Saturday, February 25, 2023

Children's Spiritual Wisdom

    We're born with unity consciousness - a natural sense of oneness with all that's around us - how one part of a healthy body relates to the rest of the body. Then by around age 2, we start learning that we are each unique, 'independent,' 'separate' individuals. Ideally, we develop a "quiet ego" - just enough sense / concept of a 'separate self' that we can set goals & accomplish tasks. A person with a quiet ego is aware that their concept of a 'separate self' is only an idea, and that in fact each of us, while unique, is as interdependent with all other living creatures & the entire cosmos, as each single cell in our body is both unique and intimately interdependent with the rest of our body. In other words, a quiet ego harmoniously coexists with unity consciousness, in a healthy, mutually supportive, nurturing relationship (similar to Iain McGilchrist's description of optimally-balanced harmonious functioning of the right- & left-hemispheres of the brain
, for various reasons such as early childhood trauma, the process goes too far, individuals develop a "noisy ego" and mistake the "self" for a completely separate, independent, 'solid identity' (instead of the constantly changing concept, which it actually is). This error results in an ongoing competitive / adversarial / predatory relationship with everyone & everything they perceive to be outside of "their self." A noisy ego is entirely egocentric (self-centered), with little or no memory of unity consciousness.
, due to ignorance & immaturity, are egocentric. A smaller proportion are more seriously afflicted. Narcissists & sociopaths can be highly intelligent, & occupy the highest offices of businesses & governments, yet to the degree to which they lack empathy, cause massive suffering for humans & other living creatures, & catastrophic environmental destruction.

    “Parents, teachers, and society as a whole are concerned with what our children know. However, how we know, not just what we know, is fundamental to the pursuit of wisdom. In the twelfth century, Saint Bonaventure wrote about three different ‘eyes of knowing’: the eye of the senses, the eye of reason, and the eye of contemplation.
    The contemplative mind offers a direct nonrational mode that complements the analytic. There is a long history of contemplative knowing. In the East, practices such as meditation, which were designed to open the contemplative, have endured for thousands of years. In the West, ancient philosophers such as Plotinus (third century AD) understood that the highest truths were revealed only through a contemplative state of mind. Nineteenth-century German philosopher Fredrich Nietzsche suggested that this nonrational mode is so important because it ‘opens the way to the Mothers of all Being, to the innermost heart of things.’
    In the West, however, the dominance of a largely Aristotelian emphasis in logic, the natural sciences, and theology beginning at least by the twelfth & thirteenth centuries pushed the contemplative out of favor. Today we often discount the direct knowing that emerges as an inner voice in favor of the measurable observation or logical deduction that science and reason value. Essentially, adult society has grown a cataract on the eye of contemplation – we have made it cloudy with mistrust. But the direct sight of contemplation is alive & well in most children, they are natural contemplatives.

    Wisdom is distinguished from bare intellect especially by the integration of the heart. … Wisdom is not just about what we know, but especially about how we live, how we embody knowledge & compassion in our lives and, as the great essayist and poet Emerson said, blend a sense of what is true with what is right. While this is often the daily challenge played out over the course of our lives, some children seem to have it all together remarkably well.
    The gateways to wisdom are diverse. Some children just seem to know, for others, inner comfort and counsel seem to come in the form of a helper. Spirit guides in the form of angels, saints, and ancestors have been part of every major sacred tradition. For example, there are 294 references to angels in the Bible. Animals, too, have been a common representation of spiritual energies and are featured in many religions. The animal is seen as a power, or ‘medicine,’ as Native Americans call it, which serves as a link, symbol, or totem between the invisible world and the physical one. When a shaman, for example, adopts the guise of an animal in a ceremony, he or she attempts to call forth those energies for the purpose of healing and guidance. The idea is that somehow the image, idea, or form of this animal embodies and represents certain qualities, they may be thought of as archetypes – primary forms or patterns deep in our shared consciousness. In most explanations of animal guides, you do not choose the animal, it chooses you – it pays you a visit. Native American elder Black Elk described a horse and an eagle that came in visions to him as a young boy and provided guidance. Contemporary author Ted Andrews told of a wolf from the spirit world that spoke to him when he was four years old.
    Adam, the family dog, had just died and Laura, seven, was having a very difficult time getting over the loss. She had really loved Adam and she didn’t know how to deal with losing him. According to her mother, ‘Laura was crying a lot about him and I just didn’t seem able to comfort her very well. We were driving in the car and Laura was talking a lot. I was tired and asked her to please just lie down and rest for a few minutes. Thankfully she did, and after about twenty minutes she sat up and said, ‘Mom, something wonderful happened: I left my body and went to talk with Adam. He told me that my being so upset about him dying was making it harder for him and if I really wanted to help him, I should send him love & light. So I did and it feels better.’ Laura paused and then added, ‘Adam said the reason he came to see me is that when somebody else close to me dies, I’ll know what to do.’
    A few weeks later, Laura’s aunt gave birth to a baby with a terrible illness. It was a very difficult situation for everyone. Laura insisted on visiting the baby in the hospital. Her mother said, ‘I wasn’t sure about this. Normally, given Laura’s emotionally charged personality, I would have expected her to fall apart, to be really hysterical, and I didn’t think this was what the family needed. But we went to the hospital, and in the middle of all this grief. Laura insisted on holding the dying baby. She was unbelievably calm and clear, she was not upset or crying, but was working hard to help this dying baby by sending him love and light. She helped all of us.’
    Two-year-old Alissa said that a dolphin would take her for rides on his back when he wanted to tell her something. Alissa’s mother described her introduction to her daughter’s special friend: ‘We were in our family room watching a dolphin video one evening. There were lots of dolphins in the scene, and suddenly Alissa ran up to me and said, ‘Mom, that looks just like Kiwa.’ I had no idea what she was talking about. I said, ‘Who’s Kiwa?’ ‘Kiwa is my dolphin,’ Alissa replied. ‘Well, how did you meet her?’ I asked. ‘Way back in Cincinnati. [They had moved recently from Cincinnati, however, Alissa had never physically been with a dolphin in Cincinnati.] I swim with him in the dolphin area. But I can’t stay in very long,’ Alissa explained. ‘When he needs to tell me something, he sees me on the beach and then he takes me. He lets me ride on his back.’
    At first, Alissa’s mom assumed this was a cute fantasy. It was not long before she saw that her daughter’s visits with Kiwa offered something more. ‘Kiwa tells me how to fix things. He told he how to fix Jane’s head,’ Alissa announced one day. Jane was a friend of her mother’s who suffered from migraine headaches. Her mom said, ‘I had never told Alissa about Jane’s headaches, and we had never talked about them at our house. I had no idea that Alissa had any idea of Jane’s problem until one day when Jane was over. Alissa was telling me that Kiwa had something to tell Jane. She wouldn’t tell me what Kiwa was telling her because, she said, ‘It isn’t for you, it’s for Jane.’ Finally Alissa walked up to Jane, touched her and whispered very gently in her ear, ‘Relax.’
    ‘This sounds pretty simple, but Jane experienced it as a profound event. She has great trouble relaxing, is really high strung, and doesn’t take the time to calm herself, to relax. It seemed that it was not just the words that moved her because somehow Jane felt a healing in that moment.’ This little two-year-old knew nothing about Jane’s migraines, yet she was able to offer a direct and healing prescription
intelligence is usually associated with an ability to identify or articulate complex patterns of thought, wisdom often emerges as an elegantly simple proposition. This is not simplicity born of ignorance, but a simplicity that is tuned into what is essential in life. It cuts through the cloud of complexity. Children often go right to the heart of an issue. They often recognize pain, injustice, & phoniness very quickly. Wisdom cuts to what is of importance, not through calculation or shrewdness, the deepest insights, the authentic revelation, the healing vision come more directly, as an intuition.”
    Tobin Hart. “The Secret Spiritual World of Children: The Breakthrough Discovery that Profoundly Alters our Conventional View of Children’s Mystical Experiences.” New World Library, 2003. Uniquely Important Book - HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Helen Hamilton: Who I am - before & beyond all definitions & concepts

Sunday, February 19, 2023

One Flowing Stream

     Perhaps our most valuable asset is retaining into adulthood, some of the understanding we were all born with - a sense of our profound, deeply meaningful, loving connection with everyone & everything, called unity consciousness (among many other names).
    Too often, this gift starts being erased by the age of 2. “A child’s spiritual life can be ‘usurped,’ … impoverished until finally made void, simply by being ignored or belittled by parents who have themselves been wrought spiritually void in the same manner. And so it is we parents may remain unchanged by our children, thinking in our heads instead of our hearts lifelong, wherein life is hard indeed." Joseph Chilton Pearce, preface to Tobin Hart's book (below) .
    So we're born with a loving, allocentric & ecocentric orientation, which our materialistic, consumer society then quickly stunts into an egocentric, adversarial, meaningless neurosis. After carefully researching children's spiritual experiences, Tobin Hart wrote that we have MUCH to learn from children & our own childhood experiences
    Because "spirituality" is so emotionally-charged & divisive for many, I prefer a broad, inclusive definition: Spirituality involves any way at all, of relating to that which is perceived to be sacred, or set apart from the physical world, something metaphysical, something greater than just the mechanics.” David Rosmarin PhD

    To better understand children's spiritual experiences, we 1st need a brief overview of consciousness:

    “Many traditions describe two main aspects of the human: what we might call the ‘Big Self’ and the ‘small self.’ The small self is understood as the ego in Western psychology; in Buddhism this is called the ‘lesser self.’ We all have this self and it develops over time. But in the sacred traditions, the lesser self is not mistaken for our whole being. Rather than being directed by its fluctuations, worry, and grasping, we are told that we must learn to use this small self instead of being used by it.
    As a source of wise guidance and insight, Sri Aurobindo, the Indian sage, called the Big Self the ‘inner teacher.’ Meister Eckhart, the thirteenth-century Dominical priest, referred to the ‘inner man.’ Ralph Waldo Emerson spoke of the ‘oversoul.’ Italian psychiatrist Roberto Assagioli wrote about various dimensions of this Big Self as the ‘higher self,’ ‘transpersonal self,’ and the ‘universal self.’
    Around the end of the nineteenth century, American psychologist and philosopher William James likened consciousness to a flowing stream. Through the Big Self, in some moments children are able to tap the deeper currents in the stream. A simple map of this stream may be useful before we go further.
    The surface of our being is the small self, or ego. The small self helps us operate in the world – it assesses danger, worries about the past, and thinks about the future. The small self [gets entangled with] the internal dialogue [self-talk] that occupies so much of our daily existence. Do I like this? Why did I just say that? It also sees itself as separate from others and therefore often seeks fulfillment at the expense of others [adversarial].
    Beneath this surface lies the subconscious mind. Actions, thoughts, and feelings of the ego both influence and are influenced by the subconscious. If part of us makes a directive, the subconscious can follow. For example, we can drive a car without thinking of every arm motion necessary to turn the wheel, we brush our teeth without having to think through every step. The subconscious not only responds to the ego, it also affects it. We may have personal traits that are ‘hardwired’ from birth or we may have internalized the voices of a parent or the media, and these may shape our actions, feelings, and thoughts. Maybe these are the expectations of our family or the media about who we should be, what we should look like, and so forth.
    Dipping deeper into the subconscious, we could also think of perinatal experiences, for example a difficult birth, or karma, as Hindu tradition maintains, as expressing its influence through the subconscious. We are generally not fully aware of these, but they form a kind of programming that automatically influences our responses, for better or worse. A challenging situation may activate the programmed response in a child, such as ‘I can do this, I’m competent.’ Or, on the other hand, ‘I’m no good, I can’t handle this.’ Most approaches to psychotherapy are attempts at overcoming or recognizing this programming.
    The realm of the subconscious is not only individual – mine or yours – but it is also ours. The stream meets other streams. Individual subconscious currents intermingle and form a shared region of the subconscious. [The author’s young daughter] Haley [was able to communicate with the deceased singer & activist] Mahalia Jackson because her subconsciousness exists in this collective mind. You and I may have a feeling about a relative or close friend at a distance and then have our intuition confirmed. Insight from this level is often personal and personalized. For example, Mahalia spoke about her life specifically.
    Descending slightly further in the stream, the collective region also contains universal patterns or archetypes, as Carl Jung described. These ‘first patterns’ may be thought of as deep structures of human consciousness that form the internal architecture of the mind. Hints of this come in common images or concepts that emerge across cultures and time, such as the image of a circle representing wholeness or universal notions of roles like warrior or healer, which form a kind of template of human personality. Subconscious currents intermingle to form a shared subconscious. Streams flow, mingle, and merge.
    There is still more to who we are. Deeper into the stream is what we will call the superconscious. When our awareness opens to this level we may experience inspiration and universal insight, or feel wholeness and unity. This is deep into the Big Self, which is not neatly contained within an individual. The particularities of the superconscious often serve as a filter between the self and the superconscious, personalizing or coconstructing the forms or patterns that are recognized as safe friends. …
    We might recognize and describe the deepest currents and our most expanded awareness as [Self], Christ Consciousness, Buddha nature, Tao, oneness, God, void, cosmic consciousness, and so forth. John Steinbeck described this recognition of unity in his work The Grapes of Wrath: ‘Maybe a fella ain’t got a soul of his own, but on’y a piece of a big soul – the one big soul that belongs to ever’body.’ And physicist Erwin Schrodinger concluded, ‘Mind by its very nature is a singularte tantum. I should say: the overall number of minds is just one.’
    The task of spiritual development is regularly described as expanding our awareness in order to meet more of who we really are. The Christian Gnostic Gospels refer to this as revealing what truly exists. The Russian mystic G.I. Gurdjieff called this ‘waking up.’ We might say that ‘wisdom is the process by which we come to know that the limited thing we thought was our whole being is not.’ This implies that we grow in wisdom as we recognize, accept, and live from more of ourselves – recognizing our whole being and even the unity of all life – not just a limited ego. … this is not just about accepting our higher angels, but also about facing and integrating our shadows, all those aspects that we have not owned, we grow as we face our fears and limitations as well as our inspirations. This simple map gives an image of the depths of our inner nature and how we are simultaneously both separate and interconnected, as the sacred traditions often point out. While there may be different currents in a stream, ultimately the currents are all stream, all made of the same stuff, an undivided unity of consciousness.

    Tobin Hart. “The Secret Spiritual World of Children: The Breakthrough Discovery that Profoundly Alters our Conventional View of Children’s Mystical Experiences.” New World Library, 2003.

Angevine Lake, Nova Scotia


Thursday, February 9, 2023

Fourth State of Consciousness

     Most of us are surprisingly USED TO feeling: stressed, unsafe, "not myself", upset, uptight, angry, stingy, grumpy, reactive, rigid, confused & at least vaguely homesick. This is our normal waking state of consciousness.
WHY do most of us ONLY RARELY & BRIEFLY feel: at ease, safe, authentic, peaceful, spacious, unconditionally loved & loving, nurturing, joyful, equanimous, creative, wise & at home?
Could feeling pleasantly at ease, safe & loved be a sign of being in a different state of consciousness?
    Could then the opposite,
being grimly certain that
life is nothing more than stress & "ordinary unhappiness" lock us into our (stressful) normal waking state of consciousness?
Could even a bit of flexibility, curiosity, or inkling that there might be more to life than "ordinary unhappiness" open the gate, allowing a shift into a different, more pleasant state of consciousness - one which most people only rarely & briefly experience?

  “Whether you think you can,
you think you can't
               feel at home & at ease in this world – you're right!                    Henry Ford, slightly modified 

     Eckhart Tolle on how we ALL CAN realize this deeper state of consciousness:
There is an equivalent of dreamless sleep in our ordinary existence, but most people are not aware of that dimension of consciousness that is possible for human beings. And although spiritual teachers have spoken about it, and pointed to it for thousands of years, it still is not common knowledge that there’s a potential in every human being for realizing within him or herself a state of consciousness that is deeper, infinitely deeper than the ordinary state of thinking-and-doing normal life. I sometimes call that state spaciousness, inner spaciousness, presence or stillness. In Indian spirituality, they call it the fourth state of consciousness, turiya. [pure consciousness, the state of enlightenment, the background that underlies & pervades the three common states of consciousness which are: waking state, dreaming state, & dreamless deep sleep] Most humans don’t know that it’s there for them. And that is the greatest tragedy of a human life, to miss the possibility to realize that fourth stage of consciousness.
    There is an assumption by spiritual seekers, even in India, and anybody who hasn’t realized it for themselves, or even had glimpses of it, there’s an assumption that that fourth state is extremely hard to attain and you need countless years of spiritual practice or countless lifetimes to finally achieve the fourth state of consciousness. And that belief actually prevents you from realizing it within yourself because that state of spaciousness is already in you all the time. So if you have the belief that it’s something that you need to achieve at some future point, then that belief, that thought, would continuously prevent you from realizing it now. Mentally, you will always project. You’ll say, ‘I’m going to meditate because at some point I want to achieve the fourth state. That can be a great hindrance in your meditation because it prevents you from going deeper into the present moment which is where the fourth state is. Or one could almost say, it’s not just where the fourth state is, but the present moment is the fourth state – the space of now, not what happens in the now, but the deeper, the space in which it happens. The background to your life is continuously there, and continuously also often seeps through in between two thoughts. You take a deep breath between two thoughts, and for 3 seconds you were free of yourself. And for those 3 seconds you might look at something or whatever, and just experience a moment of peace & aliveness. And then of course you get drawn back into thinking. And then at another time a little space comes in again when you’re maybe tasting something, perhaps there’s just the perception of the taste, without any mental interference, just an aware presence behind the sense perception. And then you notice that the state is always there. Every thought exists in that space – it’s only a wave movement in that space.
    And so it’s not something that you need to attain as if you didn’t have it, because it’s already here. It is essentially who you are. It is intrinsically one with the essence of your being. And if you don’t know that, then your life is very limited to just a little person, with no transcendent dimension to your life whatsoever. And so we are here, in order to deepen our realization of inner spaciousness. That’s all. So you realize something that is already here, rather than needing to look for it. So why do you often not realize it? Because you overlook it, just like the fish may overlook the fact that it’s surrounded by water and starts looking for it. “Where is the water? People keep talking about the water.” And the more the fish looks, the less likely that it’ll find the water.
    So that spaciousness is something that at first may appear in your life as a glimpse. At first, in many peoples’ lives, they don’t know that that is spaciousness. They experience it as heightened aliveness or a deeper sense of peace or joy, an absence of problems for a little moment. ["causeless joy"] So they don’t know that this is a different dimension (or state) of consciousness that has suddenly arisen. They can still confuse it with something else, as I did when the shift happened, and that was a rare thing. In my case, it happened and kind of stayed. For most people, it’s a more gradual thing. It comes gradually for us in glimpses, and then suddenly it’s there for a longer period of time, or you go deeper into it, and there’s a gradual transformation of consciousness. It might be so gradual you don’t even notice it
when it happened to me, I didn’t realize that there was spaciousness. I wasn’t familiar with the word ‘spaciousness.’ I didn’t know anything about the ‘fourth state of consciousness.’ I knew nothing about ‘presence’ or even ‘mindfulness.’ I didn’t realize even that my mind had subsided and become spacious. All I knew is suddenly life is very peaceful. This moment feels so good. That’s all I knew. 'And where does this peace come from?' I asked. I didn’t know. I didn’t know it was the depths of who I am. Realizing the depths of who I am was joy and peace. But I didn’t have the words for that. I couldn’t call it ‘the depths of who I am.’ I just thought, ‘Why am I suddenly so peaceful?’ … There was no understanding of where this peace originated. How did this peace come about? The understanding came later.
    Some people are totally, continuously unhappy, anxious, angry, fearful or continuously upset, or continuously in a state of deep discontent - and there are people like that. A not-insignificant proportion of the population live in an almost continuous state of discontent in one form or another. There’s always a residue of anger. They’re just waiting for the next thing to be angry about, to be upset about, [hypervigilance, preparedness to definitively eliminate the next assault, due to history of trauma]. Or they’re totally unhappy & depressed and everything is just dreadful. Or they’re approaching the borderline of what we conventionally call sanity and insanity, and then they step beyond this borderline, and then they’re declared clinically whatever. So there are many people in mental institutions who are so obsessed with their minds, that there is no space between thoughts whatsoever. And people are very unhappy, totally unhappy. They experience virtually no relief from their mind. So no spaciousness at all makes for a very unhappy life.
    Imagine if you could only dream but never reach a dreamless state. You would go insane, because you need the dreamless state. Now in ordinary wakefulness, you also need the spaciousness. And if you have absolutely no spaciousness, you go virtually insane.

    The Fourth State of Consciousness - Eckhart Tolle (Sub ESP)

    Those who've taken MBSR courses, or have participated in guided meditations might realize that the instructions guiding you to pay closer & closer attention to subtle physical sensations such as posture, muscular tension, temperature in various parts of the body, subtle sounds in the distance, etc are all geared to bring about inner silence (quieting of self-talk) and inner & outer stillness (cessation of physical, mental & emotional restlessness), focus on the present moment, and therefore, allow you to shift into & thereby directly experience this fourth state of consciousness - your true self - which is always present but easily drowned out by self-talk & other restless distractions.

Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Gold in Dark Places

    Our survival instinct helps us reflexively avoid life-threatening danger - "the dark." Add some 'negativity bias' & 'harm avoidance,' and we end up with a very narrow 'learning zone,' immediately beyond which lurks DANGER - KEEP OUT!
, instead of being curious & motivated to learn from the vast reality beyond our tiny comfort & learning zones, most of us timidly ignore, discount, dismiss & even ridicule others,' & even our own direct experiences IF these are BEYOND safe, suitable-for-dinner-party, small-talk.
BUT some intentionally 'take a walk on the wild side' not just once, but repeatedly! WHY?
briefly gather a bit of courage & curiosity to just consider more adventurous peoples' experiences, that as a DIRECT RESULT of their COURAGE & CURIOSITY, are OUTSIDE our tiny box of assumptions about what can & must not be 'real'!

    "... the most important work you can possibly do is to have a healthy, loving relationship with fear. It simply changes everything." Kristen Ulmer, former world champion extreme skier

It is often the hardest, most challenging experiences of our lives that crack us open. For some people, these experiences are chosen, or accepted as a consequence of risk-taking. For others – for most of us – they come without warning. Unlikely gifts that rip away our layers of insulation, allowing us glimpses of the mysterious, the ineffable – the infinite realms of human consciousness.”
    Maria Coffey. “Explorers of the Infinite. The Secret Spiritual Lives of Extreme Athletes – and What They Reveal About Near-Death Experiences, Psychic Communications, and Touching the Beyond.” Jeremy P. Tarcher / Penguin, 2008. FASCINATING & WELL-WRITTEN

    We must accept our reality as vastly as we possibly can; everything, even the unprecedented, must be possible within it. This in the end is the only kind of courage that is required of us: the courage to find the strangest, most unusual, most inexplicable experiences that can meet us. The fact that in this sense, people have been cowardly, has done infinite harm to life; the experiences that are called ‘apparitions,’ the whole so-called ‘spirit’ have through our daily defensiveness been so entirely pushed out of life that the senses with which we might have been able to grasp them have atrophied.
Maria Rilke, “Letters to a Young Poet

(Meditation) practice is not a matter of learning more & more and studying more & more … It’s a matter of emptying out, peeling off layer after layer to empty out … We need to start peeling off all our opinions, all our ideas, and all our cleverness and just remain very naked, in the moment, just seeing things as they are, like a small child.” Tenzin Palmo
    Maria Coffey. “Explorers of the Infinite." see above for full details

    After Amoda Maa experienced numerous major traumas from early childhood on into her 20s, “something started to reveal itself, and that was the abyss. The abyss was experienced as a very barren landscape, like a dark night of the soul where there is no God, there is no life, there is no meaning, there is nothing, it’s devoid. It really is devoid. And yet, my external life at the time was reasonably good – I was teaching a certain method of movement & meditation, and I had a lot of different interactions, it was creative, it was flowing – so it wasn’t to do with the circumstances, it was an inner experience.
in that, that a deeper surrender happened. In some ways, everything had been a surrender, but this was a conscious surrender. (Before,) the surrender had happened through loss & all these different circumstances that kept changing, but this was a different level of surrender. It was met consciously. I consciously surrendered to the desolation of nonexistence. And that’s when something changed. That’s when something changed.

    ... my discovery was that life is the guru. Life is constantly calling you, like the beloved, into its arms, inviting you, not just to have a blissful experience, but through the darkness, through the difficulties, through the challenges, through the darkest places (it doesn’t have to be terrible on the external), but through the places that we hide from ourselves within ourselves, to surrender to that because everything is lovein the darkest places is light. And somehow that was the wisdom I gained from my own direct experience. ... And that’s what changed everything – it was unexpected.”
    Amoda Maa Talks About Her Life Before Awakening :

    We instinctively keep trying to escape even those challenging experiences that are positively transformative - such as 'ego death':

    Amoda Maa experienced a “dark night of the soul, which had nothing to do with my external circumstances. Nothing bad was happening, in fact there was a lot of peace and joy in my life. But it revealed an existential aloneness, an existential abyss, and this went on for several months. ... I'm a practiced meditator, so I’m familiar with that inner landscape if you like, but I noticed a very subtle movement of mind – the subtle movement of mind that pulled me away from being with that existential abyss. And it was so subtle, that it could easily be overlooked. But in seeing it, I felt and sensed that this was a pattern – the archaic pattern of ego-self that is always moving away or moving towards something, never resting fully in presence, because the present is death to the ego. And again I didn’t know this intellectually. I just felt it. It’s like whole lifetimes of practice, and insight, and searching all came to a moment of realization. And so I kept still in my mind, and it was effortless, but it also caused me to meet such an existential terror of annihilation.
    I could easily have just got up and picked a book off the bookshelf. I like to read, and my books were very inspirational at the time. And that was a way of moving away from death – the death of ego-self. Because the book would inspire me, then I feel good. Or it may be as simple as making myself a cup of tea – a very English thing to do. It’s very nourishing, and soothing, and so on. But I just noticed how that was an obstruction to falling into the abyss of emptiness, where there is an end of the self
so I just faced it. And in facing it, I didn’t expect anything. I just knew that was the right thing to do. But in doing that … the sensation was of dying. It was a death, of me, as a separate entity. Because as I met the existential abyss, I also felt the terror of aloneness. Not an aloneness of the personhood, but an existential aloneness – that there’s a me here, and a vast universe of existence, the whole of existence that is spread over time & space. The me is a separate me. It’s a tiny, insignificant and also separate me, in this vastness of existence. And as I sort of died into that, it was like a death, and it did remind me of the attempts of suicide, at least on a psychological level. And this time, I surrendered into it, knowing obviously that there was no physical death in it. But it was a profound psychological death. But the amazing thing was that the sensation, the energetic visceral sensation was of merging into the totality of existence, rather than disappearing into the totality of existence – well it was that, but it was also a merging into it, so I became the totality of existence. So I called it merging into God."
    Amoda Maa - Falling Open in a World Falling Apart :

    Heaven is this moment.
     Hell is longing for this moment to be different.
     It's that simple.”
Jeff Foster

“Emptiness is two things at once:
the absence of self
and the presence of the Divine.
Thus as self decreases,
the Divine increases.”             Bernadette Roberts

    “Life uses us and does not care how we feel about it. It lives through us, as us. We object & resist, or concur & are pleased – it makes no difference either way.
    Only when we surrender our will, and along with it our notions of identity, can we touch our real life, and enter it, and taste, at least a little more intimately, what it is to be alive. As so many masters said on their awakening: ‘Now I am like a person who drinks water and knows for themself whether it is warm or cold.’


    “All that is necessary to awaken to yourself as the radiant emptiness of spirit is to stop seeking something more or better or different, and to turn your attention inward to the awake silence that you are.” Adyashanti