Start from a Blank Page

identity-795260_960_720Spiritual awakening is not about gaining more knowledge, it is on the contrary about unlearning everything the mind has defined for you and to start from a blank page.

Conditioning is a powerful thing. You suddenly appeared in a world. You were given a name and you started developing a sense of self associated with that sound. They taught you moral principles, maybe you were given a religious education to take you even further away from what you are, you learned the right from the wrong and you developed a value system. You now have more or less defined boundaries, you are an individual clearly separated from the rest of the world but you forgot what you essentially are.

After all, the story could end here, “…and the non-self-lived happily ever after”, but direct experience shows that this is never the case. What is impermanent is subject to the cycles of birth and death, of pain and pleasure. What is impermanent comes and goes in space and time, it is relative and limited and it is the nature of duality. The non-self-quest for peace and happiness is doomed from the start as the non-self is an impermanent state of consciousness, it has no reality. The non-self, the ego is not an entity, it is just a thought in consciousness, nothing else.

pen with hand. color from tungsten lamp

If you are looking to re-discover your essence you must start from a blank page and erase everything that has been written on it since you appeared into this world. When all words, ideas and concepts have dissolved all that is left is a blank page and you, object-less presence, is the nature of the page.

What you decide to write on it is up to you, but once you know you are the page, you are in a safe place, you are established in Presence, your own pure presence.

Starting from a blank page is to stop taking your current reality for granted and to stop letting the mind define it for you. The deconstruction of the reality elaborated by the mind is an important step towards spiritual awakening. It is what the Christ indicated in his parable “…and no one puts new wine into old wineskins…”

Calwen

From Seeking to Awakening

ptg01497158When I started my spiritual quest, I would have never thought that awakening was a simple process. My mind was full of colourful “clichés” but I would not see that what I was seeking was already “with me”, that I was already there.

My mind was just excited and way too busy with its excitement to pay attention to my presence, my permanent nature, it was probably too simple and did not fit to the little story of awakening that my mind had created.

I am not sure that my mind, at that time, would have really wanted to awaken anyway. Especially if it knew it would never “happen to him” but that he would just dissolve in the process.

Before awakening you will think that you are an individual that is going to awaken, but it is an illusion. What awakens is the presence in which the mind activity occurs, this is an important key to awakening.

Before awakening, most of the seeking activity is operated by the mind at the “horizontal” and dualistic level of the world of objects, forms and labels, the realm of the mind. “Which spiritual strategy and techniques am I going to adopt?”, “Should I concentrate on my chakras?”, “How many times a day should I meditate?”, “Will mantras help me to awaken?”, “Should I wear amethyst to attract positive energies?”, those questions reflect an activity essentially polarised at the level of the mind.

566b5b5681716There is no permanent individual “in there” but there is a real tangible triangle of substance-energy-consciousness that we call the personality and that personality is the instrument through which Presence operates, consciously or unconsciously. Transfiguration simply is the process through which that personality is finely tuned and optimized after awakening.

It wouldn’t be wise nor correct to say that the activity of mind has no part to play in awakening, it is a useful tool, but only when it serves the partially awakened presence not when it completely runs the show for its own gain.

In a mysterious way the mind is also a manifestation of Presence but as it manifests as the mind, Presence appears to “disappear to itself”. Hence the necessity to be able to, initially, witness and control the activity of your mind, it is the first step to awakening and, in that regard, meditation can be useful.

It is not easy to say what triggers awakening, it would seem that all experiences are different, intimate and often very abstract. What I can surely say is that an intense desire to stand in the fire of the truth motivated by an open heart and a pure impersonal intent can only accelerate the process.

Calwen

“Cogito ergo sum”? Not really!

The mind is a wonderful tool when it comes to reference, connect, assess, measure, label, categorise and understand. Thanks to the mind we can formulate thoughts and express them with words, manipulate the mental substance and create images, understand the world around us, adapt and interact with it.

The mind only becomes a problem when it starts to veil our true nature and begin to run the show. When the mind activity has completely filled the conscious space of our presence the illusion is complete and the non-self comes into existence.

The mind is considered by the majority to be the highest form of conscious activity in a human being. This executive decision has obviously been made by the mind which cannot see that it is just a substratum, an emanation of pure consciousness, Presence.

Rene_DescartesThe famous “Cogito Ergo Sum” of René Descartes illustrates this type of executive decision made by a mind cut off from its source, pure awareness. “Being” is not “thinking”, “thinking” is just a manifestation of “being”. This compulsion to attach our sense of self to the mind and to its fluctuating activity is the main cause of suffering, it creates the great illusion of separateness.

Mental activity is in no way a sign of consciousness. You can presume that you have the potential “to be” but until the mind is seen for what it is, an impermanent manifestation of the true self, there will be no true beingness.

Most education systems are built on the limited view that the mind is the ultimate conscious principle in a human being and that the development of the mind is the best and only possible path to personal accomplishment. That approach obviously makes matter worse and reinforce the illusion of separateness with all the dire consequences that ensue.

Calwen

What Spiritual Awakening is

people_woman_in_tunnelA lot has been, is and will be said on spiritual awakening but what is rarely said is that it is the most simple thing that will ever happen to “you”.

Spiritual awakening is often imagined as a sudden sort of magical projection in a world of light, peace and happiness, detached from the reality of the daily life, it is not the case at all. This is just a fantasy elaborated by the mind.

Spiritual awakening simply is the realisation that you are not just that limited, and changeable person defined by a name, traditions, a culture, a past and a specific personality but that you essentially are that permanent field of awareness in which that impermanent person seems to exist along with the rest of the world. It is that permanent field of awareness where all experiences rise and subside that I call Presence, it is your permanent self, your essential nature, it is the main subject of that little book.

Spiritual awakening is often considered as something gained from accumulating more and more layers of spiritual knowledge and spiritual practise but it is actually the opposite. Spiritual awakening is about dropping and letting go, it is about calling off the “horizontal” search in the world of thoughts and realising that what you are searching for, YOU, is HERE and NOW. Not just as a person, a body, a mind, an emotion but essentially as pure presence.

8341958004_bebb3734e9_bAwakening is just the revelation of a new point of view, a shift of the gravity centre of consciousness, it does not suddenly change the substance of the personality but it does remove a lot of the fears and anxiety attached to the sole identification to the impermanent non-self. The establishment of peace and happiness is a gradual process that will naturally unfold as the new found vision is embodied and integrated into the personality.

Spiritual awakening is not an achievement like building a house. When it happens there is nothing left to look at, there is only presence. Awakening happens when all layers slowly accumulated by the mind have collapsed, this is what spiritual awakening is all about, you walk out of the river of impermanence to embrace your real permanent naked nature as pure presence. It is also at that point that the real post-awakening work begins. It is a subject that I will largely cover in this little book.

Spiritual awakening is just a temporary milestone. The embodiment of the new found vision after awakening is a gradual process that will unfold over time. Hence, awakening does not define, in any ways, a man or woman of good character. Embodiment is an unpredictable process as it greatly depends on the nature of the personality, its specific lines of least resistance, the opening of the heart and the history attached to its mental, emotional and physical substance.

The Nature of the Ego

egoThe ego, or non-self, is a localised crystallization of consciousness manifesting as self-awareness and sense of identity. The mind and its dualistic discriminating nature is the main driving force behind the formation of the ego.

In spiritual circles, the ego is often considered as an enemy that must be destroyed at all cost. It is important to realise that the ego is not bad per se, it appears so In this world because a large majority of human beings are ruled by the mind and manifest therefore all the negative aspects associated with a vision driven by separateness.

The ego essentially is a lens, a point of focus, through which the infinite becomes finite, the objectless Presence manifests itself through a personality with defined characteristics. Before awakening, Presence seems to “disappear to itself” in the process and identify itself to the non-self. After awakening, Presence progressively starts to manifest itself consciously through a gradually transparent and transfigured personality.

The energetical process behind the formation of the ego is natural and must be understood. This process is vital and without it the infinite would not be able to manifest itself in the world of forms.

laser-focusIf you ever played with a magnifying glass under the sun to burn a piece of paper, you surely realised that in order to produce some serious heat you need to reduce the size of the focus point until it becomes very tiny. This analogy can be applied to the human creative expression. Identity is essentially a focus in and of consciousness on a particular set of characteristics that it can identify to. Self-awareness is the result of that focus. You become what you think you are. The clearer that definition the more confidence you will have and the more impact you will have as an individual.

As awakening is taking place, the relatively stable but temporary point in consciousness that we identified to for a long time, the ego, will eventually start to dissolve. That stage can be difficult and is often referred to as the “dark night of the soul”. The parable of the old wineskins that is found in the bible points to that mysterious process: “No one puts new wine into old wineskins, or else the new wine will burst the skins, and it will be spilt, and the skins will be destroyed. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins, and both are preserved. ” (Matt 9:17; Mk 2:22; Lk 5:37-39)

Calwen

Identity and Spiritual Awakening

unknown-userThe question of identity/identification is central to spiritual awakening. We often hear that unless we kill the ego and the impermanent sense of identity, the true self will never awaken, there is a lot of misunderstanding on that aspect of awakening.

Most spiritual teachers will tell you that “you are not your ego but you are that objectless consciousness”. It is a key thought aimed at facilitating the dissolution of the ego but it does not ultimately reflect the reality that unfolds after awakening. After awakening, things are seen in a new light and the above sentence could be changed to “I know myself as objectless consciousness but I am also that temporary ego”. It was first necessary to detach yourself from the impermanent and limited identity in order to awaken to the inclusive nature of the true self.

After awakening, it will naturally appear that everything can be embraced, included and integrated, that nothing is excluded and that it is the nature of love in action. So, if the path to awakening appears initially as a new form of duality it is essentially temporary and it will ultimately lead to what is sometimes called in technical jargon “the collapse of the witness”, oneness back to itself with the integration of all pairs of opposites.

Individuation (the development of a sense of a separate defined self) is a necessary step in the development of consciousness. Infinite consciousness is experimenting a limited aspect of itself by developing self-consciousness and the focusing of consciousness through a mind and an identity is part of that process.

While consciousness is trying to awaken from the ego in some human cells it is important to remember that in other cells it is still developing and reinforcing that sense of ego. In a way being able to stand on your own two feet as a self-conscious individual is also a form of awakening. Gaining and losing identity are both necessary steps in the evolution of consciousness.

One of the big misconceptions is that after awakening identity is not necessary, that the ego is just a hindrance, an unnecessary fictional character. It is the type of statements you will hear in the pseudo-Advaita circles coming from individuals who have partially awakened but don’t understand the principles of embodiment.

6ec63c5b9ac20fc2de075c838abae821If identification to an impermanent identity might be a hindrance on the “way up” to awakening, it becomes again a blessing on the way down to embodiment. Now that you know that “you are not just that ego”, you can embrace it again ” and use the lines of least resistance of the personality as channels of manifestation. The big difference is that you now know that you are the infinite manifesting thought a limited form and your light can penetrate any thought, emotions and ultimately the physical cells of your body, this is what true embodiment is.

This slow process of the infinite, conscious of itself, manifesting through a limited form is what is called “transfiguration” in The Christian imagery, it is “the verb made flesh”.

Calwen

Practising Presence

empty_spaces_500x500I have already been writing on this subject but it is not redundant. I am not writing to entertain or feed the mind, I don’t write essays, I build bridges between the impermanent and the permanent.

I use words because I don’t have any other choices. It has been said before, “the best instructor is silence”. The essence of my message is beyond the words, beyond the thoughts they triggered. The essence of my message is what is left when the sound has faded, when the thoughts have vanished. When the activity of the mind stops, what is left is Presence, you are essentially that Presence, it is my message.

The mind can conceptualise Presence but it can never be in Presence, Presence can only be “felt” by Presence. By analogy, for those of you who have some programming knowledge, Presence would be a recursive function that calls itself from within itself and can only refer to itself from within itself.

So let’s try to describe what is happening in consciousness with a bit more details. How does consciousness suddenly move from, “Me, John Doe, I think of Presence” to “I am Presence”? It is fairly easy. If you think of something, it is a mind activity, when the mind activity stops, and to a certain extent all identification to labels and forms, all that is left is Presence, it is not more complicated than that. What often takes time is to become aware of the dictatorship of the mind and to slowly regain that conscious space, filled with thoughts, that it occupies while usurping your true identity.

Another name for Presence is Awareness or Consciousness. Not Awareness and Consciousness as in “I am conscious I have a beautiful haircut” or “I am aware that I am late for dinner” but I am talking of pure Consciousness, pure Awareness, in its pristine unidentified state. What do I mean by “pure”? I just mean that it is consciousness aware of itself at the source before it has morphed into mind activity, before the labelling and identification process started.

That pure transparent Presence is what humanity call “God”, a word that has been so overused and trampled over the centuries that I don’t think it is a great idea to ever use it. I am only using it here because I have judged that it is important enough to mention it in order to reconnect some dots.

Presence is that clear conscious space in which, objects, sensations, thoughts and emotions arise. Like a dream “exists in” and is “made of” the consciousness of the dreamer, the world “exists in” Presence and is “made of” Presence.

If there is one “dreamer” and the world is the dream then we have the power to awaken within the dream. In a “real dream” it is called lucid dreaming, while awake it is called spiritual awakening.

In this article, I won’t elaborate on a point that is essential in spiritual awakening but I will mention it nevertheless as you need to keep it in the “back of your mind” at all time. Awakening to Presence is only half of the story. That realisation is only the beginning. Once you are clearly established in your permanent self, Presence, your impermanent identity and personality will align itself on that new found clarity. Every personality has its lines of least resistance, imperfections and particularities and make no mistakes, spiritual awakening doesn’t brutally change any of that, it just brings a new “point of view”. That vision will progressively manifest through the personality as true compassion and with vision and compassion comes the correct action.

Finally, I would like to add that Presence, pure consciousness, does not exclude anything, it embraces all because it is the source of all. You will hear in some spiritual circles that the ego is the enemy or that there is “nothing to do” because there is “no person”. Those claims are never made in Presence, they are the claim of spiritualised egos. In Presence the permanent and impermanent are essentially one, embraced and united in Love.

From someone to no one, from no one to someone , I am complete.

Calwen

Group Consciousness & Presence

groupVery few spiritual strategies elaborate on the impact of individual awakening in relation to the human group and the direct consequences on the substantial reality we live in, what we call the world.

What I want to talk about here is the development of group consciousness in relation to awakening.

By analogy, group consciousness is a form of family consciousness. In a loving family, the bond between the children is created by the accepted fact that they have the same mother and father and are therefore brothers and sisters.

What we include and exclude from that family circle is completely arbitrary if we let the mind run the show. “My brother and I have the same mother so we are family’s member”, “My neighbour and I don’t have the same mother so we are not family’s member”. It is an include/exclude game based on the dual appreciations of the mind.

The important point is that when an entity finds a common origin with another entity its vision changes and when the vision changes so does the heart and those changes impact our daily reality.

Nationalism is also, but also only by analogy, a form of group consciousness, here the limits have extended beyond the family circle and now include the nation. Individuals share the same history, traditions and culture and a bond is present.

Nevertheless, group consciousness is still fairly absent on this planet. The feeling of belonging (family, nation) is still driven by biological urges, compulsive and unconscious cultural undercurrents. What we currently have are collections of egos, the term mass consciousness is more fitting.

10423939_10152294606416793_6925035123639177356_nTrue group consciousness is of a different nature, it will only manifest after the reign of the mind has ended, after awakening. Awakening to what ? To the reality that your essential nature is essentially pure consciousness, Presence, that it has no limits and that it is the nature of all and everything.

Every time a fragment of Presence awakens, group consciousness expands.

If group consciousness seems absent in an “awakened individual” you can make sure that we are dealing with a spiritualized egoic activity masquerading as an awakening.

Group consciousness is vision and compassion, Presence is acknowledged and a spontaneous activity for the benefit of all is naturally occurring.

Ants and bees demonstrate by analogy what group consciousness would look like humanity. For those insects It is happening at subconscious level through the activity of the substance but the analogy is useful and it is easy to extrapolate. A child can easily understand what group consciousness is just by observing the activity of those little insects.

What could the world look like once group consciousness as fully settled in?

  • Goods (no planned obsolescence anymore) will be produced for the good of all not out of greed as it is currently the case.
  • Technology will accessible to all. Engineers will team up together to create resistant and durable products.
  • Resources won’t be hoarded by a minority to the detriment of the majority and will be shared based on the geographical needs.
  • Cooperation will become second nature between individuals and countries.
  • Working “for a living” will become a thing of the past. Individuals will naturally follow their lines of least resistance and do what they love and are meant to do.
  • Travelling will expand. Humans from different geographical areas of the world will meet and share their cultural particularities, knowledge and life experience.
  • The concept of “family” will expand out of the current concept. Individuals will progressively see each other’s as brothers and sisters all united in the same family.
  • Compassion will become an embedded second nature manifesting as joy, enthusiasm and humour.
  • Religions will drop as dead shells as everything appears as a manifestation of the One Life

Every time you think of a better world you give substance to it, you are making it real and you hasten its manifestation. Every time you think an idea is a utopia you prevent its manifestation you have the world you deserve because you are the world.

You will become what you think you are but you are not what you think you are. There is nothing wrong in becoming as long as you remember that your true self does not reside in the river of impermanence but in Presence, the silent source of all.

Calwen

No Mountains, No Rivers

mountains

Most of you must have heard about the old Zen saying about the rivers and the mountains, for those of you who haven’t here is a condensed version of it:

At the first level on the path, he saw mountains as mountains and rivers as rivers. On the second level of the path, he saw that mountains are not mountains and rivers are not rivers. And at a third level, he saw once again mountains were mountains and rivers were rivers.

That Zen metaphor describes the three important stages experienced by consciousness as it passes through the gate of VISION, COMPASSION and REBIRTH.

At the first level on the path, he saw mountains as mountains and rivers as rivers
The first stage describes the state of mind-consciousness. Objects are labeled, they have a story attached to them and seem clearly separated and independent from each others. This is the current state of consciousness of the majority of human beings.

On the second level of the path, he saw that mountains are not mountains and rivers are not rivers.
As the world and our ego start to appear for what they really are, mind constructs, the “contour” of all inner and outer objects starts to blur and the unity of all starts to become our experience. That stage is often considered as awakening. Many individuals are currently going through that process.

At that stage, I would like to add a little note of caution based on my conscious experience of stage 2.

Consciousness can easily be fooled into thinking that stage 2 is the destination. The first contact of the “substance” with Presence can be fascinating. All objects and forms seem to “float” within a pure Presence, Awareness.

The mold of Neo-Advaita, in particular, seems to freeze many seekers into stage 2 through a dynamic of neverending compulsive self-enquiry. They deconstructed their reality and through a form of  new spiritualized ego they tend to compulsively reject all forms and objects that present themselves to their new found awareness. It is just another form of inverted duality and an exclusive expression of consciousness. Exclusive because the all inclusive heart is still not included.

And at a third level, he saw once again mountains were mountains and rivers were rivers.
The world of forms and objects has dissolved, the self has acknowledged its essential nature as pure Presence, the time of rebirth has come.

Strong from its “self-awareness” in the substance, Presence embraces the world of forms once again and it is now an embrace of love with the substance. Mountains are mountains again. Body, emotions, and thoughts are “impregnated” by Presence, the “little things of life” re-emerge in a newborn awareness. The VISION is now connected to THE HEART, humanity is embraced in its beauty, limitations, imperfections and fragility. Presence knows itself as the source of all, pure knowing, pure experiencing and the known, the experienced is not separated from it, it is essentially Love meeting Love.

Calwen

Standing in the Now

soft_watchYou are standing in Eternity, you don’t perceive it because your mind has been conditioned to see otherwise. Tomorrow and yesterday are just thoughts, they are not real because they never are experienced. Now is all there is and Now is made of Presence.

Time exists relatively from an objective point of view. Sunrise and sunset are real and define morning and evening. There is 24 hours in one day, 60 minutes in an hour and so on. But even from that point of view, it is all relative, it is based on a specific environment, planet size, solar system, and other physical parameters. Even then, all it takes for you to have a glimpse of eternity is to imagine that you are standing in the center of Sun, time suddenly stops (still relatively) but your mind realizes that time is flexible.

The substance is bound to the law of cycles and therefore to the relativity of time. Presence is objectless and beyond cycles hence it is synonymous with Now.

Time is a relative concept bound to the law of cycles and the subsequent alteration of the state of the substance. A cycle can be seen as a circle but it is more correct, from the evolution of consciousness point of view, to look at it as an ascending spiral. As consciousness expands and the mind dissolves, cycles morph into a point, the diversity is seen as one reality, the illusion of time fades and the reality of the Now is revealed.

Calwen