Saturday, December 8, 2012

Below is a reader response to the Curse of Awakening post. My responses to her comments are in italics.

Hi Michael!

When I first met you approximately 6 years ago, I was beginning my study of ACIM (Course in Miracles). I have stayed primarily on this spiritual path, although have also studied the writings of various Eastern and contemporary Western non-dualists as well. For the most part, their experiences have complemented my learning from the Course, but interestingly, it is the omissions or areas of discrepancy that I perceive between them, that underlie the questions you pose in your essay. Thus, I felt motivated this morning to share some thoughts with you. Please keep in mind, although many truths that I have "grokked" through my spiritual practice over these recent years influence my perception of what you shared, I in no way consider myself even close to awakening (but then again, what do I know?) A major shift has occurred, but has yet to be embodied in any consistent way. In other words, my ego is alive and well and is in fact fighting back with ferocity at this juncture on the path. The petty fears and nagging problems that have heightened for me is more than likely the same problem that you allude to in your article. This is not to mean that you are writing about petty problems. Rather, the content underlying them is the same, in my current understanding. Yes, that's right. I'm trying to point out that there is no such thing as being "done", which amazingly, many current neoadvaita teachers allege. As long as we are alive, we have a body and mind, both of which have deeply embedded patterns that intrude into and obscure the reality of this moment.

The dilemma is trying to reconcile two totally opposite thought systems that CANNOT be reconciled because they contradict each other. In fact, one was made to deny the other. I am of course referring to the Absolute Truth of What We Are and the delusional egoic thought system that defines us as separate entities living in a changing temporal world that presents us with one problem after the next that needs to be solved in the world. As long as the ego exists, and you pointed this out very well, we have to keep going "further," the term our friend Jed uses. Yes, and the ego will always exist, as will the absolute. Eventually these are seen to be not two. The Course discusses the fact that if only "one small spot of darkness" (other traditions would probably refer this as some ego identification or attachment), the ego remains in play. To use an analogy once shared with me, If the lens of our perception were likened to looking through a clear glass of water( (no ego), or through a red-dyed glass of water (ego), then the glass that turns light pink because only one tiny drop of red dye remains is still occluded. My teacher Roshi Philip Kapleau used a similar analogy. He described awakening as similar to lighting a single candle in a pitch black cave. It is all the difference in the world-yet all the darkness is not illuminated. This is not to say that tremendous gains have not been made to undo the ego, but believing it is finished is another form of self-delusion, and the ego loves it. Yes- very well put. Thus, can it now hide and operate under the "holy" guise of spiritual attainment. Yes This is where the temptation comes in to bring the truth to ignorance, or the light to darkness, versus the other way around. This is our attempt to maintain the ego, or what remains of it, by "enlightening" it. Not sure you enlighten the ego. Seems to be the process is to become aware of it and gradually lose interest. Then its influence diminishes on its own. Thus, the perceived purpose of our life remains ambivalent, and we continue to avoid our remaining fear, standing in the way of truth, striving to eat our ego's cake and keep it too. We keep the dream real only insofar that it becomes a "happier" and "more peaceful" one.

The Course has helped me realize that truth and illusion cannot co-exist, that our frame of reference can only be from one or the other.......absolutely. It is our attempting such that delays our progress to the ultimate end of the ego, and perpetuates our suffering, even if it has diminished significantly. We may be perceiving from truth sometimes, and from the ego at other times, but there are no gray areas in between. Interesting point. I hadn't thought of it that way.....we are looking through one lens or the other. An illusion is an illusion is an illusion. Nevertheless, it is the Awareness of the ego's modus operandi, as well as our increasing experiences camping out in the truth of our Being, that helps us to navigate this maize with all its' detours and booby traps. The ultimate goal is always to go further. It further points out that while we are camping out on the mountain of truth, we are healing, and it is then that we are the greatest teachers and healers of others. And essentially, we are not the doers in this case. The truth of God is extending through us when our mind is aligned. Our acts, or non-acts, will flow through us effortlessly, and we will be an instrument of healing, regardless of our destined profession, role, relationship, etc. Albeit small, I have my own healing practice as well, and I find it would not be very compassionate nor helpful most of the time, to tell someone who is suffering from a perceived problem in this world to forget about it, because it really doesn't exist. This is equally as true for client's who are students of a non-dual path. Delving into our trained and socialized intellectual minds and thus coming up with diagnoses, treatment goals and the means/tools for achievement are merely the Forms in which we communicate and relate. Thus various forms of psychotherapy, spiritual counseling, acupuncture, energy work, herbal formulas, psychotropic medications, etc etc etc are communication lines we use in the dream, to extend what is hidden behind the illusion. Right…beautiful. The Content (Truth of Our Being), which is beyond time and space and form is what influences the true healing. This is a mind to mind (not egoic or intellectual definition of mind) communication and can only happen when we are not in the egoic/intellectual mind. Thus our healing is our client's healing. Yes-in the fundamental sense there aren’t two. If something is to be said or acted upon within the temporal realm it will arise from that place of Presence. Therefore, we can't control it. As long as the dream is believed to be real to Any degree, healing is needed.......healer and client/student. Truth, the Love and Peace of God, is taught through demonstration, Yes-words are so limited its' natural extension from the place of our truth to that place of truth in others. As difficult as it is for me at this juncture, I know that the only true healing that can take place in my personal life and professional practice is when the truth in me sees the truth in the other, despite appearances. I have so much practice to do. Don’t we all!

There is one point of disagreement I experienced when reading your piece, which actually may be more semantics than anything else. You stated that truth realization is "not deserved or earned." I can understand not earned, but why not deserved? If it is our truth, why are we not deserving of it? I may be misinterpreting your intention, which may be that we do not have to "do" or "not do" anything in particular to experience it......other than "undo." Grace is neither earned nor deserved. It just is, freely given. It is said that Jesus knows his own. Why me? What did I ever do to either earn or deserve such grace? We cannot force the hand of God. The wind (Holy Spirit) blows where it will. I am struck dumb.

I hope what I have written doesn't come across as pontificating. It is very helpful for me to write down my thoughts these days. I don't really have to send this, but I think I will. I hope to cross your path sometime again. Binghamton is so far. I hope you are well.  Thanks for writing. I agree-writing is a very beneficial practice. It helps to clarify and bring into conscious awareness what is known at a deeper level. Best wishes, Michael

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