Tag Archives: Spirituality

Dirty Money?

There are people who view money as a bad influence, and others see money as the currency of life that guarantees involvement. With free will, we can and do choose how we relate to money. Deeper introspection is often needed to understand how to heal our relationship with whatever money signifies for our lives.

When I was little, my grandmother told me not to touch money – it was “dirty.” My mom carried forward the same message. True – money changed hands, some of which could have been laden with bacteria. However, I also got the message that money was something unclean. Because I grew up in poverty, I considered people who had money “dirty” – in my country of origin, it was unlikely that money was made in “clean” ways.

Then, there was my father – a stepdad who took us to America. He went to a computer programming bootcamp upon arriving in New York to retrain himself for a new career in the U.S,., took English classes, and persistently applied for jobs. I was told that he sent out hundreds of resumes and got the one interview that landed him his first job. Because of him, I was able to attend college. He raised us out of poverty.

My father liked his job a lot. He also taught me that supporting family was the most honorable thing one could do. We didn’t talk about it – he lived it. Family and education were the most important things to bring one out of poverty. People who have not experienced poverty have no idea how powerfully it can drive one to seek a better life.

For a long time, I resisted my father’s push to get a stable job. I wanted to help people and, without giving it much thought, still believed that helping people and money were diametrically opposed. At one point, I asked a guru to live in the ashram, and she said “No, you are needed in the world. You must be out there on the frontlines.

When I was a single mom with my first child, I quickly realized that we would not live well on a teacher’s salary. I listened to my dad and got a corporate job. I rapidly climbed up the “ladder” and eventually made a moderate income. However, I had not realized that – at the time – I also carried a great deal of unconscious fear regarding losing money and not having enough to support my family. Poverty leaves an impression.

Even while bringing home a substantial paycheck, I felt fear about losing my job, about spending too much, and about not having enough. Eventually, I realized that no matter how much money I made, I still had fear of not being able to provide for my family or losing my job. My fear-based relationship to money brought conflict into my household, where my perception was that nothing is enough and no amount of hard work is too much.

It has now been years since I had my high-paying job. I am making a teacher’s salary again and have my children, now as a single mom once more. Although I have come full circle, my perspective is not the same. Although I still have financial pressures, I realize that things can be made to work out for my kids – but not without my active involvement and work ethic. It is possible to work hard without becoming negative and jaded.

My older son started college this year and I am fighting to secure money for his education from his dad. My younger one is still in his formative years and needs stability. I will need to fight for his stability. And, I will pick up whatever worshop “gigs” and summer school that become available to help make ends meet.

It took me time to accept that our world is set up a certain way around a currency and “market demands.” But these are just overt signs of a more profound universal process at play. One thing became clear to me: The pursuit of decent living and helping people are not incompatible. Regadless of what else I was doing, I made myself available to people.

I have enough life experience to now plan ahead and adapt to what’s needed. To live, most of us must be practical and work hard enough, but without the baggage of fear. The world needs skills and dreams – such people will always make it.

As a teacher, I see about 150 students a day. Some come from wealthy homes, and others are homeless. Many are getting a free lunch because of their family’s low income. When I ask them what they want to do with their lives, many say “I want to make lots of money.” When I ask “What will you do with this money?” Many say “Pay off my parents’ mortage” and other statements regarding rising out of poverty. Of course some also dream of having wealth, and expensive and luxurious things. Our culture seems obsessive about having things. Yet, all unanimously want to have a job that they enjoy and one that also provides.

I was fortunate enough to be persistent in my education and learn skills that were in demand. Others were not so fortunate and had impractical college majors, which ensured that someone else would always have to support them.

It is easy to talk about careers that make money as being less than noble. It is easy to put down people who work hard to bring opportunities to their children and pay the bills. But practical reality shows how a lack of money leads to unhealthy living, addictions, depression, and even crime.

For the love of our families, some of us need multiple jobs just to make ends meet, living from paycheck to paycheck. This is where I am now. It is likely that I will need to attend a crash course in Data Science and Machine Learning to get a new career and to provide more opportunities for my kids. I seriously prefer not to put back groceries on the store shelf just to meet my budget. That is reality.

Fighting reality by calling money “dirty,” necessary hard work “workaholism,” and the pursuit of higher-paying jobs “ignoble” is rejecting what is needed in our world. While all these labels are possible for some people, they do not necessarily apply to most.

Money can and does help people. Those in the STEM fields have the capacity to create and invent for our future. Those in the service industry have the ability to bring people together.

I like financial independence – it felt great to not need child support from my older son’s dad because I made enough at the time. I prefer an honest job that holds my interest, uses my brain, and pays as much as I can get for my family.

I’ve learned that practical and grounded living is essential to being on this planet. I am not afraid anymore, but neither am I grabbing a begging bowl and stopping my own education that can improve the lives of my kids.

Life on Earth is set up to immerse us in life experiences. Money is just how we exchange opportunities. If it weren’t money, it would be something similar. Spiritual living is more grounded when a person can be deeply immersed in life and with people.

Certainly, our society can improve in how we motivate people to engage in life (and not just look for escape), but calling money “dirty” and hard work unnecessary laughs in the face of our real lives. Why not, instead, ask why life is set up this way, and explore the question with deeper insight? For this is indeed a setup for us….

The Divine Is Not “Impersonal”

The Divine is not impersonal in the way most think – like a force that simply shuffles things around. The Divine is conscious and alive. One can unite with Divinity and express this Union in physical form.

In my experience, there is a difference between personal and individual.

Personal reminds me of a phrase “don’t take it personally,” which involves an emotional reaction. Taking something personally then means identifying with an emotion – “I am sad,” “I am disturbed,” and so on.

Individual signifies uniqueness for both processing experiences and expressing the synthesis of what one currently is. A free, or enlightened, individual identifies with the process of Life, and not with the body, emotions, and thinking. Consciousness of the Life process continuously evolves and, paradoxically, takes one deeper into understanding the role of the body, emotions, and thought – as a unique, or individual, embodiment of the Divine. Light is not an idea or a visual – it can be felt by the body. Consequently, relationships to people and to our planet, among other things, are stronger and bullshit-free – not weaker.

I have often written about enlightenment as an impersonal state that is an individualized state. Far from meaning detachment and dissociation, the free state dives deeper into existence without filters and blockades of personality-biased perceptions.

The nature-nurture view of personality is limited because we have the ability to trascend and integrate our biology and life experiences. Union with the Divine transcends the strictly physical and New Age perspective on life without rejecting or distancing oneself from Life at all. This is not intuitive. In fact, from the viewpoint of either suffering or enjoying world life, it would seem that enlightenment is a kind of checking-out from the human experience. And that is simply not the way it appears to work.

As a mystic, I cannot debate or prove what I live. However, I am not the only mystic who has lived or does live in this state. The mystic just wants to unite with the Divine, Which is largely unknowable by the mind and mental analysis. There is so much to what lives us that I am not sure if the sky has a top, or the well has a bottom.

This union is not an experience of the senses, but a transfiguration of the role the senses play. One bypasses the reactive stickiness of ideas and semantics and blind acceptance of any ideas. The process of Union continues, and a mystic integrates, embodies, and shines.

A mystic does not sit with the priests and priestesses of the world because there is no need to convert, convince, or play societal games of structural organization.

So why am I writing anything at all?

I write to express what is possible for a human being – a state that is free from the duality of this or that in life and knee-jerk reactions to life circumstances. However, in this state you still experience everything – even more than you did from a personal standpoint.

I do not wish for anyone to suffer or to be to deluded into a numb, fragmented, and confused way of living that negates one’s uniqueness and potential. I know how difficult it is to imagine a way of living other than the way we live until a new possibility is presented because I remember it. Although, I am beginning to “forget” the direct experience of the past me because I no longer relate to it.

The internet is loaded with essays, podcasts, videos, and books with various messages about our lives. However, a simple message seems muted: it is possible to yearn and enter into continuous union with the Divine while still being in relationship to body, mind, emotions, and people in an authentic, ever-deepening way. Imagine a world of beings who uniquely embody the Divine and move through Life as That – what would such a life look like? Could that be where we are headed as humanity?

People would feel a profound care for all and want to serve and connect to others in real and authentic ways. How else would you view life if you are no longer feeling trapped in a self-absorbed bubble that projects fear? There would also be a profound care for oneself. This vision is not a “hive mind” society, but a collective of unique beings as different facets of the Divine. When there is no impetus to harm, creativity would not be threatening to others. The cognitive resources currently used to orchestrate survival and status would be freed up to cooperate in Life and as Life.

Would there be competition? Would that be when competition becomes truly fun because the identity no longer rides on winning or losing or not playing a game? Would there be debates? Perhaps, but not divorced from feeling the aliveness of the subject matter, whereas mentally-abrasive logical arguments currently go another way. Would there be rules? Possibly mutually agreed-upon rules, such as when mature adults reach agreements without denigrating another or trying to pull a fast one on people.

New groupings will emerge as cultures, and new traditions would evolve – based on multidisciplinary interests and ways of expressing. And some older cultures would choose to remain. The new economics model would be based on what is needed, what people can offer, and their unique exploration of life. The latter is frequently ignored today, and people hold on to jobs they hate while feeling robbed (in multiple ways). Communism and socialism? No. Sanity? Yes. If we have learned anything from some indiginous cultures it is that they are communities of individuals as Spirit, and the leaders are also moving as Spirit.

Maybe as you read this, you are thinking of the Star Trek futuristic vision. But I am not describing that. Because people would no longer need to get pats on the back or gold stars or ceremonies, everything changes. Such a vision develops naturally, when the curiousity spark (coupled with Divine union) relates to the cosmos.

Very few talk about this possibility for our human race because there is no visible model of groups interacting without pettiness, or without the need to attack or defend. Also, there is no way to test this possibility scientifically because enlightenment is still a highly subjective term – the proverbial pie in the sky. And just because someone is a skilled listener and communicator does not mean they identify with the Divine.

Jaque Fresco was bold enough to posit The Venus Project, but it lacks a vision for transition and implementation, not to mention the importance of Divine union. His vision requires a central computer to obtain global data and allocate resources. Hmmm…. His publicized model would fail because wherever people go, there they are – many are disconnected from life and are simply seeing to their purely self-absorbed interests, uncontrolled violent tendencies, and the habitual need to establish dominance. Although he claims that people will coexist peacefully when all their basic needs are met, I have observed many cunning and agressive people who are fairly “well-off.” Because he recently received an award from the UN, his work becomes even more suspect. The New World Order, driven by the UN Agenda 21 and Agenda 2030, is not the kind of community anyone would choose willingly because it requires controlling human beings to keep them docile and killing their birthright for individualism – perhaps even for true Union with the Divine. Smart cities giving us more leisure would degrade into many people losing themselves in games, virtual reality, and superficial parties. I picture Roman vomitoriums and a slave class of some sort in the background cleaning it. Do the new generations even know how to do anything besides try to escape reality? Their need to escape the “mundane” would ultimately prevail and be a certain death for us. This way of “living” (existing) would be a true crime against humanity.

That is why I write. I try to express what I live as hints and breadcrumbs in a world that is currently wrestling with its very survival. To be individuals, we must – well – be individuals and take responsibility for understanding the conscious and unconscious forces that drive us. Then, we can find our yearning for the Divine and engage with transformation. Otherwises, the class of the masses will be just that – mouldable by emotional reactivity.

I have to get deeper into writing about possible transition scenarios (no, it would not involve culling the population). Most ingrained systems would need to be dismantled in strategic and gradual ways – with much courage. I can imagine the opposition….

Language and history does not popularize living as free and sane individuals. Instead, we are surrounded by criticisms about everything, but very few visions of what our human race could live like without turning us into, for example, cyborgs or biological automatons (as currently proselytized by Ray Kurweil, Elon Musk, and even deGrasse Tyson). There is no holistic vision yet for how to make life sparkle for humanity without subverting the majority into some form of slavery. As long as the Divine remains an other or nonexistent and people remain disconnected, a society of equals is just not possible.

Also, technology – like the mind – is a tool. However, a tool is only as beneficent as its user. Technology will not bring about authentic and individualized connection among the human race. Has Facebook or Twitter done anything tangible to help people realize that something much greater than ideology unites the planet? Or have these tools fueled further distraction from our true nature and hosted divisive war parties or complicity?

The Divine does not require a priesthood, aliens, conspiracies, or social engineers, but teachers do appear to be necessary to help others. Those who teach do so in a strange way – by being, by living, and (in a relatively small part) by verbal communication.

Very few are true teachers who have burst their self-oriented bubble and have given their lives over to the Divine. Most who claim enlightenment remain, instead, a priesthood riding high on how much of a following they have, how “right” they are, or how much money they can make. Some are more subtle than others, but are false leaders nonetheless.

Enlightenment comes with some understanding, but one is not instantly omniscient in all Life processes. Be wary of someone who presents predictions with certainty – the future is not set in stone. And, exploration in an enlightened state is much more fun and with no stress when one is allowed to just be and is inspired (literally). The Divine awaits for us to fan our spark into its flame and breathes us with endless inspiration and aspiration.

Please leave me a comment if you have a question or an insight. What is your current idea of the Divine? What is your vision for life of the human race?

The Enlightenment Debate

People wonder what Enlightenment is – and good for them! Certainly, Enlightenment promises something wonderful, but what is it? Well, I guess there is some debate about what “it” really is…. Does it have to do with hightened perception, increased intelligence, “love” (another vague, but shiny goal)? If you meet an enlightened being, would you be able to tell they are enlightened?

These are great questions and should be asked by anyone interested in spirituality. Our lives are limited and precious, and should not be wasted on false prophets claiming lofty attainment.

All enlightened beings share a lack of self-absorption. They have a consistent focus on the welfare of others in both action and words. And the more time you spend with such a being, the consistency of their other-focus never wavers – never. To those who are still self-absorbed, it eventually becomes almost annoying to relentlessly consider world issues – not to mention, overwhelming.

Also, enlightened people laugh a great deal and with heartfelt joy. They do not take themselves seriously because there is – literally – no one there. They can display intensity in one moment, and instantly switch gears into levity.

Most importantly, enlightened beings are utterly fearless truth-tellers and truth-seers. They have a seemingly infinite capacity to enter the totality of life, both light and dark, and embrace It in Its entirety. They may not have all the answers, but they can live with the right questions.

Enlightened beings are not power-wielders or manipulators, but respect every life’s potential as the most precious of gems. They shine light in dark corners and have impeccable timing for revealing truth.

Do such people have heightened intelligence? Possibly – it depends on their background and training. However, they certainly have lightning-fast insight into people and life dynamics. In fact, most have highly developed psychic abilities. However, a truly enlightened being does not consider any ability a goal, or relish it as an accomplishment. There is a simple reason for this – when you are plugged into the stream of Life, you sense and perceive Life – it is natural. And natural things are – well – normal.

Lack of self-absorption and unconditional joy are very difficult to fake over time. Those who are not truly enlightened will eventually slip into goal-orientation, ambition, seeking praise and approval, and some expression of fear. No matter how charismatic, such people are eventually discovered for who they truly are. Hopefully, they are simply left to their own evolution without being castigated or judged. They are people on a path, just like others, and deserve kindness, compassion, and generosity of heart just like all people. Some enlightened beings will be attacked unfairly, but they will persevere in service nonetheless.

An enlightened being never makes you feel lowly or faulty. Instead, they befriend you and treat you as an equal in many ways. Even while they may provide you with insight about your life, you feel free to make any choice and are invited to do so. Their lack of judgement of you is, again, a natural by-product of the lack of perceived separation.

When talking to an enlightened being, you feel like you are talking to a wiser version of yourself. This is because this being reflects to you your potential.

Contrary to common belief, enlightened beings do not necessarily have perfect health or perfect manners, nor do they wear white robes. They choose the mode of expression that best matches who they serve. They feel at ease with people of any social status and nationality because artificial social division lines do not exist for them.

Enlightened beings may be visible activists or quiet nurturers of small groups, connected only by their yearning for Union.

If you sense that you are connected to such a being and feel a recognition, reach out to this being and watch their words and actions carefully over time. Watch for subtle or blatant promises of being “advanced,” “powerful,” “psychic,” or “superintelligent” – these are signs of a fake! No enlightened being will promise anything to you, but they will often speak of your potential for freedom from illusion. Most importantly, you will never feel obligated to this being in any way. You may develop a sense of devotion, but this is very different from a feeling of forced obligation.

In this day and age of click-bait, promising everything from chakra unification to lightning-fast thinking, ask yourself – what do these promises have to do with attaining Union with Life? That latter is the primary. Always. Everything else is just a natural result of feeling Life as an intricate and holistic stream. The Divine in motion. The creative possibilities of expression. Any other focus is just the ordinary path toward the clutches of narcissism and self-assertion. No enlightened being is that complicated.

Heartsong

I

Surrender to the truth is neverending…

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

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

Surrender finds a way when you least interfere.

II

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

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

III

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

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

Freedom required that I first let go in the undertoe.

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

Freedom from Repetition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What does the Ego have to do with awakening?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s on a spiritual path?

A spiritual path awakens the sleep of illusion…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 A spiritual path can be uncomfortable…

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

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

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

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

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

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

A spiritual path is easier with proper preparation…

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

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

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

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

A spiritual path is easier with an awakened teacher…

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

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

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

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

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