- Martyn took this photo of me the other day and have to admit, I don’t really recognise myself – and this was a bit of a shock at first.So much has shifted these past years and months that the image that I once had of myself, is no longer there, it no longer fits.Now I see a lioness, a strength, a power, a vulnerability, and an openness and it’s beautiful to see. I see someone who is sitting in the pocket of who she is, finally comfortable in her own skin. That process has been amazing to watch and certainly very intense to live.As I write this I get a flash of collective ‘should’ saying “You shouldn’t say things like that out loud, you should be more modest and humble, you’re being egotistical and attention seeking.” But the truth is that to not acknowledge this is to dishonour life and the changes and growth that we all go through. To take a moment to really sink into this acknowledgement, to take stock of the shifts and changes in life is a good thing. It brings with it so much gratitude to life, gratitude to the lessons, the gifts and the humblings that it has shown.It’s not personal, I’m not saying it with a puffed out chest, I’m not saying it for any gain or need for validation; it’s just an observation of what occurs when life is fully allowed to flow and live into every crack, and every corner of existence. When the shell of conditioning is broken. It happens to all of us if we care to look, if we care to let it in. I’m acknowledging the change in myself with the hope that others might be encouraged to take a look and see it in themselves too.I’m pointing this out because I always promised myself to use this platform of my blog to be honest, to show all aspects of so called ‘awakening’, to not sugar coat and present only one side of myself, but to bring awareness to all aspects of life on the path of self discovery, as well as bringing the ideas of awakening back down to earth, back down to the lived reality.In fact I came up with my blog name Beyond Imogen four years ago at the start of this unfoldment and process of what felt like being born again. Now I stand in some ways, completely and totally beyond the Imogen that I once was, almost no remnant is left. But in other ways I am completely and totally Imogen like I never was before. So totally and fully grounded into this experience, living it all without apologies.To not acknowledge this is a false sense of coy-ness. To not acknowledge the power and presence and rawness that courses in every moment is to deny the beauty and vibrancy of life.So I look at this photo and I am in awe, Martyn captured something. He captured the dramatic recognition and effect of just how much has changed.The old Imogen does not exist anymore. This Imogen has a wildness, a strength, and openness, a realness and a vulnerability about her that never was present before. This new Imogen doesn’t care what others think of her, she doesn’t care about self image. She just IS.And I bowed to that.[Photo Credit: Martyn Webber]
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.
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.
I’m pretty much an open book these days, but I’m not some kind of spiritual google that people can ask any amount of questions and I give them the answers. Someone on twitter recently asked me “…does that mean people have no individual purpose?” A perfectly normal and unassuming question as questions go, but all of these questions, do they need to be answered? If you have the answer will it stop all questions, or will it just satisfy that particular question for a second then another one will fill it’s place? Is there a question that will end all questions? Is there an answer that will end all questions and answers? Will this cycle of questions and answers ever stop? Is there something in you that is nothing to do with questions and answers? (Wow, see how many questions I just asked there!!!) Throw out all questions, throw out all answers. They are just more of the same stuff, empty and meaningless. Keep quiet and see if any questions or answers come in this quietness of being.
“Once the recognition of yourself as primordial awareness has happened, the fuse has been lit that’ll burn everything you’re not… it’s just a matter of time.”
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.
“Notice the silence of your own nature. All questions cease, all answers disappear.
Recognize That which you cannot NOT be.” – Imogen
When you experience an awakening – the recognition of the primordial nature of awareness, you’re centerless center; often what comes with it are things such as relief, spaciousness, invincibility, freedom, few thoughts and even bliss. It’s quite easy to then start identifying with those qualities as something that has to be present to indicate your new found ‘awakening’.
This can lead you down the path of trouble, because as you go about your life you’ll naturally start to bump into the different flavours of living, some nice and some not so nice. You might start experiencing what you might call ‘afflictive thoughts’ or intense feelings & sensations. Maybe the feeling of invincibility and spaciousness feels like it has lessened or disappeared. This can lead you feel that you’ve lost ‘it’. You then try all that you can think of to get back to those wonderful qualities that you experienced; all the while trying to avoid the shitty thoughts and feelings that are coming up.
We take the fleeting objects of our perception to be solid & persistent – even eternal, and we build our identity based on these beliefs. This illusion can work for a while, but at some point when we find that the ‘solid’ ground we walk is not so solid after all, we tend to hold on for fear of losing our identity, and in that we suffer.
The belief that anything was ever solid was build on unexplored assumptions. Explore and recognise that at the heart of you, there is an emptiness from which all that you perceive arises.
Anything other than the recognition that you are formless awareness is born of the mind. There’s nothing that can adequately capture the indescribable awareness that you are. To try and do so will always fall short somehow. But it doesn’t mean that these pointings can’t be useful, that they can’t lead you to the doorstep of recognition, it’s for grace to push you over the threshold. To simply dismiss the importance and power of any or all teachings is to miss the possibility that even a woefully inadequate pointing, that is full of concepts and occlusions may in fact give way to a greater seeing.
It’s so easy to fall into the spiritual trap of feeling like you’ve ‘got it’. After spending many years doing spiritual practices there may be a deepening and deepening understanding of what’s being spoken of and pointed to. This intellectual understanding coupled with spiritual or awakening experiences, and life can start to look a hell of a lot rosier. Maybe you’ve gone through some tough times, some mind attacks and such, and coming out the other side everything feels lighter and more blissful, the annoying person who cut in line isn’t bothering you any more. It’s like the contrast of that tight constricted suffering compared with the light airy, no troubled feeling comes as such a relief. And when it lasts for longer and longer with more frequency and with less and less trouble you can’t be blamed for thinking ‘I’ve got it’.