When awakening first happened to ‘me’ I was able to focus on the Transcendent elements of the Divine, switch to the Immanent elements of the Divine, and then switch back and forth at will. However, it seemed as if I was some sort of camera that had either a wide angle lens (Transcendent) or a close-up lens (Immanent). One of the ways that Enlightenment has become embodied these last 16 years is that it’s possible to ‘see’ or ‘focus’ on both simultaneously. In other words, the perceived duality has functionally disappeared with practice. Since Enlightenment is a shift in the level of perception, it takes practice to hold the total focus. I just kept going back and forth between Transcendent and Immanent until I could hold both in my functional awareness at the same time. Somehow the functional awareness expanded, with practice, over time. Now I can perceive Non-Duality continually or split into Duality and focus on one aspect if necessary.
Awakening ultimately frees us from believing that our ego’s perceptions of Reality are true. Again, however, there is a transformational process that I had to actively participate in by ‘exercising’ a new sort of muscle in order for me to be free from the illusions produced by the language that automatically generates in the language centers of my brain. Initial awakening did free me from the overall bondage to the ego’s ideas, it’s view that it was the arbiter of reality, and the emotions that those ideas generated. Once I saw that the ego was not Reality but, merely a verbal representation of reality (and a poor one at that), it wasn’t ever possible to believe in “myself” in the same way again. The Center of Gravity and interpretive center became Awareness or Brahman.
It also became clear that one of the ego’s primary functions is to make itself feel important, even if ‘importance’ is gained by feeling victimized (and usually falsely so). Of course, the ego also makes itself feel important by victimizing others, and the sense of satisfaction that it feels to have the thought ‘I am better than him or her’ that comes when denigrating someone else. The thing is, the ‘ego’ is only a set of temporary thoughts and feelings: mostly lying thoughts and contracted feelings.
Over time, it became clear to me that the ‘ego’ would try to continue to function as it always had, and would continue to produce suffering in this body-mind as it always had, unless there was some effort to do a ‘practice’ that would functionally reduce its power. As a psychologist, I knew about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (and its many varieties) which helps people question the truthfulness of their thoughts and stop being enslaved by those thoughts and the ‘real feelings of suffering’ that they produced (anxiety, panic, frustration, anger, grief, depression, etc.). However, it took reading a book by Byron Katie called Loving What Isbefore I understood the spiritual benefits of this practice.
Part of the deepening process I went through then, was the practice of challenging my false thoughts and the real (but, falsely based) feelings that those false thoughts produced. I named this practice “Thought Busting” because it broke the power of though over my mind and the power that false emotion had had over my heart. This was a concerted practice over many months and years to challenge any ideas about: myself, the nature of the world, what other people were doing/saying/thinking when I wasn’t with them, and the future. As I read Spiritual Enlightenment: The Damnedest Thing, and other books by the author who calls himself Jed McKenna (likely a pseudonym), I also added categories of false thoughts to my expanding list of falsehoods: current scientific theories, current theories of the history of man, theories about the afterlife, religious doctrines and dogmas, people’s guesses about the future, and all opinions about world events, to name a few.
Over time, it became such an automatic practice to question the truthfulness of all thoughts, and all the feelings produced from these (almost always) false thoughts, that it cleared out a good bit of the leftover power that my ego had over this body-mind. It isn’t that I can’t slip into momentary delusion and stop being Present but, that I can quickly remove myself from any false feelings of false suffering based on false thoughts. This deepening process has allowed my days to deepen into an experience of being Present, being at peace, and being content.
The further deepening that happens is a deepening of how much love flows through the body-mind, and how much less reality the ego seems to have over time…there might be a personality but, is there really a Self?. This week’s post is long enough, though, so I’ll write about the transformation of the ability to love, and the continuing disintegration of the sense of a Personal Self next week.