Interview by Phil Escott for the Carnivore and Beyond Podcast talking about spirituality, awakening and ancestral health. For more information about Phil go to pureactivity.net
Along the way of the spiritual quest of Self discovery there are as many teachings, teachers, techniques and paths as you can shake a stick at. Many claim to be ‘the best’ or ‘only way’ and this plays into the seeker’s mind of “missing my chance”. But life shows us the untruth of this if we care to take a look.
Life is constantly providing opportunities to point back to the underlying nature of reality. The unified consciousness appearing in multi-faceted expressions that is life as we know it.
We need not worry about “am I following the correct teacher/path/teaching?” or feed the envious thoughts of “is the grass greener over there?” Have faith in yourself, trust your intuition and follow your nose. For your way into self discovery cannot be compared and judged by anyone else’s measure. Your path towards the liberation of your Self clarity from the limited ego-mind is mapped out perfectly for you. There are no wrong turns, no dead ends.
Yes, use teachers and pointings but hold them very lightly. See them as a tool, a mirror. Don’t be so attached that when they cease to serve their purpose, you have trouble distinguishing between what you have learnt from the outside and what you have discovered in your heart.
Sometimes we literally have to cast out that which no longer serves us. But it doesn’t mean that we can’t honour that it once did. We don’t have to reject or redact it out of our life story. But our maturity says, “this served beautifully that period of time, now is time for something different.”
Don’t stick with a teaching out of comfort, loyalty or fear. Honour that which you are drawn to not out of reaction but out of love. Stick with it because it points you back to good questions, methods or experiences of insight and discovery that ultimately lead to yourSelf. If it resonates and sparks curiosity or joy, take it all the way to the bottom until it transcends itself.
Have faith in your way and let life show you which turn it wants you to take next.
When asked recently “How would I describe the work that I do?” I found it a very difficult thing for me to answer because in many ways I can’t define it as it feels too fluid, it is what’s called forth in any given moment. It changes person to person, session to session, moment to moment. But also I AM the work – my work is a reflection of me, of the work I’ve done, of the work I’m doing, of the lessons I’ve learnt, of the experiences I’ve been through, of who I was and who I am right now.
But many people assume Shaktipat is the focus of my ‘work’. It certainly seems that way as that’s what goes out most publicly to the world (If you don’t know what I’m on about take a look at the ‘watch‘ page), that and my writings. But Shaktipat for me is a modality, a tool albeit a powerful one, but much like how meditation or yoga, therapy, books, techniques and workshops are too. Yes it’s a part of what I do but it’s a tool, certainly not the wholeness.
For me the work and my focus, such as it is, is meeting people, connecting with people, holding their hand. Helping them to navigate their own life, their own questions and answers. Showing them how to trust themselves, how to trust life. Finding out where they are struggling and suffering. Being an open heart and a non judgmental space. Offering unconditional love. Being a mirror. Being an ally.
For as long as there are things like suffering, heartbreak, nonacceptance and confusion in this world there is work to be done, for all of us. And that work starts at home, inside of us. That’s where my main focus was for years, myself. Finding that unconditional love and acceptance for myself. Finding out who I was in all this. Finding my centre, my truth. Peeling away layers of old conditioning and false identification and finding ME.
And so when that journey inwards had come to an abiding stability of recognition and acceptance – A sort of full stop in one sense, the natural progression from there seemed outwards towards others. It’s not something I chose, in fact if anything I’ve resisted it every step of the way because “who was I to offer anything to anyone?” – All my knowingness and certainty had collapsed in a heap on the floor!
But when my heart was full of love and compassion for myself I found there was infinite space in there for more. I found myself having capacity and room for it all. My burdens were now lifted, (mostly) and there was now room for the burdens of others. Not as me trying to fix them, or take their burdens on as my own, but that I had room for them when they didn’t seem to have room for themselves. I had compassion and love for them when they maybe didn’t have much for themselves yet.
So what do I do? Back to this question that I hate to be pinned down on (lol)… I show up. I show up as me, and that me has space and time and love, and more importantly that life-trust that those that I meet with too have that available for themselves if they recognise who they truly are.
Shaktipat is part of that showing up, because as a tool I’ve found it to help enormously – for myself and others. From my side the process of giving shaktipat is almost like opening the energetic windows and doors of the person and guiding divine shakti (energy) into where it needs to go, to dissolve the thickets of views and concepts and bring the seat of ‘I’ out of the mind and into the heart of existence.
But my goal isn’t to awakening people per se, however I’ve found that awakening tends to be the solution to most problems and shaktipat (along with Satsang/talking) seems to help with that in a rapid and powerful way. But if awakening isn’t what’s being called forth, then that’s fine too. I have no agenda… no need for this ‘work’, this me, this showing up, to look a certain way.
If someone has cut their hand and turns to me for help, I would show up in that way. With clean water and bandages, tea and sympathy, love and compassion, and lots of tissues to wipe the tears from their eyes. I move where life calls me and have zero ideas of what that looks like.
Sometimes it means laughing together, sometimes it means crying, sometimes it means sharing or teaching, and sometimes it means listening and learning. Sometimes it just means Being. But whatever it is… I’m there, fully. I am me, and you are you and I require nothing of you other than to be your own light, your own truth in whatever way that is.
My ‘work’ is a natural outpouring of life when there is no holding back, no questioning why, no trying to BE anything, just a flow of life meeting life. Life LOVING life.
~ Imogen Sita
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.
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]
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.
“The buddha is not an object or entity to be worshipped, or an entity to be worshipped, the Buddha is your very nature. Throw away any tendency to objectify the teacher.” – Imogen
I’m so deeply and profoundly grateful to the life that has put me in the way of some amazing lessons. Lessons that have come from many different sources and many different teachers. I see now that these teachers have each come forward at the perfect moment to ultimately teach me that I am beyond all teachings, that I am the One that they point to.
To Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, for giving me TM from an early age, that allowed me to experience transcending on a daily basis throughout my formative years. This gave me the understanding that all of life is unified consciousness and that there are infinite possibilities within this. Without you my whole foundational paradigm could have looked horribly different.
To Amma, for flooring me with your presence and for opening me up to a the possibility of a world outside of TM.
To Wayne Liquorman, for showing me how much power there is in a teacher’s unspoken presence; and for introducing the profound realisation that all of this suffering is from a false sense of doership.
To Adyashanti, for guiding me into the present moment silence of the Self. For encouraging me to love my wounds and pull them closer. And for your reassuring words when the ground had fallen away for the first time.
To Suzanne Segal, for blasting off the doors of the identified body and the illusion that I believed that I was separate from the tree. And later on for showing me that I wasn’t alone in being duped into believing that enlightenment ‘looked’ a certain way.
To Mooji, for showing me what deep abiding love and surrender is. For allowing me to be fully me and for opening up your heart and home to me. You never gave up on me, even when I was ready to give up on this journey.
To Ramaji & RASA, for taking me all the way home. And if that wasn’t enough, allowing me to be so brutally honest and blunt with you; through you I found my voice. Through you I also learnt the hard but very necessary lesson to finally stand on my own two feet, to trust myself and my voice, and not give over to the authority of anyone else again.
And to Martyn, my love, for being my biggest ally, supporter and teacher in all of this Leela. You and I have walked this journey hand-in-hand thus far and you have provided me with such a loving but totally safe space that is our relationship to challenge everything possible in the most divinely unsafe way!
Thank You, Thank You and a million more Thank Yous
For links to these teachers click HERE