The conversation has shifted some…
I’ve not been adding links to these responses much but a search will reveal more on most of the topics mentioned.
Are desires bad?
There has been a trend to demonize desires due to the dominance of renunciate teaching. A monks path means putting aside desires for relationships and things and focusing on the divine.
But most of us are not monks. The householders path is one of desires – for relationship, family, home, and affluence. All good. The survival of the species depends on it. 😉
The problem with desires is not the desires themselves but our attachment or identification with them. And that we “need” and seek fulfillment outside of ourselves. When we make a deep spiritual connection, those attachments fall away naturally. That and healing also clears the deck of desires driven by lack and reactivity. We may still need to wind down some bad habits too.
In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna talks about the winding down of attachment to the results of action (aka the fulfillment of desires). (That’s a useful thing to note – it’s the results we’re looking for – the fruits of action, not the action itself. We want the new TV but we don’t want to want it, just have it)
In the first stage, we notice after the fact that we’ve been caught by something. A doh! moment. In the second stage, we notice during the action that we’ve been caught. And finally, we notice the catching happen at the impulse point, before we begin to act.
When we notice or become conscious of what is happening we come to a point of choice to change the direction of action. At some point, the drivers of many desires will be wound down and thus, the impulse will not even arise. After Self Realization, most apparent desires are seen to arise from habit or come through us. There is no me for them to come from. And there is little to no attachment to what arises. (this is when it’s well established)
Even the attachment to the desire for Self Realization is shed before Self Realization. Our concepts about enlightenment are often the last “stress” to be shed before we wake up.
It’s also worth noting that we’ll tend to be caught more in certain areas of life than in others. Relationships will give us more trouble than work or vice versa and so forth. Because attachment is closely related to karma (action) this is also closely related to the winding down of producing new karma that happens with awakening.
And remember that the tendency to make something bad is an ego judgment. There’s nothing wrong with desires, thoughts or the ego. The binding influence is what you want to resolve.
Yes, the experience of daily living becomes so different and can be full of amusing “coincidences”. We could say the laws of nature have a sense of humour.
When I returned from the states after getting my grad degree (for which I had little funding), everything I needed was offered without asking. One amusing example – a friend sent me an email asking me if I wanted his son’s Buick. That evening, I went for dinner at a local bookstore/eatery place. On the new books table coming in was a book called “Dave’s Buick”.
Patanjali talks about this in the Yoga Sutras. When the clinging to desires falls away, so too does covetousness. In 2:37 he says “When non-theft is established, all jewels rise up.”
Of course, this tends to happen unevenly. In areas where we’re more bound, not so easy. Where “coincidences” flow, we’re less bound.
Good advice on noticing your behaviour. You just have to be a little careful not to make it a new obsession. [he later clarified this only works if you’ve moved past self-judgement] Watch the feeling tone of how you’re responding to what you notice. This isn’t about finding new ways to judge yourself. This is, as you say, about letting go rather than creating new layers of attachment to our attachments.
Some describe this process as like peeling an onion. It can be multi-layered. We resolve something only to find another player behind that. Sometimes it can seem endless but over time you reach the roots of this and that and a whole chain of drivers falls away.
One thing that had a profound effect on my process was culturing gratitude. Based on an idea I saw, I carried a small rock around in my pocket. Whenever I noticed it there, I thought of something different to be grateful for. Same with when I put it in my pocket in the morning and took it out at night. Not in a fake mood thing but really feeling it.
Over time, this shifted the emotional tone up and allowed much smoother resolution of anything that arose. I blew through a lot of baggage smoothly that way and it better prepared the awakening.
Because of my own process, there was never really a “no-one here”. The cosmic Self was well-known before the “me” fell away, so there was always a fullness rather than an emptiness or no-self phase. But yes, that is one way for it to unfold. The sick experience did illustrate how prominent bliss could be. I would not describe it as well integrated though. Being oblivious to the body is rather ungrounded. But there can be phases like that. (laughs)
Later in the process, the Self descends into the senses and then body and you have the cosmic body phase. Then you have a whole different kind of grounding. Your body contains all of creation and the universe. This is another way of describing the bit before about uniting everything, even what is beyond perception – you become it, then you come to contain it when you recognize you are that which is greater than.
This is part of the process of Refined Unity.
If someone cultures samadhi through effortless mantra meditation or similar, the witness or cosmic Self value is usually clear by the time of awakening. So no no-self phase. But for some, the ego falls away before the cosmic is clear so there is a sense of no-self.
Some also use the term due to tradition to refer to the egoless state.
A friend of mine did her PhD research on awakening. She picked subjects that were all from different paths. Because of the influence of Buddhism on Transpersonal Psychology, she was obliged (academically) to frame it as “the experience of no-self”. (awakening is not an experience either) If I recall correctly, only 2 of the 12 subjects used “no-self” to describe their awakening.
The actual experience never meets the concepts of it so there is often a disconnect between the old teachings and what is unfolding. Further, the mind is always left behind by what is beyond it so it doesn’t have the words for a time and thus can’t make the connections. The more distinct the shift, the more this is the case.
But eventually, things come back in balance.
That is very clear experience. There is consciousness that is aware of consciousness aware of itself. (or earlier aware of things) By your description you are the consciousness that is aware of itself/things. Being aware of the global consciousness also is what some through history have called God (the impersonal or aware Being or Isness).
Later, you will shift into the more global consciousness. The witness of the witness. Then you will have both global and local awareness. Kind of like shifting focus. As focal points, we experience the dynamics of one of those points. As global consciousness that contains everything, we include all the other points. We are everyone.
Big subject – literally. 😉
And yes, it is common to reach a few places where it is very funny. How we once took it all so seriously, for example. (laughs)
Yes, I also see it like that. Dr. Skip Alexander proposed a model that places the higher “states of consciousness” on top of existing models of ego, moral, etc. development around the early 90’s. (his book Higher Stages of Human Development is out of print but I found a copy) Cook-Greuter has proposed similar Construct-Aware and Unitive stages in what is now known as transpersonal psychology. (similar to the first 2 in my model)
In the examples I know of people who began witnessing but did not awaken, all were young at the onset and not fully matured. One teacher said that enlightenment cannot be fully supported when the physiology is still maturing so the natural progression is Self Realization through Unity in the late teens and early 20’s. A post-University student would thus begin their householders life enlightened. They described this as normal.
The trick is, time moves in cycles and we’ve come out of a dark age (consciousness-wise) only about 150 years ago. Thus, the higher levels of development were very difficult to achieve for some time. But now thats changed and more and more people have made the initial shift in the last 8 years-ish. Then in the last year or so, the number making the Unity shift has begun to accelerate.
What this means is that the shift in consciousness you mention is not due to take place, it’s already underway. But it’s an inside-out process so the surface is the last place it shows. I was very sceptical when it first began because I’d been hearing about it coming for decades. But then it was with people I knew.
Note that the traditional view of Yugas puts us near the beginning of a much larger dark age. Yogananda’s master Yukteswar however found an error in the calculations that crept in during the dark ages. The corrected version aligns with the Great Year and the astronomical precession of the equinoxes. (The Age of Pisces, Aquarius, etc)
In both the golden and silver ages (Sat and Treta yuga), children would not forget who they are at essence. Those ages together are 2/3 of the time. The majority.
In an enlightened society, we would grow up with a sense of individuality/ ego which is then outgrown. But the attachment part would be little-present. What you also need to understand is that the experience of everyone in such a place is very different from what we experience now. It’s not just what we have now with happier people. The whole experience of life is different. The divine is not a separate place, more laws of nature are active, our ability to accomplish is far more profound…
What we’re doing now, communicating with text and technology is rendered useless. Large cities and technology supports are effects of the lower ages. We see the development of the worlds 5 proto-languages and then the written word as an evolution. They are actually signs of devolution away from a naturally connected culture. There’s a book called The Yugas that explores this in some detail, with dates. It’s a very different perspective on history.
If you go back far enough in your own history, you can remember such times. This isn’t just a thought experiment. It’s another reason we find recent times difficult. Although we might not recall consciously, the seeds are there and show up in the worlds myths and fiction. We’ve been there before.
When people speak of living in the Now moment, they’re usually talking about living in the immediate present. But there is a later form of that that includes all time. Where the past and future are in the present also. All of your history is now. And later, all history of all beings is now. Its an effect of Unity, when all of space and time converge into one wholeness. This also relates to the infamous Chapter 11 of the Gita.
A notable part about the current time is that we’re now above where we were when the last fall took place – a rather precipitous one. It’s rising in a somewhat similar way – quickly (relative to the vastness of time). This allows us to finally resolve a kind of shadow, a sort of background tone that many have carried for a long time. The tone itself varies by person – how they responded to their own experience of the fall – guilt, anger, whatever. That thousands of years old shadow is now being resolved.
The last thing Krishna is said to have mentioned before he “left” was to describe the current time. This is the golden age within the current age.
A big and complex subject.
One final note – because the golden age is dependent on those enlightened and the majority have no motivation to unfold what they already seem to have then, eventually the numbers drop, the knowledge is lost and the descent happens again. Better to be enlightened.
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