Q&A, part 5

Q&A, part 5

The discussion continues on from Q&A 4. Most questions are coming from others now. (It began here)

Yes, it takes courage to be willing to stop and look at our crap. But this doesn’t mean we need to wade into it. Only to see it and allow it to resolve.

It is not necessary to confront someone with their stuff. That just tends to amplify it or the resistance to it. What you put your attention on grows stronger. At a workshop I was at last night, they described it as seeing with compassion. Being willing to look, but looking with compassion or forgiveness. This is energy that will help us let go and allow our baggage to resolve.

While confronting may oblige us to see the mud, it does not create an environment in which is can be resolved. Thus, we create a difficult circumstance. I’ve never found force is useful on a spiritual journey. It is contrary to letting go, the essence of what will get us past our junk.

I know there are some traditions that see it otherwise. Adyashanti talked about how they whack you with a stick if you let your mind wander in Zen practice. He had the impression this was what he needed for his very active mind. However, I disagree on that point. I’ll concede that there may be extreme cases that need a harsher approach, but I’ve personally yet to see such a case. And I’ve supported dozens through the awakening process.

People are attracted to modalities that will help them solve their problems. So the violent may be attracted to non-violence. But they may not yet recognize the degree to which they habitually see the world in a confrontational way. It’s a deep defensive mechanism. Still, they seek healing and will be attracted to people who don’t have those issues. (and will tend to latch onto people who can ground their anger energetically, dumping on them in the process – that’s about energetic literacy and learning to protect yourself that way.)

Most people exploring non-duality are in multiplicity. They are identified with the ways of the world and seeking a way out. There are some people and teachers in the dwaita stage of duality known as Self Realization or Cosmic Consciousness that think they’re in non-duality. They experience an inner wholeness and see the word as an illusion and thus irrelevant. They can also feel complete or done for a time. But as long as the illusion/world is separate, it is not non-duality. I spoke about this before.

Yes, you have to go beyond the problem to see it in context and thus see its solution. The solution is found in transcending the problem. The greatest paradoxes are resolved when you contain the conflict.

We can think of the 3 gunas as the fundamental forces or energies of creation. Dharma seeks to keep them in balance but different people will tend to culture and increase different gunas. We can associate given emotional states with this or that guna but it’s not quite that black and white. They’re always blended.

Ayurveda has the related doshas or personal tendencies to go out of balance. Vata people tend to culture dryness, Pitta excess fire, and so forth. So they recommend specific people favour certain foods and lifestyle choices to maintain balance.

There is not a direct relationship between gunas and “levels of consciousness” but there is a correspondence. This is best illustrated with Maya, the creation of the world. Maya is commonly thought to mean illusion but actually its root is ‘to build’.

(this is from Adi Shankara) When Tamas guna (inertia) is dominant in a person or group consciousness, Maya (the world) behaves as a covering and only the surface reality is seen as real. When Rajas (activity/fire) is dominant, Maya is seen as an illusion or dream. (Rajas is needed to “burn” tamas into sattva) This is a common perspective before or after Self Realization. As sattva becomes dominant, Maya becomes the ladder home. Maya becomes seen as Lila, the divine play. This is typical in the Refined stages of development, post awakening.

The field of action is very complex. A spiritual person who becomes violent unexpectedly could be for a number of reasons. You’d have to look at the specific case. Just as in your psychology practice, there is no one size fits all.

Justify is another story, literally. It is making a story of why we did something after the fact. It is being out of touch with your inner motivations.

Krishna explores this in great detail in the Bhagavad Gita. In that story, war is explained to be necessary to destroy the growing evil that threatens civilization.

Yes – there are different schools of thought about the spiritual process. Zen, Vedic and Tantric traditions still recognize the full range although some sub-schools are more focused on this or that way it was experienced subjectively by someone. Tantra, for example, focuses more on the energetic process and it’s traditions support those with a very active or intense kundalini process. However, there are 3 distinct ways the kundalini process is described in different schools. (only one is the classic rise) One of the things I’m attempting to do is find the common ground and the understanding that explains the differences to tie it all together. It’s taking time though.

Buddhism has largely lost the understanding of post-Realization although if you read Buddha’s teachings, he clearly spoke to all the levels at different times. (Advaita is a Vedic school founded/ revived by Shankara)

Yes, the working model I’ve been using has been evolving. And that’s the right approach. I started with the 7 states model that Maharishi once taught, then separated the states and stages, then recently started working with the model I described. It’s very similar but more complete. This one is derived from the Yog Vasishtha, the core teaching from the Ramayana. It best matches what I’m seeing in the many awake I know.

Yes, the reason I describe the 3 distinct stages is because there is a distinct realization that begins each one. There is a change in the sense of being or who you are and there is a change in how we see the world. We can also describe sub-stages – I mentioned the 10 of Unity, for example. But these are stages of development within one larger sense of self and reality. They also progress very nicely from existing psychological models of human development. They call it transpersonal development. The magazine article mentioned touches on that.

There is also a parallel development of sattva, so each stage also has a Refined version that brings a distinct flavour to it. It gives us the ability to perceive the process directly, the mechanics of creation, our energy systems, and much, much more. This process may begin well before awakening or well after. It’s less common in westerners, probably due to the strong mind orientation, but that’s changing. It can be more obvious in those on a devotional path. (refined perception is related to the heart opening)

And no, human growth and development is not a tidy thing. You don’t have to be perfected to awaken. Most people do lots of clearing afterwards. You don’t have to complete one stage before the next one. Just be ready enough.

Personally, it’s good to be able to spend a little time in each stage. It makes integrating easier and allows you to support others better if it’s more familiar.

This is based on my own interpretation of my experiences, on my observations and sharing with dozens of others, on traditional texts describing the process, and on modern teachers who are teaching similar. Models like this are not in the mainstream yet, but it’s coming down the pipe. Something similar was presented a year ago at the Science and Non-Duality Conference by a panel. There’s a web site in the works, people are being interviewed, etc

It’s also worth noting that the more people that have these shifts, the easier it gets for everyone. At a certain point, enough people awake will shift the entire global consciousness up a notch. And then another… The golden age many are predicting is when it’s high enough that most people experience life as-if enlightened – even if they’re not. Best to actually be though.

I’m glad to hear you’re being discriminating. The confusion between non-duality and Self Realization or the difference between a passing experience and a shift in being or what Adyashanti called abiding and non-abiding are all common errors. The English language is weak on the subject, there is a lack of standardized terminology, and it’s a very new field in western thinking. It wasn’t so long ago that all of it was lumped together in one basket of “spiritual experiences”.

The real test is time. In time, it will tend to deepen and expand, or fade away. As you get further along, what some call the ‘inner guru’ comes online and to some extent, a lot of it becomes self-verifying. Until it all shifts again. (laughs)

You also describe why I continue to describe it in different ways and play with different perspectives and use various terms. I’m currently writing an article that shows how the same process can be seen in several different ways, all quite valid.

And yes. Our perspective of what is unfolding can support or hinder it to some degree. And others pointers can have a significant effect on the process. This is even more so in Unity.

The onset of consistent bliss may or may not come with a stage shift. It can indeed be significant but is not a stage in and of itself in this context. It is not a change in who we are although it may accompany that. For westerners, it’s quite common for the liberation and peace to come first, then a settling into sat chit ananda or nirvana with the bliss.

I would describe the mechanics slightly differently as well. Suffering ends with the end of attachment/ identification to form. For some, this comes with liberation. For others, this happens more gradually as attachments progressively fall away and suffering fades. I can recall being struck by how little people even realize they’re suffering because it’s normal to them.

Again, the bliss may show up at the same time or a little later. But I’d agree that by the time it’s there, suffering is no more. When this first unfolded for me, I can recall the body getting quite sick, but I hadn’t even noticed because I felt so good. I unintentionally infected the entire wing of my office, most of whom ended up home for a week or more. Oops.

I noted prior that bliss steps up in stages (a different set of them). The initial bliss of Self Realization is a shadow of what follows. That also can arise gradually or suddenly in what I’ve called a rapture. My teacher joked you can hope one doesn’t happen in public. (laughs) Very soon, that almost overwhelming bliss becomes normal.

In a more detailed rendition of the model, I talk about the end of suffering. But because of the above, it doesn’t necessarily happen with a stage change. It can even happen prior.

Another consequence of detaching is a shift into the flow of life. When we stop fighting what is. This isn’t so much something you do as what arises as an effect. This makes life much smoother – not only because were not fighting it but because we enliven aspects of nature that support us because we support them. A very big subject but the Refined stages allow us to experience this directly. Terms like “nature’s support” and “do less and accomplish more” refer to this. What we need just shows up.

Of course this doesn’t mean glitches and karma will not be present. But their prominence will be much less and we don’t get caught up in them the same way. However, this is also an effect of the process, not the process itself.

At one point, I mentioned separating the shift, the purification that may result from it, and the experiences that may result. The other 2 are effects of the shift but are not the shift even though they may dominate any description of it. In the same way, the side-effects are consequences of the shift but not the shift itself. Book 3 of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras lists some other ones that tend to develop naturally over time. But knowledge of past lives, the essential nature of an object, or being able to walk through fire are not enlightenment. Just possible effects of it.

“The falling away of the ‘capacity to suffer’ at the time was experienced as the flipside of dis-covering the unconditional love and bliss that is ‘my’ nature.”

Beautifully put. But do you see that this was much more than just a falling away of suffering? And do you see this is an effect of rediscovering who you are? This is why it is not a Stage in and of itself although it can certainly be a milestone in your own personal journey. For someone else, it may be less of a milestone. Or a different milestone, like the dawning of endless compassion.

I can also note a personal aspect here. My understanding is of course informed mostly by my own experience. In my own case, I shifted into a witness or observer mode many years before actual awakening. Some traditions, including my own, teach that these come together. That witnessing is a key marker for Cosmic Consciousness or Self Realization. And while it can be, it isn’t always. And the kundalini shakti confirms this.

As a result of that shift, a major aspect of suffering fell away early, well before the bliss. And I unpack the components and effects from the actual awakening as it was distinct for me. Not to mention, the variations are endless. The model is less useful if it does not distinguish such details.

Hopefully that explains a little more of where I’m coming from. The Stages focus on the key shifts that underlie developing enlightenment. But there are various sub-processes and effects that come along for the ride. Each of us will experience and emphasize different aspects and that shows up in the various traditions. But understanding what actually awakens is the most important detail that is too often lost in effects. And that is how the keys to enlightenment get lost.

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