Spiritual Teachers and Awakening Experiences

One of my first awakenings happened at Starbucks. 

I had met my spiritual teacher to discuss spirituality over coffee. There was a light and non-intense dialogue taking place and suddenly a realization was downloaded — I had the sudden profound recognition of the true interconnectedness of all things. I erupted into laughter like none other I’d ever experienced. Tears rolled down my cheeks and suddenly everything, even the seriousness of the business conversations happening at tables nearby, was profoundly hilarious and playful. I looked over at this moment to see a baby in a stroller, waiting as her mom ordered, staring directly at me. Suddenly one thought appeared in my mind: she’s the Buddha. We’re all the Buddha. All is of the same source. The laughter then intensified and the baby looked at me as though she totally understood the source of this laughter. Of course she did. 

It was one of the most profoundly beautiful moments of my life up to that point.

In fact, meetings with my spiritual teacher were all epiphany-inducing and wonder-infusing. Of course initial meetings were a bit more psychologically and energetically intense; I’d spent many years being heavily involved in old programming, defensive behaviors, and accumulating and being entangled in years of built-up “head trash” (unhealthy thought-patterns that made me sometimes become engaged in unhealthy patterns and behaviors). 

Through interaction with a truly present teacher, one is exposed to a kind of energetic laser beam. Through dialogue or simply being in the presence of one who is more attuned to truth, the years of “trash” and old programming start to be burned up by this spiritual laser beam. I always left conversations with my teacher feeling about 100 pounds lighter (energetically). As time went on, more and more layers of duality, old programming, and belief systems seemed to fall away on their own or were seen to be tenuous and of a false system. 

It became easier (though it was often challenging) to see through old behaviors and recognize them for what they were, whereas at one time I was so heavily involved in the behavior or thought-pattern that I couldn’t see it from a higher perspective. For instance, I once was incredibly defensive and would push others away unconsciously in an attempt to avoid any kind of rejection — any criticism I’d ever receive would create a stabbing pain in the body and I’d be unable to cope. When I was engaged in these behavior patterns it seemed to be just a part of who I was and I had no way of untangling the mess because I identified with that “mess”. 

Then, once I saw the pattern for what it was (an old, energetic pattern meant to preserve a sense of self), it was easier to disengage from it, hold it lightly, and observe it curiously. Then, these patterns had a way of lightening and disappearing altogether. 

The light of awareness is powerful. 

The  process of interacting with a spiritual teacher (guru) is a beautiful thing. Many of the greatest spiritual teachers I know don’t really like to assume the title “spiritual teacher” as they (from their knowingness) understand that what they are transmitting isn’t in any way extraordinary or beyond the average persons capabilities. Rather, they assume the position of humble wisdom-holder and simply pass on knowledge and intuitive understandings of the nature of existence. Enlightenment sounds like an extraordinary, phenomenal, super-human, mystical state only able to be achieved by a select few; however, the role of spiritual teacher is to help anyone come to remember the truth of their being by simply peeling back layers of belief, identification, and programming. 

These conversations can be intense at first as one comes to untangle old dualistic knots (feeling like a separate “self” and doing anything possible to preserve that imaginary sense of being an independent, separate entity) and if can feel like your world has been shaken — often you’ve been viewing the world from this lens of the separate self with its own beliefs, identities, flaws, roles, and neuroses, and then those lenses are suddenly (or gradually) removed. It’s a bit like Alice venturing down the rabbit hole; it’s an entirely new world, though it’s never not been so. 

When this starts to open up through the process of dialogue or on its own (conversations or interactions with a teacher aren’t always necessary), what’s revealed is what you’ve always sought through endless seeking for external bliss, fulfillment, and contentment. 

This process of awakening, for me, has been ongoing. Though interaction with a teacher doesn’t happen any longer, small and mighty awakenings happen all the time — suddenly the sound of bird chirping outside my window will penetrate the feeling of separation and in the noticing of the beauty of the sound I become that sound and there is no separation between the sound and me; intuitively it is seen, without a doubt, that heaven is here and now in this recognition of “oneness” from which you, of course, cannot be separate from. 

I once felt, most of the time, like something was amiss or something was lacking; I spent my time desperately searching for that substance, person, achievement, event, or possession that’d alleviate this anxiety. I see now that it was THIS recognition that I was seeking. 

Here, all is full and complete. Knowing this isn’t outside your grasp or capability; it’s who you are. 

What a beautiful thing indeed.

The Divine Orchestra

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Awaken to the awakeness that you are — 

awaken from that which you've never been asleep to (not really). 

You are that unchanging, unscathed, ever-present, all-encompassing witness.

You are that primordial awakeness --

 

the observer that marvels at itself endlessly in an Infinite number of expressions. 

You sense it sometimes, I gather:

When you lose yourself in the beauty of a sunset, while gazing into your child’s eyes, or listening to a piece of music that provides rhythm for the soul. 

In the recognition of beauty, you become that beauty; you are absorbed in the magic of the moment. 

In truth there is no separation between the perceiving and the perceived; all arises simultaneously as an interconnected, divine orchestra of experience, sense-feltness, and beingness.

Rest here. You are that ever-present observor; you are the sense organ of the infinite. 

 

Rest here in that sacred presence.

Still and in Awe,

Karisa

Wildly Alive in the Here and Now

I was once a fierce happiness-chaser. Happiness, health, wealth, and peak experiences of pleasure were sought endlessly. I was living for a fictitious, glorious tomorrow-land when finally that ‘something’ would arrive to leave me in a permanent state of happiness.

I wanted so badly to arrive.

However, when I managed to fulfill an aim, achieve something I’d set out to do, made some decent money, had that peak experience, or came to know a sliver of ecstatic happiness, eventually it all lost its novelty and I’d be back to seeking once more. The underlying feeling behind this seeking and constant quest for fulfillment at some future date was that this present moment simply wasn’t enough.

What I was most after, though I didn’t see it then, was the feeling of actually being alive in this present moment — totally and wildly alive in the here and now, right in the midst of it all. What I was really after was the experience of ecstatic presence, of witnessing this glorious humanness in its fullness and marveling at the divine mystery.

So I see now that right Here I am full and complete. I have breath in my lungs, the ground beneath my feet, and the starry sky above; I look now to this experience as a curious, divine mystery.

Then, though I still accomplish and do, it springs forth from a place of connectedness, harmony, and joy rather than anxiety, stress, and fear. I see the perfection of the present even when it seems imperfect and I walk the path with this knowing.

Know that wherever you stand, it’s all worthy of awe. Heaven is here and now.

 

Still and in Awe,
Karisa

Rooted in Presence I Flow

Take care of the moment and the moment will take care of you – right here, presently, one can know a deep sense of aliveness, vitality, and richness. There isn’t anything to find, here. There isn’t anything to procure, here. There isn’t anything that you’re lacking, here. Presently, you are complete.

To know presence, one needn’t journey far, meditate endlessly, or attain any new knowledge. Presence is what’s here – it’s the ever-present witness of experience. Even when we’re busily distracted or engaged in the thought-stream, that steady, unchanging witness is still there – you’re still aware.

So, then, when we identify more with consciousness – that subtle, ever-present witness – the ever-changing forms of experience are like clouds passing through the sky and can be held lightly and observed as temporary forms coming and going, moving and changing.

Right here, in that presence, we can experience what it’s like to be fully alive and fully human – when we aren’t busily and anxiously seeking for peace, completion, and satisfaction outwardly, we can rest right here where we are. We may find, then, that the feeling of bliss we were seeking outwardly is always within and it’s found here, right in the midst of it all. Then, though we may be feeling deeply, we’ll hold it lightly; sadness, fear, craving, desire, joy, sorrow, pain, peace, excitement, or grief become fully known, deeply felt, gently held, and totally embodied. This is the feeling of being totally and wildly alive – nothing pushed against, just a gentle easing into what is and into what is arising right here and now.

The difference between heaven and hell is one millimeter – you, presently, are totally and completely part of the whole, undivided, and moving with a divine and intelligent flow. Knowing presence has a way of making that stream more obvious, and heaven becomes something we can experience here and now.

Maybe what we’re seeking is that experience of being fully alive – know that it’s right here, available to you at every moment, has never left you, and is simply awaiting remembrance.

-Karisa

Remembering Your Eternal Nature

When we identify with the temporal – that which is subject to change – rather than the eternal, we’re prone to suffering. By its very nature the temporal is in constant flux, always moving, changing, rearranging, and being lost; always coming and going, emerging and dying, appearing and disappearing. This is the nature of life.

For instance, identifying strongly with the body may cause us to suffer when the body becomes diseased or when it ages and subsequently changes shape and size; when we think of that body as “us”, we attach a certain permanence and fixedness to something that isn’t either of those things.

If we identify strongly with the thought system, we’ll suffer when the mind imagines past hurts and creates future tensions and anxieties by projecting that thought-self into a potentially stressful future place; likewise, we’ll suffer when the mental projection of “I” tries to cling stiffly to identities or beliefs, both of which are tenuous and subject to change as time moves on.

So, instead of clinging to the temporal (clinging to that which is naturally subject to change) quite possibly we can join the flow of change, floating easily and gracefully along the river of life’s many twists and turns, while also coming to remember our eternal nature, which neither comes nor goes, moves nor changes. You can say that we are all consciousness manifesting in various forms – the consciousness that types these words now is not separate from the consciousness that grows the leaves on the trees or that moves the deer through the forest; consciousness illuminates form. Human beings, however, have the seemingly uncanny ability to become aware of being conscious – you can say, then, that unlike other sentient beings, we have the ability to become aware of that underlying, never-changing awareness that is peering through our eyes, feeling with our hands, and creating through these human vessels. This is magical.

The realization that we are akin to the movie screen on which the movie is being played is true freedom – different characters, dramas, hardships, joys, and circumstances will be projected onto that movie screen but never actually touch that screen at all. The screen does, you can say, hold all changing forms with equanimity, without judgement or attachment. No matter what hardship is portrayed on that screen, the screen remains unscathed.

One can love the temporal mightily, but an overinvestment can create tensions, divisions, and fears – remembering our eternal nature is the key to watching the play of form with a deep sense of presence and nonattachment and with a new sense of compassion for what appears no matter its content, all the while knowing that what you really are never changes, never has changed, and is always here in one form or another.

This is the remembrance.