Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The Illusion is That We are Not Loved

Eww. I inadvertently came across a troubling account of a popular spiritual teacher on the internet. I read the whole thing and even taking it with appropriate skepticism—it being one-sided and all—it left me feeling nauseous. One of the most disturbing aspects of “spirituality” is the teacher’s dark side. Whether the teacher is a New-Age pimp or the descendant of a revered Buddhist lineage or a smarmy Protestant tele-evangelist or a pedophile Catholic priest, spiritual teachers possess a dark side. Because they are human. And humans are both dark and light, from birth til death, we all cast a shadow. (Unless of course you’re Lily Dane … hehe!) Whether the teacher is ordained upon their own authority, anointed by a master (who was anointed by a master…), or blessed by a religious hierarchy, all spiritual teachers are human. Always a good thing to remember. Best not to sit at their feet.

Anyway … on top of that, I got halfway through Sri Aurobindo’s The Integral Yoga (which is quite long!) and was like, okay, enough already. I need to take a break from all these other people’s thoughts and ideas and get back into my own reality! So, this is going to be my last Sunburned post of the year. For I don’t know how long, more than a couple decades, I’ve taken the last couple weeks in the year to contemplate the year that is ending. It’s time for me to set aside researching, etc. and do just that.

I’ll leave you with one of my current beliefs (a newer revelation for me, and one I’m still integrating): The illusion is that we believe we are not loved. In truth, we are deeply loved by God, Our Creator, Source, The Cosmos, The Divine, THAT THING, whatever you want to call it. In fact, we swim in a cosmic soup of love. However, because we’re conditioned to seek love (approval) from our parents, siblings, friends, lovers, husbands, wives, children, teachers, bosses, etc., who will always fail at loving us perfectly because, well, that’s not their purpose, we fail to create a relationship with the source of unbounded love that is always available to us.
Our purpose is to manifest the truth of who we are individually. (Yes, that’s my current belief, and has been for awhile!) In that endeavor, we will love. But none of us will love perfectly. Best to remove that pressure from ourselves and others. And know that the more we are able to experience the love of the divine, the closer we will come to being the human we were born to be. (That at least, is one of the things I’ll be going off and contemplating for the rest of the year … and probably for a long time thereafter!)

Yes, the post on the Christian mystics is coming! Most likely in January. So until then, peace, love, and joy to you!

Friday, December 11, 2015

My Discovery of Sri Aurobindo

Okay, I had planned to begin the discussion of the Christian mystics today, but I want to take a small detour. The last Buddha at the Gas Pump (Batgap) interview I watched was with Craig Holliday. And let me make a disclaimer right now. I love Batgap. I think what Rick Archer and his wife and the volunteers who help them are doing is totally awesome. However, I have to confess, there is no one he’s interviewed—more specifically, whose videos I’ve watched (I think 17 now)—that I agree with 100%. I’m usually in for the first hour/40% and then the disagreements begin to bubble up within. Not surprising, really. One of the things I strongly believe about the spiritual path is that it is a highly individual one. It would not be TRUE for everyone to have the same experience/perception. So, my disclaimer is: I listen to the Batgap videos to stimulate my own journey, but I discard everything and anything I hear that doesn’t resonate as truth with me. You should too! Hah! Like you needed me to tell you that!

Okay, one of the spiritual teachers Craig Holliday spoke about in his video was Sri Aurobindo. I had never heard of him before. However, I have never gone to a satsang (spiritual talk—unless you count going to church and sunday school when I was younger) by someone who claimed to be a spiritual teacher. So it is likely that there are many spiritual teachers I’ve never heard of.  But, what I did like about Craig’s interview was his insistence that the spiritual journey is a progression. I (and probably most people) believe that. Claims of insta-AWAKENING (whether or not proceeded by years of spiritual practice) where “you’re all enlightened and done” are highly suspect. Well, come on. We all know that’s just not true! But … okay, I’m not going to harp on that today!

So. After watching Craig’s interview I did the ole internet search on Sri Aurobindo, because I wondered how much he influenced Craig’s perspective. I have to admit I was immediately intrigued. I’ve done yoga since my twenties. Not with intense devotion, mind you, but as a routine adjunct to my life. Sometimes I’m doing it everyday and sometimes I’m not doing it all, but it’s been part of my life for a long time. I’ve danced around the “spiritual aspects” of yoga. Mostly danced away from them. On the outset they appear quite complex, and then there’s all that language. I did go through a period about ten years ago when I was involved with Bikram Yoga for about three years and dove a little deeper. But that experience didn’t lead me to anywhere that resonated with me, so I dropped it.

So even though this Sri Aurobindo intrigued, and I was curious about his writings, for awhile I danced around whether or not to buy one of his books. Then I did. And I started reading it, and honestly I couldn’t put it down! Why not? Well, he says quite a few things that I totally agree with, but I’ve never really heard anyone else say before.
As a spiritual aspirant, my own journey is quite private and personal, and at this point, pretty much the only person I discuss it with is my husband. I do meditate, and I do have awarenesses, experiences, insights, what have you, but I don’t really talk about them with anyone else. (Perhaps that’s a chief motive of this blog, just to share some of my thoughts about this area of my life, that has been a big part of my life—well, always! Reading a blog is optional. If you want to read this, you can, and if you don’t, that’s great too. It keeps me from inflicting my views on my family and friends when they’re uninterested in them, radically opposed to them, and or certain that I’m going to hell because of them!)

Whew! I thought this was going to be a short blog post!

Okay! So remember in my last post when I said that I could not be persuaded that the journey we take on this planet is an illusion? Well I couldn’t help but smile when I read this in The Integral Yoga by Sri Aurobindo:

I do not agree with the view that the world is an illusion, mithyā … If Shankara’s [another spiritual teacher] conception of the undifferentiated pure Consciousness as the Brahman [the Hindu name for the supreme God] is your view of it, then it is not the path of this yoga that you should choose.

The path he’s talking about is his “new yoga” where he calls into question some of the views of past sages. The book is very long, and I haven't read the whole thing, but so far, I haven't disagreed with any of the dogmatic views he calls into question.

And, when I read the following passage:

In my explantation of the universe I have put forward this cardinal fact of spiritual evolution as the meaning of existence here.

(in fact, his whole book is about this spiritual evolution toward Truth-Consciousness) I couldn’t help but think of this passage from The Book of Umbra in Half Faerie:

Foundation: Consciousness is the purpose of the Whole.

In this regard, two fundamental principles exist:

1. A dynamic equilibrium sustains the metaphysical energies between the mortal and enchanted worlds;

2. The Whole forever seeks the conservation of psychic energy, e.g., consciousness.

Within this framework, the purpose of mortal life is to bring the soul’s essence to fulfillment. Various qualities inherent to mortal existence challenge this purpose: a certain spiritual density (seemingly unique to mortals), a propensity to relinquish individual thought, a tendency toward mental and/or physical sloth, to name a few. A relatively small number of mortals ever achieve their destiny in a single lifetime; thus, upon death, few are released to the Unknown Beyond.

Cool! See, when I went about creating the Daughter of Light cosmology I wanted to create a realm where the spiritual journey, the evolution of consciousness, was framed beyond any current religious beliefs. But, I do passionately believe the evolution of our consciousness IS the spiritual journey and that that is the dance we are here to dance.

Sigh. I’ll get to those Christian mystics, I promise! There is some fascinating stuff there too!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Nonduality ...

Before I began writing this post, I did a quick internet search on nonduality. I came across varying degrees of “oneness” to be experienced/believed in for one to claim nonduality.

Although I came across a definition of nonduality that included a sense of connection with the divine/the universe as being nondual, I’ve always understood it to be a much broader claim of a more comprehensive ONENESS, i.e. that we are also the ONE, a single unified consciousness, and as a result, this life (of separation) is an illusion.

Maybe I’m misunderstanding what is really meant by nonduality, and trying to make it too simplistic, but for me the limitations inherent in all religions is equally present in the nondual tradition.

I do believe there is something divine, something intelligent, that animates all of creation. I do have a slight grasp on quantum wave-theory, i.e. that matter is mostly empty space. However, I just don’t get a sense that because matter in all its form doesn’t endure, that this is all an illusion. Nor do I have a sense that I AM the something divine, something intelligent that created/creates this world, universe, that we exist in.

I know, I’m not AWAKENED!

But in that regard, I really have no desire to be AWAKENED!

Because my experience, sense of life, tells me two points that I’m very hard to be dissuaded from:

1. As to we are all ONE: For me it’s that we and all matter is animated by a ONE, entity, energy, what have you. We’re free to connect, disregard, identify with, ignore, worship that ONE, but I just don’t see any evidence that any human that’s ever been born is actually the ONE. So the ONE is in us, but we are not the ONE.

Again, I know, I’m not AWAKENED!

2. As to this is all an illusion: Everything we experience, effects us. Every smile, every tear, every moment, etches a blip on the matter/spirit matrix that we are. If this was all an illusion, our journey through materiality would leave us unaltered, after all, none of this real, right? That’s not what I see or experience. The being we are at the moment of conception and the being we are at the moment we take our last breath is completely different, altered by the journey we’ve taken on this planet. I just don’t believe an illusion could transform us so completely. For me, ephemerality does not negate reality.

Okay, so maybe my grasp of nonduality is way off! But I find it as limited as any other existing religion or spiritual belief system. Because what I really believe is this: If anyone had really figured out: THE TRUTH, we would be living in a different world. Oh, so now you say, it’s because not enough people are AWAKENED to the reality that they are the ONE or to the reality that this is all just an illusion.

I’ll just have to respectfully disagree, because I think the reason more people haven’t AWAKENED in THAT WAY is because it’s not really THE TRUTH.

I do strongly believe that the ONE and the UNIVERSE and EACH of US is EVOLVING. I think there is definitely a dance between the animator of creation, the creation, and each one of us.

But I’m just not convinced that any one of us living today, or in the past, has really figured it out. More and more it seems to me that THE TRUTH is more about aligning, harmonizing, syncing ourselves with the never-ending movement of life. That all this other stuff, well, it’s just a lot of blather!

Which as always … leads me back to mysticism …

My next post will begin a discussion of Christian Mystics.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Buddha at the Gas Pump

One of the richest resources I’ve discovered on the internet regarding the spiritual boom of our times is Buddha at the Gas Pump, Interviews with “Ordinary” Spiritually Awakening People. I found my way there by searching for more information about Kiran, Mystic Girl in the City.

A skeptic and wide-eyed innocent exist side-by-side within me, so after I finished listening to many of Kiran’s videos on her youtube channel, and musing over her rather sensational story of AWAKENING, I wanted to see if I could find out if she was: real or a fraud! That search led to Buddha at the Gas Pump (Batgap).

At Batgap, Rick Archer has been interviewing the AWAKENED since February 2010. There are now over three hundred interviews on the site.

When I watched my first Batgap interview, Rick’s evident skepticism irritated me. However, as I continued to watch more of the videos, I came to value his pointed questions. After all, anyone can claim to have an AWAKENING, right?

The other thing I really enjoy about Batgap is the variety of AWAKENED interviewed. Although the name of the site embraces Buddhism, and some of the interviewees I’ve listened to have experience with Buddhist spiritual lineages and practices: Adyashanti, Father Thomas Keating, Frances Bennett, and Loch Kelly, not everyone does. Although they all embrace nonduality (I think I’ll do a post on that before I proceed to the religious mystics!), the beliefs and spiritual experiences of the AWAKENED on Batgap are incredibly varied and fascinating.

One of the most interesting (and longer) sessions on the channel is the Group Discussion at Sofia University posted this month in two parts. (Find them here: Part 1Part 2 ) A group of fifteen AWAKENED healers, teachers, therapists, writers discuss the ever popular question of “what constitutes an AWAKENING?”, fallen gurus/spiritual teachers, beings/entities from other dimensions, and healing vs. awakening (humanity vs. spirituality).

If you have any spiritual curiosity whatsoever, I highly recommend you visit the Batgap youtube channel. I’ll leave you with this excerpt from About Batgap taken from their website:

Ordinary people everywhere are undergoing a shift to an Awakened state of consciousness which is transforming their understanding of themselves and the world. For some, this shift has been abrupt and dramatic. For others, it has been so gradual that they may not have realized it has occurred. Such shifts, or “awakenings,” are not new: Christ spoke of the “Kingdom of Heaven within,” Buddhists speak of Nirvana, Zen masters of Satori, Hindus of Moksha, but these traditions generally regard these states as rare and difficult to attain.

Many people are therefore skeptical of claims of higher states of consciousness. They find it hard to believe that apparently ordinary friends and neighbors might be experiencing something extraordinary. Maybe they expect Enlightenment to look as remarkable on the outside as it is reputed to be on the inside.

This show will attempt to dispel skepticism and misconceptions by week after week, allowing otherwise ordinary people to relate their experience of spiritual awakening. The terminology is tricky, because there are no universally agreed upon definitions to describe this experience. Also, enlightenment is not something that an individual person “gets”. It’s not even something that the mind can grasp. It’s an awakening to that which contains the mind and all other things. So it’s not surprising that language is inadequate to convey it.

Perhaps those listening to these interviews will become convinced, as I am, that genuine and permanent spiritual awakenings are not just a pipe dream, but are real and are becoming relatively commonplace.

Next Tuesday, I’ll touch on the concept of nonduality before moving on to those religious mystics!