How Deep Can We Surrender?

Surrender to our DivinityHow deep can we surrender beyond fear, beyond doubt, beyond the constant insanity of our minds; into the Beauty and depth of Peace that we are? This is our constant invitation, and our life gives us numerous opportunities throughout our day to live in our habitual mentality and suffer; or to step into the huge Reality of our Divinity.
Tonight at Satsang, I invited all of us to look directly into a mirror and notice the incredible Beauty and Aliveness pouring out of our eyes. Our mind may comment that we look this way or that way, but if we look directly into our own eyes, and let go of the commenting of our egoic nature, what we will find is this incredible Beauty and Mystery that we are. And this Beauty has been with us our entire life, yet we mistakenly align with the judgmental and divisive thoughts of our minds, and miss this Divinity that we are, that we have always been.


Humility is the Doorway to Freedom

ImageEgo is about being someone or something. The more we give ourselves over to this movement, the more egotistical we become. But if we want to be free then our doorway is through humility. Humility keeps us in check; it actually allows the floor to fall out from under us. When we are truly humble there is no room for ego. Humility allows us to be who we truly are, because with humility we give up believing in our greatness, and in doing so, realize our innate Divinity.

The ego is the opposite movement of this. The ego moves toward more identity, and identification; it usually fixates as the best or the worst. To awaken out of this, we invite humility. And this humility is our doorway to awakening. And the sustainer of awakening. If we are not humble, we will again find ourselves in the world of duality. Duality is the result of a false identity.; of identifying with division, and righteousness. But to be Free, we have no identity, no righteousness; we don’t give ourselves permission to hold onto anything. And then we become everything.


Freedom Beyond the Past

Exposure © Voyeurism's

What if we woke up one day and had no memory of the past, but we were still able to function in a quite natural way.This is, in a sense,what it is like to truly be awake.

Imagine that every one you come into contact with today, you are meeting them for the first time. What if everything appeared new and fresh? To awaken in this way, we must be willing give up thoughts and concepts from the past and be open to seeing life as it truly is, beautiful, alive Oneness. To be free means we are not putting life in a box, or seeing life through the lens of projection.

I was speaking to a client today who was deeply entrenched in victim consciousness.

To maintain this entrenchment, to keep the victim alive; we have to continue to choose to see life from the perspective of the past.  We have to continue to believe in concepts that the world is an inherently unsafe place. So as he sat before me, he continued to see the world through this lens of self created concepts, that the world is unsafe. Usually this concept comes from some experience of trauma. When we experience trauma, whether it is real or imagined; a deep sense of fear and tension gets imprinted in the body. Often this tension and defensiveness becomes our way of meeting the world. In a sense, if a trauma happened 23 years ago, many individuals are still seeing life from this perspective that the world is an unsafe place. It could be from something that only lasted a few minutes, and we spend the rest of our life, reacting as if life is dangerous. Often to release this fear, it takes a focused intention on healing, so that we can begin to fully see clearly again.

As I was working with this individual, with an intention to begin to release this trauma, and the accompanying concepts that life is not safe; we looked clearly at the present. We imagined what life would be like if we had no memory of the past. We imagined meeting life fresh and new in this moment. As we did this, I asked him, how he felt? To which he responded, “spacious.” Next, I asked him to tell me about his week. Right away, he went into victim consciousness, blaming others and acting as if the world were a dangerous place.  I asked him, how he felt? To which he replied, “terrible.” So here, I pointed out, is the choice; we can choose how we feel and how we respond to life. We can choose to not engage in the past. We can choose to not see the present through the lens of the past. Or we can choose to take the easy way, the habitual and unconscious old way of egoic consciousness and suffer.

Sometimes it is simply this easy. We just choose and then we experience the freshness and openness of freedom. But for the deeper more persistent pain and trauma in us, especially if it is at a cellular level; we need to do deeper work. This work often, requires us to be both open and courageous. And the invitation here is often, to grieve the past with an open heart. It takes courage to grieve this deeply. As we grieve we also, again, actively choose to not pick up the past; but instead to actively let it go. This does not mean pushing it away, it means grieving with the doors of the heart and mind open, which allows the pain to naturally release. Here we renew our intention to not pick it up again and allow it to go. We do this again and again until it no longer arises.  We do this so we no longer suffer or cause suffering in the present, due to our projection of the past. And by uprooting projection, we step into the freedom that comes from seeing Life as it is.

What do you really want?

What do you want?

I have always seen this as one of the most important questions to ask ourselves on the spiritual path. When we ask this question, it solidifies our intention and direction on the spiritual path. And often, if we are not clear in our intention, we find ourselves in the  confusing landscape of modern spirituality. It is helpful to inquiry into what this path or this life is really about for us. If we don’t deeply ask and reflect upon this question, we will be left to the hopes and fears of our habitual and conditioned egoic consciousness.

Today I was at a yoga workshop; a very advanced training with arm balances and inversions.  I had no business being there, I am not so good at yoga.  I normally sit for hours on Sunday mornings; meditation has always been my path. But this morning, I cut my meditation short and ran off to an advanced anusara yoga workshop.  My inner voice told me it was the wrong thing to do; yet today I decided to not listen. It is not that there was anything wrong with the workshop or the teacher; I was the one who was not listening to my inner voice and was headed into a confusing landscape.

When I approach any class or meditation retreat or teacher for the first time, I ask, “What does this have to do with Freedom, with Awakening?” I ask this because, ever since I heard the word freedom, this is what the path has been about for me.  As I sat there in this class, I began to wonder “what am I doing here?”   I love yoga as a path to awakening; I have a great respect for the Yogic path. But the yoga that I am speaking about is union with and surrender to the Divine; which I often find is quite different than what most folks call yoga. It is not that there is anything wrong with different paths or versions of yoga. But yoga is only meaningful to me, if it is about waking up from egoic consciousness.  I know that different people are attracted to different things and have different focuses in life. But as we go through life; an important question to ask is what do I really want, what is this life about for me? And if the highest answer that comes from our heart is to have a good healthy yoga body, then go for it. Likewise if the the highest movement in us is for freedom, then align your life and choices with freedom.

So as I struggled in this yoga class, I began to reflect on what brought me here. I had this idea that yoga would be good for my stiff body. But as the class went on, I began to wonder what all this yogic acrobatics was all about.  We ended up spending a few hours trying to do some very difficult inversions.  I looked around the room and wondered if I was in a circus camp.  Yet none of the people looked like they belonged in the circus. It was mostly middle aged women, who probably were therapist and who had come thinking, that this was going to be a day of spiritual practice.   What I wondered was, what does an arm balance inversion with a twist have to do with awakening or freedom?  I have often asked myself the same question when on Tibetan Buddhist retreats; what does all this imaginary and visualization and moving energy have to do with the Divine?  And for me this day, I could not make much of a connection between falling on my face and freedom. So I decided to just to be myself, and as I relaxed in my own being, and gave up any expectation of landing these complicated arm balance inversions. As I let go,I felt an expanse and a unity; Life came alive before my eyes.  I began to see God all around me. I saw God in the eyes of the circus performers.  But as I tried to do my circus trick, I fell on my face and laughed and cried, and it was God laughing and crying through me….

Being Willing, Being Free

 Being Willing. Being Free.

If we want to change and grow we have to be willing. We have to be willing to see all the difficult parts of ourselves with honestly. Not only do we need to be able to see them. We need to be willing to be fully open to them. And we need to be open with all of ourselves; that includes being willing to feel these places within us; not just think about these places.

Most people are somewhat okay with seeing a difficult emotion or pattern within themselves. But when asked to actually feel and experience those emotions, most turn away and find anything else to do. But if we want an emotion or some deep pattern within us to change or transform, we have to be willing to give it our full attention. To be Free means that we are not going to hide from anything; especially, the difficult and painful parts of ourselves. We have to be fully willing to meet them with love and compassion.

But meeting ourselves with love and compassion can be difficult or confusing for most of us.   Often when I meet with someone, and ask them if they are willing to meet themselves from this place, feelings of unworthiness or not knowing how arise. I love to use the image of the good parent.  “How would a good parent meet us in our pain and confusion?” I ask. Would they stand 10 feet away and give us a lecture about being loving to ourselves, or would they pick us up and put us in their lap and hold a deep space of love for our pain. And so this is our work, to be willing to sit with the pain, feel it fully, and meet it with a universal friendliness; experience it without pushing it away or running from it. This is not work we do in our heads from some sort of psychological perspective; this deep pain lives in our bodies, so we must be willing to sit with the emotional pain in our bodies. And as we begin to sit with it, feel it and experience it; the pain may actually get worse or louder for some time.

And at this moment, we have a choice, to sit deeper and begin to let go or to listen to the story about why this should or shouldn’t have happened, (or whatever the thoughts and beliefs are around the pain) and hold on. This is where most people go, away from the pain and into their thinking minds. And because of this, the pain does not get a chance to move, transform or release. It would be like a child who was hurt at school, and the parent began a conversation with why the child shouldn’t be crying or why life shouldn’t happen, instead of holding and embracing the child. Often deep healing doesn’t takes place, if we aren’t able to feel the pain, to walk through the doorway of grief, fully experience it and come into our own Strength, Beauty and Wholeness, that becomes clearer after we let go.

But being free does not only mean that we are able to be open and honest with all the difficult parts of ourselves.  It also means that we are willing to see our own Beauty and Spaciousness as well. And a funny thing happens, when most people look at their own Beauty and Spaciousness; they become scared.   Scared because they never knew this to be themselves.  Or scared because they know this is the Truth of themselves, and if they are going to live from that place they must give up all the silliness of their own minds (all their thoughts and opinions, about themselves and others). Or scared because it is something totally new; and most people are really scared of something new. Especially being somebody new or for the first time truly being themselves.

The biggest fear is that in embodying this Beauty, that we will somehow disappear or lose who we are. It is true in a sense that there will be a death; a death of the ego as the fore front of our consciousness.  It will be the death of our false ideas about ourselves. And in the end, the ego will certainly still be there, but it will take the back seat to this Beauty and Spacious Consciousness that we are.   And this is a whole different way of being.

The invitation of Yoga

The invitation of yoga is to live as Unity.

And to accept this invitation, we must be willing to radically step beyond our egoic conditioning; which is an audacious task. We will never get beyond our limited sense of self without the practice and  discipline of questioning our mind; how it works, how it operates and processes information and expresses itself in the world. If we are going to live in unity; as an expression of unity, then we must give up our divisive tendencies and movement of our minds.

So we begin to ask questions like, “can we live beyond judgements and limited perspectives?” This is quite a radical stance from the perspective of the egoic mind. One of the main jobs of the mind is to define the world. And as long as we continue to give our mind permission, it will continue to put the world in a box. And we will continue to live in the trance of our self created dualistic virtual reality. And this reality is the world of good and bad, right and wrong, black and white. Our mind does this in order to keep us safe; and that is all that matters to our ego. Its’ job is to keep us safe. But if we want to be free, we must be willing to go beyond who we think we are. We need to go beyond the safety and security created by the insistence on keeping the world packaged up in a safe little box.

What if, when we walked into a room instead of labeling this person beautiful and that person ugly, this person safe and that person bad; we walked into a room and saw Unity.

What if we saw things for what they are in their totality. What if we resisted the urge to comment on each and every person. I know that I have walked into yoga class and quickly scanned the room and allowed my mind to comment on each individual. As I sat there, I experienced my own pettiness. And I grabbed a seat in the back, so no one would judge how unflexible I am. (I am usually the most unflexible person in the room). As long as I give into my judgments of others or judgments of myself; I become very small inside. Isn’t this our experience?

Fortunately for me, I have studied with a teacher who always saw the best in me. His vision of me came from a hugeness of compassion. He looked at me from a place beyond the mind, and was able to see my Divinity. And through years of being reminded of my own innate goodness, something opened beyond my mind. And I received this gift of being able to see and experience this Divinity in unimaginable ways.

(© Pat Young/lululemon athletica 2011)

[© Pat Young/lululemon athletica 2011

And this is the invitation of Yoga. To allow our judgmental mind to break open into a mind that does not have a perspective; that does not see the world in black and white, beyond duality. From the perspective of our limited thinking minds this is impossible. And that’s what the invitation is to be and realize. It comes from joining the impossible; stepping out of the mind and not into a different part of our mind, but actually out of the mind and into a vision that is beyond the mind. Imagine looking into the mirror and seeing Beauty; not beauty defined by Glamourmagazine, but a deeper, richer, Divinity pouring out of your own eyes. Imagine walking into a room of people and seeing Beauty pouring out of everyone. Imagine walking outside and seeing the vastness of the sky and the radiance of Life in everything. It is quite a different reality.

Of course there is a time and a place for our egoic judgmental vision. If you feel unsafe, leave the situation; this is wisdom. If someone looks creepy, stay away from them. Evolution, Life, God (whatever you want to call it) has worked hard to give us a mind that keeps us safe. But for most of us this mind is working on overdrive, constantly putting the world in a box of good and bad, right and wrong, us and them. What if we stepped out of this. Just like when we lay in Chavasana or corpse pose, we are not judging anyone. We are laying and resting in our own Beauty and radiance. But this vision does not need to stop when our teacher says Namaste. This vision is actually here all the time, if we allow it. How would our life change if we stepped out of our conditioned mind and into our Hugeness. What would happen if we relaxed into our Beauty, how would we see the world? Who would we become?