Life Transformation

Imagine life as a continuous stream of moments, where you feel joy in your every movement and in stillness. 

This life stream feels so natural that it is indistinguishable from you. 

You move, and you feel the true nature of your movement as a gesture of relationship. Your life is timeless. 

You live one long day, and then you move on, always rooted in happiness – regadless of what situations life presents.

It is easy to dismiss this possibility for living. We are taught that happiness is about what we have and how comfortable our lives appear. Power, money, people who say they love us, and a legacy become our goals so that we can someday be happy. So, if life does not present us with the right circumstances, we buckle in misery. Our lives are not sofragile, and our ability to be happy is not conditioned by how much we have achieved, or how much pain we have avoided. 

It is all too easy to fall into a pattern of living where we drag ourselves forward, focusing on discomfort, fear, frustration, and setbacks. This kind of relationship to life is disconnect. Awareness is trapped  inthe palace of the mind, and we watch our lives from a distance. Every situation and feeling is dissected and critiqued, and we react to every judgement.

There is an alternative possibility to living. In this possibility, you are rooted in happiness first – as happiness itself. And this state is not disturbed by any life event. 

You are naturally drawn to explore and feel as fully as you can. Then, life’s ups and downs don’t color perception.

You see clearly the dynamics of life’s situations, and you work with these to the best of your ability. Although you are  innocent, you are not naive. As taught by many masters, such a life is our natural state. This state is real and can become permanent.

The process of meditation restores us to our natural state. While many talk about  meditation as a relaxation technique, this was not its original intent. Instead, meditation with an enlightened teacher was a way to strip away all that was false until our natural state of happiness was all that remained.

Many people talk about spiritual practice as a way to restore health, acquire wealth, and attract people who will love us. However, anything we can acquire – including our lives – is temporary and fragile. That is just reality.

Many people talk about love and service as the basis of life. Thus, spiritual practice can become about acting more loving and offering time and money to others. However, even this approach can result in a feeling “holier than thou,” or feeling entitled to receive only the “good things in life.” 

For many, practicing meditation and cleaning up imbalanced relationships is beyond difficult and even unimaginable – especially if this process takes years. Instead of feeling good and relaxed during practice, you are agitated as  illusions burn away. Instead of feeling satisfaction in money, food, and sex, you feel confused about what is really important. 

So, why bother? Why engage in practice if it does not provide instant gratification of feeling like you have it all? The simple answer is “You don’t need to – just live your life as you want.” Being on a path to transformation does not make one any better than anyone else.

However, you may feel like you have no choice but to be in the world without being of the world. At some point, nothing in life satisfies, and you begins to yearn for freedom. 

With the help of a teacher, you eventually feel freedom from life’s changes – you remain steady amidst any and all storms of life. Service becomes a natural disposition of the heart. Love deepens beyond attachment, and you are more interested in loving than in getting someone else to love you. 

You no longer feel lonely or bored. You love yourself  enough to take good care of yourself and surround yourself with people who are balanced and care about you. 

You use your mind as a tool and are no longer a slave to endless, circular thoughts. You have a clear picture about what is dysfunctional and appropriately stand up for truth without self-righteousness. You feel everything, but emotions pass through you and do not stick to you. And all of this – your natural state. 

Many of us have forgotten that we are not our pain, discomfort, frustration, or reaction. We are also not our thoughts and judgements. We are not our imbalances or beliefs. None of these things need to define us for us to feel real. If we take away our reactions to life and our drive to do, what is left is relationship without any filters or blinders.

From the perspective of happiness, even the simplest actions are awe-inspiring. Every gesture we make expresses our connection to life and to our existence. One simple gesture, sparked by awareness, can ignite a chain reaction of connections, and can only deepen. Every moment has the potential to be expansive.

Ultimately, living is a relationship to everything of which we are conscious. You feel what inspires you, and then you move. You simply allow the next movement, and the next, and lose all interest in judging yourself because you are relating and naturally moving toward emerging needs. 

With every gesture, you forge a stronger bond to your simple committment to express. And that really can be everything because it is always new.

Communication and Innocence

If we and our world are evolving, where are we headed? What would a more evolved civilization look like? What does it mean for humanity to be more advanced than it currently is, and how would this influence our lives?

Change on our planet has been a result, in part, of the earth’s forming, shaping, and cooling. The earth is a body that undergoes various processes while serving as our home. 

While our earth lives its part in the cosmos, we live on the earth. Our contribution is our communication with our environment – how we give, how we receive, and how much ownership we project over what we have. We communicate our position by speaking, whispering, yelling, and silence. We write, sing, and create art. We move our weight around, sometimes softly, and sometimes like bulls in a china shop. We reach out to touch, connect, push away, or hurt and destroy. 

We are primal and emotional. Many of us  lack the kind of awareness that brings us into balance within and without. We have the ability, but have not yet felt a conscious need to shift our awareness beyond self absorption.

Imagine being in the presence of a person and, with their permission, experiencing life from their perspective – even if just for a few moments? Imagine this empathy developed to such a level that every living being and object is perceived on its terms. Imagine all people with the ability to truly connect and feel each other, while still maintaining  uniqueness. What would it be like to know our individuality without all of the pain and guilt we layer on top of our experience? What if we knew the feeling of being truly complete and explored the world from that origin? Would our globe map still look like a rag sown together from scraps?

Somehow, we are hardwired to possess or to want to possess something. We assign value according to our whims, and we obsess to acquire what or who we find valuable. Like in Indiana Jones, we like the thrill of finding the treasure and taking it. We like secrets and puzzles. And often we like the attention to pour in and to feel big, which is also a kind of treasure. 

Many of us, maybe most if us, are on this earth to find our treasure. The more  we are skilled at communication, or the more forceful, we tend to find success. However, the feeling of emptiness persists and we crave gratification even when we “possess” so much. Like small children crying for milk, people of the world emit a loud cry for what they feel they lack. 

The cry is deafening and pained and omnipresent. However, there is also the glow of our potential yet untapped, enveloping us with its warmth and happiness. This potential is already fulfilled, but it awaits our attention. Imagine if we were all to hear the humanity cry and be overcome with compassion. Imagine if we knew we were already happy.

Unlike pity or a kind of personal judgement, compassion is communication. Compassion transmits an understanding that can only be found through union. Compassion is a force that shifts the world from its inability to feel others. We can align ourselves to compassion and to the unwavering feeling that we are complete, and then we  will communicate only the energy of love, on automatic.

To truly love others means to also love oneself, and vice versa. Stripping away the layers of self absorption and an insatiable want, while feeling life on its terms and letting go into this sea of diversity, makes it clear that one is innocent. With innocence, everything is possible. What if the next step for us and our world is innocence? It can be, if we invest in compassion as the communication of choice with all….

The Tree of Life

Drenched in golden sunlight, a blossom on a tree branch became aware of itself. Although it had experienced the feeling of having petals before, and the sensations of light and water, today the feeling was different. For the first time, it felt beautiful and happy. It knew what beauty was – an entirely new wave of awareness. All the previous days of feeling sensations could not equal the knowing that it was alive.

The blossom was so happy with this newfound awakening that it relaxed and allowed itself to feel the branch that held it. And then, it knew that it was not alone. Feeling beyond its connection to the branch, it became aware of the other blossoms. It could feel them resting sleepily, unaware of who they are. The blossom felt even more joy, admiring each and every one of the others. No two blossoms were the same, although all rested on the same branch. It felt all of them connected, and yet each was unique onto itself. It was, after all, all of them too.

The happiness of knowing and feeling the connection to others was so incredible that the blossom released its awareness into the branch. At that point, it no longer knew itself to be a blossom, but felt itself to be the branch. It had never felt such vastness. How far did it go? 

Now, as the branch, it was conscious in an entirely new way. There was the light and the water and all of the blossoms that it carried. It felt full, expansive, and drenched in warmth. It felt the lifeblood of the branch and became enamored with its flow. In an unexpected moment, it let go into the lifeblood and felt itself as the lifeblood of all, nourishing the branch – the many branches.

It was everywhere at the same time, and yet nowhere in particular. It felt the many branches, the many blossoms, and the trunk where all joined. It was evermore happy to continue to expand its awareness, no longer quite sure what it was.

For immeasurable time, it flowed and nourished the tree. It was in the tree but not of the tree. It was aware of all change, continuous change, and there was only the moment, the lifeblood, and the happiness.

Then, it had released itself once again and felt the roots. It now knew the entire tree as itself. But not stopping there, it knew the soil where the tree lived. It knew itself as the soil, the roots, the trees, their branches, and all the blossoms.

Time had stopped long ago, but the expansion continued. For, as the soil, it knew many trees, countless trees. As the soil, it eventually knew itself as an entire planet. With each breath, it felt life waxing and waning. It was the earth and the water, and further it reached – into space, as space. 

The blossom knew itself as the universe now. In a fiery blaze, the union continued,  out of time in only a moment.

Spiritual Activism to Honor Interdependence of All

Today is Independence Day, when most Americans are gathered around family and friends, grilling burgers and hot dogs, and  unwinding from a busy week of working hard. It is a good day for many, enjoying the company of loved ones and feeling a connection with them. With so many working long, hard days, and several jobs, it is no wonder that quiet moments of respite in the warmth of others are so welcome!

And yet, I cannot help but wonder, who is really independent on this planet? In truth, we are so intricately dependent on one another all around the globe. Whether we care to admit this to ourselves or not, the things we use daily may not come from our country at all. How often do we stop to think where something we use or eat comes from? How often do we look into the people and the processes that bring to us our daily bread and more? If we experienced – just once – the rich webwork of activity that supports our lives in all of its detail, we would hold an entirely new appreciation for the global interdependence that sustains us.

Let’s look at some of the things we all have in common – our basic needs:

  • We all need the basics: food, water, warmth, and rest.
  • We all need to feel safe, which is the exact opposite of being afraid.
  • We all need to have relationships and feel connected to others. After awakening, we do not ever feel dis-connected from anything.
  • We need to feel some sense of self-value until we awaken. After that, life ceases to be about the identity of the self.
  • We want to explore what it means to reach our full potential and to go for it….

Also, our DNA is the same 99.9%. We all live on the planet’s surface and breathe the same air. We all rely on the Sun and the planet’s resources. Although our atoms originated in the violent death throws of a massive star, these atoms have been used and reused by living beings who came before us. We are all creative and have the ability to bring into existence unique works to inspire and further connect others. We ask the same questions about our existence and about our death. We all feel a sense of Mystery about our universe when we look up at the starry sky. We have the ability to love, to care, and to nurture. We have the ability to feel – everything.

So, are we celebrating what we have in common and sharing our diversity with joy? Not quite… Many are too hungry, too oppressed, too frightened, or too disconnected to celebrate life and its possibilities. Many face a short life of pain. Even in a country like America, many live in ghettos and struggle for survival. People are ostracized based on their life choices in the name of someone else’s morality, and some are brave enough to step forward and fight for their civil liberties. People are abused by those who hold power and learn to live in fear. No, we are not whole. And, no matter how long we try to talk ourselves into it, we are not independent.

In fact, denying our interdependence with all of the Earth, is a lie that continues to fulfill predictions of our demise. We scramble over territory lines, bully others into turning over their resources, and continue to dump  waste into every corner we can find to perpetuate the doomed paradigm of eternal economic growth. Collectively, we live like a bunch of teens in a frat house – partying to forget and go numb. Our infrastructure is designed to focus us on one problem at a time – recycle that water bottle or get a water-efficient shower head – without ever proposing a holistic solution that could reestablish balance.

Spiritual activism is about beginning global healing by starting to heal the rift within ourselves. We must come at the issues that plague all of us with clarity and a sense of who we are. After all, we cannot heal our society from self-absorption if we ourselves are self-absorbed and reactive. Unless we wake up to the fact that we have value, how could we truly advocate for all to have the same opportunities – regardless of culture, religion, or sexual preference? We can heal ourselves while we work on developing and enacting the changes we need to establish balance.

Healing ourselves requires nothing short of awakening to the truth that there is really only one being on this planet – and It is all of us, including the planet. This reality is nothing new. The idea that we are “all One” has been around for thousands of years, and possibly longer. If this idea were to, instead, become our reality, we would not do most of the things we do to ourselves, each other, and the Earth. We would not be so disconnected from our actions, and destructive, unconscious, and careless acts would fade into the fog of the past.

It is not enough to do lipservice to being One. We must live it to know its power. And this requires work – hard work – to drop all of the illusions that tell use we are isolated, self-reliant, and must assert our identity at all costs. We cannot even properly work with one another in groups to accomplish a common goal because of the persistent need to dominate, outshine, and be the one who has all the answers. Collaboration continues to be the coveted skill of the 21st century because it is, as yet, not a common skill!

Awakening to the reality that is our One-ness is a very strong form of activism. We don’t really need everyone to awaken to this degree – just a critical mass of people who would be able to keep the peace and support true cooperation. These people would make sure that there is no anger-driven agenda, no in-fighting, and no superficial competition and attention seeking while all participate.

Contrary to common belief that spirituality is tame and passive, an awakened being is very capable of literally devastating ignorance with a hard blow using words and his or her energy. When the resistance to truth is thick , a firm response is needed to break the resistance and to move everyone forward. Of course, as soon as the job is done, such a being would smile and complement you on the beautiful color of your shirt or laugh at the funny joke you told at lunch – as if nothing had happened. That is because awakened beings give the necessary energy to blast through illusion, and then feel no attachment to the outcome. Imagine such beings emerging all across the globe and assisting all of us in coming together around the simple dream of making happiness an opportunity for all.

How could you recognize an awakened being? Well, you would notice that somehow most of the stuff they say seems to speak to you directly. They do not appear to value the typically things, such as possessions, status, or cultivating a self-image. They have a twinkle in their eye and seems to look through you toward infinity when looking at you. They are very kind and care deeply. 

Such people do not reveal themselves to the public for many reasons, including that most have been castigated by society over time. Many say that the world is not ready for these being to walk freely and participate without triggering everyone’s shit to the surface. In fact, another way you can spot an awakened being is by their ability to impact others. While many will be drawn to such people, there will be some who will feel flat-out hate and attack  them. Can you think of any such people in your community?

Without clarity and surrendered service, there is a danger that activism is merely a an angry and destructive force, designed to sabotage “our cherished way of life.” Some people may feel afraid of activism because it has the potential to endanger oneself and others. Some people may doubt that the lack of connection between activist groups will fail to address the holistic changes needed to truly restore balance in our world. Is this the activism legacy? Wouldn’t activists want to include the majority, rather than take pride in being a minority. What will it take for activists to organize and unite? Probably, the biggest factor would be to make sure that only healed people lead the changes to further healing. Unfortunately, those who feel broken cannot catalyze healing. So, let us start to heal….

Where do we start? We begin to yearn for awakening from the illusion of having to assert ourselves and to push our agendas at all costs. Such a yearning, if sincere, will likely bring the resources into our lives to support our healing process. This is the way it typically works – when you are ready, the support is also standing by to help you. We may even be fortunate enough to come in contact with awakened beings, who will kindly guide us through our illusion so that we wake up. We can enlist such beings in helping us to learn how to listen and to hear each other, so that it becomes safe for all to share ideas. A climate is created where all are free to be who they are and are aligned to allowing others the same. All have an open mind and are willing to carefully and systematically examine our current problems and the most effective leverage points that will bring the system of Earth to a balanced state for all. On this fertile soil, activism can grow and blossom. 

We do not want to make everyone the same. Instead, we want everyone to have all that they need to be their true and unique self, and for happiness (rather than struggle) to becomes the norm for being.

Gradually, as we serve each other and the Earth, we also heal ourselves and open to new possibilities of reaching our potential. When did becoming enlightened become impossible and unrealistic? Isn’t freedom from illusion the ultimate independence? And isn’t our interdependence the true cause for celebration?

Spiritual activism is about healing ourselves so that we can bring clarity to any movement, enlist the help of awakened beings to further unite us in a true grassroots movement, and model a way of being for all where the common and the unique are embraced in a life that can only be characterized as a true celebration of life.

The Neverending Bliss of the Divine Heart

The Infinite is there for all of us to be experienced directly with every fiber of our being. After we surrender to our true nature, Bliss resonates within and without.

My spiritual heart went through an awareness progression of something like this:

“I love and adore the Divine.”


“I am the Divine, and the Divine is me.”


“I See the Divine spontaneouslt arising in every moment.”


“Everything and everyone is me, and I am them. I am One, I see only One. The One is arising.”

The last phrase/feeling of seeing all as the Divine is new, and I am still working with it. 

I went to the supermarket today. As I walked past people, I felt everyone as That  and I as them. I smiled and saw a smile greet me. The entire exchange was the Divine greeting and celebrating the Divine.

In a dream, a master came to me. He did not give a name. But he drew a picture on the ground with chalk. 

In the picture, rays of light were reflecting from an object. He said: 

“Those who feel the world as solid see a reflected world – a world that has taken the Light and filtered it through the blinders in the brain. 

A few transmit, and do not rely on scattered reflections at all.

The purest reflection of All begins, travels, and arrives within the One Heart.”

Although I hurt my back today and felt physical pain, my entire being was steeped in the Bliss of the Divine Heart. 

It takes all of us to sparkle and shine as this Heart. We can only run from our true nature for so long….

What does it mean to be a mystic?

The world has so many spiritual movements and teachers. Although I have had teachers, I do not have a lineage. My path has led me through a transformation, and I was then on my own to integrate what had happened. Often I would receive insights, but the primary insight was to trust the wisdom of the Heart and to rely fully on the Light. And this keeps me continuously accountable. I cannot plan or know, but only listen with the Heart and respond.

It was very challenging for me to accept that I have no formal lineage. However, I’ve since learned that strong yearning and love for the Divine opens other avenues for us to continue learning and surrendering to the process of life.

At this time, my love for the Divine is All-consuming. There is not a moment when I am not in the Light’s embrace. I feel my Heart flood with love, and there is spontaneous expression of that love – as called by the moment.

I am literally drunk on this love, intoxicated by the delight of knowing who I am. The union of the body and the infinite is a play of life and fire, and everything else is kindling.

Flashes of debris in the body are quickly thrown into the everburning Spiritual Fire, and consumed as quickly as they arise. I know that I am this Fire, and thus I am nothing to speak of.

I suppose one would call me a mystic because the Union of the Divine is ever unfolding and I know that is all there is. Interestingly, my bithplace – Azerbaidjan –  was a place of the Sufi mystics.

There is also a practical side to this way of being – I attend to daily responsibilities with a wildly burning heart. What I notice is that it is very clear which are my responsibilities, and which are my choices. The Fire of Love in my heart is ever there to ignite my relationship with any task.

I find it interesting that some people find this Love, which requires nothing less than complete surrender to the Divine, frightening… If they felt it even once, they would know that all other love falls short….They would taste this love and never stop longing for it. However, the initial turmoil that comes with the longing is not a joke. And, for those who do not want this, perhaps it is better to never take that first drink from the cup of Love…

I’ve also learned that the craving for Divine Union must come from an individual after their awakening is ignited. While a teacher can stoke the Fire, the individual must choose via his or her free will to surrender to the flame – to the dissolution of separation. This process can be frightening until one crosses the point of no return. Then, the fear is simply drowned by the yearning.

Ultimately, the only thing that matters is – do you know who you are. I know that I am no longer anything to speak of…



Surrender to the truth is neverending…

Just when you think you can’t surrender anymore, it is required again.

When surrender calls, you feel you cannot do it. But you try anyway.

Surrender finds a way when you least interfere.


Why do you continue to pray when your ears are deaf and your eyes are blind?

You must hear your own prayer and see through your own heart, for the heart is your true eyes.


I did not know there is more to give when I feel I’ve nothing left. I no longer think to ask for anything.

When I began, I thought I could control. But, only the impulse to jump off the path was under my control.

Freedom required that I first let go in the undertoe.

And now, continuous surrender lights the way to All the Way.

Freedom from Repetition

When you reflect on your life, you may find that there are certain recurring themes…. You may identify situations that feel like déjà vu – “Haven’t I done this before?”.  You may notice yourself being drawn to certain types of people, but not others. You may see yourself replaying similar relationship dynamics, having the same conversations and internal dialogues, running the same thoughts, feeding the same desires, and nursing the same aches and pains.  You may engage your daily routines in a nearly robotic manner: “Time to make the donuts….”

Repetitive experiences seem so commonplace that we may not even question them. Is it possible to feel new and fresh in every moment, naturally and spontaneously expressing creativity and inspiration?

Not only is it possible to feel like every moment is unique, such a way of relating to life is our birthright. We have the capacity to engage life with innocence that does not presuppose specific intentions or outcomes and remains open to all possibilities.

Remember the times when you have received a present and you didn’t know what was inside the wrapping? Remember how it felt to open it and feel like it was exactly what you wanted? Imagine living every moment as if it were a present – the present – a happy surprise and an opportunity to feel completely and utterly loved….What would a lifetime of these moments be like for you?

Our lives are filled with natural rhythms.  We go to sleep to rest, and we awaken to participate in life. We eat to nourish our bodies. We wash the dishes and clean our homes. We pack our lunches, and we trek to work or to school. We return home and have dinner. How we choose to engage these rhythms makes all the difference in how we experience life. It is possible to sleepwalk through such moments and continuously retrace our steps. It is also possible to discover each moment as if it had never happened before. Which feels more alive? While it may be tempting to see life’s rhythms as an invitation for repetition, it is not the only way to engage.

In the awakened state, there are no repetitive thoughts, and no dwelling on the past or the future. Instead, attention is firmly rooted in the present and life feels like a continuous unfolding. You are surfing a wave that is literally arising out of every moment, and your soul is filled with joyful laughter throughout this  adventure of discovery. There is no need to assume, worry, fear, anticipate, brace yourself for impact, or protect yourself. Contrary to common belief, such vulnerability and openness is pure strength, and not naive weakness.

After years of being hurt by life situations and people, it may seem logical to pad ourselves with impenetrable protective layers: “Because I know I can feel hurt, I can prevent this feeling!” Makes sense, right? Well, being awake does not mean being naive or setting yourself up to be hurt.  Rather, engaging each moment with full presence invokes pure intuitive intelligence, which is flexible in its response to whatever may arise. This intelligence sees situations and intentions clearly, and meets whatever comes with what is needed. There is literally nothing between your awareness  and the moment because you are both the awareness and the moment. Ultimately, you feel utterly safe and loved – because you know that you are love.

Engaging life as innocent exploration requires surrender of all that we think we know and being comfortable with not having to know. This is a leap that requires great courage and diligent practice of letting go during every seemingly mundane task. This way of living requires trust that repetition does not necessarily assure safety. Practicing entering the flow or the zone through every action frees us to explore rather than relive.

Of course, the Ego stands ready to criticize every time we become forgetful. However, we can simply acknowledge this tendency and move back to consciousness as quickly as possible. Despite the knee-jerk reaction to engage in self-negation, we can surrender even that to the moment.

Waking up is a process that asks us, first and foremost, to love who we are. By cultivating love and care for ourselves, we gradually experience that love is the definition of being and feeling safe. Love cannot be harmed! By cultivating love and care for ourselves, we also cultivate love and care for all life. We happily trade in the need for perfection for the freedom to simply be. Ultimately, attention becomes the moment and infinite possibility is all there is.

What does the Ego have to do with awakening?

If someone asks you “Who are you?”, how would you describe yourself? How do you define yourself?

Are you your dreams, hopes, and aspirations? Your fears? Your likes and dislikes? Your life experiences? Your beliefs and non-beliefs? Your habits and obsessions? Your past and your future? All of the above? Are these enough to capture your uniqueness and all you are?

You may find that words can feel limiting in capturing your you-ness. But it still feels important to try to define yourself because you want to tell your story.  You want someone to know you and share a connection with you. You want reassurance that you are not alone. Ultimately, you want to feel loved, whether you believe that it is possible or not.

Most people may say that it is only natural to search for love outside of ourselves, and this is what they do throughout their lives. If they feel love coming from somewhere – a spouse, a friend, a child, or a pet – they feel like they have something. If love leaves, there is a devastating sense of loss. So, in this scenario, love is something that can be lost and found, given or denied, accepted or rejected, and valued or neglected.

As long as we are looking to be loved and reassured by someone or something outside of ourselves, it is unlikely that we know who we are. As long as we feel like we live on an island and are searching for connection among other islands, our sense of separation tells us that we are incomplete. And this is where we will begin the story of the Ego and its relationship to awakening….

The Ego, at its core, is a fundamental perception that we are isolated and incomplete. This perception shapes our view of ourselves, others, and how we experience life. When we look around, it may seem like most people are seeking to complete themselves – to be loved – and the drama of the world unfolds around all of the resulting fears, vulnerabilities, and insecurities. Most people are not OK with how they “see” themselves, and there is an underlying sadness, which they continuously mask through posturing and various distractions (including the very act of seeking).

By its nature, Ego-perception is self-absorbed. It continuously compares everything relative to “me” and “mine” vs. “not-me” and “not-mine.” The Ego compares us to others, and our possessions to the possessions of others. Based on these comparisons, we may feel like we have more or less value than someone else.

There is a link between Ego and emotional reactivity. We may find ourselves continuously reacting to  perceptions, and we may not even question if what we perceive is real; it all feels very real and personal. For example, someone may hear what someone says and perceive it as an attack – even if the other person had no such intention. That someone will promptly react to this perceived attack as if it were real, unaware and unconscious of the fact that he or she is battling illusory shadows. The drama does not exist, but that doesn’t stop an entire dynamic of conflict from arising. What’s interesting is that, after awakening and releasing old emotional debris, the distortive lens of the Ego ceases to operate. Instead of imagining reality, we just see it for what it is and ourselves as love itself. We no longer create drama where none exists.

The Ego is like a cocoon, wrapped tightly around the machinery that is intended to perceive reality clearly. Ego-based actions prioritize the individual – either in the positive or the negative. We may either base our identity on putting ourselves  down, or self-aggrandizing, or vacillating  between the two. We look outward to see something reflected back about ourselves, and we are constantly staring at our reflections. The world’s only purpose appears to be to reflect us to ourselves, and we may not truly see anything else. In fact, we live in a world full of people who are infatuated with their own reflections. Are they ever really seeing or relating to one another? What would motivate them to break free? How often do they truly exchange love, gratitude, respect, and service? It is easy to receive love when it affirms one’s identity, but anything else feels difficult and irritating, as it confronts one’s idea of self.

The Ego likes to play games that help us to feel more alive. It-You may play the victim or the aggressor, the smart one or the unintelligent, the superior one or the inferior one. Self-negativity, counter to our intuition, is an effective way to feel alive – the amount of emotional drama it generates can be addictive.

The Ego has fear at its root. Because we feel that the Ego is us, we may attack or defend against anything that appears to threaten our identity. When someone brings up certain qualities about ourselves, we are likely to defend and justify ourselves, or we may get angry and walk away, or we shut down. It is difficult for us to simply listen to how others perceive us because the threat to “me” feels too great. The Ego makes us feel like we have to protect our island at all costs!

The Ego constantly looks for attention. It needs continuous affirmation. Whether through sadness, despair, or social contact – it seeks reassurance. While under the Ego’s spell, we do not feel real unless we act out the games the Ego needs to play. While we are dismantling the Ego, it may feel like we are dying – and, in a sense, our perception of the self is dying.

The Ego is neither evil, nor good. It is just a lens through which we have gotten used to seeing the world. However, this limited perception is not who we are. There is so much more to us, and we may never know it if we continue to be trapped in the Ego’s version of our world. After we no longer identify with the Ego, we are free from the illusion. But while we are under the Ego’s spell, everything we perceive – no matter how distorted- feels very vivid and real.

Very few are aware that they are caught up in this illusion because they identify with the illusion. At some point, a person may sense that something is off, but he or she can’t quite pin it down. This individual may be ready to start dismantling the Egoic structure, which got him or her this far. This person is no longer fulfilled by seeking love outside and may start the journey of transforming the very mechanism that senses and interprets reality. And this is the beginning….The process of awakening, guided by a teacher, breaks the illusion and dissolves the perception of separation.

While working on dismantling the Ego, it is critical to stay in touch with the teacher, who may help you handle the intense energies that arise as you confront illusion. The teacher also helps you to become conscious of the illusion, which you may not even know is there. You won’t truly understand the Ego until it is confronted by an awakened being, and – for a brief moment – you realize that you are not that. After you have this experience of the Ego, you know what it means to live an illusory life and to be free from it – you get a glimpse of where we are all going.

While the basis of an Egoic identity is the fear of isolation, freedom from identifying with the Ego – awakening – is the state of love itself and knowing that we are already complete. An awakened being is only interested in sharing the love he or she already feels, and this love is not conditioned by any life circumstances. A free being no longer perceives the self in a way that can be hurt or elevated above others. And, there is no longer emotional reactivity to imagined shadows. Emotions pass through the nervous system and do not stick – they come and clear right out!

While it may be impossible to define yourself using words, you can learn to feel your true self as a state of love that is an integral part of all existence. Feeling this truth will allow you to express it with ever-increasing clarity, and celebrate your Light as the Light of all. The Ego is complicated, but the Light is simple.

What’s on a spiritual path?

A spiritual path awakens the sleep of illusion…

At some point, you may start to feel like life has lost its luster. You may feel yourself wondering why you are here, why everyone and everything is here, and what is the purpose of life. You may begin to yearn and long for the truth about existence, even if you are not sure how to go about looking for this truth. At this point, you have taken the first step toward a spiritual path….

A spiritual path begins with an intuition that there must be something more to life, and its practices aim to free us from prior conditioning and illusory perceptions. It is a path of awakening and stripping away the layers that block our awareness of existence. Over time, we become less reactive to life and more aware of who we really are. We identify less and less with our aches, pains, frustrations, and discomforts, and begin to see ourselves beyond our life experiences.

We begin to relax into life and relate to everything with greater ease. And, as this continues, we start to feel a living stream that pervades us all, as the fabric that is – literally – living all existence. With this awareness, we feel joy, freedom, happiness, and relationship in its true form. Our lives begin to reflect this awakening more and more. “Love” takes on a whole new meaning, transmuting from a conditional emotion to the living force that is reality.

Awakening to the fundamental relationship with and among all  becomes the basis of our existence. When we truly let go into this connection to reality, the Light in all becomes our identity, and This is what lives our life through the body and mind. Service to others, care, connection, and joy arise naturally and spontaneously.

A spiritual path moves us out of the endless chatter of the mind…

Although you may initially enter a spiritual path through the mind – by asking questions, analyzing spiritual writings, and thinking about your life –  this mind approach is ultimately limited and must be surrendered to the emerging faculty of the intuition of reality.

Our culture emphasizes the training and education of the mind. Thus, it is no surprise that intuition is not considered an intelligence at all. Furthermore, our intuition is frequently clouded by the lack of clarity of how we perceive reality. However, as our perception clears and our intuition is trained, intuition becomes a channel for transformation.

The mind is still useful, but it takes its proper place on the tool belt of experiencing reality, rather than being the primary way to make sense of reality.

 A spiritual path can be uncomfortable…

True transformation that unites with the living Light stream, when it occurs, is unmistakable and permanent. This transformation changes how you perceive the world around you and your relationship to it. You feel the living Light physically as your body.

Until you are transformed, the feeling of the infinite may come and go. At some point, It stays….You will know this, and others will feel it from you.

The path to transformation can be extremely uncomfortable because who you think you are is being dismantled. All of your attachments, insecurities, and hurts – regardless of how deeply buried in your unconscious, are brought into the Light – one by one – to be surrendered. Our spiritual teachers offer us the energy and inspiration we need to help us break free.

Practicing connection to ourselves and the world is a channel that leads to awakening. However, this heartfelt connection can also stir up what we want to block, forget, avoid, and run from. The process of becoming aware of the totality of ourselves can be very uncomfortable and even scary. When you deeply identify with a certain perception of yourself, it can be very challenging to let go.

I remember how I defended, fought, ignored, and denied insights about myself offered by my teacher and life situations. In many cases, an insight from my teacher felt like an attack. Now, I see those confrontations for what they were – a gift of force to help me break through my illusion. The closer the Light got to my core illusion, the more resistance I felt to letting it go. Eventually, the resistance itself dissolved.

Without proper preparation for the spiritual path and the help of an awakened teacher, you may become overwhelmed by the intense energies running through you. Preparation for this path is essential.

A spiritual path is easier with proper preparation…

Preparation for a spiritual journey is about cultivating a soft and gentle heart toward ourselves, others, and the planet.

I did not properly prepare for the spiritual path when I started. I entered with a hardened heart and fiery intensity. I pushed and pushed toward – what I considered – a “goal.” One of my teachers called me Agnibhakti – a devotee of fire. Regardless of how much my Ego was confronted, I stayed in the spiritual burning state and worked through it – always coming back for more. While perseverance and steadfast resolve to keep coming back to the practice is important, I could have tempered this fire with a loving and caring attitude toward myself.

Since a very young age, I did not like myself. I felt that, if transformed, I would become more lovable, more worthy, and so on….It is this dissatisfaction with myself that pushed and pushed me on the path. My intensity was good for getting a job done, but not for truly connecting with people.

In hindsight, this made my transformation process much more difficult and more painful than it could have been. Although the transformation softened me to some degree, I had to let go of much more for years thereafter to continue to soften. Perhaps this is the way it had to be for me – learning to balance intensity and softness. The more I soften, the more deeply my body entwines with the living Light stream, and the more focused is my intensity.

A spiritual path is easier with an awakened teacher…

A path to awakening usually involves the help of an awakened teacher. Forging a relationship with a teacher is probably unlike any other relationship you may have experienced in your life. Although, you always want to present your best side to your teacher – your sweetest, most “spiritual” self – you know that your teacher sees completely through you. You feel transparent, with all of your bullshit and beauty exposed. Curiously, the resistance you feel to seeing yourself as you truly are may cause you to feel like you are being attacked.

My teacher presented me with insights about myself through words, gestures, and looks. Although I did not talk to my teacher very often, I always felt the connection. Despite my best intentions, I felt uncomfortable. Later, I learned that this discomfort was really the discomfort I felt with myself, and the experience of being more aware of what I was really doing. I was not just experiencing my words and actions. I was also beginning to become aware of my intentions. In many cases, this discomfort felt like burning.

My teacher gradually listened to less and less of my bullshit and often gave me uncomfortable insights about my bullshit. Intellectually, I knew that my teacher was helping me, but I resisted the help because I thought I was my bullshit.

Even those who have been on the path for a long time often question their resolve when the spiritual heat is on: “I don’t need this shit.”, “What does this teacher know anyway.”, “I am sick of feeling like crap about myself.” Many abandon the path even after years of working diligently. It is difficult to not take things personally, but it is necessary – if you want to come out on the other side of this process….

This cycle of confrontation, burning, and coming through on the other side happened over and over and over….Coming back, over and over, is key and depends on your own intention and the level of your preparation to embrace all that you are – before you can let it go….

A Life of Transformation and Enlightenment