Thursday, December 9, 2021

Finding Inner Freedom and Peace

My Zoom friend, Nobi, shared the following journal entry from last year with me. It seemed to me a profound realization and I asked if I could share it on my blog. I would appreciate comments if anyone relates. 

    "I woke up this morning and thought ... there is noting in life to wake up for, to get out of bed for … There is nothing fun to look for

    I am stuck in Bangkok. No open green space, clean air, hills and mountains, ocean, organic food, music, art, free-ness, …

    Nothing in life here in Bangkok gives me happiness, joy.

    I give up 


    But wait! When I turn inward, there is happiness … definite, distinct, happiness … I can feel it.

    • When I say “inward”, I am not talking about “happy thoughts”. I am taking about inner sensations.

    Happiness that I feel inside me does not depend on the quality of what is outside — not at all.

    Let’s step back and go over a list of “outside” happiness …

    • Clean air, open space, etc. that I listed above, things exemplified by life in Berkeley.

    • Money, power, high social status, health, youthfulness, good food, fancy car, house and garden, … excitement

    • Education, good schools, intelligent conversation, good friends, good family upbringing, … quality life

    I don’t have those “good things” in my life here. That is a fact!

    So, I accept it. Everything in life here sucks! Nothing in my external life here in Bangkok gives me joy and happiness.

    But … my inner space is … joy and happiness.

    I have learned to take a small piece of “pain” and hold it in the Space, to micro-accept with micro-awareness (see my note on “Holding Space”); I have learned to come into my body, and do somatic pause. These practices and training seem to be culminating to this realization that I am experiencing now.

    I am also starting to have a taste of this thought: when I experience joy and happiness inside me (because I have accepted that nothing outside makes me happy), strangely, things outside start to become good, attractive, meaningful, …

    I just read this line from the Bible in a novel:

        'He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it        unto life eternal.' (John 12:25)

    I am also starting to feel “love” inside me — the same area in my body where genuine happiness and joy are felt. This “love” has somewhat different quality from happiness and joy. It emirates toward both myself and outside, to others and other things. This is interesting.

    I feel this inside happiness keeps growing, ever slowly but steadily. It grows deeper and wider inside my body, and I can see the possibility that it starts to oozes out of my body to outside. This is interesting."

Sunday, October 24, 2021

When your spiritual teacher isn't called to teach anymore

 Recently I got an email from Adyashanti saying he was taking a break from teaching. It feels like an ending, even though he hasn't, in an active way, been my teacher for a long time. But he did change my life, or, as I think of it to myself, saved my life. I guess I mean that the way Christians mean it of Christ, or meant it in the early days of Christianity:  that I thought I was just this little being of skin and bones but discovered I am infinitely big. His retirement (because I suspect he won't come back to teaching, as least not full-time) doesn't change what he gifted me, of course, but it somehow finalizes it. The love of a student for her teacher is forever.  

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Beliefs about Shifting into Nonduality

There's been a shift lately in the way I move into nonduality.

In the beginning, it seemed that I needed someone else to, as it were, thrust me there. (This is commonly called "transmission.") And once I found a someone who did that, I became attached and assumed that I needed that person to "go there."

Later, I became able to do it myself, and could initiate others in the same way others had played that role for me. But, unlike most people -- who first find nondual space inside themselves while meditating -- for me I always needed to be looking outward to gauge when the shift happened. When I could I see the emptiness, I knew I was there. 

It's only more recently -- and I mean in the past weeks at most -- that I've been able to find that same emptiness inside. There's a shift and I notice that the bodily space is "empty" -- just as I have been used to noticing that the outer world is pervaded with emptiness. The way I move into that space is simply to notice that thoughts have been filling the space! Without thought, it's empty.

But what I want to talk about here is not this process but about how hard it seems for most of us to move from our beginning point to the point where we notice that the emptiness is omnipresent. For me, and for some others I've spoken with, there was a belief that the way I was first initiated was the way it had to work. In my case, because it came through people who were in the teacher role, I believed that that person -- whoever it was at the time -- had to be in that role for me or I couldn't find what I was looking for. In a friend's case, he has had the belief that he has to go through some kind of suffering and then move into the body to find the emptiness and therefore relief from the suffering. It's a very different process from mine but it's similar in that there is a belief that there is a "way to do it," and, more important, an implicit belief that it is the ONLY way to do it. 

Of course, the way we learn in the practical world is to find some practice that works and keep repeating it. The more urgent it is to get whatever it is right, the more likely we are to follow the path that has worked before. We might be willing to try a different way of making a pie, for example, but we are less likely to experiment with another way of crossing the street.  And moving into the awake energy is certainly as important as getting across the street safely, so it makes sense that we believe that whatever way we first discovered to do that seems, maybe for a long time, to be the ONLY way.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Leaderless Meetings in Truth

 Lately, I've been flirting with the spiritual tradition I was involved with before I met Adyashanti: Quakerism. By "flirting," I mean attending Meeting through Zoom. 

It's been years since I've been drawn to Meeting. Compared to going to satsang, it seemed I couldn't go deep. 

 But last week that changed. I realized that it wasn't a matter of going to Meeting to get something from the group but to give myself the opportunity to sink into the truth of my being, as we say in nondual circles. 

And this week as well, I found it a deep experience -- a Meeting in which everyone was engaged in the question of what faith is, what being a Quaker is. 

The thing that drew me to Quakers, more than anything else, is that there is no paid clergy -- no one who is set up to know Truth while everyone else listens to what that wise person says. There may be leaders -- or elders, as Quakers sometimes call them -- those who are wiser than most of the other members of a Meeting, but they become that by common understanding that they do know more, not by any official designation. And they are the exception to the rule that everyone present is equally called upon to look inside and find God, or what is most true. 

And expectations matter. When people go to a gathering expecting to be told the truth, they often fail to realize that that truth is closer than their own nose. Going to satsang can be like that. You sit in front of the nondual teacher and listen to him/her and feel the awake energy penetrate you. Wonderful! I used to love that so much. 

But there came a time when I began to wonder if that wasn't disempowering. We need examples of embodied awakening; otherwise, how can we recognize it when we begin to experience it in ourselves? But once we do begin to experience it, is it not more helpful to our development and that of others we share the meeting space with if we recognize that each of us is a manifestation of the universal energy. If we have realized it but still look to a leader in order to experience it, we are giving away our own realization.

So, this is why I was so intent on establishing a leaderless nondual group. But my attempts haven't been very successful; maybe the hierarchical tradition in nonduality is too strong.  People don't seem to know how to be in a nondual group where there is neither teacher nor students, and maybe I myself don't know well enough how to model what I want to see. 

The result seems to be, at least for now, that I recognize how valuable the traditions of the Society of Friends (Quakers) are: there is a way to do this that is 350 years old, and it works.

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Discovering (Again) that My Thoughts Aren't Me

Everyone, even his worst enemy, is publicly wishing him well. I mean POTUS of course. But I wasn't. I wished he'd catch it (COVID). Does that make me a bad person, I wondered. I mean, I should be compassionate, right?

And then it started to morph. I remembered someone saying to me recently, in a post on FB, “The self has to go.” So was having a self the problem, then? No self, no wishing he'd get COVID, right? But I didn't want to get rid of the self, if I even knew how. And there was no reason to listen to others' voices. Why not trust my own instinct: the self wants to exist and even if I knew how to kill it, I wouldn't.

No, the self needs to be welcomed and embraced. It needs compassion. After all, if I can't feel compassion for my own self, how can I feel compassion for POTUS? And that compassion isn't coming from the self, right? It has to be coming from something larger.

But what about the thoughts that wish ill on POTUS? Maybe those thoughts also need need a little space, just to be. Surely trying to banish them isn't going to work.

And then it started to come clear – what people who meditate probably figured out a long time ago: thoughts are not me. The thoughts are not the problem: it's the attachment to thoughts. That is, it's the mistaken idea that thoughts are who I am. A bad thought arises, I just it, and decide it makes me bad.

There is no realistic way to banish thoughts. They come back in another form but with the same emotional content. But thoughts, whether positive or negative, are not a judgment on me because there's no one here. The space where the thoughts appear is what I am. And everything comes into this space, whether a fictitious “I” welcomes it or not.

Friday, September 4, 2020

Which account of awakening in the previous post is more authentic?

OK, so let me identify the passages first. The first is by Somerset Maugham, from this novel, THE RAZOR'S EDGE. The awakening is reported by Larry, the character in the novel who has been seeking all his life and finally finds what he had been looking for with the Advaita gurus in India. 

The second passage is by from an interview with Annette Knopp, from the book ORDINARY WOMEN, EXTRAORDINARY WISDOM, by Rita Marie Robinson (O Books, 2007). The teacher referenced in the passage is Isaac Shapiro.

My own take on it is that the second passage is the most authentic. Although there is a place in the first passage where the self seems to fall away, most of the passage is about what happens TO the self -- rather like what someone might imagine enlightenment to be. I did research just a bit and found out that Maugham went to India in the 1930s (RAZOR was published in 1943), but according to his journal, he evidently fell into a deep sleep precipitated by the energy of the guru and didn't remember what happened to him! So perhaps he just imagined what might have happened if he'd been awake. I want to explore this more,though, and what I say here shouldn't be taken as definitive.

Sunday, August 30, 2020


 First Account:

    "I have no descriptive talent, I don't know the words to paint a picture; I can't tell you, so as to make you see it, how grand the sight was that was displayed before me as the day broke in its splendor. Those mountains with their deep jungle, the mist still entangled in the treetops, and the bottomless lake far below me. The sun caught the lake through a cleft in the heights and it shone like burnished steel. I was ravished with the beauty of the world. I'd never known such exaltation and such a transcendent joy. I had a strange sensation, a tingling that arose in my feet and traveled up to my head, and I felt as though I were suddenly released from my body and as pure spirit partook of a loveliness I had never conceived. I had a sense that a knowledge more than human possessed me, so that everything that had been confused was clear and everything that had perplexed me was explained. I was so happy that it was pain and I struggled to release myself from it, for I felt that if it lasted a moment longer I should die; and yet it was such rapture that I was ready to die rather than forgo it. How can I tell you what I felt? No words can tell the ecstacy of my bliss. When I cam to myself I was exhausted and trembling."

Second Account:

    [The teacher concludes his statement, during satsang, "Just for a moment, allow yourself to directly experience, who are you?"]

    "When he said these last words, the whole world stopped. It was just complete stillness. Then suddenly, the first sound I heard was the ocean crashing against the beach, and I knew immediately, 'I am this ocean out there! I am the ocean.' I looked at the room which was me as well. 'I am the people. I am the chairs. I am the microphone. I am this body.' I wanted to say, 'I'm everything.' As soon as I wanted to utter this, it sort of popped and gave way to limitless transparency, a transparent nothingness that could not be located specifically. Yet everything was made out of that. I couldn't speak anymore."

See the following post for the answer!