WELCOME to the twenty-eight edition of our Guest Teaching Series.The GTS has propelled Awakening Clarity into becoming one of the web’s leading sites of contemporary Nonduality. Readership has exploded in the last year, and we now reach over 100 countries–we added three more just this week. Our recently implemented makeover has met with tremendous approval, and I’ve heard from more readers in the past week than at any other time in our history. Thank you very much for the kudos and encouragement. On we go…
I WATCHED a pair of terrific DVD’s this week that share a similar title. One is Jac O’Keefe’sGoing Nowhere, and the second is one that Chris Hebard did with Jac, titled Going Nowhere: The Building Blocks of Consciousness. Both are terrific. I’ve already reviewed Chris’ film on Amazon, and I’ve reprinted it on the News & Announcements page. If you feel like you just might be lost in Oz, and you’d really like a peek behind that weird curtain, these two films will tell you in detail just how the Wizard works its magic. Both DVD’s are very highly recommended.
JAMES WAITE’S Nonduality Living posted a short article of mine this week on ego’s spontaneous process of Unwaking Up. Many of you already know James from his page here, and he has a very thoughtful site. If you don’t already know it, pop over and take a look. Which brings up the fact that James also updated his page here this week. James is a fine writer who practices what he preaches in Authentic Living.
THE BEYOND RECOVERY blog has just been updated as well. You can find that here:Beyond Recovery. I just saw the PDF of the cover of the actual book for the first time today. Non-Duality Press has done a great job with it.
I FIRST CAME TO KNOW of Mukti in the same way many of you did–through her well known and much respected husband, Adyashanti. Regardless of that connection, Mukti stands firmly on her own two feet as a spiritual teacher, and had studied for decades prior to meeting Adya.
MY FIRST ENCOUNTER OF LENGTH with Mukti, so to speak, was a couple of years ago, when I listened to a multi-day retreat she and Loch Kelly did, which was excellent. Within that twelve or fourteen hours I felt like I really got to know her, at least on a spiritual level. There was a deep well of compassion that her teaching sprang from. One fifteen minute introductory talk compelled me to listen to it again and again. It was as pure and clear as anything I’ve ever heard spoken in the entire field. Her magic fell on my ears, I promise you that.
MUKTI is currently on a teaching tour–we had planned to meet in Asheville, North Carolina, but at the last minute I couldn’t break free to drive up there. Nonetheless, her willingness to take time to talk to me spoke of an ongoing humility that can be hard to maintain for someone who spends so much time in the public eye. I know a couple of teachers who’ve met her, and everything I hear points to that same sort of humility, consideration, and kindness. Randi Specterman, her Events Coordinator, was extraordinarily helpful and patient as we built this post. Thank you, Randi!
MUKTI, whose name is translated as “liberation,” is a teacher in the lineage of Adyashanti, her husband. Prior to 1996, when she began studying the non-dual, Zen-flavored teachings of Adyashanti, Mukti studied the teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda for over 20 years.
MUKTI is an Associate Teacher of Open Gate Sangha, the organization that supports her teachings and those of Adyashanti. In her own teachings, Mukti points audiences back to their natural state of wholeness or undivided consciousness. Licensed in acupuncture and certified to teach Hatha yoga, Mukti has a love of the whole of experience in form, as well as the formless.
This article was based on a talk given by Mukti while visiting Philadelphia in 2011. The initial context, given here by Mukti, leads to an experiential account of Self, unbounded.
AS A WORKING PHRASE, Enlightenment is “knowingly being what you are”, or “conscious being”. If we use this working phrase to describe Self-realization, then the initial task is to be open to what you are, just as you are.
Many people want to be different than they are, to improve upon who they are, or to have a new and improved personality. So being open to who you are, just as you are, can be a difficult step.
Consider that the Self, referred to in the term “Self-realization,” is what you always and already are. How might that become more conscious in your lived experience?
Now your mind may automatically refer to a sense of self, defined by thoughts, emotions, personality, and history. It likely does not associate this experience of self, in any way, with “Self-realization”. And your instincts would be correct…all of the thoughts about yourself: of who you take yourself to be; of what you like and dislike; of what you want and don’t want; and of what you’ve done and haven’t done, can’t touch what you actually are. They cannot encapsulate your nature. In other words, these thoughts don’t ultimately define you.
Are you registering the significance of this?
In relaxing out of taking yourself to be your thoughts (and even your feelings), you may find that you’re available in a more conscious way—you’re available to a direct sense of what you are, existing prior to and in spite of these definers.
Notice that this step of being open to what you are, just as you are, does not require a grand acceptance of all of your thoughts and feelings, a grand acceptance of who you take yourself to be. It requires a willingness to refrain from referencing thoughts, emotions, experiences and history as means to Self-knowledge. It requires a willingness to relax out of these movements to reference and to sense what you are directly. The thoughts, emotions and all else that may previously have been referred to as that which constitutes “me”, may continue to arise. However, a willingness to relax out of referencing, accordingly, gives rise to a knowing of what you are that is much more direct and is much less limited than any specific reference. This direct knowing is eminently available.
It was revolutionary to me when I first heard Adyashanti pointing out that this direct knowing of Self is possible. That this Self is available as the very seeing that is looking through your eyes right now—that is listening, that is sensing.
At times the words that express this sense may be “I exist”, “I am here”, “I am present”. At other times, this sense could be expressed as “I don’t exist”—perhaps in moments of deep quiet when there is little or no attachment to your ideas of yourself. However, it’s not important to conclude or label either way: “I exist” or “I don’t exist”. Beingness expresses simply, prior to conclusions, definitions, and reference points.
While teaching, I do not tend to use the term “enlightenment” very often. People have big ideas about “enlightenment”. Being of a rather kinesthetic nature, I sense how people will hold the term “enlightenment” in a way that has them rallied to chase it or to have a goal in front of them. Their ideas include what enlightenment will get them and what it will change about their life experience.
So you’ll hear me use terms like “rest”, “settle”, “soften”…to relax out of the sense of someone who is going to break through some barrier, jump of some cliff, or step off a 100 foot pole.
With the working phrase, “Being what you are, knowingly”, there need not be a goal to chase, a cliff to jump off, or a veil to part. It can come to pass, in the willingness to see and to be as you are, that the veil of “who I take myself to be” begins to dissolve or to fall away. The sense of self, who tears the veils away, need not be encouraged.
I encourage resting into a sense of clear seeing. It is the light of this clear seeing that tends to dissolve the delusions that keep us struggling or feeling separate, and it is the light of clear seeing that ultimately reveals as our true nature.
Actually, we are not separate from what we always and already are; however, self-referencing thoughts can bring about feelings of struggle and separateness, when they have not yet come to rest, when they continue to be energized.
In this moment, I invite you to sense the silence that is present. For now, set aside any idea of a goal—even silence as a goal. Just begin with whatever sense of silence is present now—not as something to search for but a sensing into.
I will use some words that are often associated with silence to encourage this sensing…maybe there’s a sense of quiet, of settling…a sense of stillness…a welcoming of the mind that may be active or busy trying to become still.
If you are more auditory, you may sense “silence;” if you are more kinesthetic, you may sense “stillness.” If you are more visual, perhaps you are being drawn to clear seeing; you may rest out of trying to track specific thoughts, images, colors or shapes, and rest back into their seeing, sensing with less effort, being present, available, and conscious.
We have different make-ups. And we’re drawn to different terms. It’s obvious that over the centuries of recorded words and dialogues, that different people resonate with different expressions. It’s important to begin with your own sense of silence, and to let your attention rest on that silence in whatever way or to whatever degree that you sense it. It may feel slight or faint at first. Rest your attention there. What you give your attention to will grow—as a flowering of consciousness.
Also, your attention can be relaxed and global, listening to the larger context of life around you: the sounds that feel local, like your breath or your heartbeat; or sounds of movements in the room; and then the sounds beyond the room of the breeze outside, or the cars. There’s a way in which your attention can be global and soft, as opposed to directed (e.g., identified with specific aspects of your experience such as a train of thought or a part of the body that’s uncomfortable).
Attention tends to get drawn in, and usually it moves to the loudest, fastest moving thing. But when the attention is invited to soften and become more global, it is possible for it to give way. At that point you won’t even call it “attention” because it softens into a sense of aware space, a sense of wholeness. Silence can reveal more clearly.
So in this soft way, you can begin this exploration of silence, while setting aside any idea that you have about what silence is. As most of your attention is relaxed and global, some portion of your attention may rest on this growing sense of silence or stillness. Enter that sense and let it inform your being.
What I’ve found is that your energy begins to align with what you give your attention to. So if you put your attention on silence, in whatever measure it is sensed, your energy and your system begins to map to that sense of silence. You may find that as your attention softens further and your energetic body opens, the chattering mind will become more quiet. It will have more space into which it can stretch out and relax. The chattering mind is not being energizes by those energies that habitually go into tracking thought.
It may take some time for energy to dissipate from being pumped into the thought. A first sense of quiet may be “oh, my mind is less noisy.” You may notice that when relaxation is invited, your mind becomes less noisy. So continue with this invitation to relax, soften, and settle.
Then, what is first known as an experience of silence may change; as the thinking mind becomes quieter, the experiencer—the one who’s having a particular experience or that is commenting on experience—may get very quiet.
Silence may render the experiencer, the one at the center of things, quiet. Silence may even consume the experiencer. Then silence is no longer referenced as an experience or even something to pay attention to. Silence remains—not as a perception of the experiencer, but as its own expression that is not being objectified.
Silence can be felt as a presence that draws all sense of the experiencer and the referencer to a stop. And the presence of that stillness can become more palpable, and begin to magnetically draw any sense of the experiencer into itself. Silence then becomes more conscious, brighter—as the sense of a separate someone dissolves. It can feel as though the brightening is a shimmer of dissolution, reverberating in the silence, creating a more palpable presence that is alive and percolating. Such feelings, curiously, need not have the sense of an experiencer present in order to be felt.
Consciousness may enfold the experiencer; the experiencer may give way to cessation. If a sense of the experiencer returns, the permeation of silence may leave a sense of something forever altered; one may be left informed by silence that what we are, what life is, is not defined by thought in any way. Who you may have thought yourself to be or how you have known yourself, in feelings or states brought about by self-defining thoughts, is seen to live in the realm of thought; while your infinite nature is not defined by thought.
The silence teaches you, the more you know that it swallows the finite, that the contracted sense of self need not hold itself apart. As a result, our appetites shift. You may become very drawn to being still or silent. You may sense more that that’s what you’re in service to—the expression of this silence as our infinite Self.
© 2011 Mukti
All rights reserved. Used by permission.
Mukti’s Online Bookstore: http://www.adyashanti.org/index.php?file=mukti_bookstore
Online Teachings: http://www.adyashanti.org/index.php?file=mukti_teachings
Teaching Schedule: http://www.adyashanti.org/index.php?file=mukti_main
More on Mukti: http://www.adyashanti.org/index.php?file=mukti_bio
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