Monday, July 21, 2014

"Awakening Day" Thoughts, Confessions and Apologies

"Never discourage anyone...who continually makes progress, no matter how slow."
- Plato

24 years ago today, as best I can reckon, is the day that "I" woke up.  Sounds pretty silly in one sense, doesn't it?  Who can wake up and to what?  Or, is there an 'I' to wake up?  So here's how I would define what happened.

Through the process of Self Enquiry - i.e. Who am I? - I recognized, clearly  and profoundly, that that which I spoke of as 'I' was/is Consciousness or Awareness. (People argue on semantics of these two words, as well as others.)  How I can best describe this at the present moment is a recognition that I am not this body, but rather am aware of the body, and that the awareness that I am is fairly indefinable. 

At the time of the 'awakening', there was a clear recognition of Self as being the Ground of Being upon which everything else arose, and the analogy I give is as if everything was made of ice from the ocean, and then simply painted over that ice. In other words, the phenomenal world was/is very surface only, and that just below that surface is the infinity of Pure Consciousness.  Even today, without really 'doing' anything, the world appears not very concrete, but more dreamlike, or somewhat two dimensional, as if it is missing something, and the something is the depth of consciousness upon which it rests. But I am that consciousness and it is connected to that consciousness that permeates all things. 

Where I feel I "failed" is not going deeper into that recognition of consciousness, but rather rested on my laurels, so to speak.  For a little while after the 'event' I would practice the direct experience of God everywhere, by repeating first, "All I see is God, all I feel is God, all I taste is God, etc.," and then later shortening that to "All that I experience is God."  This resulted in some rather incredible experiences, where within a few minutes to an hour, I directly perceived that there was nothing but God - the pavement I was walking on, the sounds of the cars, my own body....I was existing within, and as, an ocean of God.  Unfortunately, I did not keep up with that practice, but instead felt a compulsion to teach. 

That compulsion was based on compassion. There is this sense of freedom and a desire to share that, seeing the amount of suffering people are in.  However, too often, one can either teach OR practice, and not both.  I often gave the example of an iron rod placed in fire, and that the longer it is there, the more it takes on the qualities of the fire. However, once the rod is taken out of the heat, it quickly cools down.  The idea is that one must KEEP the rod in the fire, until all the impurities are burned out.  Too few of us manage to do this, there always being such temptations to enjoy the results of our achievements in whatever form, especially in this world and this day and age of our current society.   Plus, not having the individual wisdom and/or external guidance to recognize when we may be failing in some way or deluding ourselves.

One of the things I discovered long ago, in studying philosophies and religions, particularly of the Eastern schools, is that NOBODY agrees on anything.  Even within my own Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition, there are so many varying views, what to speak of Vaishnavism as a whole, and then all of the other many thousands of spiritual, economic, political and scientific views of everything.  Even amongst those who are generally considered wise or enlightened by the so-called general masses, there are still differences in opinion.  So who are you to trust if, in your heart, you are determined to find the Truth?  I think the answer is hidden within the question. The answer is in your heart (or perhaps more aptly) your Self.  That doesn't preclude accepting any other teachings. However, I do feel it precludes accepting every teaching or teacher that comes down the road, and choosing (yes, I used the 'C' word), a path for you.

One of the disadvantages, I feel, of our modern age, is the over-abundance of information available.  For thousands of years, if you  were truly a seeker, there was a traditional method or methods used by your tribe or community, and if you were truly a seeker you would find it, or perhaps move outside your community, at perhaps great risk, to find it.  Nowadays, people can just plop down at their computer, or plop down a wad of cash (for whatever seminar, training, ritual, etc.) and gain their spiritual fulfillment with virtually no effort.  True spirituality has become completely cheapened.   But I digress....

My point is not to find fault with others, which is way too easy, but rather to pull the plank from my own eyes.  I have returned, in large part, to my own Gaudiya Vaishnava roots, which, to me, is one of the clearest and most complete paths of scientific spiritual understanding and practice.  It does not negate the Recognitions of 24 years ago and since, but rather builds on them.  I do believe it is VERY difficult to understand the Truth or the Absolute, without first recognizing your own state of Individualized Consciousness, free of the identification with the body and mind.  But  I also believe it is hazardous to get stuck simply in that recognition.  It is, as I have suggested before, rather like going to visit India, but never leaving the Indian airport. Yes, you are in India, but barely! 

All this is, in large part, why I essentially quit teaching a few years back - that and my health problems which have cleared up somewhat compared to what they were. But, I want/need to take my own path much more seriously.  As various symptoms of the end of life arise, one truly recognizes that time, at least within this given body, is very limited, and what does one want to do with that limited time?  What will be the most advantageous to one's highest welfare?  For me, it is the continuous movement toward God, and that recognition of that ultimate Sweetness and All-Pervasiveness of the Divine Being. And if, in the path of my own progress, I have inadvertently hurt or ill-advised anyone, I pray, with all my heart, that you can forgive me, for as the Firesign Theatre people once so aptly put it, "We're ALL bozos on this bus!"

"The path to our destination is not always a straight one. We go down the wrong road, we get lost, we turn back. Maybe it doesn't matter which road we embark on. Maybe what matters is that we embark."
- Barbara Hall

1 comment:

  1. Beautifully written, Aja, heartfelt and clear. Thank you.