To truly realise the depth and majesty of our expanded self, we have to master the direct confrontation of the moment. It's all about performing inner alchemy. There's essentially two forms of consciousness that make up our existential being: the separation consciousness that forms the bodymind, and the unity consciousness that forms the soul. If you include various disruptive energies of society's matrix, everything we experience from thoughts, to emotions and feelings are caused by the interaction of these various flows of consciousness. How might 'we' - as presence - be able to positively influence the internal dynamic?...
Creating your own reality?
Some speak of shaping the thoughts in order to master beingness, but to me, this is simply a case of the tail wagging the dog. The same goes for 'creating your own reality'. Sure, we do create our own reality, but what do we mean exactly by 'our'? In most cases the identity doing the manifestation is just a more subtle form of ego - a spiritual identity - that wants to control the situation in some particular way because it cannot accept what is already unfolding.
- We are already shaping and creating everything we experience. Either the true self - the soul - is shining through and creating harmonious experiences or else the false self is influencing the show, by resistance to what's currently happening, denial or just plain insensitivity. We might feel a creative impulse for something to happen, only for the flow to get derailed by internal eddy currents of life's conditioning.
In which case you can't simply 'paper over the cracks', by manipulating the outer pieces on the game board without first uncovering and unwinding what's really happening inside. To do so, is simply to perpetuate the disharmony through our lives. Even though the circumstances may change - our jobs, relationships or location - the patterns remain the same. Instead, we need to look deeply into the outer mirror we're already creating. This includes our most intense and intimate feelings towards it, no matter how challenging or painful. Then there's a requirement to notice the blind spots, the grey areas in these points of attachment where presence closes down and gets drawn into the fray through identification.
Grasping the hot coals
The only way out is through. We have to feel the fullness of these retractions from the moment. You have to grasp the hot coals and feel the heat before you drop them. If you retract in the face of the heat or the pain or the heartache, be it emotional, physical or mental, then in that moment, you have reconfirmed your identification with the heat and with that your separation from the all that is. You have made yourself a victim of the sense of separation and crystalised that as your reality.
- The key is transcendence: feeling through the heat of the moment until the coals define you no longer. You become the heat, the pain, the tension, the discomfort and soften into it. You become so totally at-one with it, that you no longer build internal references, structures and judgments around the situations. It is in these totally lucid moments you become absolutely authentic and free. You have transcended the limitation of identification and dropped into the void of infinite potential. From here, anything can happen. The authentic flow of the soul ignites, fueled by the unstoppable force of the universe.
To master such transcendence is to increase our inner intimacy - to bring absolute attention into our bodily field, to know when we retract, resist and deny. Bringing presence into these blind spots automatically begins to unwind them, liberating the soul as a free flowing spontaneity through the moment. There is nothing that feels better, more harmonious or complete. This is truly living.
The path to Bodhidharma
It is the Openhand Approach to life and I've found it very aligned with some of the ancient eastern teachings such as that of the monk Bodhidharma. I came across his work some years ago through a lovely synchronicity and felt to share a glimpse here...
- In the old days in China there was a priest called Master Tozan. A monk asked him "how can we escape from this severe heat and cold?" This is not just a question about severe heat and cold. It is a question about the reality we are always facing - a melancholy and difficult reality, a reality that is full of suffering. People are sick and in pain: people have lost their homes in disasters and wars and have nothing in which to believe any longer and are suffering in their despair. For those whose belongings have all been destroyed, their refuge in the material world has been shown to be empty and meaningless. This kind of pain is always occurring all around us.
Master Tozan answered the monk, "You have to go where there is no hot and no cold!"
The monk continued, "Where is that place where there is no hot or cold? Where is that true place of refuge for the mind?"
The priest answered, "When it is hot, become that heat completely! When it is cold, become one with that cold completely and totally! When it is painful, become that pain completely and totally, and when you are miserable, become that misery totally and completely! In the very midst of that, go beyond all the thoughts you hold in your mind, let go of all the ideas of good or bad or gain or loss - let go of all of these thoughts - and from there grasp that place of your very own vivid life energy! That which directly experienes that 'ouch' - feel that life energy directly, grasp that life energy that feels that pain and sorrow." More important than finding a place out of pain and suffering, or trying to find a place where there is no pain or suffering, is to go directly to that place where the pain and suffering are being experienced, to go where you feel that pain and sadness directly and totally. Touch that life energy directly and with your own experience. Use that actual direct experience which you have grasped as your base, and stand up strong and firm. This is how the master answered the monk.
Phoenix from the ashes
Of course this advice is not just for the metaphoric physical feeling of hot and cold. We may apply it to every aspect of our lives. Especially in relationships for example where we might suffer emotional or psychological trauma.
- As it's happening, we must not deny it, but rather go into the very heart of the contraction and become as one with it - to soften into it - in the way described above. Then the bubble of identification bursts, the void of silence is touched, the soul rises like a pheonix from the ashes and a new, more harmonious reality takes shape.
Finally, the majesty of the expanded self is realised.