Part 1: Stepping into Perpetual Freedom
“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.” ― Albert Einstein, physicist
When I speak of spiritual freedom I’m speaking about being released from the hypnotic bonds of the current paradigm.
In my work I spend a great deal of time supporting people to understand the insidious ways that we become ensnared in the perceptual sensibilities and limitations of the dominant paradigm.
We are taught to believe that we live in reality when in fact we live in a very convincing illusion of reality. That illusion is formed by conditioned patterns of thought and feelings and the habitual ways that we respond to them.
We’ve been trained what to think and how to feel, and then we’re taught to use our thoughts and feelings to tell us what is real.
This circular loop creates an illusion of reality that is so convincing that few of us ever suspect that the way things really are might be radically different than the way we think and feel they are.
It is important to emphasize that the liberation I’m speaking about is not meant to be a transitional step designed to take us from one reality to another.
It is a state of perpetual freedom that leaves us always open to new possibilities. We never forget that there is always more possible no matter what may feel real to us now and so we are always ready to let go discover something new.
Part 2: Discovering the Reality of Unity and Love
“Consciousness is indeed always with us. Everyone knows ‘I am!’ No one can deny his own being.” – Ramana Maharshi, Hindu sage
One of the great spiritual awakenings that I work with is the awakening of non-dual awareness. The term non-dual is sometimes translated as oneness, but in a sense, it is not really oneness at all.
Non-duality does not mean only-one. It means not-two. It does not imply unity as much as it implies no separation and inclusivity.
The idea of oneness too easily suggests an undifferentiated uniform mass, and that kind of oneness excludes difference, diversity or uniqueness.
Non-duality cannot be that kind of oneness because anything that it excludes becomes a second to itself and then there would be two.
The nature of non-duality is radical inclusivity. It is one without a second. It is an inside that has no outside.
My deepest experiences of what I could only call non-dual awareness did not leave me with a sense of oneness or even wholeness. They left me with an all-encompassing sense of love and connection with everything everywhere.
We exist in a continuous field of inseparability, in constant relationship with everything. In the current paradigm we’ve developed habits of perception that cause us to feel separate in a reality in which no separation actually exists.
Part 3: Liberating Ourselves from Separation and Isolation
What we experience as separation emerges largely out of the experience of mystery. I experience you as separate not because you are, but because I don’t, and maybe can’t, know everything about you.
If we make a slight perceptual adjustment the sense of separation becomes an encounter with mystery.
The existence of mystery gives rise to a feeling of loving curiosity that naturally wants to merge with that mystery by knowing it through direct contact. This desire to merge with mystery is a spiritual love that wants to unify all of life.
The first spiritual practice I worked with was meditation in the lineage of the Hindu teaching of Advaita Vedanta and the teachings of Ramana Maharshi.
Meditation in the way I teach is a practice of consciously merging with the mystery of being.
Even as the language of my work has evolved to focus around the language of paradigm shifting I still find that non-dual awareness and the practice of meditation are a central part of what I teach.
This is partly because meditation as I teach it is never just a solitary practice done in isolation.
If we think sitting down and closing our eyes means that we are alone, then we misunderstand the true scope of what it means to be human. Closing your eyes can’t separate you from the rest of humanity or anything else.
Every thought and feeling you have in the seeming privacy of your own mind has been shaped in relationship with the thoughts and feelings of everyone you’ve ever known and everyone they’ve known and so on and so on.
And we are influenced by much more than just other people. Every experience we’ve ever had of every living and non-living thing has had a shaping influence on us.
And those things have been shaped by the encounters they’ve had. There is no separation.
Nothing is ultimately separate from anything else.
Experiencing the truth of no separation directly and resting in that recognition is how we rewire our nervous system and tune our sensibilities to the experience of the continuous field of being that we live in.
When you close our eyes to meditate do so knowing that there is nothing separating you from anything else.