Tag Archives: consciousness

The Life Spiral with PTSD

My teacher talked about life being a spiral, where we periodically seem to end up in similar situations but we are no longer the same. This speaks to the opportunities we have to heal, over and over, the way we relate to life – the spiral always ascends.

Recently I found myself at a noticeable point in my life spiral. In the past, I became a single mom and left teaching to work in the private sector. Now, I am a single mom again and about to leave teaching for the private sector. The situation feels similar but not the same as before. What has changed?

When I first entered the private sector I was ambitious and focused on single-mindedly climbing the ladder of “success.” I was intelligent and ruthless. And, underneath it all, I had no idea that I had PTSD and perceived threats around every corner. My desire for success was, in reality, the desire to control my life so that I would be safe and not hungry, unlike in my childhood.

Now, I am about to enter the corporate world again. However, this time, I value relationships with people above all else. There is not a ruthless bone left in my body! I am humbled, curious, and sensitive to the bigger picture in which I will play a role. I am also excited to be solving puzzles again, which I didn’t really get to do as a teacher very much. After teaching for five years, I realized that I missed interacting with teams around real-world problems and tapping my creativity. I thought teaching would be a creative outlet for me, but it was eventually deadening to me.

After having applied to a number of jobs, I was rejected. The experience gap didn’t look good on the newly-polished resume. I lay in bed one night and felt the currents of life running through my body-mind. This inspired me to feel and become aware of where they plug into in the larger picture – where do I connect? Which relationships await me? I felt the magic of that morphing through me and as me into an intricate map. I just lay there and was in awe as I allowed this awareness to occur.

The next day, I was meeting an old colleague for lunch. He helped me spice up my resume and I wanted to thank him for his help. As I waited for him to arrive to the restaurant, I got a call from an agent about a potential position 15 minutes away from my home. She said it would be a way for me to show my skills and get my foot in the door after the experience hiatus. In addition, I was contacted by a second company looking to train me for a very specific role and pay me to train – regardless if I was hired in the end. Furthermore, I got invited to an interview to a teaching position at a lovely school that is also a short drive from my home. All this in one day.

Since that day, I have attended to the life stream linking me to the intricate web of life and just following Its lead. Throughout, I had to face my anxiety and PTSD flashbacks – overcoming each and every challenge. Now, here I am.

During this process, I got a very strong insight that eventually my PTSD will heal and the body chemistry will readjust to normal. That would be wonderful! It’s hard to navigate life in a vehicle that is conditioned for threat and does not easily maneuver.

I’ve learned that many people do not understand PTSD – they think one should just be able to “snap out of it.” Often, those with PTSD get misdiagnosed until the trauma aspect becomes obvious and no other diagnosis makes sense. Then, everything falls into place. If someone wants to learn what PTSD is like, I would ask them to imagine that they are being brutally attacked. Really, imagine how that would feel. Then, take away the specifics of the attack and just keep the feeling of it. Then, imagine having that feeling wax and wane but never go away while living your life. And this feeling is hardwired into the body mind. Finally, add to that the periodic vivid visuals of the attack occurring unpredictably throughout the day – a lot like having a nightmare while being awake and trying to function in life.

Now, many PTSD people may not even have the awareness of having flashbacks or that they are seeing everything through a PTSD lens – they think that’s just how life is! It takes a lot of work for these people to build awareness and start to manage their symptoms. Most have no sex drive – especially those with sexual trauma. Most have neverending anxiety even in fairly benign situations. Most do not want to leave their house and avoid socializing. This is “normal” for PTSD.

So, I went through losing a job and finding a job (a fairly grueling process) with PTSD. I can’t just “get rid of it,” so I had to take it with me every time I sent a resume or attended an interview. There were frequent panic attacks just leaving my home to go to an interview, and I was aware of it all.

I am seeing more clearly how the spiritual process, when interwoven with everyday life challenges, elicits deeper connection to life. Even as I feel the PTSD symptoms, I also feel other things – like excitement, curiousity, caring, and creativity. Even though my body mind is still under the PTSD influence, I know that this is not who I am.

As I gradually ventured away from looking for teaching jobs, I began to experience more ease and excitement. This was a reminder to always align myself with whatever makes me feel creative and to recognize quickly when I no longer feel that. For some reason (well, I know the reasons!), I decided that I had to make teaching work for myself even while it was literally killing me with dullness. As soon as I freed myself from feeling obligated to make it work, new opportunities showed up – seemingly out of nowhere. But I had to be ready. I had to be free first.

In supporting my family, there was always the thought of having to do whatever it takes to provide. I was ok with sacrificing myself for them. It took me awhile to realize that I can support my family while also honoring my creativity and life force. This was not obvious at all, even though it sounds completely reasonable. To live that takes a lot of courage to let go. I let go just a little bit more with the help of the light.

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.

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.

Enter the Void

I was trying to fall asleep after a tiring day and a thought materialized – a single and affirmative phrase: “Enter the Void.”

I began to approach the Void without having any understanding of where I was headed. But the Void is not a place. Rather, it is a state where “being” is negated.

I was annihilated. And within this reverie of neither life nor death was the path of no identity.

“I” was gone.

To sense anything, we must have the proper sensory organs and awakened connections to the web of life. The physical body has sensory abilities that only sense the material world.

To sense other planes of existence, we awaken our consciousness in our other bodies, corresponding to these other planes. Each body has its own sensory organs and connections to life.

The etheric body is so close to the physical vehicle, it is almost indistinguishable from the physical body. Also, the emotional and mental bodies are well integrated. I can no longer describe what each senses because integration diffuses my ability to differentiate between them. I remember that, at one point, I knew the difference, but it seems trivial now.

The awakening of the astral body begets new senses and abilities. So many are enamored with the astral body that they spend lifetimes flying around in it. The astral “eyes” do see an incredible vista.

But the astral body is just a stepping stone to the soul body, which looks to me like an orb connected by a cord that stems beyond the astral plane. It is clear around the soul body, when compared to the muddy waters of astral machinations that affirm human narcissism and seek ways to control the physical plane. This is the playground of all those practicing magick and flexing their will.

The soul body has sensory organs too and they bring awareness of the unity of all souls as a direct understanding.

Unless the consciousness can move freely from body to body, it is not possible to sense the information from the corresponding worlds. Thus, it is natural to think these worlds do not exist. The bodies appear to follow a specific progression of awakening, and new knowledge becomes accessible.

There is a body beyond the soul body. Another gateway, which I have only recently began to consciously use. As the awareness progresses through the vehicles, the identification – the sense of “I” – changes dramatically.

I wonder how many bodies I will integrate in my lifetime via my consciousness and what I will learn and manifest?

The Void is a place where one seems to be completely free of all bodies. It is a state of much energy. It has nothing to do with using the senses of the various bodies, but it does bring about renewal. In any case, it appears to be uncrossable, at least by me at this time. Maybe it’s what the Theisophists term the “ring-pass-not.”

When I entered the Void, I intuitively shot pulses of consciousness to my bodies. Thus manifestation and emptiness coexisted – another paradox.

The Void is where we do not look because no body has the eyes to see it. But it is possible to know it and enter it and, in some ways – never leave it again. This is probably because we all hold the potential of beholding our own dissolution or true roots.

The Void is not empty. It’s function is to allow us to perceive in perspective what we have constructed ourselves to be throughout lifetimes of arduous and diligent work.

I entered the Void and will not leave it again. Now, I must reconfigure myself and my life dramatically after this realization. New structures that are known as “me” must arise on the various planes of manifestation. That much is clear.

I have not turned on my mind to analyze and translate knowledge into what the physical and nearby bodies can understand because I don’t want to break the flow of directly feeling it all at play. Even as I write this, I have no idea how useful it is. But, I am certain it was important to try to express something, at least.

The Void lies prior to any manifestation – prior to concrete forms to lay the foundation for all the processes that we are. It is a realm of pure potential.

I wonder how my life will unfold now, as I make my transition into new forms and discard or integrate much of what “I” am. Integration is not just making pieces fit – it is an overhaul and a radical reconfiguration of being. The new perspective has changed everything and I cannot change that.

Life is mysterious beyond what I ever imagined. It is beyond our simplistic language to describe what is not part of common consciousness. So, we drop breadcrumbs and maybe that is why most spiritual writing is so cryptic and may even seems ridiculous.

Coming to Terms with Authenticity

Who we think we are is not always in alignment with how we present ourselves. The discord between our self-perception and the feedback we get can be jarring.

I don’t write to give advice. I just share my experience – that is really all any of us can do. For over 30 years of my life, I imagined myself as being different than what I really was.

I remember wanting to be someone kind and gentle who looked like a supermodel and spent every second of life “saving the world.” However, the feedback that I got from the world was that I was obsessive, blunt, and generally too intense to be around. I had the persona of someone who always wanted to be right and to have all the answers. I also had a self-righteous streak and couldn’t just let people be to do their thing – I wanted to “fix” them too.

I always joke with my students that we are all students at the “School of Hard Knocks” – with free tuition and universal enrollment. Life is constantly giving feedback about what any of us actually project despite our self-views.

After years of listening to life and letting go, it’s now easy to accept myself the way I am. That’s been a difficult journey, for sure. I am still pretty intense, but lost my obsessiveness somewhere. Rather, now I care about some things and couldn’t care less about others. Generally, I value people’s abilities to experience their lives the way they want to and don’t look to “fix” them or much of anything else.

While being sweet and nice sounds good in theory, it has never worked for me. As a high-school teacher, I deal with nearly 150 students daily – many of whom don’t want to learn anything. I also have kids at home, who occasionally throw attitude my way. To deal with people’s obstacles, I tend to throw flames in their direction. Despite the intensity, my classroom is always full of kids – even during my “off” periods. Students tell me that they are terrified of me and also feel that I am kind and “hilarious.” That’s feedback. Perhaps not how I imagined myself being, but that’s what I am.

It was hard for me to go through the time of incongruency between what I wanted to become and what I actually was. I no longer wrestle with myself. I do have a gauge for when I have less patience with people and their drama, and I isolate myself until my patience returns. It’s become obvious that I need a lot of time to myself and I take those signals seriously.

As a child, a psychic told me that I would have two blonde boys. This came to pass. That psychic also told me I would not have lasting marriages. I know it sounds odd that I talked to a psychic as a kid, but that’s not so abnormal for Russians.

My kids are a very important part of my life – I naturally want to make them strong and independent, but I am also sensitive to their emotionsl needs and help them deal with stuff as it comes up.

As for having a partner, I don’t even think about it now. In fact, my prior marriages feel like they happened to someone else and not to me. “I” was never married. Maybe I somehow traversed time lines into a different reality….

It may be interesting for some that we live in multiple realities simultaneously, and having somewhat different experiences in parallel. It’s not uncommon for our attention to refocus across these realities into another “version” of ourselves. Unfortunately, this idea is not well captured in movies – we don’t need physical portals to travel across timelines and only our “attention” shifts to a different possibility. Occasionally, our dreams can be bleedthroughs from other realities – especially recurring dreams.

I jumped timelines about a year ago into this one. It wasn’t a conscious jump. It was just life taking me here. This is where I will unify all my other existences and complete my karma. The wisdom of the jump is obvious.

Would it make sense to willfully jump across timelines? My sense is probably not. However, we can expand our awareness to heal ourselves in all our existences. It may be beneficial to meditate on the root of ourselves that sprouted into different realities – many very foreign to our current imaginations. There is something to be said for achieving congruency of who we are and merging all of ourselves into a unified consciousness.

Living simultaneously in different “realities” is another layer of complexity to rebirth and having had past lives. Knowing or living this is not necessary for our individual and collective evolution, and most will gloss over what I describe here as either a “cool idea” or just imagination.

It may sound like insanity to live with conscious awareness of past and parallel existences. One existence is challenging enough. However, enlightenment does pretty incredible things to broaden our awareness of reality and makes our brains capable of processing all this information without overwhelm. Enlightenment is more than just a figment of the mind and is quite physiological, changing and adapting our nervous systems.

I’ve written before about flash awareness that can take snapshots of fairly complex structures and instantly comprehend these. For me, this ability to process existence continues to open. Changes are still occurring and the transitions are so smooth, I barely notice. Growth is exponential after enlightenment.

In the meantime, here I am – describing an old habit of wanting to be different from what I actually was. It seems so odd now to even have that thought, let alone waking up – morning after morning – and trying to be something other than what I was. I don’t remember how that felt anymore, but I do recall how uncomfortable that was – what a way to live.

Artists talk about the vanishing point when they draw perspective drawings. Similarly, I see a possibility of convergence of all my lives – my expressions. Paradoxically, I will “vanish” when this occurs, remembered by some and completely forgotten by others.

The Great War

I was reflecting on human history, and a dominant pattern stood out for me as defining the human struggle over millenea. This is the dynamic where a certain group of people feels superior to others and aims to establish its supremacy.

Racial and ethnic tensions and battles continue to tear at life even now in numerous regions on Earth. Why does this pattern of establishing dominance arise? Is such a dynamic inevitable as our collective growing pain, or is there a different – untapped – approach toward embracing all people as one human race?

When a group of people believe that they are superior, these individuals adopt an unshakable confidence in their position. Such a group walks, talks, and behaves as if the entire planet Earth is at their disposal – literally. Furthermore, the ones taking a dominant position develop derision for those who do not belong to their proclaimed order. Derision and the resulting aggression ultimately breed rebellion of the castigated groups, and war ensues.

Not all wars stem from establishing dominance based on claims of superiority, but it is these types of wars that tear up the fabric of our existence like no other wars. While we may battle over limited resources, it is genocide that decisively wounds and degrades our entire way of life – no matter which side we are on.

Just as we have individual egos, there are group egos, and the energy of ego-bound groups is reflected across multiple planes of existence. Truly, the resulting conflict is one of Heaven and Earth, as portrayed by our oversimplified fairy tales about the fight between Good and Evil.

I see the ethnic and racial wars as archetypal wars of evolution out of the ego-trapped state, but played out on a larger-than-individual scale. Similar to the way individuals experience an internal battle of feeling separate versus embracing connection to the Divine, this same conflict unfolds for a cluster of egos.

There is also the planet-scale Ego, but this process (although quite vivid on the higher planes) remains mostly invisible to humanity on the Earth plane. Thus, there is nothing more to be said about it at this time.

The key to healing group-ego conflict lies in the way we would approach our individual enlightenment. After a soul realizes that the Divine is living it, that soul feels its connection to group souls. Do we need to wait for each soul to attain enlightenment before ego-groups and the entire human race feel Divinity as its root?

The answer is “no” – we do not need to wait for each individual transformation. While each individual is cultivating awareness and identification with its unique root, the ego-groups are also evolving their consciouness, and – similarly – so is the entire human race. This work is ongoing and relentless, and each individual being continuously feels the totality of these influences at play – even if unconsciously.

Self-awareness took time – cycles of iterative development, group awareness takes time, and planetary self-awareness takes time. Where is this all going? What are we all evolving toward at these different scales and planes of existence?

The vision for our evolution has been built into our collective unconscious since the beginning of our time as human souls. Yes, soul-groups have differences from one another. However – intuitively, we all know that all individuals are to wake up to their potential, and each has equal inherent value – no one is superior. If an individual does not know this, they will – eventually.

Faith is the trust we place in the ultimate unity of unique and individually awakened parts. While this end state does not yet exist and is unknown (because it is being created by each of our lives and collectives – as we live), we already know that such a state is free of fear on all levels. Thus, whatever fear is on the physical plane, its counterparts on the the higher planes must also be seen through, understood, and surrendered. Faith is what happens when we let go to what is known unconsciously before it has become conscious.

While our current tendency is to predominantly focus on ourselves, we do have times when we feel our ego-groups and intuit the direction of evolution of these groups. We even experience times when we consciously move across boundaries of species and consider animals and plants. This is all evidence that more than our individual process is occurring, and collective and universal processes are ongoing.

Individuals can awaken groups, and group-consciousness can awaken individuals. The awesome nature of our existence is all-inclusive, whether we recognize this yet or not.

It may or may not be obvious that enlightenment is both for our awakening and also the awakening of groups at various scales. We all benefit from such a multipronnged approach. No one is left behind.

Each ethnic war awakens all of us a little more to Human Rights and its higher-plane counterparts. The idea that superior races are possible is dying – we are over the hump.

By working on our individual awakening we also learn to access consciousness at different scales. Each of us participates on many levels simultaneously, and this participation accelerates the whole – just as the whole accelerates each of us.

In the meantime, we must continue to unite in the Earthly processes of establishing human rights for all. This is a messy process and often seems difficult and hopeless. We must trust that, beyond our self-absorbed tendencies, greater forces are at play. By simply attending to such ideas, we are helping to ignite the whole into a conflagration of both individual and collective consciousness.

We must continue to engage our attention with what we know is true. We must learn to actively listen to the universe, for It is never silent and speaks in languages fit to each of our multidimensional bodies.

Within compex systems, there is always emergence – an unpredictable state of organization from a seemingly chaotic state. This emergence happens frequently in both natural and synthetic complex systems, as frequently discussed in scientific literature. This is happening to all of us, and we are happening to It. No one will be left behind and honed attention is what is mostly needed.

What Does It Mean to Be “Spiritually Advanced”

In spiritual networks, it is common to label someone as “advanced,” be it the teacher, another practitioner, or oneself. It is pretty common to see someone presenting themselves as spiritually advanced. But how many go further to clarify what being “advanced” really means?

“Spirituality” is a loaded term that is contextualized to philosophy and religion, and conjuring images of crystals, candles, 5 am meditation, yoga, tarot cards, organic foods, and chanting. Yet, it just so happens that true spirituality has no props and all the aforementioned objects and practices do not define spirituality.

A spiritual life is available to all and is independent of one’s background and belief systems. If this were not true, some of us would be somehow superior to others, and one life would be considered more valuable than another – how is that possible?

“Advanced” is a strange term to use with spirituality because it implies being above and even beyond. To the ego, which loves to compare everything and everyone using its meter stick, “advanced” means either “better than me” or “beneath me” (ego is fairly binary). Comparison for purposes of fortifying oneself is a game children play on the playground, picking teams consisting of those most like themselves.

Something more unified than the individual is living all of us and, like a light beaming through a prism, is refracting into a rainbow of colors as each of us. The reality is that we can transform our perception of and relationship to what lives us. We are a differentiation of the One living consciousness that is experiencing itself through its many facets. Do we know this? If so, to what degree?

Spiritual evolution is a matter of shifting one’s attention to identify more and more with the Life that lives us, rather that our bodies, emotions, minds, diseases, and other conditions. No one is faulty at the core. The shifts seem to follow a pattern with common milestones.

To identify with something means to know that you are That – not separate, not worshipping something outside of yourself (and not worshipping yourself either), and not striving toward or pulling in anything because you are That.

I understand an “advanced” state as being increasingly identified with the unifying principle while maintaining an individual expression of that principle. We can be unique without being separate.

Our bodies express our degree of identification with this unified Consciousness through verbal and nonverbal communication. Our bodies are also valuable instruments for accessing and integrating the countless aspects of the one consciousness by happily handing over any clinging to a separate self. The more we surrender ourselves to That, the less we believe we are something superior or extra special. Thus, one naturally becomes humbled by existence as one evolves, while simultaneously understanding more deeply the value of all life. This is not even close to the practice of comparing, labeling, or either celebrating our superiority or wallowing in our self-perceived low attainment.

People who don’t use “spiritual” terminology may very well have undergone a transformation where they have peeled off the layers of separation – perhaps even more so than those who deftly toss around Sanscrit terms. This fact is often overlooked by those looking for superficial markers of a spiritual life. Someone who did not read the Vedas may be closer to reconfiguring their perceptual mechanism.

Transformation, as the name implies, is a fundamental shift in how one experiences life and relates to its processes. Perception changes to the degree that one begins to invent words and imagery to describe what one lives because such concepts do not exist in spoken languages. True transformation is not imagination because the descriptions of the so-called sages (as far back as ancient times) actually match at various key milestones.

For example, I have read Buddhist texts about the Watcher after going through several transformations myself to identify with these successive layers of consciousness. The Watcher is a palpable presence that seems to be observing “you” thinking, speaking, and doing until you identify with that observer. Then, one finds yet another Watcher. Eventually, there are no more Watchers. How do I know? Because in the incomplete state, a Watcher is tangible – there is clearly someone watching and seems to be other than yourself. Mostly, people claiming to be aware of their “consciousness” are aware of one of such Watcher layers. Once you’ve felt one Watcher, the rest are more easily recognizable. Their absence is also very obvious, which happens as one goes futher in letting go into Life. The One Life lives us and breathes us, not the other way around.

Transformation is a fundamental change in the configuration of our multifaceted body, rather than a honing or refining of an existing configuration. To someone who has gone through the change, it is obvious who else has or has not.

An “advanced” being cannot prove to others anything – nor wants to. But such a being can easily see where others are in their evolution toward unification and reidentification. Most important, such a being will not casually make claims about his or her state, lightly choose to become a public figure, or even subtly put down anyone at whatever level of life.

I have run into a number of people claiming something about themselves when it is clear that they have not transformed but simply got their life on stable footing. Also, highly tuned intuition or access to certain nonphysical planes of existence are no indicators of how or whether that being identifies. If “advanced” means seeing auras or reading people’s minds, then we are talking about different types of evolution – many who have not freed themselves can develop these skills but still remain removed from absorption as the One Life.

I am not at all implying that any life stage is more valuable than another. We all have equally important parts to develop by living. We will all make different and valid contributions as our lives unfold.

Someone asked me once why bother evolving or transforming if we are all valuable. The answer is simple – those poised for change will do the work to change – this will feel like the whole point of their existence, while others will have no interest in doing so. In any case, change is just that – something different, and neither superior nor inferior.

If someone is poised for change – especially at the critical points of early transformations, a teacher may come and invite one to complete the process. The teacher is an accelerant for something that may take lifetimes to do by oneself. For someone who is on the cusp, why wait aeons when the opportunity presents to move faster? There may be good reasons.

A clear expression of oneself supercedes any transformed state. Many advanced beings were seen as faulty because they did not express themselves clearly. Maybe they presented themselves as greedy opportunists or just horny, and this detracted from their contribution to humanity.

“Advanced” beings, whether hidden or in public view, contribute many things most people will not recognize as contributions by a certain person – beyond their spiritual talks and pithy wisdom. As one transforms, certain acts of service go on automatic and cannot be not done. In simplest terms, such beings make a difference to multitudes simple by being. They do not care if anyone knows what they really do and who they are.

I am a regular Joe. A mom with a job and two kids. I will remain that until my death. Most people won’t see me as anything else and it doesn’t matter to me. While my intensity is evident, it will be just “intensity” to most observers, chalked up to my personality.

In the meantime, I work on healing and clarifying my own expression. I want no gaps between my authenticity and what I present in everyday life.

Be wary of those who put down the human race or talk about it like a plague – this is not “advanced” behavior. As one gets closer to unification of life, it is impossible to hate or resent it, even while regularly confronting any dysfunction in no uncertain terms. Asserting truth may be seen as anger, but it can be very different from anger – although the intensity may be easily confused with anger at first glance.

Unconditional love becomes not only fundamental, it is simply one’s natural state and has little to do with the sticky, clingy “love” in most couples. “Unconditional love,” despite being misunderstood, is a phrase that still brings hope to humanity and continues to function – for now.

Busyness vs. Life Immersion

Someone asks: “How have you been?” People like to respond: “Busy!”

From a 50-thousand-foot view, the human race looks like a giant ant colony, moving piles of dirt from one place to another.

As a child, I once asked my father why he worked so hard. In my ignorance, I said to him that he resembled an ant. At the time, I did not understand how much work was required when one was trying to rise out of poverty. Frankly, I did not understand why anyone would want to live at all, given that life looked like some kind of voluntary slavery. The instinct to cling to life at all costs was never a part of my composition.

People who were content with their situations didn’t inspire me either. They projected an image of having everything they needed and maybe even wanted. However, they lacked that spark of spontaneous and creative joy. I knew even back then that what most called happiness did not even come close to the real thing.

Contentment is a fragile state, heavily dependent on life circumstances. If things don’t go well, contentment shatters and is supplanted by tears, prayers for help, and suffering. If happiness were real, it had to be independent of life’s ups and downs. But how many can say that they are happy when their situations go south and find winter?

I was convinced, for awhile, that the answer to happiness was in detachment. I wanted to be immune to emotions completely, and fantasized about being like Mr. Spock on Star Trek. If I felt nothing, nothing could hurt me. And yet, I was highly emotional and mercurial, which frustrated me to no end.

Had I not met my last teacher, I may not have ever known what real happiness looks like. It is so much more than even-tempered contentment and detachment. And it requires nothing less than a full-being plunge into life – an immersion from which there is no return.

For nearly a decade, I have been naturally immersed in life. In every daily detail lies an immense opportunity. Every moment is so rich, and our natural state is to be in this “zone,” in this “flow,” and authentic. This state is truly limitless and unbridled by doubts.

At the end of the day, I reflect. Every moment was spent giving of myself spontaneously and fully, and receiving the kind and heartfelt gestures of others. I have no time for anything else. Am I busy, or am I inseparable from living by superficial task orientation?

How many use tasks to escape the moment? The day – and I – feel full. Nothing is amiss. Nothing is lacking. Although I am sleep-deprived, attending to many daily details, and constantly running around, there is an unshakable stillness and joy. In my household, my kids and I never miss an opportunity to laugh and celebrate connection.

It turns out that the journey is all the fun and there is no destination. The destination is an illusion – a temporary marker for some next step. After the illusion is stripped, it is obvious that evolution is endless, boundless and – paradoxically – uniquely customized to each of us.

In an awakened state, we are the Divine in motion. We coruscate and gleam an embodied life process that leaves no room for false niceties, tight-lipped smiles, tough fronts, or know-it-all rigidity. Our natural state is freedom. Thus, it becomes literally impossible to waste time or to view tasks as an end goal.

Every moment spent being fake or detached is a waste of time. Every moment that is steeped in fear, worry, delusions of grandeur, or false humility is lost forever. Authenticity removes us from time by weaving us deeply into the fabric of existence, and time itself is surrendered. The clock stops or becomes irrelevant, and One becomes lost in service and feels no need to be found. Simple tasks transform into continuous, conscious actions. We transform by letting go of all safety nets, which were really mechanism that bypass life using closed-loop self-absorption – busyness.

The majority of people need to be reminded quite often that their lives are unfolding instead of waiting for a “working” routine. It is easy to get into blind habit and lose awareness of what is fresh. Once one embraces their authentic nature, any worry about being ill-fitted for life disappears and only pure awareness and expression remain.

Expression is life. It is the dance of a unique soul realizing its relationship to the whole while embodying the whole. When a being is guarded about their expression, they are not free. When a being minces words and is easily embarrassed, they are holding on to something that isn’t real. In the full state, there is no concern with being understood or misunderstood because one knows where thoughts and words are born, and how to imbue them with intention.

More than a vehicle, the body is a mechanism for constructing conscious relationships. Life is truly all there is, even in the seemingly lifeless. Surrendered awareness knows that nothing is dead and that there is no death. Absolutely everything is life.

Busyness is dull. As a child, I wasn’t wrong to question task-orientation as a way of living. Neither did I miss the mark when I thought that humanity was sleepwalking and dreaming, but not living. People call death the point when the body gives out, but I see death as a continuum of the degree to which one is immersed and connected to life. One could be highly active but dead, or laying down to rest and vibrantly alive.

We all have miles to go before we sleep. But our lives are measured in how authentic we are while moving through the moment. Our busyness is irrelevant when it is an avoidance of life.

Life is not indifferent to whether we embrace it or avoid it – it will continue to communicate the truth until we are ready and able to “hear” it. We eventually see through empty acts and discover our natural yearning to let go completely into our unfolding process.

Why the Ego Is So Tough

The human ego is incredibly challenging to see in action. This mechanism has the ability to blind us to our behaviors and to mask the real intentions under what we project. The ego is so convincing because we think that it is who we are and that it is us who is deciding what to do. In fact, our true yearning remains something we can dismiss or rationalize away. Thus, it is incredibly difficult to transcend the ego.

Nearly every person has an ego whether the person accepts this or not. In fact, it is a rather pointless discussion to convince anyone of this fact. By its nature and function, the ego does not want to be seen – let alone dismantled as the primary driver. While it is more comfortable to believe that one’s ego is “gone,” premature claims just postpone further growth. A person who is ready to move into the work of dis-identifying with ego will know the truth of the situation on some level.

There is also a difference in transcending the ego and dissolving the ego. Transcending the ego relegates its status to a tool, rather than one’s identity-shaping mechanism on the lower planes of existence. Dissolving the ego invokes other processes to configure one’s relationship to life.

The ego is a lens through which we forge an identity that is separate from others. It can be a useful lens for developing oneself in the world. It is necessary to evolve one’s body and mind such that they integrate with the life day-to-day. Without a critical mass of this integration, one cannot feel the boundaries of one’s perception at all. Although our boundaries exist, these boundaries define who we are and we do not feel any calling to push through anything. The majority of the human race is at this stage of not recognizing that one’s entire perspective is custom-made to build a powerful identity.

People without a fully formed identity are seen as unsuccessful in the world – they don’t have good “luck” with earning an income, romantic relationships, and succumb to fear of real-world pressures. Ironically, one first needs to realize one’s ego to be prepared to transcend it. Enlightenment, even in the earliest stages, requires humility. If you think about it, one must be willing to be wrong to be capable of humility. The ego does not like to be wrong, to be “below,” or to be anything other than self-concerned and comparative.

Some common tactics of the ego include fear, hiding, making excuses, blindness to reality, defensive or offensive maneuvering, control of people or situations, and attempts to convince someone of something. These behaviors are so prevalent in humanity that it is easy to assume these behaviors to be “just human nature.” Only when the ego is close to being trascended can one see through it and engage with it on a different level. Then, the ego becomes truly obvious.

The ego is so custom tailored to each being that it must be “decoded” for each being individually. However, it cannot be “diagnosed” by the mind by matching specific behaviors to conclusions. An enlightened being may seem agressive, but the aggression is only the tip of the iceberg of what this being is doing in the moment. An enlightened being may counter a statement without being defensive. Only the intuition of a transcended being can see deep enough to understand the observable behavior, tone, or words. Even written words root down to the person’s core and the ego is visible.

What is a human being like beyond the ego? Open to what’s possible, comfortable with the unknown, both confident and self-questioning, strong, quiet or vivacious, creative without judgement that down-plays the creativity of others, or rational or intuitive. Just like with the egoic persona, it is hard to “see” an enlightened being. The difference is, an enlightened being isn’t bothered by this or any other projections on him or her.

Oddly, one does not need to dedicate hours to meditation, yoga, or chanting to let go of the ego. What happens is that attention becomes tuned to this device throughout the day – maybe on and off – until it is finally felt as something “other” and not oneself. This attention is incredibly difficult to sustain. Unless a teacher is helping to bring internal dynamics to the fore, people eventually convince themselves of a comfortable truth and move on. That is the dilemma.

The ego is not only localized to an individual consciousness, but operates on different scales. Groups have an ego. The human race has an ego. However, without seeing the personal ego, it can be difficult to imagine what is going on at these scales. Each person that is free can assist with global transformation in a way that can be described as one’s unique life, but without all the drama.

Mind vs. Enlightenment

I have a beautiful mind. It’s no longer an egotistical statement and just a fact, but this wasn’t always the case. The story may be more interesting when I talk about the relationship of mind to enlightenment.

I spoke early as a child. Standing in my crib, I babbled intensely – as if I were giving a passionate talk on my niche topic. As I grew up, I earned the nickname of “professor” in the hood. It was not a flattering name, but more of a putdown for knowing facts and reasoning logically – and not fitting in.

Because I grew up in an abusive environment, I frequently looked for ways to escape. My escape was learning new things and solving problems. To this day, I do puzzles or math and physics problems for fun, but the way I approach these puzzles is different than before.

My IQ was tested in my 20s and I scored very high. My mind was fluid and it felt fabulous to use it. But, my mind was useless for breaking through into enlightenment.

As with any go-to asset, I wrapped my ego around having my intelligence, and the result was a person who relied on intelligence to gain advantage and confirmation of being real. When I met my teacher, I had to face the true reality that I was unable to “think” into enlightenment. This frustrated me to no end.

My teacher was redirecting me to let go of using my ability to manipulate abstract concepts because enlightenment wasn’t a concept. Enlightenment wasn’t an experience, an induction, or a deduction. Whenever I thought that I had “figured it out,” I was inevitably wrong – and discouraged.

Mind is a poorly defined concept anyway. Is this a combination of our awareness and reasoning abilities? Even the latter is vague. When I view the various vehicles (or “bodies“) we use on multiple planes of existence, the mind can be viewed as one such vehicle, and the soul another – there are more. These vehicles are equipped with their own senses and processes and language, much like the physical body, and operate in parallel with the physical body.

However, no body is Spirit. In fact, all bodies are inseparable from Spirit and are its expressions. It amazes me when people talk about Spirit as something contained by and separate from any body when, in reality, Spirit is literally everything. Also, what people perceive as Spirit varies greatly from one person to the next. Currently, there is no way to calibrate what each of us is referring to. Nevertheless, we can say that there is something. This something is expressing through all forms but is itself formless and uncontained.

During the transformation process, I frequently confused perceptions by the various vehicles as enlightenment. For years, I had to go through the ups of feeling like I understood something to the downs of realizing that I was still incredibly confused. The struggle of wanting to quit at each down is real. The intense desire to have everything squared away and figured out is the reason why so many claim enlightenment without having actually broken through. Enlightenment must be tested. The tests are real. These test results are incontrovertible. Only someone who is enlightened can test enlightenment. Otherwise, an individual is biased by the interpretation of their own perceptions.

Letting go of everything that defines us is a lot trickier than we think. In fact, because the ego is the very process of defining ourselves, it won’t easily let go of the mechanisms that reinforce identity. Intelligent people will create an identity around intelligence, and similarly for any faculty or quality. The ego uses whatever is available and whatever we hold most dear. So, enlightenment is about letting go of whatever we feel we cannot let go, and the trap is set.

When we let go of something, there are typically more things to let go of underneath. Imagine letting go – surrendering – something you never thought you could, only to realize that there is yet more to surrender. The will required to continue is immense.

Again, the ego is a process – not a thing. As long as the process is running in the background, we are not free from it and we don’t know it, necessarily, until it gives itself away – it always does, eventually. The ego is obvious to those who no longer run this process, but is mostly hidden for those immersed in the trap. The ego is tricky – when we are identified with something, we cannot tell apart what is it versus our true nature. When ego is threatened, it will respond in less-than-obvious ways.

I feared that letting go of my mind would mean that I would become stupid, so I fought this tooth and nail. What did happen was that I stopped identifying with the mind and the mind became just a tool I use – or don’t use. It is possible to choose when the mind disengages, but this does not result in a lack of intelligence – counter to my previous concern. Interesting.

Popularized meditation techniques are explicit on allowing and observing thoughts without fighting to stop them. Well, imagine not having thoughts without any effort and still being intelligent. You want to reason logically? You can turn that switch on, and now you can allow thought to crank something out. I am amazed I used to think that the process of mind, which I could turn on or off, was me. The state of No Mind is the first level of enlightenment – a first real freedom. There are others.

No Mind is what Buddhist call Sunyata, or emptiness. I guess this is also nirvana. It is a nice, restful state, but it is not complete. After the honeymoon, the transformation process continues and there are more hidden processes to discover and unwind.

If we are not careful, we can get stuck in nirvana – a kind of detachment. This is not the end of the road. Paradoxically, further freedom requires diving into life even deeper and engaging in relationships with others during practice. Having quieter emotional reactivity certainly helps. Eventually, even the entire emotional body (process) morphs into something else. Each subsequent identity is dismantled, circuit by circuit. However, this is not done by the mind. So, what catalyst is responsible?

The catalysts are living beings who are running freedom processes and modeling them for others. Those who are ready will engage, others won’t. Many undervalue life as it is and believe all are here to “become enlightened.” This is simply not true. There is more to life than that. The enlightenment state is not applicable to all people because something else is needed in their lives at this time.

Enlightenment leads to being in the world but not of it. It is a letting go of a large degree of involvement in this plane of existence, which most are not here to do. Why scoff at that? The ego is helping people engage with this level. And why just mechanically scoff at ego? Only in the last possible stage of enlightenment here on earth is the ego dissolved, but not before – the ego transforms with us but remains until we go all the way.