Category Archives: Spirituality

From Healing to Happiness

What amazes me about our body-minds is how much we are buikt to heal and to restore our balance. Often it’s not clear what the issues are or how to address them, but things become clear as we persevere and work with the body-mind.

I don’t believe that the purpose of life can be just healing. It seems insane that certain situations may happen to us, break us, and then we just live out our lives to heal what has been broken. While sometimes it may be necessary to dedicate portions of our time here to healing, it is unreasonable to accept that this is all our lives will be about. It is more likely that healing (self-discovery and recovery) and expression will happen in parallel, one process supporting and enriching the other.

I found it astounding, with everything that we know, how little we teach kids about coping skills. There are very few schools with a social-emotional (SEL) curriculum specifically designed to help kids learn about processing and managing their emotions. These kids grow up to be adults who harbor various powerful baggage – often operating unconsciously, which will spill over into every aspect of their lives. Then, these adults will parent their kids. The cycle of ignorance continues and, as a result, many people will lead unfulfilled and reactive lives.

As a teacher, I watch kids daily struggle with anxiety about almost every aspect of their lives with hardly any guidance about how to relate to themselves and others. Schools say it’s their jobs to teach kids academically, but I believe we are all missing the mark about teaching kids basic emotional intelligence skills, which could tremendously elevate our quality of living all over the world. Often I see kids learn these skills ftom a therapist after they already had some form of a serious breakdown, but not before. Kids who manage to quietly hang in there through various trials and tribulations may never learn these skills at all. As adults, they will start browsing self-help books or maybe resort to drinking, drugs, or medications.

As I work on myself and on healing my past trauma, I am also noticing how no one has ever empowered me with basic tools for balancing body and mind through various life events. Even if I didn’t have trauma, I could have benefited from someone teaching me in my childhood how to interact with others, how to listen, how to respond, how to be aware of myself and to self-regulate, and how to balance my needs with the needs of others. I had to learn these things haphazardly throughout life, and usually at points where I felt already broken or have participated in irreparably breaking a relationship.

Healing is a continuum – stuff is always happening, and even the little things must be processed and managed on an ongoing basis. Healing and rebalancing is really a just a normal part of living.

I watched a documentary about anxiety, and it was interesting to learn how many people in our society are at a point where they think that all discomfort in life can and should be avoided. We now often resort to meditation when what is also needed is learning how to adjust our lifestyles and identify/process what we feel.

Trauma gets embedded in the body and proactively suppressed by defense mechanisms, such as depression and anxiety. I didn’t realize this and believed that depression and anxiety were conditions in themselves – not as defense mechanisms for an inability to process and rebalance responses. Interestingly, the first step to healing trauma is strengthening one’s awareness in the present. Because I am not identified with the mind, it turns out to be a simple shift for me to just be here. I was concerned that if I didn’t keep processing my past, I would repress it again, but that’s not the case. It took someone else to tell me that it’s OK to put all that stuff on hold – I won’t forget it again and I don’t have to overtax myself by letting it all flood through me.

I am finding myself feeling such gratitude for the people in my life who have helped me to see what I’ve spent so much energy burying and trying to forget. There is a clear path now to what I need to integrate. We talk a lot about what we need to let go – these can only be things, people, and situations. However, what remains is our responses – and these we must integrate.

I watched another documentary about empathy. What I found interesting there was the research about how kids are naturally predisposed to helping someone in need. Some believe that kids want to be helpful because they get praise or because of some other selfish motive. However, the research showed that even when a child saw someone else help the person in need, and didn’t help directly, that child felt satisfaction.

There is so much that is known about human behavior and motivations. I sincerely hope that more of this information begins to make its way into mainstream school curriculum to proactively teach kids healthy responses to life, and before these kids grow up to be confused and dysfunctional adults.

Inevitably, life happens with all of its ups and downs, and kids need to understand and set appropriate expectations about how to deal with life and relationships in healthy ways. It is easier to feel happiness while being grounded in the present and proactively looking for ways to express our innate creativity. Healing then becomes an ongoing and integrated response, which allows us to braid life as it comes in. Healing, then, does not consume a life as its primary goal.

I look forward to the day when society values life enough to make global lifestyle changes that allow all of us to flow both as individuals and in concert with each other. Then, all children will be educated about the many things we already know about being human and interacting. Then, maybe, people will stop trying to reinvent the wheel about the basics and engage with happiness sooner and continuously.

Savage T and Cultivating Gentleness

At the high school school where I teach, my students call me “Savage T.” The nickname came from a simple physics formula for distance, which is average speed (Savg) multiplied by time (t). When I free-style rap during lessons or make jokes, I hear my nickname and wonder who it is they see. Nothing is casual when cleaning up one’s game. Not even fun nicknames…. Another nickname I had was “Miss G.” I know I can “spit fire” all too easily.

As part of healing my PTSD, I’ve returned to actively cultivating gentleness. Gentleness is the first to go when feeling small, afraid, and threatened, which is the unconscious undertoe for those with PTSD. Now that I’m aware when I am in a flashback, I am also aware of how my ability to be gentle fizzles. Frankly, I’m amazed that I’ve demonstrated as much gentleness as I have in my life – thankfully with my own children and students – given that my own sense of safety had been compromised at a young age.

I’ve only met one person in my life who has been consistently gentle. I have studied her tone, her choice of words, and her ability to pause and listen with full attention. She also pauses before speaking. She asks if it is OK to bring something up. She often says “I don’t have any answers, just some thoughts…”. She “sends hugs” and cries at sad stories. She is the opposite of force, and is a calming breeze and a soothing balm.

There is nothing more irritating than people with “answers” for someone struggling – probably because such people make too many assumptions and turn complex situations into trite suggestions. Answer-givers are condescending, especially when their assumptions – due to lack of listening and understanding – are wrong. Know-it-alls are ignorant of others and only see themselves, and are thus really always talking to themselves. A minute of someone listening is more precious than an hour of someone spirting advice. However, it is easy to listen when there’s no personal investment in what someone has to say.

In my case, what can be an issue is my response to people. The perception of threat has given me an edge since my teenage years. While I was mostly quiet as a child, I gradually became more vocal – especially when kids attacked me after school after I first arrived in America.

I was different and a target. Although I was small, I realized that, to my surprise, I had an uncanny force latent in my scrawny body. I stood up for myself in broken English, colored by street slang and intonations. I studied Martial arts for at least two decades total, and started as soon as I began “winning” after-school fights, which took place just outside the tall wire fence of a New York City public school. I was not gentle. I was vicious – defending myself in real-time and was also, unknowingly, triggered into flashbacks.

When my flashbacks began to dominate my life again, about six years ago, I became aggressive to anything that even mildly resembled a threat. It was not conscious and I could not control my response. I got better at choosing my moments of when I shot flames, but I had made no progress distinguishing real threat from perception. I began to fail in diffusing situations which was actually a skill I had used often at work.

Now, I am practicing gentleness as my default. This requires conscious effort while sorting through the mess of flashbacks nipping at my heals. I must assume first that someone means me no harm. I must tell myself that. I must connect with their humanity and vulnerability to turn on my own gentle response. It is easier to do this when I feel no personal investment in what anyone is doing and am not bothered by their agendas. All of this takes effort on my part because I am in the thick of healing. The default is to feel imminent attack, but this must transform to offering service. This is something I can do.

If I notice myself reliving pain, which is frequent these days, I pause and practice PTSD grounding techniques I was taught by a therapist. I put myself in the present by looking, noticing, describing, and touching. I sooth myself by visualizing images that are calming to me. I distance myself from the flashbacks. Now, I am also adding a feeling of deep care to my interactions – to permeate my affect and words with the calm, quiet kindness I am more than capable of offering. As difficult as all of this feels now, I know I can do this.

Progress Healing PTSD

Where there is a will, there is a way. Or maybe, when the time is right, things just fall into place.

I tried some exercises today to be more aware of my environment and less focused on the flashbacks. I paid attention to the objects in a room, the colors and texture of objects, and the rug on the floor. I was practicing noticing what was around me and describing it aloud. It helped me to realize how my flashbacks sucked me up to back in time, and how easy it is to not notice when that happend. I could be convinced that I am in the present, but am really in the past looking at the present as if the present were the memory. Body-mind perception is tricky.

Smells help me to stay in the present and associate positive feelings with the present. I stocked up on my favorite scent from Bath and Body Works. I applied my favorite essential oil that has gardenia in it. I remember that smell from when I was in an ashram, chanting the Guru Gita in the early mornings. I want to be here and now.

Most importantly, I realized that there was no need to relive my past to heal from it. Perhaps that’s obvious to those who are on the other side of healing from PTSD, but it’s all new to me. I was only diagnosed with it this year, after the second wave of repressed memories. Surprisingly it is possible to believe that one is OK with trauma while being completely accustomed to the shock – like the frog that dies in a pot of water, where the temperature was gradually increased. No wonder I was fainting at work only last year and having strange seizures that had no physical cause. One doctor suggested trauma and panic attacks, but I didn’t know what he was talking about.

More important than the PTSD diagnosis for me was me finally connecting with the understanding that trauma leaves a lasting impression on the body-mind that must be healed. I had no idea what the trauma had done to make me want to avoid being here. Metaphysical journeys are so much easier that being aware through the body!

As much as I dislike the Mindfulness franchise hype, it is in fact what I am practicing. In fact, why do I dislike the mindfulness movement? Maybe because I so often see it parody authentic connection. People are parroting something about focusing on the present, but I’ve learned how tricky our psyche is and how we can hypnotize ourselves without ever being present at all.

I practiced imagining a safe place. I have to imagine that because no place feels safe through the lens of trauma right now. My safe place is near the ocean and on a beach, where the waters are turquoise and the sand is white. I put on ocean sounds to ground myself into feeling safe and soothe the raw feelings that were dredged up. I was having trouble functioning when I started to relive the past abuse. Soothing is another way to help me be here and in the body.

Grounding in the present and learning to associate the feeling of being safe with body-attention turned out to be a powerful catalyst for me in realizing that I have to retrain my body-mind to stop flinching. It’s not easy and it’s necessary.

I feel like I made so much progress in becoming conscious of the unconscious. That’s half the battle right there! The next step is to practice connecting with people even while the flashbacks are ongoing. I understand that all of this is a process and not a one-shot deal-and-heal.

I imagined my memories being placed in a box. I can’t tell you how many times I used this technique with the teens I teach…. But I had never done this myself. Then, I imagined putting distance between me and the box – an enormous lavender field! I studied if doing this was “detachment” that was healthy, versus an unhealthy dissociation and repression. I don’t want to repress my memories again! It felt OK this time to put distance between my attention and memory – I wasn’t forgetting a thing – it was still all there, but inside a box – and miles away, with a buffer of a gorgeous lavender field.

I am learning how to live in this body with all that it has been through. It is easy to escape the body, but that’s not what’s needed. I have to get deeper into being and functioning in the body to integrate my awakening. I can see why I avoided my body for so long – who wants to be in a home that was demolished. I am now reclaiming my body. This is huge for me….

My teacher used to say that 51% is needed to become enlightened. 51% of being available to the light and just enough self love to not push the light away. Now there’s the 49% that needs attention. It’s been a decade of healing and integrating. I am working on the truly deep stuff now that has kept me from fusing with my body-mind for, well, all of my life….

A Case Of Mistaken Resilience

People told me that I was resilient. When things got tough, I persevered. When situations knocked me down, I found ways to get back up. Life turned me to ash at a very young age, and somehow I came back. Over and over, there would be perceived failure, pain, rejection, and abandonment, but I just continued to redefine and redirect myself.

Moments of strength emerged from seeming eons of weakness, until I realized what was really happening. What appeared to be resilience was actually me outrunning my pain, getting ahead of ever feeling it, and escaping a deepseated conviction of being irreparably broken.

As a child, I learned to escape abuse by studying. Even as I cried and quietly begged to be erased from existence, I buried myself in books. Whatever potential I had I turned exclusively to training and honing my ability to think. When in pain, I resorted to solving math and physics problems. I became incredibly adept at feeling everything and nothing while lost in mental puzzles.

My resilience was a farce. I didn’t have the guts to face what happened to me. Instead, I learned how to dull my pain, detach from feeling, and even dissociate from heartbreak. I was a skinny runt, raped and beaten for years. When I got older and my brother was born, I was simply forgotten and abandoned. To be noticed, which felt like love to me, I had to do extraordinary things. I had to be a superhero, a mountain mover, and unbreakable. So, I trained myself to excel with no tolerance for failure.

What began as a coping mechanism turned into an obsession. I effectively internalized being “faulty” and unlovable, and invested all of my energy into cultivating performance – competitive piano, martial arts, yoga, math and physics, technological expertise, writing, public speaking, and innovating stale processes in corporate settings. I was compensating. I was faking success. Until I began to break down. It was inevitable.

My first repressed memories tore through their cocoons in my early twenties. Reliving my past put me in shock. After coming to, I doubled my efforts to hide my true ugliness. I must have been horrible to have had such horrible things done to me. Memories and flashbacks continued to bleed through even as I fought harder to keep them at bay.

This past year, another wave of repressed memories engulfed me. But this time, I knew what was happening and was onto my tried-and-true methods of escape. This time, I didn’t want to run or hide or distract myself. I just gave into the reality of my past. My previous ways of coping helped me to survive an untenable situation, but they would not help me to heal. This much was clear.

So, I gave up trying to hide and deny the brutality of my past. Looking back, I can now recognize the times in my life where I responded to life in flashback mode. I didn’t know that I was having flashbacks at the time, but I can see it now. I was seeing the present through the narrow lens of the past – small, terrified, and ashamed. I was “back there” without realizing it. This is PTSD….

For several months now, I have been studying my flashbacks and reliving old pain. The light is there to support me. Some days it feels like I may drown in this ocean of pain, but I know I won’t. I threw myself into the kiln once again and fully conscious of what used to lie beneath.

It occurred to me a number of times that I could feel sorry for myself and just give up. However, I don’t feel that it’s really possible for me. Something keeps me going even when I want to just…stop. Maybe it’s different this time because I no longer feel like my life belongs to me. Maybe it’s because I am not attached to any self-image. Maybe I know full-bodily that the only way is through.

I admit that it’s pretty rough right now. I’m not quite sure how I am managing a job, two kids, and my Masters program while also doing this healing work. I want to get through this and have no idea how long it will take.

I know things are improving because I find myself happily being a nobody. No ambition. No need to excel or move mountains. It’s quiet in the eye of the storm. I feel a quiet love even as I am being dismantled at the atomic level.

Without Goals or Dreams

We are raised to have a dream. Something that we want to accomplish, participate in, and share. We are urged to pursue our dreams, to work hard, and to never settle down on a pile of laurels.

Recently, someone asked me what was my dream for myself – what did I want to accomplish?

I thought back to my youth, when I decided I wanted to be an astrophysicist. I wanted to attain the freedom of enlightenment. I wanted to teach physics. I wanted to have children. I guess my dreams came true to the degree that I dreamt them, but living them was so much more than I dreamt. My life has been full of experiences, questions, expectations, disappointments, and hope in ways I did not preconceive.

I realized that I have no more dreams or goals. Not in the way people do when they want to shape or mould themselves into their version of success. I have no need for “success.”

If you knew me in the past, you would think that it doesn’t sound like me at all. I was a living exemplar of ambition – from playing piano competitively to majoring in a difficult subject and, for a time, rapidly climbing the corporate ladder. What happened? Is it unhealthy or a sign of giving up to stop setting goals and dreaming?

In truth, I do not recognize myself anymore. I’ve changed so much. One of the things that’s gone is my ambition to be somebody important or special. Another thing that’s gone is the desire to be loved and understood.

So, what’s left of a person when they no longer dream of being someone or of being with someone? In my case, I just live now with no agendas or blueprints for the future. Life is unpredictable and full of surprises. I try to take it one moment at a time and do my best with that moment.

I’ve seen and dreamt so much that goals have been supplanted by visions, which cannot be put into words. I’ve turned my life over to God. This does mean that I no longer try to control my life. Thus, I do not suffer my life despite much pain that must still be cleared out. I know that I am not my pain.

I also don’t need complements or reassurances about my daily deeds and work. I see no point in receiving praise about a moment that’s already receded. The next moment is upon me, and then the next. I watch where I fell short of expressing what I am, and I pay more careful attention. I know that I will never be perfect in any way.

It’s easy to make life all about healing or all about enjoying everything. But life doesn’t care how we try to define it – it just happens. Whether we dream about the future or just take in one moment after another, life never judges. There is no prescribed template for living or dying. So, when my dreams left me at some point, I guess I just let that be what it is.

What’s left now is the continuous reflection of whether I express the Divine enough and where I hold back. I am nobody. The beauty of life is that even a nobody can marry the Divine and allow That to be one’s life – simple. The more I live, the more of a nobody I become. I do like peace. I do like the moments I have to meditate and commune with the Divine state. I love to be alone and I love teaching.

I suppose people will continue to have goals, plans, and dreams. I just don’t believe that such a life is the only kind of life worth living. Sometimes, it’s only about being in relationship with whatever comes, including receiving the unexpected. Sometimes the most sacred moment is the one you let go of most deeply.

When Going Through Stuff

I haven’t written much of late. Not because I’ve had nothing to say, but because I’ve had too much to say – incoherent, disorganized thoughts and feelings, bouncing around like fire flies in the dark. The light is relentless when it comes to healing. Once the light is in charge, it has the power to dislodge one completely from impacted existence and pave new roads at the same time as one walks.

I am at the part of my journey where a confluence of events with roots in trauma and drama have come to fruition. I’ve written many times that enlightenment is a beginning of putting together the unique puzzle that is our life and discarding useless ills and hurts barraging our subconscious. So much awareness building had already occurred.

For the past six months, I’ve been reliving childhood trauma that I mostly repressed. Officially, I have a diagnosis of CPTSD that has impacted my life even long after the trauma was over.

I thought I had a good handle on my past until I visited closely with my stuffed memories now coming to the surface daily. Last week, I cried for the first time in months – releasing and releasing pain, shame, images, and felling flashbacks. I forced myself to talk about what happened to me in detail. Something I never dared do. PTSD changes brain chemistry. CPTSD is more damaging as it is the result of prolongued trauma.

I used to think that isolating myself was undesirable. That’s what everyone says, anyway. Now I see the wisdom of distancing myself from everyone who can’t or won’t understand and, most importantly, accept. I’ve learned that only those in the same boat can row it in sync. Those who don’t know trauma can only intellectually grasp what it may mean.

Now, I see that isolation can be healing – a time to take care of myself and my children. I don’t have to explain anything to deaf ears or rationalize “why” to those who can’t grasp. But, I can give myself what I need to get through this at the pace I can handle.

For most of my life, I over-functioned. I did a lot of things. In some cases, made a lot of money. It’s only my 10th year after enlightenment, and I learned from my teacher that it takes about 10 years or so to clear the body-mind of debris. Well, here I am now, digging at the roots that bound me. It may take me longer given my beginnings.

It’s so obvious now how many moments I lived through the lens of flashbacks. It took me time to learn to distinguish flashbacks from in-the-moment responses. This was the most difficult breakthrough. After that, most events in my life fell into place. I understand myself better than ever. I understand why I have been gradually falling apart physically in the past 6 years – because I was trying to hold back the dam of trauma from engulfing my life, even as the pressure built.

During these months, dear friends reached out and extended help to me, which I never expected. It was an awakening for me that I was not really “on my own.” I do have people who love me sincerely. Even as my biological family is long gone, there are those who give of themselves and care.

I am grateful that the light cleared all people from my life who have and would continue to hold me back from moving forward. In some ways, it feels like starting from scratch. A new lens on life, free from cloudy vision, tends to turn everything on its head and signal a new beginning.

I’ve healed many things already – for me, there was a lot. I trust that I will heal this too, even if it does seem sometimes like the flashbacks – visual and emotional – will never go away. Once the brain chemistry kicks in, I can control reliving painful moments or watching them from the side (as if they were happening to someone else).

Enlightenment is just a reset button for identifying with only the Divine. The body-mind then has no choice but to align to that energy even it feels like being torn apart at the seams.

I keep being told that what happened to me was not my fault. I know it wasn’t. But it did leave me broken. When I was falling apart and reached out to the people closest to me, telling them that something was wrong and I was unraveling, they turned away from me.

I am OK with the fact that I was broken and damaged. It’s facts. I am OK that those closest to me didn’t hear my cries for help when I was drowning in the loops of reliving my experiences. But I think the worst is over. The purge that was needed is almost complete.

My teacher used to say that it’s important to heal before enlightenment, because after is very intense – the light just does what it does and not necessarily what we can handle. I drew the after straw. I am at the point where ecstacy and pain can coexist to eventually work themselves out.

I wrote this to say that perfection does not exist. Enlightenment is a process, just like the body-mind. Once the light is engaged, one must hand over life completely to it.

The Vulnerable Shall Inherit the Earth

When I was younger, I remember feeling a revulsion to the concept of “turning the other cheek” and “the meek shall inherit the Earth.” As usual, I reacted to something I didn’t understand. I think now I get it better.

When I felt oppressed, brutalized, demeaned, neglected, or objectified, I felt “weak.” When feeling weak, I thought that those who hurt me were “strong.” We were like two sides of a coin – the weak oppressed and the powerful oppressors. Both are necessary for the coin to exist.

But something magical happened over time – I grew tired. I was no longer interested in the moments of my life when I felt strong. Instead, I became fascinated with those moments when I felt the weakest and with nothing left – not even the desire to fight. I studied those moments and invited more of them in.

After going through the stages of feeling annihilated, I realized I still remained. And then I was just vulnerable and open. The attackers were like shadows lashing out, but their claws and fangs just passed right through me. I was no longer the other side of the coin – I wasn’t part of the coin at all.

Then, I began to study my weakest moments of having been beaten, shamed, abandoned, and crushed. I remembered deep sadness that was leading me to the bottom where I thought I would be erased. I stayed there. I had to find the lowest low, which was the opposite of how I typically wished to present myself in life.

I was traveling down the rabbit hole of my worst fears that held me captive, and visited closely with each one. We had tea and broke bread. Surely this would be my death, I thought.

But I remained.

I learned that surrendering to even one moment of absolute helplessness was more powerful than acting strong and feeling powerful – having nothing to “win” was freedom.

I searched my moments of triumph – highs, not lows. These were empty and hollow. I don’t even know why I tried to aim for a feeling of “strength” – there was nothing beneath it. But those moments of despair – they were rich with lessons. They were priceless in helping me to see how there was nothing to acquire, defend, hide, or run from.

Freedom is not power, but something other than the duality of strength and weakness. Existence as freedom means you can act in the interest of life without taking any side. You do the best that you can for yourself and for those you love, and… there is no “and.” That’s it. There is no loss, fear, grasping, hunting. There is nothing worth any of that hunger that fuels duality.

So many stories talk of the great ongoing war, which needs at least two agressors. If we are divided within, the war is within, and the world simply reflects what is already in motion in the unconscious.

I sit on the lowest rung of the ladder from which one falls into the abyss of the unknown. I let go and fall. As I fall, I see this ladder in the distance – war, blood, guts, betrayal, and stench. The seeming victors are gloating. The apparent victims are in despair. I also see the oppressors weeping, and victims assaulting whom they can. I recede.

The meek shall inherit the Earth because the realization that there is no war is inevitable. All are meek at the core – even the dragons who spit fire. Anyone will beg for mercy when encountering a stronger force. But the strongest force is clarity that sees through this dualistic dynamic and has no interest in participating. Nothing fuels defense or offense. Nothing is superior or inferior. Whatever it is that labels is dead.

Healing is being able to face one’s deepest shame and fear and withstanding the feeling that it is “the end.” After the illusion breaks, it is the beginning of a life of nothing to prove, no debts to accrue or collect, and no desire to be “strong.” Vulnerability diffuses all conflict.

Is Science Inferior to Spirituality

I was reading a book about spirituality, and the author went on a tangent about how science is inferior to spirituality. The arguments that followed in favor of this claim were written by someone who clearly has no training or understanding in science. To someone who has an advanced degree in physics, the book’s discussion was cringeworthy. Although most high-school textbooks discuss science that is over 200 years old, modern science has grown exponentially in its discoveries. There’s much more fact now, which previously was fiction.

All disciplines are based on the kinds of questions they ask and the limitations within which the questions can be answered. For example, chemistry, physics, biology, and philosophy ask somewhat different questions. A good question inspires the mind to extend beyond its understanding. A great question stirs something beyond the mind – a passion and curiousity that cannot be fulfilled by the mental, analytical circuit.

Science asks questions that can be answered objectively by anyone – independent of the person. However, answers to spiritual questions are very much dependent on the person answering them and there is currently no way to objectively verify whether that person has any understanding – here, the human bodymind, the nervous system, is the measuring instrument. Thus, spirituality is a description and study of human perception. Spirituality is currently personal for this reason – there is no way to “prove” anything except to feel it for oneself.

Spirituality becomes more interesting when different people document similar perceptions and understandings, which raises more questions than provides answers. I love studying the writings of sages and yogis and compare them.

In everyday language, a theory means a guess. In scientific language, a theory is a model of reality that is well supported by a body of experimental evidence. Scientists often try to reproduce experiments already done to see if they get the same or different results. The bar is high to becoming a “theory” in science. A mere guess in scientific circles is called a hypothesis.

I often see headlines like “Scientists now believe…”. Scientists don’t “believe” anything. Instead, they design careful experiments to measure and see. This is why scientists don’t ask questions that cannot be answered objectively, such as “Why did the universe come into being?” Or “Is there God?” Because these questions cannot be “measured,” they are not scientific. That’s not being inferior. That’s knowing one’s limitations.

The question is – Is there anything we can know beyond objective reality (that we can all agree on)? Here, we enter the realm of human perception. However, people have experiences and treat them as if they are truth. People use their experiences to claim some status without having any benchmarks for the validity of their claims. Others believe them at their word (or charisma) and don’t even want proof. “My gut tells me…” Your gut may not have the honed perception and discernment to tell…. Thus, spirituality is full of half-baked claims spoken as truths – and many don’t care because the claims make them feel good.

Feeling good and feeling God are not necessarily the same thing.

The subjective nature of spirituality will continue to prevail. People will continue to make claims. And many will continue to believe without trying to replicate these claims for themselves. It presents an interesting dilemma. But, science and spirituality were never incompatible.

Spiritual people talk about eliminating doubt. I think that’s poor judgement. If the doubt is based on genuine curiosity and not some deepseated insecurity, this doubt is valuable to being able to study and understand one’s state. Doubt of this kind makes introspection possible.

It would be useful to present objective proof for someone being enlightened vs. another person being unenlightened. Such proof could put many charlatans in their place.

Ancient yogis were very scientific about the observations of their states to try to better understand what they have become. I also study my state because I’m curious – it is not enough for me to live and be lost in it.

And after saying all this, I’ll make several hypotheses about being human (but definitely not stated in scientific terms):

  • There are advanced states of perception that make one feel happy and peaceful at the core of being.
  • The advanced state changes the nervous system in a consistent, predictable way.
  • The advanced state is common to (shared by) others in the same state.
  • Advanced states open gates to different modes of perception that are currently called “worlds” or “planes of existence.”
  • It will eventually be possible to objectively test for someone being in an advanced state.
  • An enlightened being can 100% of the time tell whether someone else is or is not enlightened.
  • The methods used and a person’s readiness to attain advanced states all have key things in common.

Should you believe my claims as fact? Of course not. But as more people become enlightened and the time becomes right, there will be a richer understanding of what it all means. I trust in people’s curiosity and interest to become more observant of our human potential and how to practically apply it in life.

I will continue to study, try, test, and retest to better understand what has occurred with me, but I won’t accept subservient acquiescence of others to half-assed claims. Nor will I quietly stand by when people misrepresent and denegrade the scientific method. Those who do should stop taking medications, cease seeing doctors, and throw away all their technologies – get rid of everything that science and engineering has given them by its meticulous studies. Perhaps they can also learn some actual science before arguing about it or distorting what it is.

As for spirituality, as long as the only instrument is one’s perception, it will remain a personal journey. One other snag is that spiritual questions go way beyond the limits of the mind.

Surrender

I wanted to write about what seems to me is the most important spiritual practice – surrender. Although the word is used to imply “giving up” or “giving in,” I use it differently in the context of the journey toward union with the Divine.

Surrender is the opposite of holding on to a lack of authenticity. It is the opposite of gripping tightly to personal, religious, and cultural biases. Surrender is a process of letting go into something greater than the one or the many, while retaining a sense of “I”-presence.

Muscles grip tightly in a stressed body – they ache and cause discomfort. Relaxing muscles surrenders the pain. It feels so good to let go into a more expansive feeling than to hold onto tension. Spiritual surrender is very similar.

One sage has termed the ego as “a constricted self.” People get used to discomfort and find new thresholds of tolerance. However, when the pain is relieved, there is a sense of “Why didn’t I do this sooner?” Or “I didn’t know such a feeling was possible!”

Letting go of tension and stress of being alive is a relief. The expanded awareness that is free of minutiae is a gift. Our presence becomes holy when we surrender to that holiness and release the chains that bind us.

Those who felt chronic pain know that this feeling changes your outlook on life. It is only in the past few years that I am finally free of this pain. Until that point, I needed to consciously practice moving my attention to release the physical tension that resulted from being in pain. Today I remembered that I had been surrendering that pain to the light – not to be “taken away,” but to be transformed.

There is no “taking away” in this life. Nothing really gets taken away, in the greater sense. Things just get rearranged, recirculated, and possibly elevated. When I leave this world, I want to leave it slightly better as a result of being here. “Better” means to me free-er from illusion, more awake, less bogged down in habitual patterns of relating to life.

My students at school often act unmotivated, uncurious, angry, and disinterested. I tell them that this behavior is not original. Most people are doing that. It’s basic and been done before – over and over. Something about being here – probably lack of development and fear – causes most to sleepwalk from one task to the next, from one distraction to another, from one satisfied craving to another craving. All of it has been endlessly repeated. There is no wish to surrender in such living, but hoarding of absolutely everything becomes the norm – including a negative outlook on life.

A woman told me about some events in her life and then added: “I just give it all up to God.” In truth, she was holding on to all of it and repeating a mantra – probably from her childhood. She looked angry and with tears just beneath the surface. That is not surrender. She said “If you want my advice…” I stopped her and responded that I didn’t want any advice and that I wished her well. This is true for most of us – advice is useless. We all want to discover for ourselves where our lives will lead us.

People say that older people come with “more baggage,” which is mostly true. However, it is possible to live life such that most baggage is unloaded with age – and way before being too frail to move about. Life challenges us to see beyond the things we grip tightly and to feel freedom in any situation – not because we are ignorant or naive, but because we choose to surrender our very being into our source.

The action of surrender is far from doing nothing. Perhaps, it is the most challenging spiritual act that is also hidden from public view. There is an internal battle that takes place, which requires utmost courage to see oneself with fresh eyes and examine one’s life from a new perspective. We can always choose to keep doing what we already do. Perhaps, we will flower and open to new ways to relate to what is already here.

When I am uncomfortable, I put my attention on the light and let go into That. I pay attention to what comes “with me,” and release what stays behind.

Fearless people are the most frightening of all to those prone to fear. The fearless go through life without clinging to what didn’t go their way. I guess that can seem pretty scary to many who bow to feeling afraid.

Perhaps the greatest challenge in my life has been learning to deal with uncertainty. I’ve been through a series of life-changing circumstances that left me feeling that there is nothing to hang onto. When life got pulled out from my feet over and over, I saw surrender as the only door open. I was lucky to be nudged in this direction. Although I’ve had intuition about the results of my key decisions, I made my decisions anyway. I know I am responsible for my life. Now I know that the past “me” was incapable of choosing differently, and that realizing this is growth I may not have had if I didn’t go through my experiences as I did. I surrender all of this too.

My ongoing meditation is my relationship to the light and all that is manifested here. When I leave, I hope to be completely innocent – free from undercurrent biases and deeply-ingrained patterns. This is my prayer – to surrender to the degree that I am innocent throughout my body and mind. Here innocent means free, and not the opposite of guilty.

My children will grow up, friends will come and go, and money will ebb and flow. Through it all, I will surrender. We transitioned from generation X to generation Z – it’s only fitting that the next one will restart the cycle at generation A. And through this too, I will surrender.

Surrender is ongoing for those who bring baggage into the enlightened state. It is a core practice that can be done anywhere and at any time – no candles or incense or crystals are required. It is a practice until it become automatic.

Surrender can be a natural part of daily rhythm to free us from the emotions, thoughts, and stuff we no longer need – no matter how deeply buried in the unconscious and bonded to our being. That of which we can let go is not who we are.

Ego-ā€œIā€ Confusion

Enlightenment means dissolving the egoic and personal sense of “I.” After enlightenment, someone is clearly still there to interact with the world and be aware. Who is that?

The “I” after enlightenment has a different root than the “I” before enlightenment. Whereas the ego personality is rooted in the vantage point bracketed by boundaries of the body and mind, the post-enlightened “I” is rooted in the Divine catalizing the body-mind. While both types of “I” are able to relate to the world, the quality of their awareness is very different.

The greatest distinction between the “I” of the self and the cosmic “I” is the lack of suffering in the latter. Because there is a source of connection throughout the web of life, there is no clinging to discomfort of situations. The cosmic “I” can smile and laugh through various life circumstances even when it has no control, but the personal “I” will collapse, cry, mope, and tend toward further separation from life.

After the opening occurs, the connection is made – a being is enlightened. However, there are degrees to how much of that light is integrated by the body-mind. My teacher taught me this and, recently, I found this idea experessed by SantanaGamana in Turiya: The God State. I had never heard of the author, but most of the book resonates with my own awakening – even though I did not practice Kriya Yoga. While the title of the book may sound quite grandiose, the contents are fairly simply and humbly stated.

My own integration and expression has been ongoing: post-enlightenment requires much clarification, releasing, and rewiring. Although it takes more time to heal impacted traumas, they do heal. It’s as if the entire being becomes engaged and involved in healing on an ongoing basis and has endless motivation to do so.

I vaguely recall days when I would be down on myself and others, wallowing and passive. Now, the healing process does not stop and is almost on autopilot. The only thing healing demands now is silence and solitude, when I am free to just let the body-mind be and attend to the Divine currents doing their work. Major life realignments have been in progress for years and I have stopped wondering when they will be complete. I think it is different for different people how long it takes to clarify the being enough for optimum expression of the Divine. Only enough is needed, and perfection is neither required nor possible. I haven’t encountered any books that go into detail about the work that must happen after enlightenment…. Perhaps they are not needed yet?

Despite sounding paradoxical, some personality quirks are retained after enlightenment because these enable us to uniquely express what we are integrating and sharing. There may be a misconception that enlightened beings are perfect, whatever that subjective concept means to any given individual. In reality, the purpose (if there is such a thing) of any being is to first strengthen the personal Ego, and then to allow it to die in the cosmic and Divine “I” – and be awake and functioning fully in life throughout.

While there are states where all sense of “I” dissolves completely, these are not ideal for expressing the Divine in the world and engaging our life’s work – we would just want to lay down and be blissed out all of the time. The cosmic “I” is the bridge between the formless and all form – and it is not the personal ego. Beyond the cosmic “I” is simply complete union.

Occasional “I” dissolution in the highest state only increases the quality and coherence of our immersion in life when we “return” to everyday living. Now, we have more to bring “back” to our daily expression – deeper understanding, greater inspiration, and a more beautiful display of surrender.

Since the beginning, my blog had been about diving deeper into life and not drifting to a distant mountain to meditate 24-7. Not only is isolated meditation unnecessary in these times, it runs counter to the very process of being alive – which requires our awake participation to help support the life process unfolding.