New Year, New You? That’s Not What It’s About

For the last few years, I begin my year with a numerology reading. I am an 11, and most of my character is about deeper spiritual pursuits and enlightenment. No surprise there. 

Everyone asks what your New Year’s resolution is. When everyone else is setting goals about weight loss or fitness, spiritual people often set goals like being more present, doing sunrise yoga or switching from vegetarianism to raw foods. 

But, those types of resolutions, more politically or spiritually correctly relabled as intentions, are ways of recreating a more acceptable ego structure. That too must fall away. 

I have heard Adyashanti say that he sat on a bus bench, and told the universe he would accept anything the universe put in front of him that would help him achieve enlightenment. If that meant he would be rich and famous, so be it. If it meant he would be homeless and face challenges, so be it. No more conditions.- Huffington Post 

Could you do that? Could you completely accept what is with no conditions, no meaning, no judgements? I am poignantly aware that Neale Walsh and Byron Katie hit rock bottom as part of their turning point. 

 So how do you begin a New Year in alignment with Consciousness? I find the answer in these words:

“Once we come back to our Self, then whatever is created is happening not so much from a perspective of “What do I want?” but from a pure intention. Not an individual intention, not a collective intention, but the intention, the primal intention. It’s not an intention with a choice or a chooser. It’s a primary creative energy that comes from the Source.

When we really have returned to the Source, creation is no longer distorting itself through our wants or desires. That’s when we’re seeing, “What is? That’s what I want. What is actually happening? That’s what I desire.” And I’m no longer interested in creating anything, because I realize that everything, as it is, is what I always wanted it to be. It was always my intention; I just didn’t know it. I didn’t really want to manifest my individual intention, I wanted to come into the purity of intention itself.” – Adyashanti

Wow. What if I wanted exactly what is? How do I move into intentionality itself?

Ironically, despite everything I have said, moving into intentionality is my intention for 2017, for life. 

Of Mystics and Miracles

“What are those things on your altar? Do you pray to them?”, asked one of my 9 year old’s friends. 

I have Shiva and Kali on my altar. I explained that I don’t pray. The deities reflect principles of ego release. But how do you explain that to a child?

I don’t pray. There is no need to beg some designed figure for a miracle. I don’t believe in miracles, at least not the mystic type. What makes that remarkable to say out loud is that I have witnessed mysticism and the miraculous. 

Recently, my daughter was seriously ill for a few months. She was in immense pain, and so very fragile. She had many medications. To ease her pain, I did Reiki. Some medical friends shared research that said it sped healing. I can say quite honestly that it had no effect. Her pain did not change from Reiki – it took pain medication. Her symptoms subsided as per the typical course of her treatment. 

So where does that leave me? How do I sit with this on my spiritual path? 

I think miracles and mysticism are meanings we assign to experience. They give us some sense of control over circumstances. If we pray a certain way, we will be heard and blessed. If we use symbols or sacred sounds, we will experience certain special things. If we find the right mystic, we will see the true nature of the cosmos. Won’t our ego be happily satisfied then? 

“If you are a true seeker of liberation, you’ve got to be willing to stand alone. At the moment of liberation everything falls away–everything. Suddenly the ground beneath your feet is gone, and you are alone. You are alone because you have directly realized that there is no other; there is no separation. There is only you, only Self, only limitless emptiness, pure consciousness.

To the mind, the ego, this appears terrifying. When the mind looks at limitlessness and infinity, it projects meaninglessness and despair. To the ego absolute freedom can look terrifying. But when the mind is let go of, the view changes from meaningless despair and fear to the unending joy and wonder of liberation. In liberation, you stand alone.

 You stand alone because you need no supports of any kind. You need no supports because you have realized that the very notion of a separate you no longer exists, that there is nothing to support, that the whole ego experience was a flimsy illusion.” – Adyashanti

On my path, I will indeed experience mysticism and miracles. But they won’t arise because I go seeking them, or because I have arranged circumstances for them to occur. These events do and will occur, and need not be labelled that way. The events of life will unfold as the events of life. 

Aging is Just Another Ego Structure

“That is just how it is when you get older…”

“Everything starts to fall apart once you hit 40.”

“You aren’t valued for your wisdom as you age – the younger staff get the opportunities.”

I have heard several spiritual teachers say the equivalent of “Aging is Optional”.  Wayne Dyer said it, and Christian Northrup teaches it. That is not to deny that the body changes.  We transition through many body changes: baby, toddler, child, teen, adult, pregnancy, etc.  The way we see aging significantly impacts the way we experience it.

In Chasing Enlightenment, Adyashanti talks about aging as a tool for moving us past the constructed self.  He suggests that at some point, usually between 40 and 60, we are no longer able to reconstruct the image of self we have spent most of our lives building.  We can’t sustain our career identity, as we may have hit the peak of positions we can attain.  We can’t sustain our illusion of invincibility, as our bodies change. Gradually, those things we have spent a life time putting in to place as Me are no longer true.

Many people are terrified of that.  They grasp at whatever is possible to hold on to a fragile ego identity that will inevitably fall away as death. The question is if you are willing to die to  your ego while you are alive, and live in that freedom.

Personally, I feel great relief in the knowledge that nature has designed life to assist us in letting go of ego structures and increase the opportunity for us to be fully Awake. I have been actively devoted to seeing the ways in which I create separation for a few years now, with varying success.  One noteworthy success is that, where as the knowing that I will die someday used to invoke terror, it now feels peaceful and beautiful. I know that I will come to be released fully from my mind and my ego.

I have never been one to fear getting older.  I don’t have a mental model of aging.  I have no expectations and no script to follow.  That is one blessing of having a young child at a time when many of my peers are grandparents and retirees.  My life is my own, not a pre-written script.

And that too is incredible freedom to be fully alive.

See With Your Heart

“I saw you,” my 8 year old said. “I saw you pet the dog and it was as beautiful as a unicorn.”

“Oh, it was that beautiful? Wow. What made it as beautiful as a unicorn?” I asked, smiling, but not too much. Or she would get mad at me for laughing at her.

“I could see your love connecting,” she replied.

“You really are awesome,” I said while giving her a snuggly hug.

“What do you mean?”, she asked while earnestly looking at me.

“You see the world through your heart,” I replied.

“How do most people do it?”, she wanted to know.

“With their minds,” was my quick reply.

“Don’t do that.  Your mind makes things up, especially fear. You have to see with your good parts. With your heart and your imagination. My mind used to tell me bad thoughts until I stopped listening to it,” said my little guru.

At the age of 8, she just recapped the teachings of most meditation leaders.

“All of our thoughts are conditioned. We all are thinking exactly along the lines we are conditioned to think. Programmed like a computer. Anybody who thinks they are actually choosing of their own free will the line of thinking that they have is completely deluded by their thinking.”

—Adyashanti

Human nature as spiritual practice

If you read my blogs enough, you could get the impression that I am always kind and calm. You could get the sense that I don’t lose my temper or never say mean things.

I sure do try to be that way. I tend to beat myself up when I am not kind or calm or lose my temper. I also see those moments as times for me to look at what belief was surfacing. I now see them as gifts that focus my awareness on awakening.

“Some people enter spirituality thinking it will help them address everything in human life. Their pursuit of enlightenment is that if they can have the right realization then all of their difficulties will be solved. It almost never works out to be that way. We have to look at spirituality with more mature reasonable eyes. We exist on multiple dimensions of experience and perception.

People try to see life as an unimportant dream state and that is why there is tremendous sense of freedom. But if you hold yourself there you are doing it out of fear, out of avoiding your human nature. Human nature will pull anyone down into humility. It is hard to be human and grandiose at the same time.”
~Adyashanti
From the Nisargadatta Webclass Nov 2014

I don’t want to deny my human nature.  I am not trying to be a saint. I am not devaluing this existence. It is a joy.

I will continue to live and love from my place of truth. Sometimes circumstances will make it more likely that I have fear triggered and I will work through those.  In that moment I will see the truth. And more and more often, I will let go of beliefs and live what is real. It happens now.

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Story junkie: Keeping the ego fed

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I am a junkie of psychic phenomenon.  I used to go for card readings every year. I check in on Vedic astrology every month. Recently I really connected with life path numerology.

What hooks me is it gives meaning to thoughts and experiences that cause me to suffer. What am I supposed to be doing? How will my business perform? Why do certain patterns show up in my relationships? Why am I having this particular dream over and over?  Honestly, I could as easily ask my psychologist the same questions and find a more meaningful answer!

The problem is that assigning meaning to our thoughts and experiences is just trading in one set of beliefs for a new set that might make me feel better.  Fundamentally,  it is the need of the ego to create meaning and a story that creates suffering.

“A thought isn’t a true thing. It only exists in the mind.

By changing our minds over and over,  going from one belief to another, we believe that we will eventually find freedom. But every human life is an example that we don’t find freedom through thought.  We don’t find freedom through opinions. Freedom is a matter of consciousness, not of thought. Happiness is a matter of consciousness, not of thought. Consciousness is something that links us to our deepest and truest nature, to the deepest calling of our heart – not just the deepest calling of our mind.” -Adyashanti

For a moment, what I read in numerology made me feel good. Until it didn’t.  A story requires more fuel to keep it going.

For example, my life number is 11 and my daughter’s is 22. These are both master numbers with significant life paths. So clearly it is a soul agreement. Clearly her father, a life path 5 which is highly incompatible with my numbers, was a relationship completely destined to bring my daughter into my life. And 5 years ago, a psychic said he had been a wandering monk in my past lives who used to share spiritual discoveries with me. Or he had been my father in lives so felt drawn to support me. And so on.

The stories give me momentary relief because all my suffering now makes sense by having a story to wrap it in. But then the suffering returns in time. Maybe the story doesn’t explain everything.  Maybe it takes too much energy to believe the story. Or maybe some part of me is awake enough to doubt the story.

Who am I when I let go of the story? I am happy. I am free. I am more closely connected to truth, reality, life and love.