fully inhabiting one’s luminous body

Mary DeVincentis - Shunyata (Emptiness)

 

Truly, is anything missing now?
Nirvana is right here, before our eyes,
This very place is the Lotus Land,
This very body, the Buddha.
– Hakuin Ekaku

 
Many of us who have journeyed through the rarified atmosphere of advaita and nondual teachings have been warned that we are “not the body.” And while in some abstract, absolute sense this might have validity, it’s only partially true and distinctly unhelpful. To disregard our body is to turn away from the only access we have to our unique and authentic experience. It is to inhabit a thought-bubble while telling ourselves that we are resting in nondual awareness – either that, or still desperately seeking it.

But “nondual” means just that – no duality: only one. If there’s only one thing happening here, how can we dismiss the body from the totality? How can anything be dismissed? Where would it go?

Judith Blackstone is one of the few contemporary female voices in the nonduality context offering a fully embodied approach to nondual realisation, an approach that doesn’t turn away from or bypass trauma (holding patterns) embedded in the fabric of the body.

Why is full embodiment crucial? Read on:

Most contemporary teachings consider nonduality to be the direct unmediated perception of phenomena, along with spontaneous, unmediated expression and action. In other words, direct, spontaneous participation in life, unhampered by preconceptions. Students of this view are usually instructed to fix their attention on the present moment, or to relax into an all-inclusive awareness.

There are two limitations with this approach. One, nondual consciousness is more subtle than simple attention. It not only focuses on phenomena, it pervades phenomena. It renders all of one’s experience as suffused with a radiant emptiness. Two, the fixations that obscure the present moment are not just mental. Long-held constrictions in the body limit our perception, cognition, emotional responsiveness and physical sensation. We cannot open to our fundamental nature just with our minds, we need to open throughout our whole body. Because of these bodily constrictions, when we attempt to let go into the present moment, we generally let go only from the surface of ourselves. In order to realize nonduality, we need to let go from deep within the core of our being.

When spiritual teachings do not recognize the transformation of the body, the result is, at best, a partial, imbalanced spiritual openness. Students can follow a path for many years without ever finding the spiritual dimension of life. In the Realization Process opening to nondual consciousness does not depend upon a volitional attention to the present moment. Instead, it is an enduring transformation of one’s whole being that persists even during reflexive thinking, intense emotion or while engaged in the I-Thou activity of relationships.

Approaches to nonduality that focus on recognizing and dissolving mental constructions also de-construct the notion of the self. Any fixed ideas of the self, such as “I am a teacher” or “I am a good person” will obscure our realization of nondual consciousness. However, when we realize nondual consciousness pervading our body and environment, we uncover a qualitative, authentic sense of our individual self. Nonduality is neither the subject nor the object of experience. It is the unity, the oneness of subject and object.

Nondual awakening is not dependent upon a particular spiritual lineage. When we realize nonduality, we are not realizing Buddhism or Hinduism. We are realizing our own fundamental nature—the spiritual foundation of our being is self-arising. It is naturally there, and it appears spontaneously as we become open enough to uncover it. Although the different spiritual lineages describe nondual awakening in different ways, the arising of nonduality itself is unmistakable.

The Realization Process is accessible to both beginning and experienced practitioners. It is particularly helpful for people who have glimpsed nondual reality and wish to stabilize there. The work includes practices for direct attunement to nondual consciousness, for moving as nondual consciousness, for releasing holding patterns from the body, and for relating with other people without losing one’s realization.

The Realization Process was developed by Judith Blackstone, but is now taught by certified teachers throughout the world. It is available in private sessions, classes, workshops and teacher/certification trainings.

Source nondualityinstitute.org. My emphasis.



Links

www.nondualityinstitute.org/Realization-Process.html

www.realizationcenter.com

www.judithblackstoneblog.com/2010/healing-trauma-through-embodiment/


Art by Mary DeVincentisShunyata (Emptiness)


thinking like a mountain

thinking like a mountain;
feeling like the sky

meeting mySelf
in all that displays within the field of awareness

knowing I am ever here, as this,
being lived by the breath
within the Breath

I bow deeply
before my compost heap

ml

 

Frederick Franck, Eye-I

 

Through a genuine experience of identifying with all beings, we may come to see our own interest served by conservation, through genuine self-love, love of a widened and deepened self, an ecological self.

When we plant a tree we are planting ourselves. Releasing dolphins back to the wild, we are ourselves returning home. Composting leftovers, we are being reborn as irises and apples. We can “think like a mountain,” in Aldo Leopold’s words, and we can discover ourselves to be everywhere and in everything, and we can know the activity of the world as not separate from who we are but rather of what we are. The practice of the “nonlocal self” means that when we work for the restoration of the rain forest, we are restoring our “extended self.”

– Joan Halifax Roshi, The Fruitful Darkness

Joan Halifax Roshi and Upaya Zen Center


Sculpture by Frederick Franck at Pacem in Terris


 

the body is the breath of the universe

While it’s unarguable that any facet of our existence could ever be separate from Primordial Awareness, we are deeply conditioned to believe that the undesirable aspects of experience, and especially the mouldy contents of the compost heap called the unconscious, can’t possibly be valid components of Ultimate Reality.  It’s deeply heartening to see this illogical, fragmented view being explored and corrected sensitively and wisely by teachers like Ellen Emmet.

Ellen’s beautiful article was originally posted on contemplativejornal.com, under the title The Sacred Body: Returning Our Experience to Its True Source and Substance of Awareness.

Gratitude!


a child explores wild spaces...

She runs down a hill. Warm air caresses her skin, and the pounding of feet on earth bring an intoxicating counterpoint to the expanding of her heart. Her body unravels like threads of light into the the surrounding space, and in a moment out of time, she surrenders into its open embrace. The liquid dancing world anoints her vibrating body with its loving substance … 

We all remember blessed moments in which our true nature of pure undivided and universal Awareness echoes at the emotional, tactile and sensual levels of experience. Our body then is felt to be transparent, without borders, suffused with a subtle quality of vibrating sensitivity. It feels less personal yet shares itself intimately with all that is met.

For most of us however the body has been deeply and lastingly conditioned by the belief that “I” refers to an individual and limited person, located inside a body, separate from others and from the world out there. Thus the feeling of the body is rooted in a set of repetitive psychosomatic habits, creating feelings of solidity, density, emotional inertia and contraction designed to validate and perpetuate the projected image of the “I” that seems to live at its center, with one’s past and future on either side. Such a body’s inherited dynamism is ruled by the complex and restrictive impulses to protect, defend or affirm itself.

In this way, the body-mind seems to become the envelope or the cage in which “I” appear to live in and the stuff that “I” seem to be made of, whilst the real “I” of undivided Awareness seems to have shrunk itself into confinement, limitation and fragmentation.

When we awaken to our true nature of Awareness in the presence of a teacher or of a teaching, we submit our thinking rational mind to the pure light of intelligence that is its source and substance.

With open, limitless Awareness as our invisible reference, we hear and understand that the ordinary awareness that is perceiving whatever is perceived in this very moment, “I”, is not contained within a body or located in time and space. We hear and understand that “I” is the Open Awareness in which all experience arises unfolds and dissolves, including thoughts, sensations, feelings and perceptions (mind, body and world.) We hear and understand that this Awareness is not a perceived experience, yet is that which perceives all experience, and is not an object, yet is found at the heart of all experience as its only and invisible substance.

My identity fits not in any name or form. Nor am I held captive between birth and death.

I am not the blood that runs through my veins or the warm breath that flows through my nostrils or the mouth that breaths. I am not the memory of myself or the hopes that skips like stones into the future. Past and future ripple through me as the wind of time, whilst space is the echo of my infinity. I am not this I am not this I am not this, yet I am the lover of all things, and find myself at the heart of all that has a name and form.

However, it is important to further deepen our exploration to include the level of feelings, sensation, tactility and perception. Taking our stand as the field of open Awareness in which all experience arises, we listen to our experience of the body directly, as if for the first time, free of any labels, without any mediation from the past or any agenda for the future. We take our time, descending below the threshold of rational experience, allowing thought to relax in the background whilst opening to the flow of tactile sensation and subtle vibration that is our actual bodily experience. We are invited to see and feel that the body flows through myself, Awareness, as does all experience.

When the welcoming of the body is open, uninvolved and global, it is as if the body like a frightened animal feels an unconditional invitation to come out into the open space.

In this friendly loving field, the body stands naked and naturally begins to liberate what it had been holding in and as itself: the crystallized energy of separation that lives as layers of contraction and tension in the cellular, muscular skeletal and nervous systems of the body.

As the body unravels in this way, the “me” charge that lives embedded in its layers is returned to the openness of Awareness.

Gradually the body is left free to open to, relax into and reunite with the openness that surrounds it. It is as if each feeling and sensation like an offering, gives itself back to the invisible altar of Awareness, telling its true story on the way. In time this allows a gentle and natural realignment with the felt understanding that the body’s essential nature is this very openness.

When I make of my body a thousand paint brushes dipped in gold

Everything takes on the form of you

And buries itself in my heart to make it bigger and softer

So that the world can overflow from it endlessly and everywhere

Returning ordinary days to infinite life

Over and over in this exploration, for which we may use guided meditation, postures, visualisations movement and breath, we are led to see and feel that in truth we cannot say that a sensation appears in “my” body, just as a sound does not appear in the world out there and a thought is not to be found inside a head. We see rather that sensation, thought and sound all appear in myself, non-located open Awareness without any separate individual existence of a body mind or world.

Over and over again we realize that like sounds and thoughts, the bodily feelings and sensations are subtle in nature. They are not solid or tangible cannot be held or measured. Rather they are like vibrating ripples appearing on the surface of myself, intimately one with myself, made of my own invisible substance. We feel and know that the body is the openness that “I” am.

Unlike most of the conventional approaches to the body that are taught in the world, this one is not a pragmatic endeavour intended towards the physical or energy body, to increase well-being, strength or flexibility, or even encourage expansive states of consciousness.

Rather it is a sacred and devotional practice that surrenders the body back towards into its source of Open Awareness: what we only and always are.

Every time the offering is made, the body is returned as it truly is, limitless, transparent, relaxed easeful and loving. It is realized as the very breath of the universe.

– Ellen Emmet

www.ellenemmet.com


News about upcoming events, from Ellen’s newsletter:

The Awakening Body: A residential/non-residential weekend retreat in Mill Valley:
Friday 14th October to Sunday 16th October 2016.
A weekend in an intimate and peaceful setting during which we will share guided meditations, gentle explorations of the body in the tradition of the tantric path of Kashmir Shivaism, and conversations with the non-dual perspective as our shared ground.
There will be delicious lacto-vegetarian meals and time for rest and walk in nature.

Science and Non-Duality Conference, 2016:
Thursday October 20th to Sunday October 23d, 2016.
I will be offering a yoga meditation session and a talk entitled The Sacred Body and participate in a panel entitled Full Embrace of Life.


Image source


don’t be fooled. stand your ground

Pema Deane. What a light she is! This piece was posted on her blog – The Vibrant Heart – with the title Stand Your Ground. I’ve included the sentence “Don’t be fooled” in my title because my experience emphasises how pointless it is to try to stand my ground unless I’m deeply cognisant of the fact that an erroneous belief – as Pema reminds us – is constantly trying to fool us into believing we are separate from the “ground of Self, of Presence, of Light.”


stand your ground - Pema Deane

 

Scenes and circumstances continue to play out in front of us, their one seeming objective being to convince us there is something wrong with us – that we are unlovable or we lack, that the love is over there, not here.

Don’t be fooled. Stand your ground. It is time to blow this whole, bad dream apart. Recognize whatever you’re seeing and reacting to is coming straight out of your mind, a mind that believes it is separate and whose only function is to keep that belief alive.

The scenes are a set-up. They are out to suck you into misery and to prove to you you are NOT the incredible Beauty that You are. You made it all up. This recognition is your lifeline. It is your point of authority over this dream of pain.

I am not denying the incredible amount of self-nursing, holding and releasing of pain that has happened over many years but when you have reached the point of being able to simply witness the shenanigans of ego, it is to honor that with all your heart. And it is a wonderful thing. You have endured countless lifetimes to come to this point.

So stand your ground. The ground of Self, of Presence, of Light. And let the movie show of separation roll on by. It has no power to touch YOU. Ever.

– Pema Deane

The Vibrant Heart


 

the glory and the terror of it

The Path of Love is like a bridge of hair across a Chasm of Fire.

The Realization that every act, every word, every thought of ours not only influences our environment but mysteriously forms an integral part of the Universe, fits into it as if by necessity, in the very moment we do or say or think it, is an overwhelming and even shattering experience.

If we only knew deeply, absolutely, that our smallest act, our smallest thought, has such far-reaching effects; setting forces in motion; reaching out to the galaxy; how carefully we would act and speak and think. How precious life would become in its integral oneness.

It is wonderful and frightening. The responsibility is terrifying and fascinating in its depth and completeness, containing as it does the perplexing insecurity of being unique and the profound consolation of forming part of the Eternal Undivided Whole. And we all have the right to, and can achieve, the realization of this wonderful meaning of life: one is quite simply part of it all; a single vision of Wholeness.

Very acute it became after Guruji’s passing away. And I could not reconcile the torment of the heat, the mangy dogs, the filthy children, the sweat, the smells; for they were THAT too …

 

Himalayan Range from Kausani, Uttarakhand

 

But it was here, in the stillness of the mountains, that it gradually crystallized; distilled itself from a different dimension into the waking consciousness. And now I must live with the Glory and the Terror of it … It is merciless, inescapable; an intensely virile intoxicating Presence, so utterly joyous, boundless and free. It is blasphemy to attempt to put it into words.

I know that the states of Nearness will increase, will become more permanent; but also the state of separation will become more painful, more lonely, the nearer one comes to Reality.

I know that I go back to a life of fire; for you, dear Guruji, told me what to expect. I know that sometimes my health will fail, and that I shall be burned. But I know also that I can never be alone anymore, for you are with me always. I know that God is Silence, and can be reached only in silence; the Nearness to Thee will remain and give me the strength to go on.

Goodbye days of peace; and days of wrestling with myself. Days of incredible beauty with Nature at its best; days of glorious states of consciousness, wherein the divine heart within myself was the Divine Heart within the cosmos. When I knew the meaning of Oneness because I lived it. You did not deceive me, Guruji. You pointed out the Way, and now the Way has taken hold of me … fully … irrevocably.

Irina Tweedie


These are the final paragraphs in Irina Tweedie’s book The Chasm of Fire

They are part of a letter written to her beloved teacher, who had passed away some months before, from her retreat in the Himalayas.

The Chasm of Fire is an extraordinary account of her experience of liberation through the teachings of this Sufi master, in India. It is written in journal form, as instructed by the teacher.

It is an account of the slow grinding down of personality
– a painful process for Man cannot remake himself without suffering.
I had hoped to get instruction in yoga…
but found myself forced to face the darkness within myself…
I was beaten down in every sense till I had come to terms with that in me
which I’d been rejecting all my life.

For an excellent in-depth review of this book see: The Culturium: Irina Tweedie, The Daughter of Fire


Image: The Himalayan Range from Kausani, Uttarakhand, India.
Source


on saving your own life

shining river

 

On Saving Your Own Life – November 19, 2009

 
Yes, it’s a paradox.  You’ve fallen into the wild knowing that the life you thought was ‘yours’, isn’t.  It isn’t yours any more than the rise and fall of your overlooked breath.  You are awake to your wild awakeness.  Well, occasionally.

And yet.

And yet the choices involved in being alive and healthy don’t go away.  It’s a lie to assert that they do, and a trap to believe that they should.  Every minute of every day choices are being made – in most cases, unconsciously.  Patterns of conditioning are playing themselves out, tirelessly.

Wild awakeness – effortless awaring – has a knack of bringing robot-mind into focus.  There’s a glimpse of the old reflexes groaning on.

And at that precise point a nanosecond window of opportunity opens – the story can change.

The ‘I’-stream, the lifestream, can flow in a fresh and unknown course.

(‘I’-stream?  Lifestream?  This language is being invented as writer-mind moves into ineffable territory.  These terms imply something utterly non-personal.  And yet wholly You.)

Life has no agenda other than its ongoing health, wellbeing and survival.  It knows the score in these matters.  And it knows when to withdraw its resources and start over.  That can be pretty tough love.

But for those of us in whom Life still has an investment, the toughest love turns out to be Self-love.  It scares us witless to ponder the ultimate unselfishness of Selfishness.

Yet Life has an awesome way of looking after itself once efforts to contain and control it are deconstructed.  Notions that life needs saving act to build a mega dam across its path – a dam that generates dis-ease and stagnation.

The paradox is only apparent: whatever you choose – whatever – is the movement of Life as it branches, eddies, streams, dances, disappears underground, springs forth, tumbles, flattens out in depression, rages, murmurs, merges, evaporates … while it pretends to be You.

– ml


I wrote the post above almost six years ago. It was early on in the life of this blog – only a few months after the departure of the beloveds whose care and wellbeing had been the focus of my life for the better part of a decade. My health was in tatters. I was receiving treatment for chronic fatigue and was enduring the nightmare of paroxysmal vertigo and nausea. I was slowly learning how to look after ‘my own self’ again.

The vertigo revisited last weekend, severe enough to warrant a little holiday in hospital. On the other side of the experience, I marvel at the way these words remain as relevant as when they were penned. I’m reposting them to remind myself that “the toughest love turns out to be Self-love.” With the world spinning and the stomach heaving it’s easy to overlook the Shining Self. Yet it’s right here, whirling like a dervish, inviting me to release, relax, weep, disappear altogether into its subterranean womb – into Rio Abajo Rio – the great river beneath the river of the world.

In Women Who Run with the Wolves, Clarissa Pinkola Estes writes,

Each woman has potential access to Rio Abajo Rio, this river beneath the river. She arrives there through deep meditation, dance, writing, painting, prayer making, singing, drumming, active imagination, or any activity which requires an intense altered consciousness. A woman arrives in this world-between worlds through yearning and by seeking something she can see just out of the corner of her eye. She arrives there by deeply creative acts, through intentional solitude, and by practice of any of the arts. And even with these well-crafted practices, much of what occurs in this ineffable world remains forever mysterious to us, for it breaks physical laws and rational laws as we know them.

I would add that we can also arrive there unintentionally, unexpectedly, delivered by grief or illness or any experience that knocks us out of our ‘normal’ sense of self, and that our arrival is always the necessary Grace for the deepening and widening of Love’s embrace of Itself: the ultimate Selfishness.


Image by Reuters from Google.


 

please take these offerings

They often sneak up on me at this time of the year – a gaggle of words-wanting-shared. Yes, it’s birthday time – not a blog birthday, but another tick in the annual count for she-who-scribbles while her spacecraft steers itself around the sun…

Birthdays are a good time to reflect on one’s blessings, and to offer gratitude to our friends for their kindness and thoughtfulness. I always begin my birthday with a gesture of thanks to my mother, who not only gave me the miraculous opportunity for life, but also fostered, nourished and inspired the flourishing of that life in every way possible.

Now in my eighth decade, and delighting in life regardless of its curved balls, I feel to share some of the observations that have delivered me to this joy. It’s the best I can offer; may your mind and heart be able to receive.

Image source - https://www.etsy.com/au/shop/BoneStructure/

 

Life hurts.
But what you are never feels pain.

Everything changes.
But what you are remains unchanged, eternally.

You’re flat and exhausted and depressed.
But what you are is forever poised as equanimity.

You’re broke, stressed, squeezed dry, homeless and hungry.
But what you are is unaffected and impartial.

You’re smashed by disappointment, betrayal, abandonment.
But what you are is ever calm, accepting and unbroken.

You’re afflicted by physical and mental aberrations, abnormalities, imbalances.
But what you are never suffers for one second.

 

So what you are is clearly something with which you need to become very familiar. And it’s e-a-s-y to do so. You don’t need a formal introduction. You don’t need a manual or a map or a guide book. You don’t need to change your religion or your beliefs (although changes may well occur as a result). You don’t need a 12-step plan or a meditation practice.

What you are is more obvious and closer than the tip of your nose. It’s the one experience you can never escape, 24/7.

What would you call that? Your aliveness? Your awareness? Your presence? All these words come close, but none are ultimately true or exact. Why?

Because they aren’t yours. Or mine. Or anyone’s. Drop the personal pronoun, and there you are – radiant all-knowing alive presence. The Light of Knowingness, self-luminous, always-on, never-needing fuel or flint…

And that is what you are – free, fulfilled and flourishing as all you conceive, perceive and experience. All of it.

How wondrous that this is possible – that this primordial awareness is huge enough to hold the entirety of creation, excluding nothing – yet be unaffected and unmoved by any expression of its handmaiden, consciousness.

It is truly The Beloved, the Godhead of the saints and sages and poets.

And it is what you are.

 


Image source