AWAKENING: THE COSMIC JOKE
Life has been interesting lately. I find myself very aware of the rollercoaster of the mind: the freak-outs when things don’t go exactly as I planned, the sometimes feeling that things are stagnant and the worry that gets created with that, and the absolutely peaceful moments in which I truly feel as if I am just putting one foot in front of the other. I feel I am forever taking a breath and falling into that true self place, that heart energy, that vibratory field of consciousness. Then, watching as the small self scrambles to get out of there like she’ll die without the tension she’s always known.
Small self, true self. I write frequently about these concepts. The small self I mean to be the self that interacts with form. The ego, the history, the personality, emotions, thoughts. The true self, I mean to be the unchanging field of consciousness or awareness that seems to be watching the small self interact.
There is a field beyond this and I’ve experienced it, for a handful of brief seconds in my life. In this field, the watcher disappears. and then we lose all separation and borders. These experiences were enough to propel me to this seeking, searching for a way to get back there, to make this a permanent state of being for the rest of my life.
In a way, the difficult part of the whole thing, of trying to return to that state of Oneness, is that I have an idea of what I am chasing. When it happened the first time, I was so young and unknowing that I didn’t know what I was searching for, and it just fell on me freely, like a thunderbolt, a gift from beyond. As I search to get back there, I only push it further from attainment. This is a cosmic joke that I sort of find funny.
So what I do now is fall into that second field of open awareness as often as possible, and try to let go of expecting anything. When I let go of need and searching and wanting, that’s when I’m closest to feeling that everything is One.
Lately, I’ve been reframing the way I see the relation between my ego self and my infinite self. For some time I had been working on letting go of the small self altogether. When something stressful or upsetting was happening in my life, I found refuge in the wider, neutral awareness of consciousness.
That made for an even temperament and a more peaceful way of being, but I’m afraid I ended up putting aside or ignoring feelings that were there to be felt.
I’ve learned that this is what is called spiritual bypassing. We are here in this embodied state to experience, and if we just push experience aside with judgment, and sink into a peaceful state without giving those feelings their due, then it’s as if we’re numbing ourselves instead of living. It’s difficult, because we’d pretty much rather do anything than to feel some of these deep emotions. But the practice is to feel them fully. Only then can they be released.
These practices are not meant to be contemplative only. In that case, it would be the goal of us all to live in monasteries, which sounds heavenly to me, but which I intuit is not my path. Instead, it seems the goal is to be more fully in life at the same time that we connect with this great bliss at the root of all existence. It is an alignment of these two selves that we’re seeking, not escape from one.
Music provides a great illustration of this. I am on stage, playing drums in front of an audience. My thoughts float through as I play the song: the stick in my hands, the flutter of worry about something tricky coming up, the way the other instruments are playing , the sound or lack of it coming through the monitor. I feel these things rise; I allow the twinge of worry, the irritation with the monitor, the doubt or focus. Rather than obsess or lose my place in the song, however, I fall into that open awareness, allow everything to rise and fall, while remaining fully present in the song.
When I play this way, I connect with each moment, each melody, while I am still aware of my technical being, and the other ears in the room hearing the song, and where I am in it. I am fully then in the center of the moment, experiencing it all and letting the song play me. I can rest in that wider awareness while the small Clem is counting the fill and adjusting her stick and allowing emotions and thoughts to appear, and it is all of utmost importance and of no importance at the same time. Duality is something we learn to discard in this practice. It is all relevant and irrelevant, trivial and the most important song that has ever been played. The only song, for that matter.
Ramana Maharshi said to his followers, to paraphrase: I experience the same emotions that you do, I just don’t pay attention. People see him as a man who sat silently and taught by his awakened presence, but I also know he loved to cook and to be involved in feeding all who came to the ashram. His last words were about feeding the peacocks on the grounds. He was far beyond this world in his being and yet fully present in the moment. When Robert Adams arrived to the ashram, tired and weary, it was Ramana who attended to him, asked about his journey, and made sure he was fed and comfortable. Robert Adams said they didn’t speak of great spiritual concepts. They talked about the trip and mundane things. What is there to speak of when the truth is truly known?
We don’t leave the world when we live in bliss. We get to be fully in it.
Our bodies tell the tale, our senses. For years I have examined that which rises and falls through my body and learned to just observe, and find that which is still. There is so much information in that stillness. It teaches me how to be fully in the world, to feel sadness and pain and joy and silliness, feel them fully, and yet not caught up in any of it. I have experienced fully that what rises passes away, that emotions are meant to be felt, and then they evaporate. My true self is always in peace.
Lying here in the park there is a man on the bench with a couple of bags next to him stacked neatly. I have seen this man before, and recognize this as his daily routine. I have a daydream that I am this man, finding quiet places in the trees to sleep at night and daily lying in the sun in samadhi. I love this dream and I love to feel that I am such a person, needing nothing but sunlight and a sleeping bag to be happy.
So far this doesn’t appear to be my karma. For one thing, my karma is to pamper this pug. I’ll get myself up, drive to the apartment and make myself some soup on the stove and continue with my daily tasks. Sitting down at the drums so tomorrow night I can fall fully into the center of the song and get transported to that oneness, without screwing up.
Playing music feels like joy to my being, so I will continue to do it and all of the things that go along with it, even though some of those things I’m not that fond of. As I do this work, I let go of some things I think I used to be attached to: the need for acclaim, the need for validation, the need to rank myself with others. Music is joy and seems aligned with this vibration in the center of myself, so I follow this path. I let go of worry of what it will bring. I just rest in the alignment.
What we know of this stuff seems so small, but experience is everything. Maybe I will never again be able to let go of the searching long enough to allow the window of Oneness to fall on me again. I can do nothing but what I am called in truth to do. I have faith that I will get to see it again, though, even if it’s not until the end, when Clem turns to light and all are singing.
You can listen to me read this on iTunes HERE or Soundcloud HERE.
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