Don’t blame the mind

There are many paths to the Enlightenment, each offering different interpretations of the ageless wisdom. For instance, the Advaita Vendanta denies ego, mind, emotions and indeed all material existence as illusory, relative, transitory and hence not worth spending our time and energy on.

Ramana Maharshi, a great South Indian sage, used to say: “That which is not present in deep dreamless sleep is not real.”
That in effect means, as far as I can see, that everything in the waking state of awareness is not real. Well, I can’t speak for Sri Ramana Maharshi, but on the planet I live on, thoughts, emotions and body are all quite real.

There are other paths, however, which from my perspective, are more empathic to our relative existence and material life. Tantra, especially the so called Left hand Tantra is quite clear on the subject of our mind, emotions and physical body.

In my experience, there is no real need to deny anything, really. Not even one desire is in a way – ego and the mind present no real obstacle. Denying only creates stormy waves in perfectly calm sea.

The Buddhist quote below resonates with my current inner/outer reality so very much:

“Just as bubbles arise and dissolve in the water of the limpid sea,
Just so, conceptual thinking is nothing other than dharma nature.
Don’t see it as a problem — relax.

Whatever arises, whatever is born,
that itself is free by itself without fixation to it.
Aside from mind, there is no other phenomena.
Mind is free of the elaborations of birth and death.

For instance, one who goes to the golden isle cannot find dirt and stone even when sought.
In the equality of the great realm of phenomena,
there is no rejecting or accepting, no equipoise or subsequent attainment.

One’s mind without distraction is dharmakāya.
Non-distraction is the vital point of mediation.

If the tree is cut from the root, the branches will not grow.
Realise the great freedom from limitations.
Rest within the uncontrived natural state.”

From the book:
Niguma, Lady of Illusion, Svayaṁmukti-mahāmudrā

:)

Intenziv Razsvetljenja

So vam ta vprašanja morda znana:

»Kdo sem in kaj pravzaprav delam tukaj?«
»Ali v življenju sploh obstaja nek višji smisel?«
»Ali obstaja nekaj, čemur bi lahko rekel/a Dokončna Resnica?«
»Je to, kar vidim, čutim, mislim res vse, kar Je?«
»Ali obstaja Bog?«

Morda hrepenite po odgovorih?

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Beyond Authenticity

I would like to touch upon an interesting topic in this blog. I do enjoy writing about Authenticity, self-actualization, individualization and yet, Authenticity itself, as sublime and as rare an attainment as it is, it is only a stage of human psychological-transpersonal identity development, as far as I can see. And to me, Authenticity is really only an introduction to really peaceful and enlightened inner life.

For sure, long and strenuous years can be dedicated to attaining and stabilizing at the stage of awareness called Authenticity or Authentic Level or Centuar (as per Wilber). And all the while the struggle and effort to become Authentic, to lead an Authentic life and to employ the inner potentials by self-actualizing them is a must  – all of that may inevitably become an obstacle when and if one wants to move on from Authentic level to more spiritual ones, i.e. Subtile, Causal and Nondual.

Authenticity in this context and for me means self-actualization, individualization and clearing up all the personal dramas or
the Shadow, to use a Jung term. For me, Shadow in this context translates to everything one believes that is wrong with others, the world and oneself. And it can take long years of dedicated work on those personal issues.

Also, being truly Authentic does not translate to dogmatically following certain set of rules, not even the ones from other Authentic individuals (Maslow, Rogers, Marshall etc…). Authenticity comes from the heart and there are as many authentic individuals as there are human beings, way beyond any kind of convention, injunction or rule. That’s how I perceive the Authentic level at the moment.

I have written extensively on the subject of this level of human awareness (browse my previous blogs, here >> , ) and also a short intro to the overall (Wilber) map of human stages of consciousnesses (see also blog in Identity development >> )

In this blog, however, I would like to express myself about the levels or stages of human identity development which lay well beyond Authenticity.

For me, those levels of awareness are what power up my life, rejuvenate my wonder, as it were, and make sense to all in and around me. Yes, the Authenticity itself is an important stage of human identity development and it simply can not be skipped over. But, after attaining it and really living it, one may begin to wonder if that is all that it is attainable. Well, the answer is, thanks God, no.

Authentic level is only a stage, one of many and, to me, not really all that satisfying.
Let me share my subjective thoughts :)

At the Authentic level, one may be called to individualize his own cognitive processes, to self-actualize his own inner talents and potentials and to start living according to his / her sweet freedom of choice in ALL areas of life: intimate, private, public, business, spare time, inter-personal – everything may be included.

And to attain all that, well, it takes effort, facing the inner dis-harmonies, clearing out the suppressed emotions, overcoming mental negativity etc… Also assuming full responsibility for ones thoughts, emotions, words and actions may also play an important part in the process.

The Authentic Self, which seems to be at the core of the Authentic level is always active, unique, and wants to be in control. So structure, self created rules and battles won through hard work – that is what a person on the Authentic level may define himself / herself through.

I create my own life – that is the motto an Authentic person might live by. And again, it may take years, maybe even decades to really attain that precious level where one can with all sincerity proclaim that s/he is happy because s/he does only what s/he wants to. And it makes him/her very happy.

Maybe that’s why tiredness and fatigue is so common at this level?

But, when inspiration surfaces to move on to more spiritual levels of awareness, a problem may present itself:
an Authentic person is used to work hard, to secure victories by making the necessary effort, to be active, to change things, to excel in bringing changes into his life according to his sweet will. There always seems to be an action and reaction, a structure, principles and rules at this level.

In my experience and to me it is very very useful and important to separate the Authentic level from the Transpersonal ones. The understanding of the inns and outs of the Authentic level and what differentiates it from the Subtle one (and beyond), is what added to clarity and understanding in my case. Thank you Wilber! :)

The strategies that may really work at that level are BEING ACTIVE, MAKING EFFORT, CHANGING THINGS, ASSUMING RESPONSIBILITY ETC…

On the Subtle level in my experience, however, none of those strategies work. None.
The Subtle level in this context means the first of three truly spiritual, transpersonal and non-material levels of human awareness (as per established Wilber map).

A person at the Subtle level (or beyond) is not limited by material strategies anymore. No more “I create my own world”, making effort is not needed anymore and to change things, well, at transpersonal levels, it is futile. That’s my experience.

While the Authentic self is directed onwards, to the outside world, the Subtle self or Soul, on the other hand, is directed inwards.

The main difference between Authentic and Subtle levels (or beyond) is that the later are already perfect. Transpersonal selves (the Subtle, Causal and Nondual) already are perfect, are eternal, and need no effort. There is no need to win or change anything, simply because all is already attained. There is no need to clear up anything, no Shadow, no dramas etc…

I have seen more or less Authentic persons trying to apply the same strategies that are effective at the Authentic level to their spiritual quests.

To my eye, it is like trying to raise the stormy waves in an already perfectly calm lake of clear and serene water.

An Authentic person may still want to change things, to make an effort to change to attain the spiritual levels of consciousness, all the while there is NO NEED for such action, struggle and change.

There is one more glaring difference between Authentic and Transpersonal levels of existence: on the Authentic level the underlying concept is change, effort and creating my own life. On the spiritual, the Subtle level, on the other hand, the underlying leading quality is surrender.

Surrender to what already is perfect, whole, immortal and eternal. There is no need to change things, to alter oneself, to create some new reality. No.

At these spiritual levels, everything already is perfect, peaceful, utterly fulfilling and beyond any change. All it takes is surrender to what already exists, eternally.

The above photo:
Anandamayi Ma in deep samadhi (a state of spiritual awareness, well beyond Authenticity).

:)

More on the transpersonal levels of awareness here >>

 

 

 

 

 

Authenticy in therapy

I have been offering humanistic (psycho)therapy sessions for individuals since 1996 and in all those years I have learned really a lot. What I love the most in working with individuals is their waking up or opening up to their own unique and authentic feelings, needs and goals.

There are levels of human awareness way beyond authenticity, for sure, but man! it is really rewarding to witness a progress such as described below.

I would like to share a post from Dr John Rowan’s Blog:

A young man, after some very stuck sessions in therapy, became very angry with the therapist, saying: “I don’t think we are getting anywhere. When I say something, you just repeat it back to me, and never really give me what I want.”

The therapist said: “It really irritates you that I simply give your statement back to you, without offering any cure or correction.”

Back comes the young man – “There you are, doing it again! If it don’t get anything better than that, I am just going to leave!”.

The therapist says – “You are so angry with me not giving you anything more, that you really feel like leaving.” The young man gets up out of his seat and goes to the door.

The therapist says: “Just before you go, I want to say that I really respect what you have just been saying. It is more alive and more direct than anything you have said before, and it must have taken real courage to say all that.”

The young man leaves. But he comes back the following week, much more involved and much more self-revealing.
Dr John Rowan web site >>

No escape

“Our ability to offer empathy can allow us to:
– stay vulnerable,
– defuse potential violence,
– help us hear the word ‘no’ without taking it as a rejection,
– revive lifeless conversation, and
– even hear the feelings and needs expressed through silence.”
— Dr Marshall Rosenberg

In my experience, there is no mysticism, no secrets and no escape from eventual realization that empathy may as well be a manifestation of our true, transpersonal and eternal nature.

My previous training (Zen, Kali Tantra etc…, which in my case usually translates to serious lack of heartfelt empathy) resulting mostly in the Causal level of awareness (as per established Wilber map) is still being felt in my everyday experiences of others…but even the most abstract transpersonal experiences can not eradicate the quality that binds together, well, everything. That quality is, for me, empathy.

I only wish I had more self-empathy at my disposal. The more self-empathy, the better and more heartfelt empathy can be offered to others, thus building more harmonious, peaceful and respectful relationships.
And that too, is inescapable (for me).

:)

Beyond personal dramas

NVC system provides us with brilliant notions of differences between needs (or potentials as I call them), emotions, concepts in mind and strategies.

While NVC system itself does not speak directly about it, as far as I can tell, self-actualization and individualization both play a major role in achieving authenticity in all areas of life.

The quote below is not meant to imply that I am so self-sufficient and self-actualized and individualized that I need no one, no empathy, no warmth, respect and love in my personal (and transpersonal) relationships. No. What I would like to point out is that self-sufficient person (like me, if I may be so cheeky) does not depend on others for aforementioned qualities.

In my honest opinion, it is only when I was able to go beyond my personal dramas of yearning for attention and forcing others to provide me with qualities such as warmth, love, respect and empathy, that I was really beginning to be ready for real and honest relationships.

Now, for me, being alone is not a problem any more. I love being alone. And yet, no man is an island as the saying goes, and I also enjoy company of others very much. It is just that I am conditioned by that company no more.
:)

The capacity to be alone is the capacity to love. It may look paradoxical to you, but it is not. It is an existential truth: only those people who are capable of being alone are capable of love, of sharing, of going into the deepest core of the other person – without possessing the other, without becoming dependent on the other, without reducing the other to a thing, and without becoming addicted to the other. They allow the other absolute freedom, because they know that if the other leaves, they will be as happy as they are now. Their happiness cannot be taken by the other, because it is not given by the other. ~ Osho

Enter Dzogchen: rigpa

Vedanta Advaita teachings on the subject of the ultimate experiences of Oneness (i.e. samadhi) are quite different from the Buddhist teachings. The main difference, as far as I can see, is that the Buddhist teachings (Dzogchen and others as well) affirm the non-self or anatta natural reality whereas Vedanta insists on the base “I am” (Aham Brahmasmi) reality.

Both are valid, of course. To me, however, the “I am” presence, has become like any other movement in the Mind: impermanent and with no base whatsoever.

Rigpa as per fellow Buddhist, quote taken from a closed FB group
( Mahasiddhas, Mahamudra & Dzogchen >> )

“The ultimate nature of all sentient beings is said to be pure, all-encompassing, primordial clarity or naturally occurring timeless clarity. This intrinsic clarity has no form of its own and yet is capable of perceiving, experiencing, reflecting, or expressing all form. It does so without being affected by those forms in any ultimate, permanent way.

The analogy given by Dzogchen masters is that one’s nature is like a mirror which reflects with complete openness but is not affected by the reflections, or like a crystal ball that takes on the colour of the material on which it is placed without itself being changed. The knowledge that ensues from recognizing this mirror-like clarity (which cannot be found by searching nor identified) is what Dzogchenpas refer to as rigpa.”

Emptiness Itself is Empty

Transpersonal experiences (from the Causal and Nondual levels as per Wilber) shared on this Blog up to this point are all, in my current empirical understanidng, only steps to the ultimate reality which is sunyata. Beyond everything, even beyond God/Goddess and yet so close (in my experiences).
It is the way the things naturally are: empty.

Introduction into the emptiness teachings, by Greg Goode:

“Even emptiness is empty. For example, the emptiness of the bottle of milk does not exist inherently. Rather, it exists in a dependent way. The emptiness of the bottle of milk is dependent upon its basis (the bottle of milk). It is also dependent upon having been designated as emptiness.

Understood this way, emptiness is not a substitute term for awareness. Emptiness is not an essence. It is not a substratum or background condition. Things do not arise out of emptiness and subside back into emptiness. Emptiness is not a quality that things have, which makes them empty. Rather, to be a thing in the first place, is to be empty.

It is easy to misunderstand emptiness by idealizing or reifying it by thinking that it is an absolute, an essence, or a special realm of being or experience. It is not any of those things. It is actually the opposite. It is merely the way things exist, which is without essence or self-standing nature or a substratum of any kind. Here is a list characteristics of emptiness, to help avoid some of the frequent misunderstandings about emptiness, according to the Buddhist Consequentialists:

  • Emptiness is not a substance
  • Emptiness is not a substratum or background
  • Emptiness is not light
  • Emptiness is not consciousness or awareness
  • Emptiness is not the Absolute
  • Emptiness does not exist on its own
  • Objects do not consist of emptiness
  • Objects do not arise from emptiness
  • Emptiness of the “I” does not negate the “I”
  • Emptiness is not the feeling that results when no objects are appearing to the mind
  • Meditating on emptiness does not consist of quieting the mind.

Sunyata does not entail inherent qualities or existence; well, what exactly does that mean?

Other terms for inherent existence, gathered from Buddhist and Western sources, would include the following:

  • the reality of the thing irrespective of culture or language or human consciousness
  • objective existence
  • independent existence
  • true essence
  • Platonic essence
  • real existence
  • ontological existence
  • the thing as it really is
  • the thing in-itself
  • the is-ness of the thing
  • beingness
  • actuality
  • thinghood
  • perseity
  • self-sufficient being
  • self-inclusive being
  • essential being
  • instantiation in reality
  • subject of ontological commitment
  • the thing’s entitification
  • the way it really is, regardless of what anyone thinks
  • the reality of the thing as opposed to its appearance
  • what science will eventually discover the thing to be
  • the way God intends the thing to be
  • “it is what it is”
  • “it’s like that, and that’s the way it is”.

Therefore, sunyata can only be experienced as it is completely beyond human mental capacities. Before sunyata is
experienced, anatta has to be mastered.
Blog on the subject of anatta, here >>

From beyond: the nirodha-samāpatti

“…niroda-samapatti or ‘attainment of extinction’ , also called saññā-vedayita-nirodha, ‘extinction of feeling and perception’, is the temporary suspension of all consciousness and mental activity, following immediately upon the semi-conscious state called ‘sphere of neither-perception-nor-non-perception’ (s. jhāna, 8).
The absolutely necessary pre-conditions to its attainment are said to be perfect mastery of all the 8 absorptions (jhāna), as well as the previous attainment of Anāgāmī or Arahantship…”

(Nyanatiloka 1998)

After entering the Nondual more or less at will for almost one year or so, profound anatta insight has manifested as I have shared above (Blog on anatta >>). A month and a half after that insight, a thought about experiencing nirodha-samāpatti arose.

And it happened soon after that:

while lying in my bed, with closed eyes (no visual input) “entering” into Nondual and on to anatta using the entry of thoughts and feelings (just thoughts/feelings cognized, no observer or witness), it happened; slowly body awareness turned off, feelings of so called tiredness just dissipated and thoughts vanished one by one. And consciousness manifested as thoughts/feelings just gently and slowly faded itself down to a complete stop. Total silence or stillness and swoon-like absence of everything and anything. Beyond perception and non-perception. No saying; can’t really adequately describe it, I admit (please, also see the Appendix 6.3.).

I don’t know how long this state lasted, but afterwards everything instigated itself it seems or whatever, everything became active again, thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations. Eyes were closed still, so visual cortex was inactive throughout the event.

It was like a natural thing, an element of arising and ceasing of events. Only this time, there was no event, no perception and no not-perception. It was total absence of anything and everything. I cannot remember what was going on while in this state, as there was no I to remember anything and nothing at all was happening in that state.

Now silent joy is arising here as I share this; nothing overly special or extraordinarily mystical about it; just naturally unfolding events or non-events. Now, however, I realize that there is literally nothing which I could possibly base my existence or awareness on. Everything is impermanent, arising and fading away, by itself, independently liberated and interdependent at the same time and empty of inherent qualities.

So why am I sharing this?

In his detailed book on Buddhist sadhana Daniel Ingram shares on the topic:

“I mention this attainment because it is one more of those things that is found today but has often been relegated to the realm of myth and legend or has been forgotten entirely. It is not that Nirodha is necessary but it definitely is a good and useful thing to be able to attain. In fact, I have not yet spoken with anyone who had attained it who didn’t consider it among the absolute King Daddy of meditation attainments other than arahatship, as the depth of its afterglow never fails to impress and amaze. Hopefully, mentioning it will raise the standard to which people feel they can reasonably aspire, which is basically the whole goal of this book.”
(Ingram, p. 356, 2007)

Daniel’s words resonate with my reality very much.

From my upcoming book, After anatta

Next, sunyata >>

Heaven can wait

“Taking life seriously does not mean spending our whole lives meditating as if we were living in the Himalaya Mountains or in the old days in Tibet. In the modern world, we have to work to earn our living, but we should not get entangled in a nine-to-five existence, where we live without any view of the deeper meaning of life.

Our task is to strike a balance, to find a middle way, to learn not to overextend ourselves with extraneous activities and preoccupations, but to simplify our lives more and more. The key to finding a happy balance in modern life is simplicity.”
from Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, chapter 2 by Sogyal Rinpoche (on a photo left)

Well, I would like to add a few words:

Following the psychological-transpersonal identity development to the letter, spiritual realms are to be attained only after a practitioner has cleared out the so called shadow and only after he has attained the Centuar or the Authentic level of awareness.

To my understanding in practice that means that there is of little use to strive for spiritual enlightenment if one is not really satisfied (individualized and self-actualized) in his daily life, here and now.

Once the shadow (traumas, inner conflicts, guilt, anger, shame etc…) is thoroughly dealt with, the spiritual realms are safely and easily attained, permanently. To my mind, being really happy and satisfied with oneself in daily life means attaining inner peace and harmony in daily matters (job, relationships, finances, sex etc…).

Being a psychotherapist and seeing my share of people trying to be spiritual and enlightened before they have actually cleared out all the debris of personal negativities, well, all I can say is, it is simply not possible.

So, the path I am advocating is to learn to walk first and when walking is really mastered (i.e. when inner psychological climate is tranquil in daily life), then and only then it is safe to move on to the spiritual realms (the Subtle, Causal and Nondual levels) where one can really fly.
Heaven can and does indeed wait.

:)