Category Archives: Spirituality

Initiation Into the Mysteries vs. Enlightenment

Someone asked me to talk about the process called initiation, often mentioned in various texts about accessing deeper knowledge of our reality, and how initiation compares to enlightenment.

I can’t cite all the books I’ve read about “the mysteries” and being “initiated” during my younger years. I read many and during a time when I didn’t understand most of what I was reading. I vaguely remember reading a page or two of a book and feeling absolutely exhausted afterwards, requiring lots of sleep to recover.

Reflecting back, I may have a better understanding of what happened. However, I don’t usually talk or even write about this – so this post is an experiment.

There is a very old saying (paraphrased) that we can only access information at the level of our consciousness. If the configuration of our system does not match the energy of the transmission, there will be rejection, only a partial reception, or even distortion. However, if one is close in configuration to what is being shared via any vehicle – like a piece of writing or music or contact with a person – one’s being will resonate and become imprinted by the transmission.

The process of reconfiguring a being to adopt a specific pattern is initiation. Some books were written to initiate.

In every culture, there are stories of spiritual beings “transmitting knowledge” to someone. These transmissions were actually imprinting the transmitter onto the receiver – much like a rubber stamp. If the transmitter held new knowledge, which may have been previously invisible and inaccessible to the recipient, this knowledge was shared. Darkness in occult literature does not always refer to “evil,” but neutrally references that which is currently outside our scope of understanding and applying (a.k.a. is unseen).

When someone interacts with a spiritually mature being, cycles of preparation and initiation are always occurring to varying degrees. To make initiation stick, many teachers emphasized devotion to facilitate the student’s process of accepting and holding an unfamiliar configuration. Without devotion, it was much harder to imprint the more advanced (or different) state onto someone. If a student wanted to transform and they could do so by adopting the teacher’s print, initiation seemed like an easier way to make progress. However, not unlike an organ transplant, someone else’s print can be completely rejected simply because of a mismatch.

My teacher had a different approach. To a degree, there was some initiation by demonstrating what the more advanced state looked like. However, the new element my teacher introduced was emphasizing one’s uniqueness through one’s own creative expression. Thus, any modeling of the deeper state was a jumping-off point to developing and evolving each student’s unique potential. Devotion was still important.

Unfortunately, initiation can also be done by beings who are charismatic and not spiritually advanced. Such beings tend to brainwash their targets to make them more susceptible to being imprinted. Inept or ill-intentioned people can greatly destabilize a person via such interference and cause issues, including distorted perception, twisted interpretation, and the loss of ability to ground in a specific plane of existence. A truly evolved being will always break the connection with anyone who is not “compatible” and may even be hurt by additional exposure.

During initiation by a teacher from a lineage, the teacher may also transfer most or all of the knowledge to the recepient from the preceding teachers. Thus, an initiate may come out of the process being ready to apply what the prior teachers had already mastered.

Looking back in time, true teachers were very careful who they initiated. The odds of a successful initiation were incredibly small. The “worthy” were simply just “compatible.” It’s too bad that the term “worthy” was used because it implies that some were better than others – evolving one’s consciousness is neither a contest nor a status symbol.

Not all initiation leads to enlightenment, and not all initiation even leads to a more advanced state of awareness.

The path to enlightenment still requires someone (preferably living) to model the advanced state. However, pure imprinting is very dangerous, can reach fewer people, and may be grossly misused by ego-bound individuals. It feels much more open to be in the company of an advanced being while having the freedom to evolve creatively according to one’s unique disposition.

In the meantime, life is the perfect teacher for all of us. Some can use an accelerant to whom they feel connected, while others have no need for such intervention at this time.

Why Love Life

I had a conversation about life with my 10-year-old. He’s been confused about its purpose and value for a couple of years now.

The thing is, I understand him. At about his age was when I asked my mother why she gave me birth – if she knew that “I was going to live in an insane world just to suffer”. The best she could do was tell me that she wanted someone with her in this world, a friend. The best I could do then was to call her selfish. I told my son this story.

He asked me why I brought him into this world. I told him that there is nothing like life and living. Sure there’s a lot of crazy-making all around us, but there are also things that literally light us up. We talked about the things that make him happy. We examined the lounging posture of our extremely large cat. We talked about how it’s always easier to focus on the pain, but that’s not the only option. We tilted our heads together and intertwined our fingers. I could feel his pain and confusion like it was my own.

I think there is a part of him that touched his own ability to feel happiness. I could feel him touch it somewhere in the indescribable dimension of what makes him alive. I recognized that place from a dream I had – a waking dream where I felt the life force in my body and compared it to death.

I know what it feels like to be dead and, obviously, alive. All I can say is that this feeling of living – at the core and beyond the noisy signals of existence – is why we are here. If we feel this urge to live running through us – even for a moment – and own it, many things would change.

Suffering is incredibly noticeable, don’t you think? There are days when this existence feels like a crushing weight that will literally take over if I let it and cave on me. But I hold on. I know there are people who want me to fail and prove them right. I just can’t give in to that. The destructive forces at play in this dimension want so badly to be right. I told my son I feel the magic that is life without fully understanding it, and I let that take over.

I think it’s too easy now to diagnose depression, anxiety, and who-knows-what. It’s become too easy to label or to Google labels to put ourselves in some box – maybe a wooden box, figuratively speaking. Yes, we are made of chemicals and these can be “out of balance” despite our best intentions. Yes, we can dwell on all the shitty things we have experienced and vivisect them endlessly in therapy and in our relationships. Yes, we may need to put a label in our sleeves so that those with similar labels can pick us out of a crowd – and then we don’t feel so alone. And perhaps we may need to do all of the above at some point. However, when we are done with that parade, we have to go back to our root mystery of being alive and recognize it for what it is.

This mystery cannot be awakened by medications or talk. It must be found in our silence, in the grace of our coherent being – no matter how seemingly damaged or broken we may appear to be – even if we take medication and despite the talk. At the core, you see, nothing is broken. It’s still not broken even after we piece together the pretty or grotesque factors of our causal chain of events.

There is freedom in accepting that being hurt can’t break us. Broken bones heal. Ripping muscles get stronger. I wonder what those bones and muscles think while rebuilding? Sure, we can let go into the idea that we may not come back from being hurt that one more time. But what if we don’t let go into that thought? What if we hold off on making such big decisions and just hold on to life’s grace?

I don’t know where this idyllic vision of life here came from, where people think that everything they value should be within their reach: “If I just control this one more thing, everything will be OK.” On some level you know that’s bullshit, right? There’s a lot going on on this plane of existence, and things don’t fit into nice little closet organizers. You do see that? But we can spend our entire lives trying to figure out how much we can tweak to make life easier and smoother – forget happy.

We will always do what we do even when we don’t know why we do it. But, can’t we at least pause long enough to feel that something altogether different has occurred when we came to be here? This is not closet-organizer material. This is not within the purview of our exact and inexact sciences. In fact, direct living is beyond most of humanity, which prefers to meta-live or live by proxy, watch other people live and die, and then stop short of fullness by wading in superficial emotions and cursory pattern-recognition.

I can only try to do justice to the grace that lives me, even if aspects of me are thrown under a microscope or telescope and deemed to be imperfection. Who cares that humanity has a tendency to view texture and call it “flaw.” I remember the time when idiots thought that planets were perfect spheres, until Galileo pointed his telescope at them and saw “spots.” He lived out his days under house arrest because he called attention to the ignorance of smoothing out life’s wrinkles. Today, we just retouch in Photoshop the magazine models and, for $7 extra, everyday people, to play the dulce notes of the Music of the Spheres.

It is in texture and nuance, in the spots and wrinkles, and in the best-laid-plans-gone-to-waste that we find the pulse of life careening our awareness. I know the complexity may feel overwhelming, but there is no other way. The tendency to flatten layers no longer serves any of us. Life is alchemy and more.

You have things. Just not all to yourself.

With a sense of “I” comes the desire to own things – and even people. This can be crazy confusing, given that we have our bodies, our lives, and our dreams, which qualify us for all rights human. We delineate “healthy boundaries” using what we think belongs to us as bargaining chips. This sacred “me” must stand apart, stand out, and stand strong. And it’s all true – except for the word “own.” It is more likely that we borrow.

My body is made of atoms, which have been recycled by forms since a supernova exploded and provided the primeval soup for our solar system. We literally don’t know where our atoms have been – perhaps part of a cactus, a kangaroo, Benjamin Franklin, or all of the above. When I die, my atoms will be swept up into another form to participate in its strong sense of “I,” and then into another.

You may agree that I borrow the atoms of my body, but what about my belongings? Maybe I have land, cars, herds of cows, or buildings – surely these belong to me? In truth, anything my eye falls upon had been claimed before by someone else. Even the land I walk upon has been fought over and over again. A footprint is not a stamp of ownership, and time’s ocean swallows all footprints. So, I borrow all of my belongings.

What about my soul? Surely that belongs to “me” alone? It is what makes my life unique, is it not? Perhaps the configuration of the soul does strike a unique cord amidst the harmony of the universe, but even my soul is not immortal. The soul is eventually transcended and flows into the life that birthed all souls – including mine. So, I cannot even claim ownership of my soul without simultaneously surrendering all that I may believe I am.

If I do not and cannot own anything to revel in immortality, what is there to hold onto? Where is this legacy that humanity is so hardwired to want to leave behind?

We long for static things to matter and look to freeze something in time – some rock of ages. But eternity rests in flux, not form. Eternity is flow and not stagnant mirror pools. Eternity slips through fingers, bodies, planets, stars, and galaxies. Every claim must be surrendered, eventually.

Because we own nothing does not mean we that we mean nothing. We have not yet shifted to embrace that which changes as the primary and are tone-deaf to the keynotes of our existence.

But, because there is only change, we will eventually open to such music – body, mind, and soul. Because there is change, this too shall pass. How would our lives change if we knew that we borrow rather than own?

Nightmares of the Human Race Are Rebellion in Disguise

The entire human race is dreaming. We can see these dreams in the stories we tell. The movies and the books that entertain us are the ones that strike a chord. So, what is humanity collectively dreaming?

I watch many movies. It is my way of trying to understand the human race, as strange as that may sound. Because I haven’t felt fear in a long time, I have literally forgotten what fear is. While I still feel emotions pass and experience occasional knee-jerk responses that nest in my body cells as life’s residue, these move through me relatively quickly and leave me with little insight into the emotional landscape. So, I watch movies and study what people appear to feel…. I also observe people and ask them lots of questions about themselves to see how they see themselves. I’ve learned that the stength and light I see in people is often not something that they believe they have – this discord is jarring to me.

At this time, fear still appears to drive most of the activity I see. However, there is also a chord of anger that wishes to defy and face the fear. It’s as if humanity knows that each person has more strength than they believe they possess, and there is a movement brewing to reclaim that strength. Most people still need much support and convincing that they have value.

People are often shocked when they learn that I regularly watch horror movies. No matter how bad a movie is cinematically, it always provides me with some connection to the fear that burbles in humanity’s unconscious. The monsters, demons, and otherworldly creatures on the screen make the fears tangible targets for the viewers to “beat.”

Ironically, I do not enjoy the movies or find them interesting – they are more of a gateway into the consensus of those who made and watched the movies. This gateway helps me to connect, understand, and maybe even try to heal some of the trauma in the collective psyche.

Our lives can appear so unpredictable and chaotic, resulting in stress that literally manipulates our life force. Many cope by fortifying their ability to filter noise. Others cope by dulling their senses to feel less. Still others escape to visions of magical worlds even as they perform mundane and boring tasks.

I find it so interesting that people get all the information about our world from what their brains tell them. Because our nervous systems process stimuli so differently, it is highly likely that our views about the “same” world vary dramatically. And yet, we largely believe that we have a shared reality. All evidence points to the fact that very little of our reality is shared. While reality may provide us with consistent stimuli, we use our body instrument to process what we receive and draw our own conclusions.

Despite the variations in our interpretations, certain stimuli consistently trigger powerful responses. And then, it’s as if the triggered ones become immersed in a kind of dream while awake. They act as if their dream is real, and sometimes they react so strongly. I am not saying that poverty, pain, or hunger are not real – they are as real as our bodies. However, the collage we construct of our world does not lend itself to prescriptive interpretation.

Underneath the superficial languages we speak and the lightshow that is our visible world, there is something much more fundamental to which we respond and also use to communicate. In fact, much of the interaction between our nervous systems and the world occurs at this invisible level. But many of us haven’t practiced quieting our normal interaction routines to become immersed in this deeper level of communication that is always in play.

Here, at the level of the living web that comprises all of us, is the plane where we harbor fundamental views about our world – dating back thousands and thousands of years. Here is where we dream of heaven and hell. These are not places, and we do not need to die to “go” there. Our very life can go back and forth between states of agony and ecstacy within moments.

Our collective dreams and nightmares are felt by us in every moment, whether we acknowledge them consciously or not. While I see these clearly, I do need to study how others respond to these to better help people.

One thing that stands out is that people like to personify their interpretations of life and find demons and angels and ghosts. They like to differentiate between “light” and “darkness.” But I only see one whole reality, rich with consciousness. Philosophy and analysis disects this wholeness and may possibly even destroy some key elements in the process, reminding me of the four blind people trying to describe an elephant by feeling its different parts. Parts are useful, but so is the whole.

Humanity still suffers and suffers deeply. For some time now, there has also been a shift in consciousness that may be characterized as a mass rebellion against suffering. However, this movement is only in its nacency for the human race. Individuals also rebel and may go through a transformation that is characterized as “enlightenment,” which completely changes one’s view from the mass perception and projections of world views on a giant movie screen we call our world.

One thing that is certain is that the dynamic of fear response can be completely surrendered. To what or to who? That is what I know as the Divine or the Infinite – the invisible glue and the medium that binds us all into a single lifestream by literally living all of us – regardless of whether we interpret It as dreams or nightmares.

Just Another Day

This Saturday I had my graduate classes. I have 4 more courses left to earn my M.Ed., and I have until the end of this Summer to finish them. I learned about this fact at the end of Summer, got a small loan, and signed up for the courses. Although it didn’t seem ideal to take 2 courses this Fall while teaching full time, motherhood, and going through a divorce, but it needs to be done.

I arrived at my class one hour late. I’ve been sick last week and a bit sleep deprived. I got myself ready and packed. Having what I need did not warrant worrying or rushing.

When I got to the first class, I quickly learned that my afternoon class was held at a location 1 1/2 hours away. Someone messed up, but it is what it is. I realigned my expectations to drive there as soon as the morning course was over.

The morning course was good. My professor was knowledgeable and I had a chance to talk to him about using what I learn to support my interest in doing Data Science. During a break, I texted a parent about having her son sleepover with my yongest at our house tonight.

While driving to my afternoon class, I found a great music station on Amazon Prime. Solid metal, grunge, and punk selections that I belted out in my car. There’s no accounting for taste, but that was just right for me.

Something was rattling in the engine. I will figure that out later.

The directions I got to my afternoon course took me to a vacant lot. I punched the hotel name into my phone and got new directions. I was 15 minutes away. Eventually I arrived and just paid attention. A kind lady got me a syllabus.

At 5ish, I was done and got in my car to drive back. I was tired. Car is still rattling but it will get me home. Texted the mom to see if she was OK with her son seeing Predator with us tomorrow in the theater. My youngest wanted to see it again, after seeing it with his dad.

While driving, I ran through scenarios of what I will do Monday with my different groups of students. Trying to do my best to teach the kids in front of me, and no two batches are the same.

I got home, cooked dinner for my son and his friend, and started grading. I want to catch up and give my students some feedback. My older one is napping – I’ll check in with him later. He already texted me a few times during the day.

So, here I am. Grading until it feels like time to sleep. Every day feels like surfing because I don’t expect to predict or map out the waves.

The Only Possible Life

Is there a point to life? Having a point appears to be different from having an explanation about the point.

I used to think that the point of life was to get really good at living – having good relationships with people and being able to support oneself and family. I spent countless hours honing the right skills, looking for the right jobs, investing in my family, and sustaining friendships. Few things were easy, and the rest were hard. I persevered.

I also saw life as something very mysterious and I wanted to understand as much of it as I could grasp. The mystery was something that I couldn’t quite name or point out. Like most, I started with religion, metaphysics, and philosophy to learn what others have said. I imagined that the mystery could ultimately be explained if I just see the right words on a page, and I tirelessly searched for the “explanation” of life’s point and my part in it all.

Then, I looked at the world with more interest, and Life appeared to have no universal script for happy-making conditions. There are different cultures that define a “good” life in different ways. People experience extreme hardships and losses on mass scales that are beyond anyone’s control – many are just trying to make it from day to day. It is all too easy to get caught up in looking at life through the lens of one specific culture, language, and individual values – and then to assume that there is something universal about one’s perspective on what’s working or what’s wrong.

Life behaves as if she has all the time she could possibly want. Eon after eon, she freely explores every variation and adjusts her routes creatively. It seems that the only true point is to live our lives whether life makes any sense to us or not.

In my early teens, I wondered about a “utopian” life for all – where everyone has what they need to live happy, fulfilling lives. I thought our goal in life was to fix the things that were problematic so that everyone could finally be happy. People are hungry? Let’s make sure they have food. Thirsty? Let’s build wells. Jobless? Let’s make jobs. Uninformed? Let’s find ways to make knowledge acessible to everyone? Sick? Let’s help them be healthy. Lonely? Let’s create support systems and communities. Overwhelmed? Let’s help them to simplify. In fact, let’s do it on a mass scale – empower every single person.

However, it was a rude awakening for me to learn that the majority of people did not seem to think that an ideal life for all was possible. In other words, the Universal Book to Life’s Answers did not – and could not – exist. While we may learn a few things about what people learned before, all answers dry up as soon as it’s time to just be ourselves.

I was called “idealistic” and got frequently slapped with sarcasm. At the time, I hadn’t yet understood that idealism was synonymous with oversimplification and painting with strokes too broad for nuance. The message that kept coming up was that people wanted to live their lives their own way, whether that way fit the norm or not. Everyone had something that was extremely important to them, and – whether or not they had articulated it – they lived for that.

There was no point in debating about who lived in a way that was the most conducive to happiness – because there did not appear to be one or even several ways. In fact, we each do it slightly differently. When I interact with people now, I often find myself wondering- What is important to you right now? Seeing others is all that matters to me in our interaction, whether or not others can or wish to see me.

To make matters even more confusing for me, many people seemed to be happy while suffering. They even packaged suffering as “lessons” and life as a “school.” I could not help but think that these “students” were just finding a way to cope with an unpredictable existence by viewing every challenge as some significant and highly personal lesson. Doesn’t shit just happen sometimes? How often is a “cigar just a cigar”?

I look back at my journey of wanting to “fix” what’s broken for as many people as possible. When wiser people told me that fixing wasn’t the point, I frankly thought they were ignorant, jaded, and weak. I see now that life is not a problem to be “fixed” because I had a biased and a naive view on what may be broken! We do not have one way to define what seems to be the problem at any given time in history or at any specific place on the globe. I don’t even think that seeing life as a problem to be solved is all that helpful.

By reflecting on our lives and the lives around us, we unfold. But even then, that reflection is not going to be anything prescriptive or universal. Pop culture in any culture is engrossed in trends and moves along from one thing “viral” to another. We’ve wasted too much time, perhaps, trying to package ourselves for mass consumption. There is magic in being oneself – an individual – for oneself.

What seems to stand out as important to life is the difference between repetition and creativity. While most of what we do may be repetitive, there can be a few simple moments here and there to explore who we are in relationship to Life, which is a creative process. Instead of looking for an answer or an explanation, we can just immerse ourselves in being living awareness. Something like this cannot be explained. One cannot live another’s life for them.

While an individual’s lifetime is a fraction of a moment when compared to Life’s grand timescales, we do just like she does. We are the rivers that dance and bifurcate under gravity’s pull. We create “wisdom” and write it down in hopes of making sense of it all. We hope to move more gracefully because we have already tried everything we knew. We want to know the difference between what we don’t need and what is essential to us, and then we try let go of all that is unnecessary.

Once seen and recognized, the endless exploration that is Life looks like utter chaos in eternal flux. Perhaps the need to make “sense” of things is not as necessary as we always thought. What if we haven’t yet given life enough of our undivided attention to see what aware living has to offer?

The human race talks of an idyllic “happily ever after” in primary colors and straight lines, even as all shades in existence push against this illusory bubble. Surprisingly, being human offers us the potential to embrace even that which we consider to be outside the scope of the human experience. We have this incredible capacity to move into previously uncharted paths and color outside the lines. While our cultural norms and scientific laws are great for organizing closets, they are insufficiently detailed or flexible to allow us to love and be happy unconditionally. Have we been successful at taming what is wild, or have we simply misunderstood our freedom?

The societal pressures to aim for a certain coveted quality of life has bullied many of us into submission to nonstop thinking and doing, as well as into quiet rage and even depression. Perhaps we can just relax and be aware of our lives without worrying that we are missing something important. Perhaps we can welcome and let go of people and situations with openness. Instead of just showing up for our birthdays and funeral, why not be there for the rest of our lives too?

Breaking Out of the Cocoon

What is the cocoon that we live in? Why break out of it?

Individual consciousness begins life by growing a cocoon. Group consciousness forms from connected individuals. Group cocoons are fluid and dynamic, constantly morphing and reforming. Each cocoon is like a womb after birth, which continues to nurture the process of growth and emergence into Life.

The true function of our cocoon is to help us integrate individual consciousness into physical existence, where we create and interact. What some call our “spirit” (and other names) actually births into physical existence and learns to “wire into it” throughout life progression.

However, while our integration is occurring, another process is at play. The consciousness that lives all of life, including each of us, is working to break through and trasform our cocoons of individual identities to plug our awareness into the Whole – while retaining individuality.

Within our cocoons, we have “experiences” – ephemeral stimuli that lead us to conclusions about our lives and all life. We formulate a worldview according to how well this view serves us, whether it fits into the bigger picture or not. What we do – our mannerisms, ways of engaging, and verbal constructs – gradually solidify with age. That which served us well – we kept, that which didn’t agree with us – we discarded. Note that we do not always keep the mannerisms that help us to become more relational, open, flexible, and resilient. Sometimes we keep that which reinforces the beliefs that life is cruel, unfair, boring, and generally filled with “idiots who surround us.” Such individuals typically use sarcasm, speak with an air of superiority, and have a fairly rigid perspective on existence.

Experiences are individual, relative, and fleeting. No matter how powerful the stimulus, the cocoon is like a mirror that reflects back to us our interpretation of life. Because the cocoon changes, how we view life through its lenses and filters also evolves.

We need this cocoon up to a point. However, a time comes when we recognize that there is something beyond it. I’ve met a number of people who hit this stage. They feel that something about their perspective on life is being distorted. It’s like a kind of an itch that tells us how what we have crystallized as our view of life is incomplete.

Those who tend to rely on the mind a lot (like I had a tendency to do) become entangled by reasoning about existence. Because my mind works so fluidly with logical constructs, I tended to rely on my mind exclusively. I also used my intuitive abilities to read people and situations to protect and position myself where I wanted to be. It took my teacher several years to get me to see beyond the mind and my need to feel “safe through superiority.” Now, the mind and flash intuition – which have both become even more honed – are just tools, and not my identity.

What lies beyond the mind? We all have a sense of what that is during moments when we feel at peace, connected, at ease, inspired, and creative. These times, even if they are brief, are bleedthroughs of the One Life reminding us of who we really are.

After a time, we begin to yearn for life beyond the cocoon. We crave a relationship with life that is authentic and creative in every moment, and not just during a few sporadic bursts. Then, the journey of breaking the cocoon begins.

This journey eventually leads us to people who challenge our world view and seem to live and model an altogether different way of relationship – to everything. Such people may irritate us, frustrate us, or even make us downright angry at a very fundamental level. However, some of us will keep coming back to these characters to take another look. Others will flat out reject their presence as crazy.

Those that do come back know that there is some connection. This connection is not just via words. In reality, there is a sharing of circuitry that is going on. Such a living model of an opened cocoon will introduce his or her guests to a direct feeling, which is palpable of life beyond the cocoon. The living model does this simply by being alive, and not through any maneuvering, manipulation, or psychoanalysis. It takes time to truly understand such a relationship, and it took me years even after breaking through my cocoon to understand what my teacher truly did for me.

What lies beyond the cocoon? What does it mean to break through it? Unfortunately, many people say that they have broken through, but I can clearly see when they have not – just by interacting with them for a moment. This is very obvious and even visible. Some become very adept at living and interpret that as a breakthrough. But, being fluid at handling people, influential, wealthy, and charismatic are not indicators of enlightenment. For most in possession of these faculties, it’s just a matter of making a very functional cocoon. Many people are caught in this way of thinking and delay true opening by enjoying the fruits of their accomplishments. It is a stage that eventually feels unfulfilling.

At first the cocoon weakens and opens only slightly. In Phases of Human Evolution As Awareness, I talk more about this. However, that post is a bit outdated and does not describe the later phases enough – at the time I didn’t believe I would go any further. Still, that post does provide some insight into the process of shifting one’s perspective from the individual to the Whole.

One thing that seems clear is that we must heal the cocoon before we can break through it. We don’t need to heal it completely, but just enough to become available to the opening process. Whatever we don’t heal prior to opening will need to be healed after.

Every seed must sprout by breaking through the earth to greet the rays of the Sun. When it is ready, nothing can stop it.

What Is the Body?

The body is not a thing. It is a process. It does not have sharp edges or a boundary – not even what we see as the skin.

Our science has not yet understood the body process enough to properly infer its sphere of influence or its capabilities. Until then, if we train our attention, we can use our consciousness to explore the body deeper.

I experience the body as an intricately woven concentration of events. Although we have invented multiple scientific fields to describe the body, the body itself is unified and coordinated – chemistry, biology, physics, and other disciplines (some yet undiscovered), are occurring simultaneously! It’s a multi-dimensional network, continuously forming and reforming….

The body is a nexus that serves as a bridge for consciousness to express itself. It is a circuit, of sorts, but incomplete. The wires are there, but many are not connected to each other or to the circuitry of the Divine (the Whole). My teacher used this analogy, and I understand it much better now…. I no longer perceive myself as arms, legs, head, and torso. Instead, I feel the interconnections of the fine pulsations that literally plug into existence.

I like to lay quietly before sleep and feel the body using my awareness. There are meditation techniques, where you “scan” the body parts to relax. I don’t do that. Instead, I bask in the wholeness of the body process and its extent. I don’t “breathe into my belly,” but know that breath is tied to awareness and can lead awareness to the body – to the belly and to everything else. I simultaneously feel the body via consciousness, and consciousness via the body. Prior, I was always a body trying to feel conscious. Now, it is possible to identify with the Whole and to also see the Whole through the body lens.

The body is tied into its surroundings, including other people – like a single bulb on a string of lights glowing in the dark. As we make more of our unconscious conscious, we broaden our connection to more of the web of life – we perceive the wiring between. Each of us is but a smaller process occurring within a larger process – an eddy in a vast stream of life. Of course, with such intricate interconnections, synchronicities make complete sense.

What New Age students call the Universe, to me, is the life process – It is “listening” to us because we are tied into It and are indistinguishable from It. We can perceive others’ feelings and even thoughts because we are interconnected. The boundaries we may sense now are temporary and fluid.

Increased awareness does not make one God – the full network of consciousness expanding and creating. But such awareness does make the Infinite have meaning via direct knowledge. And, none of what I shared explains why we are this way or the meaning of life. I know that I don’t know what It is. And yet, I feel life to be meaningful in itself – the why questions have lost their relevance somehow.

The whole thing begs another question: what is enlightenment, really? What is so interesting about having increasingly integrated awareness? Why not just live feeling as if you are the body – a purely physical and well-bounded being? No process of life negates life. Life is life, regardless of how we relate to it.

There is something interesting that happens after enlightenment – the relationship to life changes dramatically. There is greater flexibility in awareness itself, which can serve as a telephoto lens – zooming in and out to various scales. In addition, loosening attention from the strictly body-centered perspective makes the cohesion between apparent parts undeniable – and that knowing changes how much you laugh (much more) and how much you cry (rarely). The emotional and mental functioning are seen in a broader context and cease to be such strong drivers of our attention. There is more to life than what we think, feel, want, or avoid in any given moment.

I’ll conclude by adding that the perception of time also transforms from linear to something most cannot relate to at this point in our development. When you zoom in on something and look through filters, processes can look linear and sequential. Cause-effect reigns supreme. But reality turns out to be much more complex. While the idea of time is still relevant, our everyday experience of time does not scale beyond our typical range of awareness.

It has become increasingly challenging for me to function linearly and sequentially – there is too much information to think about every input, action, or decision. Fortunately, the intuition intelligence kicks in and handles information via flash insight – seeing snapshots of a greater whole all at once, and then translating it to the present moment. There is so much occurring, and one is forever changed after knowing that first-hand.

Some say that standing on top of a mountain puts everyday life into perspective and changes how one feels about existence. Similarly, enlightenment transforms not only how one perceives life – but our very wiring with life. Why? I have no idea…. I do know well that the body process is essential to enlightenment. While in this body, the opportunity exists.

Murky Kindness. Loving Kindness.

Kindness is very precious indeed. Because I feel no need for others to be kind to me, I appreciate it more deeply now when I see it.

Loving kindness feels like a soft breeze or a gentle touch – a gift that takes nothing in return and moves onward. When received at a time of great despair, such kindness has an almost otherworldly quality. But, this kindness is very much of this world and can be offered by any of us at the right moment.

Timing is one of the most important aspects of our lives. When I see situations unfolding, I feel a distinct difference between the right and wrong time to act. To me, this looks like countless doors against a dark backdrop – some are closed, and some open and remain open for a time. The open doors are opportunities to act and interact. So, I watch and listen for these opportunities. I’ve learned the pointlessness of going after the “closed doors.” Where do I “see” these doors? Not in space. They are an analogy to how I feel and connect to life.

Recently, I’ve watched a number of videos pop up on social media showing someone offering something to a homeless person. It is not too difficult to tell that most of these videos are of the “murky kindness” variety – someone seeking to get “Likes” by appearing generous and kind to others. Such displays are not really about making an offering to another life, but more about getting more popular and monetizing popularity.

We get into murky waters when we attach demands to what we give to others. Then, unmet demands bring on resentment, bitterness, and disappointment: I did such a good thing. How dare people not appreciate me for what I gave? Many of our demands are unconscious, which makes it difficult for us to even recognize that we really want as much or more than we are giving. In truth, appreciating someone is challenging when there were strings attached or the gift crushed a fragile sense of self.

We also step into murky waters when we offer something to someone who doesn’t need it. We may want to help someone because it makes us feel good. We make assumptions about what a being needs and act on these assumptions without verifying that the need is real.

It requires sensitivity to recognize who does and does not need help from us. Because most people are here to build their own strength and awareness, they will openly refuse help or a “handout” – they won’t stay in shelters or halfway houses. Of course, addiction is also a factor. Unfortunately, some helpers are more needy than the ones they are helping, and they end up missing the mark with what they think they are giving.

Of course, some people genuinely do need help, and then we can reach out with heart first – then hand. Interstingly, people do not need help or kindness all of the time, but only in certain moments. On some level, we know that it is not up to any single individual to take permanent responsibility for every life that appears to lack something. Instead, we know that we need to help most people to help themselves as much as they are able. And yet, there are those who appear to drown themselves in giving or wishing they could give, while dreaming of what they can take in return.

For millennia, human life has been about some people having more than others. The ones who have little still depend on a neighbor, community, or strangers every day to help them live one day at a time. These people live with constant uncertainty. They may even forget to think about the next day. Poverty is a challenging life – I know it.

Why does poverty exist? Why is there an imbalance built into life where some have more than others? Why do some people have much more than they need? What is the right thing to do about it?

This setup deserves further study and a better understanding of where we fit in. Kindness is much more than giving things: it is more about seeing – truly seeing – a person for who they are. Loving kindness is a living presence and an honoring of our interconnection. Murky kindness is when objects are exchanged or given without connection and devotion.

Most people mean well and look for the right things to do. Often, the right thing requires a change in how we, as a society, assign value to individual lives. And a life that does not value itself will see that reflected back. No single individual is responsible for poverty and need, and no single individual can be a “solution.”

Kind leaders must set a strong tone for valuing life without sending contradicting messages. All people must make the time to show interest in the lives of others without intrusion. At some point, there will be greater balance in society as a whole so that life is honored at all levels. For now, we can wait for those open doors and forget ourselves while giving. Then, we must forget that we gave. That looks like loving kindness. There are no demands and no strings attached. There is no fear of deeply feeling another’s presence because we are not as separate as we believe.

We know we can’t give everything away and live. We know we can’t keep taking and honor the lives of others. Eventually, we will learn that kindness goes beyond helping someone’s survival or emotional strife, way beyond.

The Paradox of Awakened Beings

I learned a hard lesson a few years ago that, by simply being around people, I could either inspire great joy and laughter – or utter anger and disdain. I make many people uncomfortable.

I didn’t understand what was happening at first. Later, I learned that – in a way – I am “radioactive.” Not literally, of course. But there is something about my current configuration that acts as a mirror and an ignition switch. Because all people have the potential to awaken, they resonate with that thing, and those who don’t want to feel that possibility of awakening violently shut down. I wouldn’t say anything – just walk by, but the reactions are strong nonetheless.

People are dynamic processes – not objects – who must have a certain arrangement of their systems to receive whatever I (and others who woke up) “emit.”

As weird as it seems, most people didn’t come here to wake up at this time. They still need certain life experiences before they can move on. My teacher used to say that people need to love themselves and be able to surrender. Many need a strong identity before they can let it go. Surrender to what? To whatever is this mystery that lives us all. Surrender is expressed as care and devotion – and it is not a loss in some battle, or a giving up of oneself (like Westerners typically think). Neither is it worshipping another person, but expressing devotion to a living being who serves as a key. We cannot unlock the ego box by ourselves while inside the box!

Seekers often come to a fork in the road – they can either let go or cling to their identity. I remember my fork. I was riding a train home and felt myself shift into a new awareness. What matters is that I distinctly shut it off. I wasn’t ready – there were things I still needed to address in my life. It wasn’t until 12 years later that I finally transformed.

Over the years, I’ve seen a number of people leave my meditation teacher angry, bitter, and disappointed. Why weren’t they transforming, but others were? Some students just lost interest and wanted a “normal life” again. Those who know, can quickly nod that a path to awakening with a real teacher is far from easy.

Over the centuries there were many teachers with different styles of relating to their students. If you read books about famous teachers, you may think some of them were downright abusive. However, you may need to understand the ego better to see the teacher-student relationship in perspective.

In the presence of an awakened being, something catalyzes everything deepseated in a person to rise up. The process is rhythmic, pulsing in intensity – like a wave beating against a rock wall. When a student’s ego goes on the defensive or aggressive, or hides (to protect the “I”), the teacher may get beligerent and downright scary. For the teacher, it is a kind of act – evoked by the egoic presence. My teacher used to call it “blasting” the ego.

The more evolved the teacher, the more intense the blasting. Those on the receiving end must literally fight to hear the insight, and also fight the intense tendency to collapse into despair. The few who can withstand such confrontation of their limited condition go further, while the rest give up.

Yes, on the surface this may look like verbal abuse to those who are not trying to transform. However, looking deeper, the teacher literally tsunami-waves the ego to break its hold on the student’s consciousness. It takes a great deal of energy for the teacher and the student to maintain this dynamic relationship. And, at some point, the student may say “I had enough.”

While some walk away quietly, others walk away vocally bitter and angry. They literally forget that, at one point, they asked for help to become enlightened. They may even start badmouthing the teacher, diagnose the teacher as a narcissist or sociopath (common), and direct all of their anger at the teacher. While not all teachers are awakened, those who are awakened may still take the risk of a violent “breakup” anyway. They know that a seed was planted and will sprout when the soil is ready. There is no drama on the teacher’s part about something so simple.

I remember times when my teacher would cast me aside and say I wasn’t ready. I remember how aweful and discarded I felt. But I tried harder to find my way back. I felt like there was no other way but through. And, I spent very little time in-person with my teacher…. Such a bond transcends space and time. I mostly knew he was there, I read his unpublished writings, and I studied myself in response to various life experiences in the context of surrendering my life to the Divine. Almost everything I clung to had dissolved since then, and – on the surface – it didn’t look like I was doing anything but living my life.

The whole situation was between me and the Divine, and I knew I could not stop what I started. That was my path, my devotion, and my surrender – guided by whatever my teacher “radiated.” Others took different paths. It didn’t matter because it was not a race. We all got what we needed and were prepared to hold.

Those who leave a real teacher with bitterness and have forgotten why they sought out the teacher in the first place – they may trash what they received and are in a tough spot. While they are no threat to the teacher, their anger will need to be let go – or it will turn inward and feed on them until they realize that they are hurting themselves.

I consciously avoid being a spiritual teacher in any shape or form. I am learning how to move in a way that does not activate those who don’t need it yet. However, there are people who come out of the blue and ask me to help them wake up. Some, I take in. I am simply their friend.

We will do the dance and go as far as the person is willing. There is no fee, no contract, and no requirements but to stand strong in oneself to move beyond oneself. Such beings are still few, but teachers have always walked the Earth just for them – without expectations. The mystery still lives us all.