Monday, April 22, 2019

Our Story is Incredibly Powerful

     Clinging to the story of our life & our self-concept can lock us into a single, narrow way of seeing, & behaving. This is common, easy, and sad.
     Amoda Maa invites us to a far richer, more vibrant life:

     “In awakening, we awaken out of the dream of separation, out of the dream of duality, that there is an abiding sense of peace there, and oneness, that the world disappears in that, because we come to rest in an inner space, and inner dimension of beingness that is beyond the world of form. But if that realization, that knowing, that seeing is to really be lived in our everyday lives, then it’s not about transcending the world, it’s not about avoiding the world of opposites, denying the world of duality. 
     And that’s where the questions really come in. How can I really live this truth in my everyday life when the world seems to create division, when the world still pushes & pulls and I experience the polarity of my feelings, my thoughts, my emotions? What has happened to the nondual state, that inner dimension of beingness, the formless? And do I have to keep returning to that through meditation or some kind of practice or through stillness in order to remember, in order to realign, in order for it to become the deeper, lived truth?
     If it’s to be really lived, if you are to be fully awake and fully human, then there must be a re-visiting or re-emergence into the world. There must be an inclusion of the world, which means that nonduality, nondual awareness, or nondual realization must be realized in the midst of duality. That means meeting the world as you perceive it, as you experience it, without the story of the world in it. What does that mean? 
     That means that the world that we see, this thing that we call the world, my world, the world, is not real, because everything you perceive & experience can only be seen & experienced through your own belief system, through your own conditioning. So we do not see the world as it is, but as we believe it to be. So however profound or transcendent awakening is, that does not magically erase all that conditioning, all that conditioned seeing.
     There needs to be a meeting of that, and seeing that what you see is colored by your story. The story comes in whenever we say, ‘It shouldn’t be like this;’ ‘The world shouldn’t be like this;’ ‘My experience shouldn’t be like this.’ Whenever expectation, hope, agenda, fear, come to the forefront of your experience, of your seeing of the world, of your meeting of the world – it’s those expectations, hopes, fears, shoulds & shouldn’ts that create the world of opposites, that create the divisions. The division is not in the world, the opposites are not in the world, although there is a polarity in the world of form. The opposition is in you. The division is in you. And this continues to operate even after awakening. 
     And so the invitation is to meet the world without a story, not by denying or avoiding, not by suppressing or turning away from your experience, but by being willing to meet the world in your vulnerability, as your vulnerability, to meet the world as openness, to meet the world as broken-heartedness, to watch how every vestige of self-defense or upholding the self either as special or as victim – as poor me, in response to the world you experience, is the very thing that is creating the division in you. To meet the world in your nakedness, is to allow it to break your heart open, to allow it to touch the core of vulnerability. Because when you do, the ego’s attempt even in spiritual awakening, to create a safe space at which you have arrived, where nothing can touch you, will be brought to its knees. And it needs to be brought to its knees, over and over again. It’s not about poor me. It’s not about meeting the world with the story of victim, which is a very tenacious story, in many different ways. Some people have it in the world of relationship & intimacy; some people have it in the world of work or creative expression; some people have it in the world of relationship to money, support & resources. Somewhere, each of us carries some degree of poor me. That’s the one to watch out for. To meet the world without the poor me, even in the midst of where the poor me wants to rise up, which is where we are hurt, where something touches us deeply, where we feel vulnerable, where we feel raw, where a feeling, a sensation, an energy, an experience reveals itself that we really don’t like, because it doesn’t match our idea either of how we should be – because it makes us feel not good enough, not perfect enough, not spiritual enough, not enlightened enough, not worthy enough – or our idea of how the world should be. And our idea of how the world should be is very linked to that because we want the world to show us that we are good enough, that we are lovable enough, that we are worthy enough, that we are spiritual enough, and so on. 
     That’s where division, that’s where the world of opposites continues to play itself out. So to meet the world, which is to meet your experience of the world, because there is no thing as the world out there. Everything is appearing in you, through you, as you. The world is in you, it is inseparable from you. The world is your experience, your direct experience. If your direct experience is one of division, of should or shouldn’t, of denial, suppression or upholding, then you are creating the world of division, you are creating the world of opposites. To meet the world without the story, of its should or its shouldn’t, of I need it to be this way, of I need myself to be this way or that way, is radical - it’s revolutionary
     Whether we’re talking about on the way to awakening, or after awakening when you have to come back down to earth and live your everyday life. It doesn’t matter which one we’re speaking of, it’s the same. It’s revolutionary. It brings an end to division in you. But it’s not a one-time affair. It’s not just a realization of that and suddenly you’re in a magical world where nothing touches you, you’re not experiencing those inner dynamics. It’s over & over again. It’s like a love affair. That intimacy is called for over & over again, in every experience, in every moment, in every interaction, in every relationship. By meeting the world in this way, by meeting your inner world, which is all there is, in this way, there is a purification of all that is divided in you. There is a purification of the world in you. And, it’s as if you start to ripen. You start to ripen like the fruit on the tree that needs the constancy of the sun cooking it up to come to its fullness, so they can naturally drop off the tree. It doesn’t have to plucked, or cut off. It naturally, at the right time, falls off the tree. It’s like a wine that takes time to mature in the barrel in order to taste good. It’s like the chickpea in the pot that needs to be boiled – to death, so they can then be absorbed & assimilated. 
     So your capacity to meet the world over & over again is the maturation process, is the ripening process. The world is not separate from you. The world is in you. Your awakening is not about removing yourself from the world, rising above the world, but by having the world totally absorbed & metabolized, metamorphosed through you into the nectar of love. It’s a love that includes all the details of your experience, but is not constrained by those details. That’s what I mean by finding or realizing or living the nondual within the dual – the nonduality within the duality. It is totally inclusive because there is nothing outside of you. But the story of you and your experience with the world is no longer wrapped around it. Because as each story wraps itself around your experience, there is separation, there is a boundary, a cloak around this experience and this experience. Suddenly you’re in the world of separation and opposition and that’s where the suffering is. Without the story it is all allowed, it all comes pouring in, you are totally given to it, you’re wide open, permeable, and the world and you become one, and that is love - love that is not conditional on your experience, not conditional on you being loving, lovable, perfect, enlightened, spiritual, successful, or anything else that you can name. This is an ongoing process - an ongoing process that is often avoided, or simply missed out because it’s not often spoken about. 
     What we speak about mostly is the awakened state, how to get there, how to experience it, how to point to it, and so on. Enough! Enough! How many times are we going to hear that? Maybe you need to hear it some more. But I want to talk about the other part, which is what I am talking about, which is the embodiment of it. Embodiment of enlightenment or awakening is not about enjoying the body; it’s not about tantra; it’s not about opening the senses; it’s not about yoga; it’s not about dancing. It can include that. Nothing is excluded from the human experience. The more we open, the more refined our experience, which then goes beyond the body. But the embodiment of enlightenment is not about that, it’s not about fixating on any of that. Of course it includes coming into our bodies, in the sense that many people live in their heads – or seem to, I mean I don’t know how you can just live in your head – that’s ridiculous, you’re still living in your body, but their experience is often cut off from the feeling in the body and so on. Of course it includes that – that’s primary. But I’m talking about something else, something a little further along the line. I’m talking about seeing every story you impose upon your experience. And it gets more & more subtle, more & more subtle. There is no arrival point that I know of where you can say, ‘It’s done.’ There may be periods of time where it feels in some way done, when there is such openness & grace. But do not rest there. Well, rest there for a while, but do not claim that as the final destination. Neither claim that as an accolade for the self. It’s very tricky. It’s very easy to fall into that. Because as soon as you claim it, as soon as you self-congratulate in that, you will be humbled, you will be brought to your knees again. It’s not a punishment, it’s grace. Because some subtle vestige of ego, which does continue to operate in human form, it doesn’t die, it transmutes, but it still has a tendency to claim its experience. We are self-reflective beings. We’re not earthworms with no capacity for self-reflection. We do have a neocortex & so on, so we can self-reflect. It is both our blessing and our curse. That’s how consciousness becomes conscious of consciousness – of itself. So it is our blessing in that sense. But it’s also that we’re constantly taking a snapshot of our experience, and it can be very subtle. So when we find ourselves at this openness, as if a river of grace is moving through us, do not believe it to be the end. Just be open. Just be humble. Just be curious. Because the human experience goes on, and on, and on, and on. And yes it gets more refined. The purification becomes more refined. And in that refinement, and in that subtlety, it can get trickier. And it requires your vigilance. Not a vigilance that comes from mind or willfulness, but from some deep, soft part of you that is given to truth, that is given to love, come what may, come what may.
     So do not avoid the world, do not avoid relationship, do not avoid work, do not avoid money, do not avoid the body, do not avoid your relationship to anything that is a part of the human experience, even if it appears unspiritual. Do not create that division. Once the wall between spiritual and unspiritual comes tumbling down, and perhaps is demolished once & for all, then life itself becomes your practice. Life itself becomes your guru. That’s not just a nice little phrase to say. I mean it! There is nothing but life that teaches you ultimately. Life is constantly, constantly offering you the opportunity to end division. Life is love, however horrific it appears to be. It does not mean that we just loose ourselves in the world of form, and re-identify with the world of form. It’s not about abandoning the inner sanctuary, the kingdom of heaven that is your true nature, that which is beyond form within you always. It’s not about abandoning that and going running back into the world and saying, ‘To hell with all that spiritual stuff. I’m just going to enjoy all this,’ or ‘I hate this,’ or whatever. It’s called being lazy. And getting lost again, and so the cycle begins. It’s about staying wide open, as the kingdom of heaven, whilst letting, allowing the world to appear in you. There’s a big difference between the world being out there & you getting lost in it, re-identified in it; or you running into the inner sanctuary & holding onto it; or sometimes running out & then running in – it’s called spiritual practice – it’s still a divided place. It’s about being open as this, which is always here, and letting it all appear in you, because it’s unavoidable, it’s going to go on appearing until you die, and then we don’t know. We’ll find out then. So that’s my invitation.”

       Amoda Maa "Meet the World Without a Story"

Amoda Maa "Meet the World Without a Story"

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