Signifying Nothing

I am grateful when friends tell me their stories. As I listen, I notice two things: a feeling of compassion for the person as they work out their relationship to the story, and an awareness that it is all story, signifying nothing. This is true of my own stories. And I am so grateful for that.

“When you read a novel, and you read about various characters, you may like some and not like others. Or when you watch a movie, think about your relationship with the characters. You might like them; you might not like them—but you’re not finding your sense of self in them. You’re not referencing your self-worth by the characters in a novel or when you turn on the TV. You just have your thoughts about them.

But imagine if you turned on your TV or you read a novel and you actually completely derived your sense of being and your sense of self from one of the characters. Immediately your perspective is very different, isn’t it? Now your perspective has gone from something that’s very vast to something that’s very limited, seen only through the eyes of the character. Sadly, that’s how most human beings spend their lives. They have this little character in their mind called “me,” and they’re actually viewing that “me” as personal when it’s not.”-Adyashanti

One realization that has been significant for me is that nothing is personal. It all just is. The sunny day is not personal. The drive to work is not personal. My job is not personal. The bills aren’t personal.

Where I still struggle is in how I relate to people and those I have deeper relationship with like my daughter. My love for her seems very personal. Yet I understand in some way that I am experiencing a state of love in relation to her. Or drop the pronouns: there is just love.

Or, how do I relate to people when it is very personal for them? Their broken heart, their work, their stress and anxiety? So far, all I have is compassion. I get irritated sometimes, either because I wish more peace for them, or because they are speaking to a place that still upsets me too. It’s hard to remember sometimes that the story signifies nothing.

To some, the phrase “signifies nothing” is depressing. It might bear the bleakness of the full Shakespearean quotation. For me, when things are not personal, when we don’t project meaning over them, the whole world changes.

“You don’t lose the character; you just gain the whole novel of life. It’s not like you lose anything. You just gain the whole book. You gain the whole universe.”- Adyashanti

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My Sister Pleiades

My spiritual partner has a powerful way of connecting with me when I am in my process of awakening. After listening intently, with her whole being, she says, “I see you.”

When I was in counseling, I found words to describe my childhood. It was a childhood cut short by assuming the adult and parental role at 13. I was responsible for the care of 4 people while holding some twisted privilege for this. It was a cycle of codependency I replicated in my significant romantic relationships. So for most of my life, I felt invisible.

I was drawn to men who were equally invisible, who needed me in some way. Generally, I saw and supported who they could be and they showed me gratitude. I confused this for love and connection.

The end of those relationships marks the most significant turning point in my path of consciousness. With fierce Grace, I embarked on deep retreat and committed to my path of awakening. Everything in my life dissolved and then realigned behind this intention.

Before that, a desperate part of myself once said I would stand before My Then Love once I was fully healed and ask him to see me, to love me. What I didn’t know is that as I deepened in healing and awakening, I would not want to stand in front of him or ask anything of him.

So why is it so powerful when my spiritual partner tells me she sees me? Possibly because I am not asking her to. Possibly because she sees my awakened self and my egoic self equally and with love for both. Possibly because seeing each other is the foundation of our partnership.

In my deepest core, I believe we could go for decades without talking, and with a single moment of connection we would see each other. It reflects what is true on our path. It reflects our lack of attachment.

There is no greater gift.

(I have a few Sisters who have grown in spiritual partnership with me. This piece is not a diminishing of my love for them. What I have in essence in partnership with them is such as this too. The title references the 7 sisters who were with Artemis, and honors all my Sisters).

Can Facebook Be A Spiritual Practice?

Facebook-createLike many people, I have a love-hate relationship with Facebook.  I joined it 9 years ago, first as a place to share pictures of my new baby with my family, and over time my use of it has evolved into a forum for social interaction and sharing of ideas or events.

Many people can tell you how social media is a time waster, a sucking hole that takes away from the richness of our real lives and relationships.  It can be used to promote some of the worst qualities of our society.

My question is: can Facebook be a spiritual practice?

In a satsang I recently heard, Adyashanti spoke about personal identity and how we create separateness in a way that resonated for me.  The question of study was “Who are you if you do not reference any thoughts?”. When I contemplated that, my experience was briefly one of Being-ness.  I felt what it means to say I Am. My mind took over too quickly, but I was left with a sense of what it would mean to let go of separateness.  I feel a desire to return to that feeling, nurture it, expand it and never be in a space of separateness again.

Fast forward about 10 hours later while I am on Facebook: a former school mate posts a video that goes against many of my non-violent values and beliefs.  I delete the post.  I send out a Facebook question about how others handle it when someone posts something you are strongly against.  I engage in non-violent dialogue with others who think it is no big deal, or that there is nothing I can do about it.  I feel strongly that I have an ethical responsibility to do something and begin posting counter-stories all over my feed.  I begin posting memes with quotations like “The only thing evil needs to flourish is for good men to do nothing”. I contemplate deleting people from my Facebook account who do not share in my “vibration” and therefore are not attracted in to my current life.  I remind myself that there is a reason why we lose touch with people in life and feel satisfied that I have set up a strong boundary between me and everyone who is not me. Temporarily, I feel the happiness of the righteous.

Then I wondered what Adyashanti would say about what I had done.  I imagined he would note that I had created a great story to justify my differences with others. That story of differences was energized as far as possible for me to define a separation from others, justify it, and turn away from even being curious about if our differences were real. I could feel myself realizing that as much as I earnestly claim a desire for oneness and awakening, my energy and story had moved me in a different direction.

I do not beat myself up over that.  Doing so would be replacing one story with a new one.  I feel peace in the idea of releasing this pattern.  I feel peace in opening a new possibility for myself.  I celebrate that this whole thing has led me one step closer to letting go of an illusion keeping me from knowing awakening and oneness in me as a truth right now.

So, Facebook, I will contemplate how to incorporate you into my practice, and be a place of love every time I go on.

 

When I Was Crazy

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“I am finally at a point where I am grateful and honored to have been part of his growth and healing,” I shared with my spiritual partner one day. We were discussing relationship endings, ego, and how we view relationship changes.

“What gave you that clarity?”, she asked.

“No thing. Just realized I finally have it,” I answered.  Like what happens with most incomplete truths, I felt in my whole self that I was not being fully aware or honest about this part of my process.

You see, I used to be insane…

“In no way can I deny the insanity of the human condition. And yet, because there’s so much insanity, so much unconsciousness, it’s possible that there’s also the other side of it. Life is always balancing itself out. So, while all of this is happening, there’s also this undercurrent of people all over the place who have a deep and profound interest in the ultimate nature of reality in themselves—and they are realizing it! …I do think that in our deepest heart we don’t actually want to contribute to the insanity around us. Our nature is, if anything, to be a contributor to sanity and wholeness, to bringing that into manifestation.

Now from that place, we can have a very active response to the world rather than a reaction against it. A response is inherently positive; a reaction is inherently negative and divisive. A great thing about coming to our own wholeness is that it’s not as though we just sit on our couch and see that everything is perfect. We do see that everything is perfect—but from that sense of perfection arise great love, great compassion, and a great response to the life around us. It’s a response that is undivided. As a whole, as a world culture, if there is going to be a salvation, it’s going to have to come from the human heart being undivided. And to get there, we all have to wake up.”~ Adyashanti

“Actually, this is what changed: I realized that nothing has meaning unless I give it meaning.  I thought about all the relationships that had ended in my life, and how little I think about that. I have had people I care about return to my life. Others are no where to be found.  And I just accept that as what is. I can look at it and be happy for what was, but not dwell there.  What I had been doing is looking backwards at how the story did not play out as the story I would have told. When I look at what was, with no story, no meaning, I saw something totally different.  I saw what is true of every relationship: two people on their paths, who served each other as sources of growth and healing.  That is all,” I earnestly replied, feeling the wholeness in that insight.

When I was crazy, I tried to make things fit a story.  Some of the stories are things like “Marriage or commitment is forever”, “Love is enough (to keep a relationship strong)”, or “I need to be in a relationship with someone who is my equal”.  These are stories, that may reflect values at a point in time.  While values are one of the most enduring beliefs that the ego tells us to pay attention to, they are still stories and will ultimately crumble in the face of reality.  Because nothing is as real as what IS.

 

 

 

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.

What Is a Relationship Like When You Commit to Awakening?

chakras“Our moments of unconsciousness facilitate pain for ourselves and other beings.  You are not responsible for others experience, so you can’t hurt anyone else.  But through moments of unconsciousness, you can facilitate pain for others. Facilitate means make it likely they will experience pain.  You can create conditions in which it is likely they will experience pain…or joy. When you are unconscious, it is more likely you will facilitate pain.” – Christopher Hareesh Wallis

In the Tantric practice, we do an examination and dissolution of things that are not in line with our true essence.  Some of that gets triggered by the intensely powerful energy practices that become part of the daily routine.  Some of that comes from examining the day to day things that come up that we respond to unconsciously – with anger or fear.  Even happy moments need to be looked at with awareness or we can identify with them, and assign meaning to them that creates separation from truth.

I did a week of deepening, and found some sadness that surprised me.  I am over the ending of my past relationships, and I can see them for what kept me in the relationship.  I can think of my partners with love and compassion. Yet there was this sadness as I asked myself “How did I let him treat me like this? Who was I that I accepted being treated like this?”  Please know, this is not asked with blame or judgement that they were bad men, or that I condemn them as bad.  I simply recognize that what was true of the nature of our relationship is so far removed from who I am today that I cannot conceive of it ever being part of my vibration.  It would be tempting to say “Well, you had to get to that to get to here” and I think that could let a person off the hook of understanding the grain of truth that was part of the experience.  It is not necessarily true that we need to have lessons – we have energetic experiences that show up as patterns of behaviour.  When our vibration changes, so do those patterns.  No blame – no “you had to learn this so the universe taught you”.

That type of thinking is linear, and it is about being a Self/Identity.  But if you view yourself as energetic, then what you experience is a reflection of your energy and vibration in that moment.  It is how much of your truth that is shining through past the old unconscious energy patterns you have layered over top of that radiant self.

What I know now is how unconscious I was in my relationships.  I recall noticing that every relationship I had followed the same pattern, almost to the year in the length of the relationship in which it occurred.  Seven years has been my pattern.  At that point, most of my unconscious stuff has all leaked out!  And the package in which that occurred was about following a story of how relationship is supposed to be.

As a result, the extent to which an individual supported me in expressing my true self, with freedom, completely defined the degree to which I supported the relationship.  It did not matter if you treated me well or not, if the relationship was healthy or not: I was able to experience my true self, and I loved it!  And once your unconscious patterns began to limit that in me, it was time to go.

So, here I am, now living in that expression of radiant self that I relied on my relationship to give me.  What is a relationship like now, when I am already fulfilling what relationship used to be?  For me, today, the answer is that I am attracted to others that are living from that awareness and radiance.  I can love everyone – no problem there – and I can see the beauty of even the meanest person.  But I don’t want to be in relationship with them.

When you are devoted to awakening, relationship/partnership is no longer about the Other.  It is about what gets created between two people – that third entity.  At this point, good relationship dynamics are just the price of entry.  Deepening depends on that third entity. That third entity is the place in which we both commit to love and awakening, using the relationship as a place where the unconscious can be triggered, loved and dissolved.

Las Vegas Ego Trip

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I am sensitive to energy, ranging from people, emotions,  music, and art to the physical environment like water and mountains.  Water and trees calm me, bring me to truth. Mountains elicit anger and tension in me. So my recent trip to Las Vegas was a powerful test of my awakening process.

Las Vegas will never be a place I enjoy. I had vivid and intense bad dreams every night. I felt low levels of irritability frequently. I was judgemental in my mind as I encountered people.  I could not meditate easily.

I spoke to my spiritual partner, who had a similar experience there. I realized I didn’t feel good or bad, or like I had failed. I found these experiences to be curious. I found a consistent pattern in my triggers.  I felt grateful to have broken out of my routine to see places in me that were holding on to the illusion of ego.

“To me, ego isn’t this thing that we need to get rid of. It’s like a verb: a phenomenon, a movement of thought that alters and distorts perception. It causes us to see ourselves as occupants of a world that is quite distinct and different from us, and to see everybody and everything in that world as separate from us. So that movement of mind and belief is what I would call “ego.”  After you awaken, you no longer identify with ego. You don’t see it as real. All the ways that it divides us no longer seem real or even rational, but rather like forms of insanity. Statements about the ego “disappearing” miss the mark. The ego is still there; you just see it to be an illusion.” – Adyashanti

I will not claim I am awakened. I will claim that I did not identify with my ego. And when my spiritual partner lovingly responded to my story with “That doesn’t sound like you,” I knew that I am just as capable of love as I am of fear. I am just as capable of acceptance as I am of judgment. I am as capable of kindness as I am of violence. The beauty for me was in noticing how I behaved, why, and how quickly my absence of truth moved me back to truth.

I left Vegas without winning a cent. But I left with more of my Truth. Jackpot!
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