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

Meet Me At Me

“I need you to meet me at me,” I once told him.

“What does that mean? What would that look like?” he asked.

I have thought about that question many times. I know what it feels like when someone meets me at me. I know too well what it feels like when it doesn’t happen.

The real key to that question is what happens when I meet me at me.

The Me is not my personality or my ego. It is the Me that longs for truth. It is the Me that does not believe in separation.

I know that Me is more present than ever because of what others are experiencing around me. Three times this week I was described as stunning and beautiful. I am not stuck on being judged as an object and have my self determined by others. What I love is being seen, truly, and that what is seen aligns with my desire to be Truth.

I have been told I am a calming influence. I am wise. I am strong. I am inspiring and bring a perspective to things that most miss.

Don’t get me wrong – I am also selfish, irresponsible, prone to flashes of temper, and sometimes judgemental. But only when I believe my own thoughts.

What does it mean to meet me at me? It is no longer something I can ask of another. It is me that meets me. Any aspect of that which I attribute to you is an image of separation.

“Awakening to the truth of perfect Unity means to awaken from the dream of a personal self and personal others to the realization that there is no other. Many spiritual seekers have had glimpses of the absolute unity of all existence, but few are capable of or willing to live up to the many challenging implications inherent in that revelation. The revelation of perfect unity, that there is no other, is a realization of the ultimate impersonality of all that seems to be so very personal.

Applying this realization to the arena of personal relationships is something that most seekers find extremely challenging, and is the number one reason why so many seekers never come completely to rest in the freedom of the Self Absolute. Inherent in the revelation of perfect unity is the realization that there is no personal me, no personal other, and therefore no personal relationships. Coming to terms with the challenging implications of this stunning realization is something that few people are willing to do, because realizing the true impersonality of all that seems so personal challenges every aspect of the illusion of a separate, personal self. It challenges the entire structure of personal relationships which are born of needs, wants, and expectations.” –Adyashanti

When I asked intimate others to meet me at me, it was the longing for My Self. It was the longing to know my Truth.

Only I can meet me at me.
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Identity Jambalaya

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My friend of 10 years and I have lunch every few months. He’s known me in business and in spirituality. “You are relentless and impatient in life and in business. In spirituality you are at peace and in flow. There are two of you,” he observed. 

I felt a wry smile emerge. Just this morning I was thinking that if one more person admired me for my patience, I would scream. I appear patient only. But it’s easier when I’m in a spiritual forum.

I explained to my long time friend that I did not belong in relationships. I spoke of freedom and independence. And as I had that thought, I understood why I am reluctant to have a relationship. To me, relationship has been a role. I have defined myself in relation to others. For once, I’m defining myself on my own. More than that, I’m striving for no identification at all – for awareness of the No Self. Adyashanti speaks of it like this:

“All identity had collapsed, as both the self in the ego sense of a separate me, and as the slightest twinge of identity with the Absolute Self, with the Oneness of consciousness. There had still been some unconscious, identity or “me-ness” which was the cause of
the discontent. And it all collapsed. Identity itself collapsed, and from that point on there was no grasping whatsoever for little me or for the unified consciousness me. Identity just fell away and blew away with the wind.”

If I enter a relationship now, I fear identifying with a little self, self in relationship, and a million other ego issues. I fear I cannot love. I fear being relentless and impatient. I fear hurting yet another man. I fear losing what awakening I’m realizing.

So my soul whispers Not Yet, Not Now.

And I heed that voice, knowing this fear is another path of inquiry. And in inquiry, my relentlessness and my impatience are assets.

What I Have Learned Through Grief

“It is always the false that makes you suffer, the false desires and fears, the false values and ideas, the false relationships between people. Abandon the false and you are free of pain; truth makes happy, truth liberates.” ― Nisargadatta Maharaj

Grief-and-Joy-What-If-300x82Grief and I have been close companions for a few years now.  There have been the deaths of 4 beloved pets.  There was the ending of two major loving relationships.  I left my job and all the friends and connections in that role. It has definitely been a period of grief for me.

What I know is that what shows up in our lives is perfect for what we value most and for our deepest desires.  I am sure that I did not say “Hey tear apart my life and change it all!”  Except, maybe I did.  I set very strong intentions in my life, and those relationships that are not in alignment with our vibration will fall away.  Circumstances will conspire to grow what you desire more fully in your life.

“Once you realize that the road is the goal and that you are always on the road, not to reach a goal, but to enjoy its beauty and its wisdom, life ceases to be a task and becomes natural and simple, in itself an ecstasy.”
Nisargadatta Maharaj

What did grief teach me? Before all this grief and loss, I feared loss.  I gave away every inch of who I was in order to keep everyone in my life happy, and to keep them from leaving me.  I drowned myself in food to try to meet needs that were just not being met at all.  I closed my heart so it would be easier if I did lose someone.  I left before others could leave me.  I swallowed down tears and would not cry.  I denied my needs. I denied my emotions.  All in all, I did not treat myself with love.

I have held a desire for knowing God, for full awakening and living in Consciousness for nearly as long as I can remember.  And so despite these desperate attempts to protect my ego, the Universe lovingly said “Ok, you can live in God, in awakening and in Consciousness.  Just let go of what does not serve you.”  In the end, it was my anger – the emotion I surpressed, repressed and feared the most in myself – that was my ally to truth.

When I became angry, it was always a signal that something I valued and that was necessary for my Truth was being ignored.  I surpressed that, or beat myself up, if the disparity in values came from someone I loved or who loved me.  I mean, love conquers everything right?  But what I really meant by that was “If I love you, I will deny more of myself to meet your needs.”  Eventually my soul stripped away everything and every relationship that did not serve me.   That was not love, neither for myself nor for the Other.  That was negotiating and bargaining.

In grief, I have also learned that I love.  I convinced myself in both of my ended relationships that I was unable to love, and therefore, I was not attracting love.  I was attracting conditions and circumstances that might (but never did and never could) fulfill me.  When I look at the love I have with my daughter, it is selfless, honest, vulnerable, true love.  When I watch how I gave myself over to the palliative care of my cat (I know it was just a cat, but not to me), I see what an authentic embodiment of my Self and my Love looks like.  It is uncommon for me unfortunately, and it is the Divine’s gift to me to see how I can embody my Self as Consciousness in all ways.

On my path, I have come to understand the Void, the No-Thingness, the Shiva Consciousness.  I have moved from terror of it to joy in the freedom of it.  I have been less successful in the Shakti aspect.  It is common for people who are Awake to struggle to reflect that in relation to others.  And now, I am moving more towards love in all aspects of my life.

“Wisdom is knowing I am nothing,
Love is knowing I am everything,
and between the two my life moves.”
Nisargadatta Maharaj

 

Why I Don’t Teach Reiki Anymore

BuddhaI have been a Reiki Master Teacher for 15 years.  In that time, I have participated in over 700 healing sessions.  I have taught around 100 students, and 5 Reiki Masters.  After deep reflection, I will not teach Reiki again.  I may not practice Reiki, in the traditional manner, either.

It’s not that I don’t think that energy work is valuable.  I think that as it is often practiced today, it distracts us from the deeper truth.  I think we have come to a point in our views on energy that we have attributed a lot to it, including too many stories that distract us from the very purpose and intent of Reiki.  The purpose of Reiki is to heal our sense of separation from the Divine.

I practice Reiki intuitively as well as following the traditional guidelines and practices.  I have always shared the messages about what is alive at the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual levels.  I have felt changes in my body experience as a result of Reiki, and I have had feedback from others about similar experience.  I have come to believe that while this is compassionate and useful, it can also create a story about the experience we are having.  My teachers repeatedly remind me, “Who would you be without the story? What is your experience before you judge it?”

“When the Buddha talked about the realization of no-self, he was talking about the self that’s an image in the mind being completely seen through. And when there is no image of self, experience has nothing to bounce off of. Everything just is as it is, because there’s no secondary interpretation. The one that’s interpreting is the one that’s in pain. And that’s the one who suffers. That’s the one who causes others to suffer.” – Adyashanti

So often, what we remember in our experience of others is the story we have about them.  We overlay our interpretation on what the others have said or done.  And we do the same things about ourselves. “The false self, the self that’s an image in the mind, uses every experience to measure itself: “How am I in relationship to what’s happening? Am I wise? Am I stupid? Am I clumsy? Am I courageous? Am I enlightened about this?” That’s the movement of consciousness reflecting on an image of itself that doesn’t actually exist. It’s always measuring each and every experience, and then believing in the interpretation of the experience rather than seeing “Everything just is.”” – Adyashanti

Often, with the best of intentions, healers reinforce body identification and eventually, false self-identification. To heal separation from the Divine is to really love what is, and to experience it as it is, without judgement.  That doesn’t mean you don’t seek relief.  But there is a deeper possibility too, and Reiki does not necessarily acknowledge that.  Even the Usui myth – that he sought Reiki to find a way to replicate the healing miracles of Jesus – misses the awakening to higher consciousness.

“”Yoga makes your shoulder feel better” – that’s one of your sacred beliefs.  Can you really know that’s why your shoulder stopped hurting? When you are focused on your shoulder, focused on “yoga is going to make it better,” ” massage is going to make it better,” you’re body identified.  At night we pass out from these concepts. We don’t sleep, we pass out.  You’re scared of pain in your body.  When the carrot juice stops working, you’re left with your own thought system.  You try to hold it off with yoga.  There’s only one true yoga, and its mental, and its a free flow.  I’m a lover of what is.  I have played out all these theories, and I know that even if the massage and the yoga and the carrot juice and the wheat grass work now, eventually I’ll have the grace of getting old and knowing that the wheat grass can’t help.  Or hopefully I’ll get some kind of disease, where all this thought catches up with me and I can take a look at my stressful concepts. It’s all grace.  And don’t you want it all? Freedom from the body, freedom from the concept that you are a body. Something’s always going to hurt.  Ultimately you’re left with your thinking about your body.  That’s all there is to work with.” – Byron Katie

True healing is not about alleviation of the symptoms.  In some respects, reiki or massage can become a substitute for the medical model of treating the symptoms.  Without awakening, we are perpetuating the ego’s desire for cause and effect, for a sense of control.  We perpetuate the idea that we are not as we should be – our bodies should be healthy, flexible, able to do that incredible backbend, able to release all pain and holding.  But what if we did not identify with this body, or with this ego? Isn’t that really what the intent of healing is?

“That’s basically what it means to really wake up: we’re waking up from the character. You don’t have to destroy the character called “me” to wake up from it. In fact, trying to destroy the character makes it very hard to wake up. Because what’s trying to destroy the character? The character. What’s judging the character? The character.”- Adyashanti

I will teach awareness, and awakening.  I will teach what I have learned about letting go of body identification and ego identification.  Even as I do so, I also know that Reiki serves a purpose and is perfect in its own way.  Just not for me, not anymore.