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.
It’s so easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you have to do XY&Z in order to realise the Self…. as if it’s like a cake that you put all the exact ingredients in the bowl in the right order and put it in the oven and ping, you have yourself a perfect cake.
Except it doesn’t work like that, that’s the mind’s imaginings of what it is. What I’m talking about is prior to the mind, and therefore can’t be grasped by the mind. Anything the mind thinks it knows or understands about this is just the mind imagining what it thinks. It’s not an adding to, it’s not a changing of, its a realisation of that which you cannot NOT be, that which you already are, that which you always were, that which you always will be whether you realise it or not. It’s like waking up from a dream; before… you were in the dream and you didn’t realise that you were dreaming, but you were. Then you wake up and realise it was a dream. It doesn’t change the dream, the dream is still there, playing out at it was, but you realise you are dreaming now.
Self realisation, or enlightenment, or whatever you want to call it is not a ‘thing’ that you get… it’s your very nature, and that is recognised…. which changes everything, and yet it changes nothing. It’s not something that I can describe to you and you will ‘get’. I’m just pointing, in my own imperfect way, to something in your own experience that’s maybe being overlooked, but like I said… if you’re reading this and trying to ‘get it’ with the mind then you won’t able to.
It will seem like a riddle.
Life has become about living; living not in past regrets or future worries but life lived in this moment… None of the second guessing, the questioning, the “is the right thing?”, or shoulds and should nots. The age old – before awakening, chop-wood-carry-water and after awakening, chop-wood-carry-water is so so true it’s laughable. Being a seeker you imagine some different ‘state’ where everything will be beautiful and blissful – life will be perfect. Well… life is perfect, but not in that way, perfect in that it IS. It’s happening exactly as it is, nothing to do, nothing to change, nothing to be; even in amongst every imaginable phenomenal occurrence. That’s where the miracle of life is to be found, in the very ordinariness of existence.
You are, and always have been exactly what you seek. You are the freedom that was/is always here, it’s only a matter of seeing through the trees of ‘personhood’ to see that the ‘person’ that you take yourself to be is such an incredibly limited and narrow view of you. We take ourselves to be the body; the body that has changed, morphed and grown since birth, the body that will die. We take ourselves to be thoughts; the thoughts that tell us one thing today and something completely different tomorrow. We take ourselves to be the emotions and energies – sometimes blissful, sometimes not. You get my point…. In all of these we are, but we are more than this, we are prior to this, we are the one that sees all of this. We put so much emphasis and importance on everything that can be perceived, everything that can be experienced, yet we put almost no attention on who is perceiving and experiencing life. What is the nature of this one, what are the quality & attributes of this one, how can this one be described.
That One never goes, never changes – that one is YOU!
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.
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.
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.
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’.