Tag Archives: enlightenment

From Mundane to Magical

Life does not have to feel lackluster. When did the magic end for you?

Perhaps there was loss, pain, and anger. Perhaps you realized that regimenting your day made your life “work,” but you paid with your freedom. Perhaps you have seen and felt everything you can imagine. Then, something solid and rigid set in – something that you now call “you.” And that “you” is not someone you love. Without love, magic withers and gives way to the mundane.

It doesn’t have to be this way. The infinite is always knocking on your door, but you make choices to focus on other things. You are free and you can choose to set aside time every day to remember yourself. You can buy a box of crayons and color or draw. You can remember yourself while waiting in line, driving in your car, or sitting on your patio. You can build with Legos. Whatever brings back that curiousity and wonder. 

You can choose to turn your life over to the infinite and become everything you currently seek from somewhere else. It won’t happen overnight, but every gesture builds on the previous. Yearning is never wasted.

Sure, there will be resistance, judgement, and justification. If you can catch these and see these, you know they are not you.

If you could only see yourself the way I see you. There are no words. But you hide from yourself. Could it be that thevsimole practice of meditation is all you need?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer for how to bring your magic back. So you have to take the leap of faith and allow and invite magic back into your life – the kind that begins deep in the heart and knows no separation. The kind that embraces uniqueness and explores, without looking for recipes with pictures and numbered steps.

I know – this is hard. Too much has happened to make us forget. But it’s never too late. Every moment is an opportunity – and the moment knows no time. The moment is indifferent to insecurities and doubt. It is the true magic.

All you have to do in this life is learn to be yourself. You are not your body or your feelings or your thoughts…. So, who are you? Each one has to yearn to know this, and each one needs a different key to unlock the light of the soul. May you rediscover your magic just by putting your attention on it. May you let go of all that you are not… if not in this moment, then in the next…or the next.

Timeless Change

Nature – life – does not stand still. Change is the norm, and a light wave calls us to surf toward no shore we’ve ever encountered. Destination is merely the comfort of illusion, and the journey beckons.

In the night sky, at unfathomable scales, there are fantastic objects and processes alive with change. But after we glimpse the stars, we quickly narrow our vision to the situations close to home and look for patterns, cycles, and rhythms that will give us a sense of control over our lives. 

We are wired to want certainty and security, which may explain our myopic vision of life and even the longevity and prosperity of large, established institutions. Well-traveled pathways promise jobs, retirement funds, and to subsidize our health insurance. Ironically, it is these very institutions – egregors –  that strive to thrive at our expense of taking our life energy, and we willingly trade inspired life for a promise no one can really keep.

We seek stability because we have responsibilities and people who rely on us. Doesn’t that make sense? Yes and no. The rapid changes in earth’s climate, available resources, population, and culture are forcing us to re-evaluate our approach. But are we heeding the call? Technology is changing rapidly and the future job market is largely undefined. As robots take over mining and manufacturing, and the U.S. work force is at capacity, the reality of uncertainty is becoming more and more evident. In fact, we are more likely to thrive by practicing flexibility and resilience going forward than hanging on to a tree branch amidst roaring rapids.

Psychologists keep reminding us to teach our children resilience – the coping skills required to bounce back from adverse situations – but they seldom mention flexibility and open-ended living. Such a paradigm shift is quite dramatic and goes well beyond recovery from setbacks. Here, the pursuit of stability is void and supplanted by creative adaptability to any and every situation.

Imagine growing up with the ability to adapt to change in the moment without planning legacies and fearing death. We gain the ability to integrate our experiences in the moment, rather than spending months or years in therapy processing the past. Imagine feeling the moment so deeply that time itself ceases to have meaning, and there is an everpresent sense of opportunity and unconditional delight. Rather than insuring our lives – literally and figuratively, we value the unknown. The term risk gives way to exploration.

It may sound frightening and possibly unrealistic. Yet, I feel that this is the next step in our evolution. The continuation of the human experiment may depend on our willingness to break open our static shell of a universe and enter the dynamic void. And this has already been done by a small number of various well-known and obscure beings – pioneers, who have shown us throughout history that open-ended living is possible and even desirable. After you wake up to just how rich each moment truly is, you also release any holding on to the past and the future.

But how do we get out of the habit to keep solidifying the edges of our cocoon? How do we embrace the state of being where we let go into life, surrender our self-absorption, and immerse fully in the dynamic process of living?

The easiest way to experience timeless change is to observe someone who is already living this way. The new spiritual teachers claim no special gifts and appear no different than anyone else – except that they are at the front lines of life as living examplars of freedom. In their presence, you forget the little self and become saturated with joy and inspiration – even if for a brief while. The role of this new generation of teachers is to show others what is possible and inspire each person’s unique expression of freedom.

The new  teachers will be living gateways to new ways of relating to life and show us how to listen to the undercurrent flow of existence. 

Each person has the ability to be at the right time and in the right place, doing the right thing. But the information we need is still too quiet and subtle to be considered trusted intuitive guidance. The new teacher amplifies the current of life so that it can be heard and accessible to more people – to reach critical mass.

When people say “Focus on the positive”, I often hear the implication that life entitles us to purely positive outcomes. However, life marches on despite our definitions of positive and doom, and operates at levels beyond black-or-white gauges of success. When we don’t find the cycles in nature that suit us, we create our own to achieve short-term effects.

We value competition over cooperation because we strive to be on top of the food chain. We value creativity, but few feel that they have any. The rest feed off of the creative surges of others to get a “fix,” which only lasts until the next craving. There are very few truly novel and creative ideas because creativity requires opening oneself up and suspending all fixation. But, we are now a race of vampires and opportunity-seekers who are blind to our true nature and to life’s flow, feeding off recycled plots and viral social media.

On larger scales, those who seek power are looking to horde life force – but this has been said before.

So, why has so little changed from the feudal times when the few had so much control over the many, and the planet was merely a breadbasket? Why have we allowed these structures to persist despite the evidence that they have ceased to serve the greater good? It is all a natural part of our evolution, and it is time to become aware of the next level – even if it seems dim on the horizon. Yes, simply becoming aware and to start feeling the edges of the next level. 

The moment is timeless change, and our filters are being challenged to experience so much that we are currently missing while living in a loop. All that is needed from us now is to suspend our disbelief that unconditional happiness is living timeless change.

No Monopolies On Truth

What if we define truth as authentic being inspired by direct immersion in the infinite (divine, God, etc.) while fully expressing through the finite?

When I had my first hint that life was more than tasks, distractions, and responsibilities, I read many books about “truth.” At that time, I imagined truth to be a set of facts about life, verifiable by experience. I dutifully cross-checked my facts in search of universal ideas resonating across cultures. I followed the prescribed practices.  

This approach fit well with my overemphasis on using the mind to make sense of life. The mind had served me well up to that point, so I started my search for truth with what I most valued about myself. I was a dedicated “fact-checker” and a student of inconsistencies across ideas – and I loved my ability.

My teacher often flagged my overuse of the mind as a limitation. This insight bothered me tremendously because the mind was all I knew and I had a hard time stepping into pure awareness. 

When I had my first breakthrough, it became clear that thought and emotion were only extentions of a filtered perception. After seeing the mind and emotions for what they were, it was obvious that I was neither my thoughts nor my emotions. However, I still believed that truth was a kind of word dogma, distilled to guide life.

After the second transformation, when I began to identify with an awarenesss that watched the world arise moment to moment, I realized that I could not easily describe this way of life. It was far easier to just live and continue to surrender to what was living me. I saw hints of what my life had become in poems and art, but not in prescriptive words.

After the third transformation when “I” dissolved and there was no need to identify with anything, I was no longer sure what truth was – except happiness and bliss.  My life is still full of tasks and responsibilities, but – paradoxically – there is no one doing them while all of “me” is fully engaged.  Truth began to look more like direct awareness than something factual or prescriptive. Truth took on the form of living without a “middle-man.” With the mind quiet, there was no longer a sountrack to my life. With the emotions separated from identity, there was no need to ever stop feeling happy amidst life’s apparent ups and downs – or, to block feeling anything at all. So, truth became just living without filters.

However, truth is different to me from what I consider to be true….

Do most people identify with a filtered perception of life (ego)? Yes. Does this filtered perception cause most people to be unhappy, angry, frustrated, sad, ambitious, self-loathing, dominating, submissive, destructive, clingy,  irresponsible? Yes. Does this filtered perception cause some to claim to be “chosen,” special, gifted, privileged, or on a “divine mission”? Sure. Does any of this matter in the big scheme of things? Not really.

Breaking through the chains of perception is perhaps the toughest thing anyone will ever try to do. The chains are custom-fit to our unique makeup to avoid detection. That is why it is so difficult to break free – just when we think we have a handle on what we must do, the ego adapts and justifies yet another self-absorbed belief or action. I am grateful to my teacher for continuously catching me in a blind spot and resetting me to see the illusion trap. Without such continuous feedback from an awake being, it is very difficult to keep from deluding oneself. 

Many have not had the experience of being caught in an egoic act by clear and direct insight, and yet the result of accepting such confrontation is a series of (temporary) moments when one knows who they are not. Eventually, realization is permanent. Until then, the ego fights – the closer one gets to freedom, the harder the ego fights to maintain its lock on one’s worldview. The ego is a habit – it is neither good nor evil – but is does tend to present a very limited view of self, life, and others, while also serving its primary purpose of grounding us into physical life.

I have encountered many powerful and gifted beings who are, nevertheless, trapped in illusion and remain blind to egoic hold on them. Unfortunately, power is not always wisdom and rarely of the humble kind. Because of their accumulated power, their ego is even stronger. They pay lip service to being free, but the way they handle even the gentlest confrontation makes their bind all too clear. Claiming “martyrdom” and “sacrifice” – a death while still living is a sure sign of an ego lurking. It – the ego – is just as pleased to assert itself in the negative as the positive. Allowing “adoring, docile fans” to sing praises unchecked and looking for blind affirmers of “divine visions,” refusing other feedback and learning – check. Luring others in by promising them “immortality” – also check. 

“You are angry because you see your reflection”, meaning “I have transcended all and simply reflect you” is now a cliche, unfortunately. Many say this, but not all are true to the claim. Be careful and search your soul. Ask for clarity. Do walk away from anyone who is enthralled with merely shifting responsibility without truly having the ability to “mirror.” “You don’t see me for who I am” is another statement that needs to be carefully evaluated from a professed spiritual leader. While that may be true for true teachers, others just toss the phrase around to take power from people – perhaps even unknowingly.

Any “teachers” who fail to treat their students as equals and refuse to share in the mutual learning are simply a dominating force and possible false prophets. They are transparent and predictable, and eventually their following will disband. Of course, such teachers will justify the outcome without taking responsibility.

Any “teachers” who speak of humanity with disgust or as “tarnished souls” while claiming trying to save it raise their own red flag. An egoless being can only Love – that much is just true and shared by all religions. Yes, the ego-ridden human race generates issues, but acknowledging this is different than demeaning the very beings one wishes to help.

Some have said to me: “I am in the 5th dimension- which dimension are you?” I remember thinking If you claim to live in an advanced dimension, why do you need to ask me? Why does it matter? 

Also, there are beings and various entities claiming to help the human race. But are they free from illusion? Do they carry their own form of being trapped? What does their ego look like? Just because an entity claims advanced evolution, is that really so? If you have to deny yourself to serve another, it is unlikely you are on the path to freedom. While some channeled information is clean of agenda, other is not. Many take all channelings at face value, with reverence, and no questions asked – why? How does this cultivate our breaking through and becoming who we are? People give away their power and hide behind some “higher entity,” saying “I was told…” or “I was asked to do …”. How is this about our evolution? Taking responsibility? Honoring our union with the source without a gatekeeper? Channeling can be like a drug, as one is intoxicated with the energy of those from other dimensions. Do not fall prey to the power coursing through your veins if it is not yours. 

When you truly have broken free from the ego, you have no need to control, orchestrate, demean, condescend, patronize, attack, deflect, defend, claim righteousness, or blame. If you do these things, regardless of how skillfully or politely, you are still stuck and, probably, feeding on some sense of superior knowledge or sense of power. Those who either seek or inadvertently find power are in the most difficult position because they fear that they have more to lose and do wear a cloak of enough wisdom to fool many.

Non-truth appears to be ubiquitous and  normal. We must all go through it and come out on the other side. There is a monopoly on illusion and – so what? Let’s keep it real…it is what it is. However, truth appears to be very ordinary in every way – just living without blinders or filters. Such living seems to still be rare. However, once it occurs, there is no mistaking it. Furthermore, as the learning continues, there is a kind of fail safe put in place that continuously questions oneself and does not assume being right. Only after much introspection does one determine the path of least illusion – the opposite of blindly following some playbook and defending a position (no matter how righteous the justifications).

Once authentic being inspired by direct immersion in the infinite becomes the norm, all facts fall away and living takes priority. Service becomes natural. Creativity overflows. Time stops, but never happiness. I imagine such living would take a unique form for each of us. There is not likely to be a monopoly on such truth, and no facts, dogmas, or quests to save the entire world.

More and more, I feel like the world will continue to evolve one genuine interaction at a time – by touching one life at a time and giving freely to those who yearn for freedom. It seems so simple. So free of pomp and fanfare.

Ask yourself – why do most true Masters remain hidden in plain sight? Maybe because evolution cannot be rushed or forced. Maybe because we need to live and learn. And maybe because they wait for the right moments to help us release ourselves from our chains and realize that we never ever fell short of anything at all.

Enlightenment Is Not the Goal

Those who yearn and seek a full connection with the Universe start in a place of confusion. Bound by senses and filters, they begin to set goals, regiments, and prescribed practices. Of course, at this time the destination is unknown, but there is certainty that the destination must be better than the current state. It has to be, right?

There is a tendency of the seeker to become rigid about the pursuit for something new, and then a different confusion tends to sets in – how to properly pursue enlightenment so as to attain It. “Who is the right teacher? How and when can I expect results? Which are the right practices?”

I have gone through this – seeking with a truly Type-A personality, setting goals, and driving onward despite tremendous discomfort and at a rapid rate. I made enlightenment a goal that had to be achieved at all costs. Thankfully, I was blessed with a teacher that truly knew what binds the human spirit on Earth….

I discovered that there is not one “destination” but many – as many transformations as the body can take before one must leave the physical behind completely to move further. First, one realizes that one is not the illusions constructed by the ego and knows there is something akin to Light – physically and wholebodily. Then, one realizes that he or she is not the awareness watching the ego. Then another awareness emerges beyond that prior realization. The infinite is felt physically and is undeniable – that feeling continues to deepen. The transformations, once stable, are unmistakable because the world becomes ever more transparent. So, the entire concept of a goal becomes just a motivating force until it is no longer needed and cast aside. Enlightenment seems to be a process of letting go, and then letting go some more, and so on, while taking the time to integrate the new perspectives on the world and its process of life from new vantage points.

But, after you are no longer anyone and identify only with Infinity (at whatever level) – then what?

I learned that enlightenment is really only evolution, but not the whole picture. It is only change ever-changing to release all filters of one’s relationship to life. However, life must still be lived. And that is, perhaps, also another step in enlightenment – to reach to infinity while reaching back to the Earth in truth. I picture many tendrils of connection emanating from Infinity to discover Itself on Earth.

It is an interesting cross-road – what to do after enlightenment…. And the answer is not as simple as one would imagine. One could leave this dimension altogether, or stay and help from the vantage point of the physical.

I feel like my decision is already known to me, but “I” have not embraced it yet. Staying in the physical plane is just one way to help, but there are many ways to help. Service is on automatic – the commitment to “others” does not stop. But what is the best way to serve as my unique being?

What is next? It’s not yet clear. We are all given free will and that never goes away. There are no wrong turns, and the next turn remains as mysterious as enlightenment initially was.

I realized that, in itself, enlightenment is not a goal. It is more of a release of what binds us from being who we really are. There is only so much we can release while being in physical form because this body is also a bind.

My teacher always said that it is about “happiness and its expression.” The enlightened state demands expression – unconditional happiness is not enough. An unconditional really does mean happiness independent of life’s ups and downs rooted in something deeper, ancient, and true that pervades all.

So, what expression do I choose? This requires experimentation. I no longer have anything to lose or gain, so I experiment…. But, I know my expression is not yet full. What I currently offer could be aligned better with who I am.

Growth appears to be neverending. One can live as purpose in its purest form, and that purpose must shine our truth. That truth must be discovered by each of us independently because no two being are alike and have a unique contribution to make. There are many ways to help the world rise to the challenge of living, and there is also more understanding of when to stand aside and allow change to be what it is. I guess I’ll just take it day by day and learn all that I can about how to best serve a planet that I love dearly. That is all I can do….

Alive As Purpose

Purpose is like a gem that coruscates differently under the light in the eye of the beholder.

I have often thought of purpose as something you have – something you consciously possess and shape during the process of self discovery. But recently, I’ve recognized this definition matches more the concept of a goal that is powered by a drive. Goals, agendas, and drive are common occurrences, but it seems that purpose is less so.

Simply put, purpose is focused energy that sets the context for living. Purpose is one and the same as you. It is a life set in motion like an arrow, skillfully fired from a bow and flying ceaselessly toward a target that may very well be still forming.

I am not trying to speak in riddles. I am still searching for words and trying to describe something that has – up to this point – simply been my life. I’ve only now began to recognize and understand it after decades of observing recurring patterns.

Since a very young age, I felt that I was this flying arrow – already in motion. It was most apparent in my decision-making, where I moved only in response to opportunities and changes by intuition. I did very little strategizing or thinking about my choices. It is also something that made me feel like an outcast.

What made my decisions unusual is that I had no plan and no end-result in mind. I never thought of my choices as leading to success or happiness. Rather, the big changes I made were the only changes I could make – with no afterthought or regrets.

In hindsight, I was a paradox that appeared as an overachiver and a workaholic to others, but now I simply see myself as someone with a limited amount of time and still much to learn.

I am always working – not as a distraction from living, but because I am focused on living. When I get tired, I rest, and then resume where I left off. I am a student of the world, and my studies follow a thread that runs throughout the world and human knowledge. I just follow it, like one follows a scent.

I suppose it must sound like such a strange way to live – so intensely immersed in learning, practicing, and giving, without any thought of outcome or reward. I only know that I must keep going because my time is limited and I must not run out of it. The less I identified myself as someone, the more focused and free I became to live as purpose.

Purpose is living me and not the other way around, and it is not done with me yet. However, lately it has felt like I am closer to where I am being taken in life. 

Purpose is a force of nature with no personality. Of course I have an unmistakable personality, but the purpose that lives me does not – it is simply colored by my personality.

Typically, driven persons are always armed with a way to measure their proximity to the goal and are ready to adjust course. I noticed that I just don’t do that – the destination does not matter, and the journey is everything. I have not really achieved anything. In conventional terms, one may not conclude that I have arrived at financial success and stability  or fame. I lay no claim to have made any difference in the lives of others – I have no idea how I helped, only that I was available. But what is life if not a process of mystery?

Society has defined value and shaped a vision of a desirable life. So many people compare their lives against some set standard to decide if they measure up. What if we just lived life completely out of the box? What if we surrendered and trusted the flow of life itself, and ceased to judge life? My guess is that we would be handing ourselves over to purpose, and becoming that straight and narrow arrow in flight. We would move with direct confidence 24/7 – never questioning or regretting any life lesson.

Living this way stops time, even while – paradoxically – it feels like there is no time to waste.

Transformation Is Not An Experience 

Transformation has not been a common occurrence through the ages, and not all who have transformed were or are well known. 

Transformation is easy to misunderstand. It is not about becoming kinder, nicer, more peaceful, more creative, or more powerful. Whereas one can train oneself to act kindly and project a calm demeanor, self-control is not transformation. Instead, to transform is to embody a completely new awareness of life – which is actually the very opposite of controlling anything. Self-control can be lost, while transformation is a stable shift. Another way to describe transformation is as ever increasing freedom.

Transformation is identifying less and less with the body, the mind, the emotions, and more with the awareness that lives and expresses these things. As it turns out, there are many layers to awareness – as you shift into a new awareness, another lies deeper and eventually makes itself known. 

Dr. Wilder Penfield, while mapping the brain, noticed that his patients referred to an “I” that was watching and commenting on the experiment while it was happening. This “I” could detach from the experience and observe. Dr. Penfield referred to this observer as “The Watcher.” It is fascinating that our body and mind – a collection of parts – has a way of coming together under a single identity. This Watcher is usually the Ego-I, identified with an experience.

Imagine now that what you identify with  evolves into a completely unpredicted state of awareness – even the idea of “I” may dissolve completely . You cannot predict what each transformation will bring because it is not based on any prior experience. You cannot choose the next level of your evolution because you have no reference point – you can only choose to let go.

Then, imagine that you break through to realizing that you are being lived by a profound consciouness that also lives everything and everyone, and your awareness shifts to That. What does that feel like? How does that change the way you relate to life? Without trying to act happy, you become the essence of happiness that is unconditional and independent of life experiences.

 Imagine further that your awareness shifts into what lives this universe and breaks beyond the “boundaries” of this reality. Who is living you then?

With each shift, the new awareness goes through an adjustment phase to relearn how to relate to the world – not unlike a newborn. Everything is unfamiliar because the one experiencing has changed. Old ways of connecting to life no longer work, expire, and are cast aside. Gradually, the filters are released and life is lived directly, in its raw glory of the divine exploring itself. 

The New Age movement often references the Higher Self as something that is separate. However, from the perspective of transformation, there is not one but a multitude of “Higher Selves”, waiting to be integrated and gradually dissolving the “Self.” Perhaps, even “higher” may be misleading and could be replaced by the word “authentic,” as one sheds skins of separation from reality.

So, who cares if transformation is our birthright? If we can’t even imagine what life becomes with each shift, why bother with the whole idea? Of course, most people will not bother because they have plenty to explore already. However, some will feel that something is missing from their lives – something they can’t quite name. This feeling is different from boredom or apathy. Rather, it is more like a hunger – a dynamic state of searching for what one knows not.

Spiritual seekers fall into two general categories: those who want to accumulate fantastic and extraordinary experiences and power, and those who are ready for the possibility that transformation is not an experience at all. To have an experience assumes that “you” are there to experience, but to be transformed leaves one wide open to freedom from experience, interpretation, and “knowing.”

Awareness transformation – a shedding of filters and illusion – can be an extremely raw and uncomfortable experience. Before you can shed the old ways of relating, you must be completely exposed and vulnerable. You must surrender the assumption that you know anything, or that you have become and achieved. Intellectually, this may sound pretty straightforward. However, in practice, there is much resistance to letting go of yourself. The process may even feel like dying. 

If you are one who will undergo multiple transformations in one lifetime, then just when you settle into a new rest-stop, you will need to move into the unknown again. Just when you feel there is nothing more to surrender, there is more. Here “surrender” is not about giving in to anything or anyone – it is a letting go of everything you believe you are to make room for something altogether different.

I suppose tramsformation can be viewed as evolution – not of the instrument, but of awareness itself. But as awareness changes, so does the body, and so does the way we relate to life – all of life. 

Some people believe that they can become transformed on their own – without a model that has already crossed thresholds. Only a few have done this successfully because it is too easy to become trapped in illusion without someone to snap you out of it. Resistance to transformation is exceedingly strong, complemented by denial, deflecting of feedback from the world, and the need to feel like one has “achieved realization.” Beings get stuck like this and are unlikely to know that they are stuck. 

If you believe that you know something or are someone, chances are that you are trapped in a hall of mirrors. Transformation increasingly takes one to a state of innocence, and not of the helpless variety. There is so much strength and inspiration in letting go – like a monk blowing away a painstakingly created mandala of sand without feeling any loss. In transforming, you always seem to need to let go of something deemed very beautiful. 

Crazy Wisdom or Crazymaking?

Many years ago, I discovered the writings of Chogyam Trungpa. Specifically, his phrase Crazy Wisdom was something that felt very familiar to me. When I read his books, I pictured wise men and women – usually in India – acting counter to social norms, laughing when laughter was not expected, giving someone a rock after a question was asked of them, and generally acting in counterintuitive and illogical ways. Although I had not met such beings, I felt that I had an inkling of intuition about this state.

I felt a freedom emanating from the idea of Crazy Wisdom – a letting go like no other. At the time, I wanted so much to be free of all of societal constraints, and imagined how I could navigate life as easily as a breeze, or a cloud, or an ocean wave. Since a very young age, I sought this freedom before I had any vocabulary or spiritual teachings to express my yearning. In silence, I held that feeling of freedom near and dear.

I’ve learned since then that people in the West often cannot recognize an enlightened being, and would not likely be able to tell if someone is wise or confused, or just another person walking by. That is no surprise because, at first glance, an enlightened being looks just like everyone else – and most don’t wish to be recognized. No white or saffron robes. No face paint. No prayer beads. Just presence.

It is so easy to project one’s own thoughts and ambitions and fears onto an awake  being without even sensing the  projections for what they are.  It can feel so natural to dismiss innocence as slow intellect, naivete, or a lack of understanding. And the awakened one cares not. He or she simply continues to be innocently present – even while all this drama is going on – steeped in bliss as pure awareness.

The Western world makes it challenging for such beings to be who they are. Unlike in India and Tibet, where wise men and women are respected and welcome, the West has a very fixed set of norms. If the awakened one wishes to have a job in the mainstream marketplace, he or she encounters much resistance and misunderstanding just by virtue of being there. There may be comments about that person’s unconventional approach and countless projections about what this being is thinking or feeling – but all are projections nonetheless. Regardless of endless criticism, circumstances do change toward the positive around such a being, but he or she is not cencerned with receiving appreciation and acknowledgement – he or she has no need for these.

So, how can we tell if a person is awake or crazy? Now, there is no clinical definition of crazy, and insanity has a very specific definition in legal settings. Psychologists  talk about perseveration, which is “compulsive, hopeless, helpless, automatic and unsatisfying” behavior. However, in my travels, I’ve encountered  crazymaking, which I describe as any acts that promote agendas and limit interconnection of ideas and people. I’ve observed that when people do not fully listen, ask few question, have little or no genuine interest in others, and push ahead with their own agendas, the atmosphere becomes toxic. Such people are rigid in their perceptions, but may even consider themselves awakened or wise. Awake beings have no agenda, but they are no patsies either – they know what’s up.

What fascinates me is that people who have an agenda to “be right,” “know it all,” “have the answers,” “get approval”, “be the best/smartest/most attractive/most talented,” or even to literally want to hurt others, may have no idea that they are driven by such agendas.   They interrupt others while pretending to listen, toot their own horn, put words in other people’s mouths, project emotions onto others, and spread negative comments in person or online. They leave toxicity in their wake – of course, there are degrees of toxicity. Is this not crazymaking? Does this have anything to do with an open, innocent being who moves in unconventional ways and, perhaps, uses unconventional words to simply express?

Awake beings come in all shapes and sizes, and behave in a myriad of ways. Some let go of this life’s norms completely. They are as compatible with illusion as oil and water, and always give freely of themselves to those in need – what else can love do?

Those who are connected to an awake being will recognize them for who they are and see an opportunity. Others will simply walk on by. And all is as it should be – as it is. There can be no crazymaking in Crazy Wisdom because, in full awakening, there is no ego to run the show – and it is such a show….

Transcending the Tension of Opposites

Many have said that it is the nature of this world to be in a state of continuous tension – polar opposites dance and tug and no utopia or dystopia is ever meant to be reached. However, it is one thing to read about this concept in a book and something altogether different to live as continuous change.

I began my life seeking “good” in the world and within myself. When I was about 13 years old, I briefly spent time with a spiritual teacher who never called himself that. He asked me what I wanted to do with my life. I quickly answered “Fix the world.” He then asked me, “What is broken?” There was something about the way he asked the question that made me pause for years to come. I knew life often felt uncomfortable and even painful – to me and to others – but the root cause was not obvious.

I wrestled with life scenarios that resulted in no pain or suffering of any kind for anyone. This problem held my interest because I was in pain and also was very sensitive to the pain of others – I wanted the discomfort to stop for everyone. At the time, I had defined the problem with my mind, in absence of real feeling or understanding, and also tried to solve the problem with the mind. But the mind was limited by the kinds of solutions it was capable of producing – logic could only lead to a conclusion that to stop feeling pain, one would need to stop feeling everything.

A number of years passed until I met someone who practiced acupuncture. I watched her work and saw that she helped many people feel better. I thought that, maybe, I could help others by taking away their pain through some healing modality. I studied yoga, Reiki, and even enrolled in acupuncture school for awhile. But it didn’t make sense to me why people would have suffering in the first place, only to make it necessary for someone else to try to heal it. If the goal was to heal all disease and end all dysfunction and destitute, then happiness is nothing more than the result of life working out. Such conditional happiness is destined to stop and go in this plane of existence where conditions are ever in flux. I gave up looking to “heal” or “fix” anything and turned toward the possibility that unconditional happiness was the only freedom in a world of conditions.

At first, the idea seemed rediculous – how could one be happy unless everything in  life was just right? Why would one choose to be happy when one is alone, poor, hungry, overworked, or sick? The breakthrough comes when life situations cease to define how you feel. While the mind has trouble grasping this possibility, the heart yearns for it naturally. Once the illusion of defining oneself through “life success” dissolves, a deeper realization about life takes hold – a freedom from the tension of opposites and an appreciation of its wisdom for our evolution. 

Suffering is there when there is either something to gain or lose. Freedom is the feeling of “having it all” in any situation because “I” am no longer defined by the situation.

So, this world moans in anguish and laughs with abandon, drinks and eats, and thirsts and starves. There is no permanent “fix” for the tension of opposites, but there appears to be a way to stop playing the game altogether that surprisingly ignites an ever deepening and unconditional appreciation of the life process. It is through the futility of trying to change the changing reality that we are free to simply revel in our true nature that is bliss. From this perspective, helping others takes on a meaning that is very different from “fixing.”

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.