I've talked to my spiritual director about this. She's a scholar of Catherine and other women mystics, and she understands it to mean that we have no being apart from God, who is the source of our being. Both Catherine and Teresa are, after all, very relational in their spirituality, and certainly not pantheists. The inquisitors would have sniffed that out.
Derek, I can't remember if you mentioned this in the book, I don't think so, but I was wondering if there was any sense of internal pressure prior to your awakening. I know you had just attended a meditation retreat and had an unsettled week of unloading after your experience, but was there a feeling of something about to pop or blow beforehand? I've read a few experiences, Eckhart Tolle's among them, where the boiling point had been reached, so to speak, and led to a full blown awakening. Or do some awakenings sneak up kinda quiet?
Tolle certainly reports a crescendo of self-loathing before the event. And in the Zen tradition, Hakuin names the "Great Doubt" that builds up during intensive Zazen and whose climax immediately precedes awakening.
But for me ... no ... just driving along a nice road on a sunny afternoon!
Why do you ask? Do you feel like you're coming to a boiling point? Or maybe it's too personal to post on an Internet message board?
Yes, feels like boiling point, but has done for a while now. There have been breakthroughs but nothing permanent, and my sense of frustration at the moment is off the scale, with a kind of sadness, and anger even, an unfamiliar emotion for me. I sense obstacles, karmic obstacles; my crown feels like its crawling with insects; I try to detach, and I'm not seeking awakening per se, only relief, so I commit to relationship with Christ and that is very rewarding, beautiful at times, then the pot boils up and I feel like exploding .
When you talk about frustration, sadness, anger, and something else, what immediately springs to my mind is primal therapy. I did a lot in the 90s. I highly recommend it. Of course you have to choose a good therapist. The only thing I don't know is whether or not it's advisable when you have physiological symptoms.
Yes, I thought of that too. We'll see, although I'm a little wary of it disrupting kundalini symptoms and connections. Almost impossible to meditate right now. But that can be cyclical.
great job! will recommend this to my friends
Derek and others,
I wonder if you could say something about how awakening might affect personal opinion, communication, the creative impulse and desire for social justice. Are these things diminished or sharpened by the loss of the sense of self?
After the sense of a separate self and conceptual thinking are seen to be just fluff in the mind, there's much more of a focus on the immediate situation in front of you. So if that situation requires action, you'll act. But you won't get sucked into chains of thought about things that aren't actually happening here and now. You deal with what's here.
That being said, there are still left-over habits in the mind from the egoic phase of life. These can assert themselves if you're not vigilant. In general, you discover that life is a whole lot easier if you just deal with this moment and not with a whole host of other, imaginary moments.
Does that answer your question?
For me, awareness (non-reflecting consciousness) and Ego (reflecting, intentional consciousness) can co-exist. Of course, you all know that by Ego I am not referring to the false self system, nor an idea of oneself or any conceptual structure. So I still do make plans, set goals, organize my day, etc., and am aware as I do so and live through it. I use my mind and will to put my values into action, but am alert to the danger of "getting ahead of myself."
There was a period earlier in life -- years! -- when I hung out a great deal in awareness, waiting for the winds of the Spirit to blow on the sails of my soul to move me to action. Sometimes this happens, but sometimes you have to row your boat - - until you need a rest, that is.
That volitional aspect of reflecting consciousness seems to get submerged in a greater flow of divine will at times, before re-emerging to tackle certain things. I wonder if it ever fully unites with divine mind and if that is the same as loss of separate self.
Thanks for now. I may come back to this at some point
Stephen, in my experience, the divine will does not annihilate the human will in the sense that there is no longer any individual around capable of considering options and choosing. If the divine has a preference for our acting, then this is impressed on the mind and will, but one is still free to do otherwise. With the burning away of the false self, however, one generally has no rebellious resistance to the divine prerogatives. But one still has preferences -- e.g., Christ in Gethsemane.
The human mind does indeed come into union with the divine mind, but, again, not in a monistic sense that our creaturely consciousness is lost. Here's a great quote from St. John of Rusybroec on this topic. Note the dynamics of non-reflecting and reflecting consciousness.
One learns that it is possible to flip back-and-forth in such manner, and that both are good and necessary.
Yes, I sense that too. It's as if with the removal of false self comes a deep surrender to divine will, but we are still free to chose. How does that fit with Derek's experience?
I would say that the point about "we are free to choose" is that the "we" that appears to be choosing is itself the product of a process rather than the controller of a process. But anyone who wants to can confirm this by careful observation of the way the mind works. You just have to watch, repeatedly, persistently, and very carefully, how and when the "I" thought arises. I emphasize that it's a matter of direct observation rather than thinking.
So, then, "who" is it that "watches persistently" (which entails acts of awareness and intention)? I agree that the I-thought comes later, but I don't think that's too terribly significant. The mind uses concepts, and "I" is a concept. But what other term to describe the observer? That's the point I keep making, along with the fact that your act of observing is unique to you, and so why not say it is a self that does so?
I emphasize that it's a matter of direct observation rather than thinking.
We are not communicating, Derek.
This has been a pattern I have experienced with people who claim to have no self, no separate self, etc. E.g., you write about watching "repeatedly, persistently and very carefully" for the "I" thought, blowing such thought off as "fluff in the mind," while avoiding any term to account for the fact of an agent of observation and intention implied in the exercise you recommend.
"I" and "self," like all words, point to something else -- in this case, the mysterious subject-of-awareness that is always present. Naming does not create this subject; the observer is there before it is named. Naming it brings it into the arena of intellectual life so that we can communicate about it with others and relate it to other experiences. That's all I'm trying to say, here.
I wonder if there really is any "thing" observing, or looking for the 'I'. Maybe there is just Presence in which 'I' arises. That's what I seem to be moving into, a constant sense of underlying beingness from which the 'I' emerges and into which the 'I' disappears...not stabilised in my case. I'm thinking too that this Presence is nothing less than God with us...there seems to be no observer, just observing, and if there is a distinct metaphysical unit through which this observing takes place, then it is a transparent, or almost transparent filter. The observer becomes, or is becoming, a clear channel for Presence. Whether this is non duality or divine union doesn't seem to matter too much.
I understand your frustration, Phil, but this is one field of human endeavor where communicating, thinking, and verbalizing are not only unproductive but actually counter-productive.
Right! Now that is direct seeing!
It's not like I don't know what you're talking about. I do know what direct-seeing is, non-dual awareness, non-reflecting consciousness -- however one wants to label it. And, granted, one cannot think one's way into this kind of state. It's always "there" as the background of consciousness. I can now, with a few minutes of silence, come to abide in it quite easily, without a thought crossing my mind for minutes at a time, it seems. The kundalini process conduces toward this kind of consciousness.
All in all, it's a good thing, but I eventually shrugged off all the mystique associated with it and came to see that this very same awareness is immanent in intellectual and volitional operations as well. Once that connection was made, I quit shying away from reading or thinking or even re-engaging reality Egoically -- that is to say, intentionally and purposefully. The Ego centered on self-concept was blown apart, but the Ego governed by values was not.
My sense is that this awareness is the spiritual climate of the human soul, and that it is also the "property" of the individual person. I say this because I can access it through my own efforts, while I cannot do so with God. Nevertheless, I often have a sense that God somehow "sees" in and through this awareness, just as surely as God empowers the will or instructs the mind. Theologically, we say that we are embedded in the Word, or live with Him as a branch on a vine, so who's to say where one ends and the other begins? This can be experienced non-conceptually and affirmed with concepts as well. Indeed, if we cannot say something about an experience using concepts, then I do not think we understand its meaning very well.
Where I've come out is in a place where experience, intellectual life and action do not conflict, but are complementary. They can also work against each other if we are out-of-balance, so that needs to be constantly monitored. Maintaining accessibility to non-dual awareness requires a whole change of lifestyle in the direction of simplicity and silence, and so this is counter-cultural, to say the least.
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