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Burning into What Already Is
In our final theme, we present a subtle but important shift in my awakening journey: the acceptance that the mind is not the ground of being. Through my awakening experiences, I came to understand the timeless insight that no-self is always the natural state of being and that my reluctance to embrace this truth was responsible for the terror and separation I had been experiencing.
I started realizing that when a person is in that place of spaciousness, the place of no-self, which always is, I was giving my ego credit for that. I actually thought that I was creating that, but that is actually available to us all the time, but I never could understand that. I always thought we created that, right? So I couldn’t trust it. So then the whole basic trust concept really became a significant teaching for me and then I started to realize that in those places of panic and terror my mind was creating all that movement and content, because it is no different than what I am experiencing with you, right here and now! There is no difference between the panic state… It is all self created, but in the background, there is no change.
Insights into and beyond the mind became transversable through the words of A.H. Almaas and I credit his teachings as the initial influence that helped me to begin to sit peacefully in emptiness.
When I started reading Almaas’s Point of Existence [I devoured that book in about two days] it was a revelation. That was the biggest turning point for me… I could sit and cry with that book, I could sit and understand it and then I realized, well this was just me…The black chasm made a lot of sense and after reading about the tearing of the ego I had finally found something that spoke to the depth of my experiences… I started being okay with sitting in the abyss and began to be okay with letting Jason go.
My journey had revealed to me that there is a simple reality underlying and emanating from a sudden awakening. ’Burning into what already is’ is a priori; awakening itself; that which already is (Wilber, 1997). When an individual stumbles into such a profound experience the shift in comprehension is both dramatic and irrevocable. Wilber (1997) states: “The realization of the Non-dual traditions is uncompromising: there is only spirit, there is only God, there is only emptiness…This realization undoes the Great Search that is at the heart of the separate-self sense” (p. 281). For me, my Great Search had now matured and I was beginning to perceive emptiness through the eyes of being empty:
Heading toward 2003, I was beginning to adjust to this new level of consciousness and I didn’t have the knots in the back of my neck and the hole in my belly was also healing. That’s when I started to read Stephen Levine. There was a little bit of a shift there because then I started to have to admit to myself that I didn’t have the answers. This provided a good place for me to work on dealing with my ego centered existence toward opening to a more reflexive way of being. I began to confront the fear and panic that continued to come up. This enabled me to close the gap between experiencing Being directly and the splitting...The minds resistance to accept the demise of a separate self... I know that now, but I don’t think I really understood that then. Thus self and no-self, there wasn’t a divide, the paranoid split was dissolving.
The experience of dissolving returns us to Almaas’s (1987, 1990, 1996, 2002, 2004) Diamond Approach to self-realization. Students learn to connect themselves to their entire human psyche (e.g. ego, personality and soul) to develop a relationship with their fundamental nature (Almaas, 2004). This is similar to what spiritual traditions call the death and rebirth process whereby death is equated with transcending ego and rebirth is the embodiment of one’s awakening experiences. The Diamond Approach is an inclusive path toward fully apprehending what awakening encompasses. As Almaas (1996) remarked, “If one part of you is alienated, rejected or split away, the integration is not yet complete” (Almaas, 1996, p.2).
In the two years following my initial sudden awakening there continued to be a subtle rejection of what is. I had not yet fully embraced existence in all its manifestations. Specifically my experiences and life-text rendered a large split related to cosmic engulfment and identity integration resistance which, at times, drained my psychic energy. However, at other times, surrender would come of its own accord and in these moments journeying for the sake of the journey itself provided the fuel necessary to embrace more of the unfolding mystery.
As things continued to move on I get larger moments of peace… We talked about the Heart Sutra… and the whole emptiness and the form concepts… Well I got half-way through the book and I remember one evening laying on the floor reading and this joy washed over me for about ten minutes… Everything was perfectly still. For me, I guess I am searching for peace, freedom, it’s about freedom.
My Great Search and awakening experiences brought me beyond a cognitive resolve. I began to see that my symptoms were secondary to the simple truth of awakening: that men and women can grow, develop, and evolve to the level of embracing Spirit itself or embodying a “supreme identity” (Wilber, 1997, p.39).
So recalling the long periods of vastness and bitter fear, it seemed liked for hours and hours and hours and hours and hours. But I knew at one level that it was just self falling away and me trying to grab on to save… to solidify my existence. I did not want it to be real; but knowing it was real. I don’t know why there needed to be a worry in the first place… But looking back now it had to be that way… The mind stops, starts, I realize now I have I to get out of the way and allow it.
It is here where one’s basic trust must reside; where peace in the truest sense can arise; where a mature spirituality is born by inviting awakening into every moment of everyday life. Interestingly, another journey begins where our final theme ends. In 2004, I began to nurture the blossoming of my awakening and I continue this practice to present day. I am beckoned by the spirit of awakening and, in the words of Wilber (2001), “let the search wind down; let the self-contradiction uncoil in the immediateness of present awareness; let the entire Kosmos rush into your being…” (p.57).