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


what is this?

Since I began blogging a decade ago I’ve probably posted close to a thousand glimpses of the texture of my days in poetry and prose.

But I’d never looked back down my lifeline to track the trajectory from tiny-hood to crone-hood. There were revelations galore as I began to connect the dots of the decades, but one stands out because it threw my seemingly crazy life into exquisite focus. It was the recognition that pretty much everything I’ve experienced was (and still is) driven by just one little question.

It took Shanti Einolander to coax the story out of my brain and into words that would be included in her stunning online publication: ONE The Magazine. Parts of the article are posted below, along with the sub-headings. I know – it’s a teaser, but I do hope you’ll go over to the magazine and subscribe to read it all, and feast on the priceless array of inspiring writing, poetry and art you’ll find there.

– – –

Bubble Chamber

what is this?

so blatantly in my face
yet unable to be seen?

closer than my breath
yet unable to be reached?

shining through the mind
yet unable to be known?

~

It’s taken me a lifetime to understand that my personal motivation on the spiritual journey was a bit unusual.  I wasn’t looking for an antidote to suffering – not at the outset anyway.  I wasn’t trying to escape anything.  I didn’t feel incomplete.  I was a happy if ingenuous kind of person.

But in the lottery of life I was over-endowed with innate curiosity.  As a child I was a question mark on small feet – and I assumed everyone else was, as well.  In fact, my childhood assumption was that the content of all human brains was identical to my own.  I still remember the shock (I was about ten years old) of realizing that I was definitely ‘different’ from my brothers and school friends.  That was my tardy moment of individuation, the drop-kick into separation.  The birth of dear wee Queen Me.

I was also born with the ‘wonder’ switch turned on – the one that makes you wide-eyed with wonderment at the miracles of life.  (Later I came to understand curiosity and wonderment to be a natural pair.)  It seemed to me that the greatest wonder was that life happened at all.  How come it was so blithely taken for granted?  How come no one seemed to pay heed to this miracle?  How come it was never in the news except when it arrived as a newborn or departed someone’s body at death?

Miraculous: supernatural; surprising:
L miraculum from mirari: wonder; F mirus: wonderful
– Oxford Concise Dictionary

Looking back, it seems my journey has been about penetrating the nature of this “miraculousness” and the odd way its presence seems to cause me to disappear.  An important part of that journey has been my passion for making things.  From early childhood I loved making things because it was during playful immersion in creativity that the miraculous would often manifest.  (The word “art” didn’t come into it until much later, when there was an artist self up and running; I would notice that the miraculousness would only come to play in her absence.  But that’s another story.) […]

a kid with no head

In retrospect I realize that as a youngster there was no question as to what ‘I’ was.  It was unbounded spacious knowing.  I wouldn’t have had access to that vocabulary, but I do remember the sense of headlessness and the absence of solid boundaries to my body.  (This caused a few ownership problems with my brothers!)  Even after the arrival of individuation this experience remained constant – although preoccupation with the stories that were accreting around my teenage self slowly began to dominate my attention, heralding the beginning of The Great Forgetting. […]

finding my tribe

the free-fall

hacking the great hoodwink

the alchemy of emptying


ONE The Magazine: What is This?

Boundless gratitude to Shanti for the opportunity to reflect on my life from this perspective
and for the honour of being a contributor to ONE


I watch me appear; I watch me disappear

 

I am never absent, I cannot be escaped
I watch me appear, I watch me disappear

I am unaffected, I have no preference
I watch me appear, I watch me disappear

Forget ‘Big Brother’ and CCTV:
there’s an eye there is no hiding from
and it’s known as “I” to me.

It prowls this world of dream and drama
ceaselessly scoping the cosmos and all creation:
macroscopic, microscopic and myopic too,
the outer worlds and inner…

Eyes wide open, eyes shut tight
I can never escape its unlit light.

I am unmoved, I am all movement
I watch me appear, I watch me disappear

I am never absent, I cannot be escaped
I watch me appear, I watch me disappear

– miriam louisa

I watch me appear; I watch me disappear
 

Beloved Gangaji writes:

At a certain point, a couple of years after [the disappearance of the ‘me’ as separate entity], I was aware of a sense of myself as a person starting to slowly return.  And I thought, “Oh, no, what does this mean?” because at that point I had been counseling people not to reconstruct themselves after this kind of experience.  There was a moment of wondering if this sense of myself meant I had lost anything, but by then I knew enough to check and see.  When I did, I saw clearly that the truth that needs no scaffolding was not bothered by any sense or perception of myself as being this human animal, this body-mind configuration.  Silent conscious awareness was not bothered by any disappearance of the sense of this form and not bothered by its reappearance.

The fact that the sense of me as form reappeared was actually a teaching for me because it threw me into profound inquiry.  And in that inquiry I saw that this sense of being a separate entity appears and disappears all the time, even in a day—for everyone.  It’s just that until we have an experience of it disappearing, and then discovering the true “I” to still be present, only then do we have the possibility of recognizing that the disappearance or the reappearance doesn’t really touch the unmoving truth.

It was at this point I felt myself reincarnating as an ordinary human being.  I didn’t fight the ordinariness coming back, because I was always aware that whatever came back—an emotion, a sense of me, a negative thought, etc.—it didn’t touch what had been revealed…

To this day, I can say that from that moment there has been no lack of resolution and fulfillment.  There have been negative states as well as positive.  There has been grief as well as joy.  There have been trials and there have been defeats, but nothing has dislodged the certainty that who I am includes all.

© Gangaji, 2012
[My emphasis.]
Source:  http://www.onethemagazine.com/blog/2012/10/12/answer-to-a-prayer/

Image source:  Rumi on facebook

are you so sure you are not awake?

Enza Vita writes with refreshingly ruthless clarity on the myth of “awakening” as an experience, a state or some kind of esoteric attainment which will guarantee unshakeable bliss and the end of all one’s undesirable failings and foibles . . .

 ~

“I know I am still not awake, and I have a tremendous longing to be free.”

 ~

Are you so sure you are not awake?  Are you sure you understand what “awake” is?
Why do you think that you are not awake?  What is this I that is in this unenlightened condition?

All questions contain and perpetuate certain assumptions that we see as the boundaries in life.  While thinking that you are not “awake,” you are believing that you are somehow lacking something.  That is what is played over and over again in your mind, and it causes you great suffering.  Do not fall into that trap!  Go to the root.  What is it that is aware of this statement?  Realize what is at the root of that experience of not being awake and it will free you from the assumed limitations.

You are already free; however, this is a freedom that has never known bondage and so cannot even be called freedom.  This freedom doesn’t come from some action to attain it, but from the realizing of a freedom that has never been constrained.  As the seeker you feel bondage because of your belief in a separate I, a separate ego, and this ego imagines that this freedom means a freedom to do whatever it wants.

Real freedom is liberation from the bondage of the ego.  When the concept of an I goes, the question of freedom is resolved.  Then you are free to be in harmony with what is, as it is.

You already are this freedom pervading everything and everywhere.  All boundaries and limitations are in your imagination only.  Like the space in a room, you are already free.  Just like the four walls cannot contain the space within it, so the body-mind cannot contain awareness unless awareness is imagining itself imprisoned.

You see clouds in the sky, and they may pass in front of the sun, but does this change the nature of the sun?  Perhaps the clouds are signaling a coming thunderstorm, but does a storm change the nature of the sun?  Your thoughts and feelings are like these clouds.  They sometimes seem to obscure the light of your inner self, but they do not change it.  First see what you are.  Understand your true nature.  Then you see that what dances in front of you does not affect you at all.  Focus on that sunlight, and not on the clouds!

~

Enza Vita
Source: Enza Vita’s Newsletter.  Sign up for it at http://www.enzavita.com – where you’ll also find information about her new book “Always Already Free”.

the transcendent silence of ‘I’

There is a silence which transcends sound and silence. If I am not speaking, then some might say I’m keeping silent. If I am thinking, then some would say my mind is not silent.

Whether the voice is speaking, or the mind is thinking there is a silence which transcends both speech and thought and which is ever present to both of them.

It is the silence in which sound and silence take place. It is the silence in which speech and thought take place.

This silence is one’s true nature, and it is ever present, no matter what is going on.

This silence doesn’t walk or talk or think or make any noise at all.

It is That in which everything takes place. The recognition of That silence is called ‘self-knowledge.’

How is this silence described in relationship to spoken words and thoughts?

From the Upanisads:

“That [brahman] from which words return, not having reached, together with the mind.” (Taittiriya 2. 9. 1)

This statement might seem quite obscure unless explained.

The mind cannot ‘go’ there, as silence, (one’s true nature) is not an object to be cognized in the way that objects in duality are cognized.

The silence cannot be heard, touched, seen, tasted, or smelled. Thus it is not available for sense perception.

Nor is the silence an object of thought in the mind, like happiness, sadness, or any other thought at all.

We have no word which is adequate to describe this silence as all words initially point to something in duality.

Yet words handled appropriately lead one to recognize one’s very own self as this silence.

Not an object of cognition, yet known as my very svarupa, my very own nature.

Unavailable for hearing, touch, sight, taste, or smell,
yet known by the mind as ‘I,’ ‘I,’ ‘I,’ the silent changeless being
of all changing things, that ever present one, that one am I.

~ Dhanya

Read more of Dhanya’s writing on her blog at the Advaita Academy

~

Related posts on this blog:

the cathedral of emptiness

why you don’t really want to awaken

silence is the essence of us all

don’t look for me in my story

come sit with me

silence has found me

~

mind can fake it up to a point

At the end of the day, you will reach a point of knowing that there is nothing to learn and nothing to experience.  However, there is something that makes itself known to you, and in that realization there begins a slow loosening of the habit that has you pretending to be what you are not.

Whatever your experience is of what you are, this is but a playful unfolding taking place within the totality of what you really are.

Mind can fake it up to a point; it creates the most subtle experiences.  Do not stop at experiences and do not stop with any conclusion.

The moment you think you have spiritual knowledge or that you know how it works, identity is present, mind is active, and further identification is taking place.  How does one know when mind is involved?  Simply because the mental capacity always has a personal agenda.  With real discovery, Silence is beyond description, the personal “I” is nowhere,  nothing can be said, there is nothing to be said.

~ Jac O’Keeffe
A selection from Born To Be Free

“… nothing to be said.”  Yet we look forward to Jac’s new book-in-progress, and send heartfelt prayers for her speedy recovery.

Post Script July 28, 2011 – Jac’s new book will be titled ‘From Awakening to Liberation.’
You can sneak a preview  of Chapter 3, Desire, at Non-Duality America blog.

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