I was just forwarded an article by my friend Barry Martin,
“We shall not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started. And know that place for the first time” – T.S Elliot (Little Gidding)
The human mind is designed for complexity. We compare, judge, discriminate, analyze, interpret, divide and subdivide everything from writing down this simple sentence to discovering the meaning of life and the universe. The mind is a beautiful tool for learning to embody ourselves in human incarnation, but we have identified with the mind, thinking that this mind is the lens to discovering who we are. And the more we have identified with the mind the more complex our lives have become, and the less we can be present to the profound simplicity and beauty of each spontaneous moment.
We assume we are a body-mind-personality complex. We are born and then we die. We have a name and we create a history, we possess thoughts, feelings and memories. We think we are real, in the sense that this entity that we call by name is permanent, at least until we die.
We also assume we are separate from the rest of the world, other objects, other people, nature, the universe, God. We struggle to find our place in this complex world, struggle with ourselves and our inner conflicts, struggle for meaning and purpose so we can feel worthy, happy and loved.
We get tired and exhausted from this endless struggle, wondering why it is we have lost our spontaneity and joy. Some of us embark on a spiritual path and undertake a quest for the true self. We read all these fascinating stories of spiritual masters who have achieved a certain state of consciousness where they transcended the limitations of the world around us, a select few who have managed to escape the drab realities of an egoic world view and achieved a transcendent blissful unity with all of life, creation and the universe.
We are told in these stories that the world is not real in itself, that who we think we are is an illusion, and that the only thing that is real is the Self. We are told that we must give up everything in order to realize the Self, and that once we do so we are liberated from all our suffering and can dwell in a state of permanent enlightenment. Enlightenment is presented as the ultimate experience, the end of the path, the final goal of all our seeking
And so we go desperately seeking after this thing called enlightenment hoping it will provide us with the spontaneity and connection we have lost, forgetting that the thing that we are seeking through is the same mind that craves complexity, and that the one we are seeking for has never actually been lost.
In fact, THAT which we are searching for is the same Self that we already are, and always have been. And this is the great cosmic paradox. We can never find this Self by seeking after it, simply because it is already THAT which exists behind all seeking, all exploring and all being.
Let us go back to some of the advaita (non-duality) teachings of ancient India to understand more clearly what this elusive journey is about. Perhaps we will find that this journey of enlightenment is not about going anywhere but recognizing where we already are, not about doing anything but anchoring more deeply into the reality of what is already here.
Discovering the Self is not difficult. It is not the end of a long tortuous path but the very beginning. The Self pervades all things and is at the very root of our awareness, thoughts and feelings. It is the sense of being that exists before thought arises and in the midst of every thought. It is the consciousness that animates our body, the consciousness that inspire our thoughts and feelings, the consciousness that provides us with a sense of identity through the individuation of the mind. And it is the same consciousness that fills the entire universe. It is inseparable from our very existence. It is the presence we experience when we simply take a moment to be quiet, nothing more mysterious than that.
Our journey begins with the self-evident truth that this presence is who we are. And because this same presence vibrates at the heart of everyone and everything, we are essentially not separate from each other, whether it is another person or a flower, a rock or a galaxy. When this awareness becomes established within our human experience we might refer to this as enlightenment. The teachings are very clear that enlightenment is not a mystical experience to be sought or achieved, rather a deepening realization based on an accurate understanding of who we are.
The advaita teachings begin with the premise that before the creation of matter and life, the Self has always existed. The Self is not bound to creation, time or space. The qualities associated with the Self are Existence, Consciousness and Endlessness, and since all things that exist share these qualities, all things share a common existence.
Consciousness exists independent of matter but matter cannot exist independent of consciousness. In order for matter to exist Consciousness needed to create a reflection of Itself through the agency of Maya. This created the realm of Mind, which extended to the creation of the physical universe in the fabric of time and space.
Our essential Self therefore has eternally existed beyond time space and matter, and possesses all the qualities we might associate with the consciousness of a Creator, or God. Just as a mirror shatters into tiny pieces, each piece reflecting the whole, so Mind scattered itself into an infinity of soul-sparks, creating the illusion of separateness and multiplicity within the realm of Matter.
Who we are therefore is the essential Self, reflected as Mind, and extending into bodies of varying density danced into creation within the fabric of time and space. The human mind is a holographic reflection of this universal mind. Our sense of egoic identity is a function of this mind and real only in the sense that a reflection in the pond derives its reality from THAT which is being reflected.
As we become aware of this truth, and learn to carry this awareness into all the circumstances of our lives we achieve a freedom from identification with the separate ego and recognize ourselves as one with the infinite source of all things. As this recognition grows within our human experience we come into the awareness that we are the creators of every aspect of our life, and in this knowledge set ourselves free.
We understand that there is no fixed reality out there in the world controlling and directing the circumstances of our lives. Rather it is the structure and conditioning of the mind that generates the illusion of a reality separate from ourselves and outside of ourselves.
Once we understand the deep roots of this conditioning we discover that we can release ourselves from the mass hypnosis that governs our human experience. We can unplug ourselves from the matrix of a collective mind trapped in the illusion of its own duality, and in so doing become creators and co-creators of our lives and our world.
Being a co-creator in this context begins with the recognition that we are infinite beings of limitless power. This truth derives not from the limited identity of the body-mind-personality-complex but rather from an alignment with universal consciousness that is our essential Self.
If we are one with the Self, and the Self pervades all things, we are no longer subject to the illusions and perceptions of the mental ego. We learn that existence is multidimensional, and that as we allow this multidimensional force to move through us, we gain access to a synchronistic flow of life, generating ripples of creativity beauty and joy wherever we go.
We no longer need to experience ourselves as victims of circumstances or subservient to the powers that be. A self-harmonizing force begins to emanate through us capable of touching all the people and circumstances of our lives.
Enlightenment then is not an escape from our own dysfunctional relationships with ourselves and the world. It is about taking responsibility for the fullness of who we are, which means going beyond the borders of our mental conditioning and emotional prejudices, and entering into a higher spiral of evolution as global citizens and universal humans.