Learning How to Listen

Tree in FogFollowing the world’s commands and the inner divine’s are really two different things. And life offers us many opportunities in teaching us how to listen to what is needed. For most of us it takes many false starts, twists and turns, as we learn to tune into our own knowing. To be as the Buddha says: A Light Unto Oneself.

We cannot be equally devoted to two realities. Either we are inwardly focused and leaning into what is true or we are outwardly focused and being drawn this way and that way according to other people’s and society’s dictates. At some point, we have to make up our own minds about where our allegiance lies. In the end, it becomes about following your own heart, which leads to an altogether different center of intelligence opening up and guiding.

I acknowledge that this isn’t always easy to do and sometimes the stakes are very high. We might be risking a lot by following inner prompting. It can be especially scary and difficult in the beginning, as we learn how to attune to what may be a very silent and subtle knowing. Any resistance in our system to listening to this knowing may muddy it up. It takes both practice and the willingness to make mistakes along the way as we learn how to listen. Following the still small voice over time makes that voice more and more obvious until it is eventually second nature. Just as learning how to walk, to swim, and to speak a language takes time, so does this. Especially as it isn’t the normal way in which our society collectively operates.

It may look crazy to others for anyone to move in this way in their life. It may go against the collective agreement of how things should be. And this places the risks and consequences at an even higher mark. Luckily there are others in the world who are also doing this. And if you are lucky enough to have some of these folks as friends (which is mutually beneficial), it can be invaluably supportive as you continue growing in the ability to listen and follow divine guidance.

The stakes may be high, but the payoff is very much worth it. What we get in return by being in cooperation with Universal Will, is that the sense of self that we are in so many ways trying to dissolve by being a spiritual seeker thins out as personal will lessens. When we give ourselves over to divine will, what has always been right here becomes apparent: full unification with life without any layers of separation lying in between.

If we place our bets that surrendering will pay off in terms of getting rich, having things always go our way, or wishing to have a better life, then this isn’t the full surrender that life is asking for. Learning to trust where life is pointing has its own rewards. So, leave your ideas of equal exchange at the door, and see what true riches are in store for you when you truly let go.

As the saying goes: Freedom never looks the way we imagine it will. And that is a good thing!

Photo by Luke Andrew Scowen


Freedom Within the Known

Freedom Within the KnownWhen realization first takes place, there is a distinct separation that occurs between form and the formless. The formless wakes up out of identification with form and realizes once again what it is. Even though in truth one cannot separate out truth, or divide it up, as truth is one great whole, (just like when we separate out the egg yolk from the whites of an egg, the egg will always be an egg), the mind benefits from seeing the difference. What are we in truth without the formless being glued in identification to form?

The formless, or absolute, or awareness/consciousness, whatever name you wish to give it, when it realizes what it is apart from form and becomes self-aware, it sees that it is not stuck in identifying with content, that it is free of content. Content is one half of what God is, and the formless nature is the other half. Together they make up one great whole. Being aware of both at once is what is called realization. The mind has the capacity to hold the paradox of duality within it. The way that mind is trained to operate, is to divide and to see itself (including the body), as a separate entity. This of course is totally a valid part of being able to operate and survive. And there is nothing wrong per se with it. What hurts is the obvious suffering (the thoughts and feelings of feeling inadequate and unworthy), that come out of feeling separate.

Psychological suffering arises out of the minds ability to self-reflect which creates the sense of having a continuous loop of feeling like we are a separate being (an ‘I’), from our environment. Often of course, many of us wait until we are suffering tremendously from the experience of separation before we bother to take a good look at what the mechanism is behind suffering and wanting a solution. Spirituality when used in this way can be incredibly useful and even scientific to a degree. Scientific in the sense that by placing attention on the one who is looking, the one who is noticing rather than just on what is being seen, gives results. The result coming from the mind (which is consciousness), separating out its identification with form and seeing what it is in truth made of, that it is the space within which content rises and falls rather than the stuff itself. This is extremely liberating.

So first there is the turn within to the absolute nature of consciousness, to freedom from the known (taken from Krishnamurti’s book title), and then there is the return back into content, whereby content/form gets to be seen as the other half of the equation. In the return phase, the known gets to be seen for what it is, that it is God in form, that it is consciousness dancing, that it is love in action, and that it is the Self. And still it is such a great mystery! The understanding that is gained is not solely intellectual, and even though it can be called an understanding, it is really a knowing. The knowing arises out of true revelation, that what we call emptiness and fullness, the form and the formless, are all inextricably interwoven into One whole fabric of Being.

There is a wisdom of how this understanding is gained within consciousness, and often it seems that what comes first is the awakening out of the dream, the dream of imagining that we are a somebody, and that what we are lies outside of ourselves. The sticky nature of content needs to be un-glued in order to see correctly. Many traditions point to this and offer practices of how to see that we are in truth spirit, God, or the Self. What isn’t spoken about so much, in the old traditions, is the return phase, of the re-entry into form and the living embodiment of what that looks and feels like in the human. Consciousness keeps evolving in its own understanding of what it is, and we are that awareness forever waking up to itself and what it’s own capacity for self-awareness can bring. What gets to be seen in the end, is that freedom is inherent within all conditional states, that nothing is ever lost in the so-called dream, and that presence is contained and made up of all content.