’s been a shift in my focus, but somehow to talk of it I feel the need to contextualise it with my story a bit more.
Two and a half years ago I experienced a life shattering shift (just over a year after the first glimpse of non-dual awareness in April 2014 – The Collision That Changed Everything), not a bad life shattering, a beautiful and indescribable life shattering after I received a 15 minute Shaktipat Transmission over Skype from a spiritual teacher from San Diego, CA.
SHAKTIPAT & HOW I CAME TO KNOW ABOUT IT
For anyone that knows me, you’ll know I’m not much one for woo-woo and spiritual new-age modalities. I wasn’t brought up with ideas and words such as ‘chakras’ and ‘kundalini’, I came from the worlds of Transcendental Meditation and Self-inquiry. Over the years I had experienced many times over the strong presence of an enlightened sage or master, but somehow I never gave the idea of Transmission/Shaktipat much weight in terms of its ability to directly awaken someone. My inherited view was that years of meditation, study and a pure sattvic physiology was what was needed to stabilise in non-dual awareness. Later on this view was replaced with Self-Inquiry as a means to root out the pernicious I-ego belief. But in 2015 my views on spiritual transmission (Shaktipat) as a means to awakening, unexpectedly changed.
In early 2015 my husband Martyn arranged a Skype session to receive a Shaktipat Transmission after reading the book ‘1000’ in which describes the different levels of consciousness and how Shaktipat is a means to rapidly increase one’s level of consciousness.
I won’t sugar coat it, at the time I saw it as a desperate seeker’s Hail Mary. I was pretty darn skeptical – some guy waving his hands at you over Skype and you become ‘enlightened’…. just like that?! Yet in the following weeks and months I saw such a dramatic change in him that my skepticism soon morphed into curiosity. Gone was the tortured suffering of a seeker, and in its place an ease, lightness of life and wisdom that was enticing to witness. About six months later I sat on my own Skype call. Still slightly skeptical (ok, pretty skeptical) but also totally open and ready to experience a Shaktipat Transmission for myself. And with that one Shaktipat my world as I knew it changed..
THE POST SHAKTIPAT EXPERIENCE
Everything that I thought I knew to be true dissolved in an instant. What came next was a discovery if you like, learning to live life a new, a fresh in each and every moment, as if I was a baby experiencing life’s firsts all over again.
After the initial few months of integration (which wasn’t an easy time… but that’s another story) the words began to flow. Gush in fact. I couldn’t stop them. And so I started this blog – Beyond Imogen. I spoke to whoever would listen, and I spoke to no-one, but the words seemed unending. I would wake up in the middle of the night, grab my phone or a notebook and write as these words came thick and fast, a tidal wave of description and insight.
And then one day, silence. The words stopped, the writing stopped.
That was about 18 months ago.
ONWARDS INTO THE UNKNOWN
So much has gone on since, so much and yet in many ways nothing at all. This peace, this ease, this deep abiding love and causeless joy of life, this ever-present Isness, this inescapable multifaceted raw human existence, it’s oh so obvious. There are no words. No words do it justice, no words capture the totality of it. This silence is far more eloquent than words could ever come close to.
And now….another phase seems to be opening up, a new level of integration.
As to my writing, now I respond, the words flow forth when they do, when there is someone to hear them. I feel the calling to be more intimate, more personal, no holds barred – share what is called for. But now it’s not really about the words, the words are the side dish, the appetizer.
What’s coming tonight is the acknowledgement that this life, this movement of Grace is far more than meets the eye. Far more and yet actually much more simple than I could ever have imagined.
Over two and a half years on and I want to acknowledge is that Shaktipat was a dramatic catalyst for me. Lord knows it’s not the only thing that can bring about that realisation of one’s true nature. But for me, in the story that is my life, it was. Somehow it feels like the elephant in the room not to say it, acknowledge it. It seems so mystical, so woo woo to many, most don’t understand it. Hell I don’t understand it! But then life itself is incomprehensible and totally mystical. So here I stand, acknowledging that Shaktipat and Divine Mother collided with my life in a way that forever changed everything. But that’s certainly not to dismiss the teachers and teachings that came before in my path that so profoundly impacted me also. I am forever grateful, nothing can be dismissed, and yet nothing can truly be attributed – it’s all just a happening in the līlā of life.
In November 2017 the opportunity came to learn to be a Shaktipat giver and I couldn’t help but say yes. In my heart of hearts I feel my only desire and purpose in life, in light of all this, is to help others to realize and experience their own effortless nature, Sahaja Samadhi. The freedom and peace that I experience life to be is such a gift that anything that I can be part of to help others recognise this…. I happily do so.
All love ~ Imogen Sita
10 years ago today Maharishi Mahesh Yogi died.
I remember the day clearly, we were in the Dominican Republic on a holiday marking our 1st year wedding anniversary. I turned on the TV (probably the only time I did) to see it on the BBC news tick-a-tape completely out of the blue – “THE BEATLES GURU DIES”.
At the time we were living in the epicentre of Maharishi’s Transcendental Meditation (TM) moment in the US; Fairfield, Iowa, the place we had called home for the last 2 years, and would go on calling home for the next 7 almost 8 years. But TM was much more to me, it was something that shaped and formed my whole life, my formative years, something that I had inherited, 20 minutes twice a day, as natural to me as brushing my teeth, I never knew life without it.
I learnt TM when I was six years old, I had attended the Maharishi School in the UK, I had worked and lived in amongst TMers, both in the UK and the US for most of my life. My mother was a TM teacher from the 70s, almost all of my friends were TMers, I didn’t know anything BUT TM, the TM moment and that way of life.
It was a shock to see those words flashing up on the BBC, to feel so far away from it all, and yet be so connected with it somehow.
10 years on, so much has happened, so much has changed, and when I say so much, I mean it, both outwardly and inwardly, but it’s the inner change that has been the most profound.
I’ve gone from being a second generation TM movement kid, knowing nothing else, to transgressing this and embracing the world of Satsang and contemporary non-dual teachers, to finally opening my mind and heart to Grace in the form of a 15 minute Shaktipat Transmission, and in that instant having a life time of ’spirituality’ and spiritual practice melt into the experience of living life fully, beautifully, naturally, embodied, and abiding as the Self.
And in this I have had to learn how to live again.
I’ve lost myself so profoundly, and yet in that loss I’ve found my-Self again and again. Dying in each and every moment to a fresh, new, beautiful and raw moment, this moment. This experience, this knowingness, so simple and yet so profound has changed everything. Yet here I sit, chopping wood, carrying water, the same Imogen, the same body, totally and completely, divinely here, in the embrace of love.
Thank you Maharishi, for starting me on this journey to discover my very own Self, even if I didn’t ‘choose’ or even recognise that that was the path I was on all this time……
I bow at your feet.
I have gone from living the (American) dream… good job, beautiful house, wonderful friends, two beloved cats, more stuff than we could ever want or need, plentiful money, gorgeous and loving husband – I wanted for nothing… and now I have nothing (except the husband of course 😜 I’ve still got him thankfully).
We have no home – not even a real base, we move from house sit to house sit every few weeks, new place, not knowing anyone, not knowing the area, living out of a hand luggage suitcase. No money to speak of – most people would be shock at how little we live on right now, no possessions – I literally mean it when I say all we have is a hand luggage suitcase each that fits all our stuff, no friends or people we hang out with (because of the said nomadic lifestyle) – just us two 24/7. Nothing really that we need or have to do, no purpose or meaning, no ambition and drive, no desires.
And yet I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. So happy I could cry sometimes with overflowing gratitude and love for life as it is. This lifestyle isn’t for everyone, I make no judgements either way. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not about this particular lifestyle being the holy-grail answer to suffering, it’s not like we ‘chose’ this, it just sorta happened that way. I never set out to live like this, and I hold no position on it… this could all change tomorrow.
I know this because it’s happened before, pretty much over night, the day Serenity died changed everything, we pretty much walked out of our full lives in Fairfield, Iowa to this…whatever this is………
It’s about living in truth and freedom in each and every moment. I live in the unknown, it can be uncomfortable for most to hear/imagine that, but is where I live, it’s a choice-less choice. There’s no in and out of this, it’s just my reality, where all of life is lived from and as. Raw unadulterated living.
The love that I feel in my heart is sometimes overwhelming. The love for all of it, all of life – doesn’t matter what that looks like… the beautiful, peaceful, messy, ugly, complicated, happy, raw, blissful, simple, mundane, inexplicable, ordinary, extraordinary life that I am honoured to be experiencing.
Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you