Awakened presence blog

Belief

A lot of people are expressing that they don’t know what to believe any more. Yet what really is belief anyway? Why do we have to believe anything?

Why SHOULD we believe anything? Most people think that letting go of needing to believe anything amounts to some kind of depression.
Yet that’s an idea that comes from people who use their beliefs to give themselves self worth.

No wonder people hold on so fully to their beliefs! Just look at how they react when someone with different beliefs comes along. Even a believer of peace on earth will embody the exact opposite, in the name of their belief!

We all know who we are when we have beliefs.
Yet who on Earth are we without any beliefs? Have you explored?
Unless you explore who you are without any beliefs, you may just fall into the trap of being another believer. Belief is seductive.

How do you explore who you really are?
Most of us just blindly assume that we are a collection of thoughts, feelings, sensations and perceptions.
Have you made this assumption?

Yet how could we be these things, because while all these things come and go, we do not experience our self coming and going with them. We have to simply ask our self what is it in our experience of our self that doesn’t come and go?

What is it in your experience that doesn’t come and go?

In order to answer, you have to go to that experience. You have to go to your self. You can’t go to your thoughts because they come and go!
What is it that doesn’t come and go?

Listen.
It’s closer than your breath.
It’s not the things; the thoughts, the sensations etc.

It’s that which knows them. It’s that which is aware of them.
Go to That. And be with That.
Until we see that it doesn’t come and go, but that everything comes and goes in That.

The more we take this simple timeless and immediate journey to meet our self, the more our beliefs fall away.
Only the self that believes he/she is a collection of things needs belief. It uses it in order to support it’s illusory status.

How much more beautiful is it to be who you really are?
It’s well worth a try.

Maybe it’s what you were here for all along.

Keep It Simple

The world is being perceived.
Don’t be the one who thinks they are perceiving, be the one who is actually perceiving.

This real you is not a bunch of thoughts. It is the eternal and infinite one that creates time, space and thought, and then gets lost in it.
Reclaim your true identity back by committing right now to an ongoing acknowledgement of the simple experience of the timeless one that is perceiving.

You can’t find that one with your thoughts.
You find that one by asking yourself what it is that is experiencing the thoughts, the feelings, the perceptions that make up the world.

Answer this question with your experience, not a word.
Let this experience recognise itself.
Then let words, breath and movement emanate from this experience.

This will bring you a deep peace.
This is inner work.

It’s a simple as this.

The Forgotten Silence

Have you forgotten your right to silence? Have your words simply become a way to fill the void? Silence is not a game. It’s the silent house from where all words come. Ignoring its presence is a forgetting of the very source of things, and it’s this forgetting that is at the root of our suffering.

Words create things. Everything the human created began with a thought, and often many words! The world is full of countless wonderful things created by we humans but we don’t have to look far to see that something’s got out of hand. When we lose touch with silence we turn to the world of things for our survival. We create more things, and more things and more things, with barely a pause for breath. Yet these things eventually exhaust us. Just as they are exhausting the earth! In silence we find our freedom and eternity.

In true silence there is no time, nor space, but only the wordless placeless place from where all time and space comes. If that place isn’t worth listening to, then we’re truly doomed. We shouldn’t wait until our body’s death is approaching before we start considering the bigger picture. We could die tomorrow! Besides, the world needs our attention to silence now more than ever. The awful thing however is that when we switch off the noise, we hear loud and clear our habit of filling the silence. This noise might just be the loudest of them all. Our mind simply cannot handle true silence.

Our healing comes through understanding that while our mind cannot fathom the placeless place from where it emanates, it’s not its noise that is actually the problem but rather our fusion with it. When we simply leave our mind alone, the dust will begin to settle, and in the dust beginning to settle, the silence will begin to arise. However when I say ‘we simply leave our mind alone’ what do I mean?

We have to establish who or what is the ‘we’ that I’m speaking of, otherwise we just don’t know how to do it. We may get a temporary break from our mind through our practices of yoga, meditation, conscious movement, tantra etc but until we honestly enquire into the nature of who or what it is that is practising, the mind will continue to veil the silence through dominating our precious lives – and such practice, rather than being a stepping stone to that silence, can if we’re not careful become another dependency that serves to block it.

Most of us either consciously or unconsciously think that we are the mind itself: a collection of thoughts, feelings and perceptions that exist in a limited amount of time and space. So any invitation to ‘leave our mind alone’ would amount to an invitation for the mind to leave itself alone – which would be impossible because the very action of the mind leaving anything alone brings the mind into activity. It’s no wonder that so many of us struggle to quieten our thoughts. It is not possible for the mind to leave the mind alone.

The ‘we’ that I am speaking of is not the mind. The mind is limited, but the awareness that is aware of it, and hence able to leave it alone, is limitless. It does not exist in the time and space of the mind. Conversely time, space and mind exist in it. In other words time, space and mind exist in us. Moreover time, space and mind are made of us.

So in order for us to leave our mind alone so that we can experience the inner silence that comes from the settling of the dust, we must become aware of that which is able to leave the mind alone. When we simply allow awareness to rest in the awareness of itself rather than the awareness of things, the mind can finally be given a true rest. In this respect awareness is the greatest mother of all.

Yet we soon see that the mechanism of mind has been running for a long time and has established a pattern of survival which won’t just disappear with this understanding. We have to gently but consistently allow our true self, awareness, to shine in its own presence time and time again. We must come to reside in the experience that we go to that makes us answer ‘yes’ to the question ‘am I aware?’ – savouring the peace of awareness’s presence until we recognise with our actual experience that our inner silence was right there all along, shining within our every word and our every breath.

The Fundamental Corruption

This month, several thousands of people are occupying the streets of London for the Extinction Rebellion protests; and while I don’t myself feel called to join them, it’s got me contemplating the crisis that these friends are speaking out against.

Clearly society is made up from a collection of individuals, so if we are going to effectively get to grips with society’s treatment of the planet, we need to look at the individuals. Where have we gone wrong? How have we individuals managed to create such an unprecedented planetary crisis? Human influence on this planet and its nature has gone beyond the catastrophic and thankfully it seems more people than ever are demanding that governments and corporations act accordingly. Yet if we truly want to make a lasting difference we have to see that while action and protest are vitally important, there is something more that we have to do. It is not enough simply to hold others accountable and demand change. It’s not enough simply to change our lifestyle to one that is kinder to the planet. At some point we have to actually get to the source of why on earth as a species of individuals we have gone so wrong.

This summer I was fortunate enough to find myself sitting in a field listening to a talk by the BBC anthropologist Bruce Parry who stated that in his rich anthropological experience, he has never come across a centralised power system that has succeeded in eliminating corruption from its organisation. It seems that even when a great revolution occurs, seemingly offering personal and collective freedom and empowerment, there is a poison that remains. Obviously corruption needs to be reduced as much as possible; but even if what Bruce Parry states were only partially true, there is clearly a fundamental error in the workings of the human; an error that however hard we try is not being successfully addressed through our valiant efforts to change our conditions.

It’s clear that we have created unprecedented and unimaginable damage. Imagine how the planet must have looked ten thousand years ago. It is humans that have largely destroyed the planet that our ancestors knew. The list is endless: climate change, deforestation, the daily killing and indirect torture of hundreds of thousands of innocent sentient animals, countless wars and continuous murders of fellow humans, pollution of the earth, the seas, the rivers and the sky. We need to recognise that as a species we humans must be desperate to have continued to cause such extraordinary destruction. We cannot blame any other species and if we want to get to the root of the problem, we must see that it simply doesn’t work long term to blame each other. Each and every one of us is responsible for both the problem and the solution.

Humans have been corrupted, and if a renowned anthropologist cannot find a single centralised non-nomadic society that doesn’t harbour corruption, then since every society is made up of individuals we have to ask the fundamental question: where is the corruption in the individual?

To answer this question we need to take an honest look at the possibility that there is a fundamental corruption within us. Not just within those people we have a problem with, but within the way that all of our minds have been conditioned. To honestly explore this possibility we have to look within our own self. It simply doesn’t work to examine another because we would be enquiring from the very same conditioned perspective that we are aiming to question. We may find that when we look inwards in a manner that questions the way that we see, a subtle fear or avoidance arises that makes us turn elsewhere, to something objective. Our mind might tell us that enquiring at this level is simply a waste of valuable time that could be spent on important practical issues. Or we may think that we are looking inside in order to find someone to blame (which will make us turn away in case that person is our self), but we are not. We are simply turning inward to explore the possibility of a very real solution to a very real crisis. We have to persist if we’re going to get to the crux of the problem. What is the fundamental corruption?

The fundamental corruption is that we humans have overlooked and continue to overlook our primary identity and its utterly shared nature.

Your mind might not like such an answer that is based on the way we see rather than what we do, but what Bruce Parry’s words and perhaps our very experience of life suggests is that we have been trying to solve our problems by changing our external conditions for millennia, and it simply has not worked. It has not eliminated personal, collective or planetary suffering. In fact if we take an honest look at the world we might well say that suffering has actually increased, certainly on a planetary level. Of course it is natural and worthy to change our adverse conditions, to stand our ground and state our claim for justice and a better life; this is essential work. Yet something fundamental is being ignored in our attempts to effectively address our personal, collective and planetary crises.

What’s being suggested here is that we’re ignoring the fact that we’ve bought the following cultural assumption and believed it to be true: that each one of us contains a localised source of awareness that is born out of our biology and is separate from everybody else’s. As a result of believing this assumption to be true we have mistaken our selves to be who we are not and in doing so we’ve left our true home and have become obsessed with trying to find it. We humans are like actors lost in our role, willing to do almost anything in our desperation to find our way back to the recognition of our true nature. Even on a good day we ignore the fundamental experience that our awareness or consciousness is not located, nor limited, nor bound to a body or brain. We ignore the fundamental experience that our true identity, that which is aware, is utterly shared; and that this shared identity when experientially acknowledged and understood, is the very source of the happiness that we have been seeking through our destruction of the planet.

All of us, even those individuals who head organisations responsible for catastrophic damage to the earth, are regularly in touch with this shared sense of being. Its common name is happiness. The problem is that we attribute this sense of happiness to the world of objects. We believe that it is something that has made us happy, while in actuality the happiness is our natural condition and has come to shine as a result of no longer being distracted by what it was that we were desiring. When we falsely believe that something has made us happy, as soon as that something disappears, our innate happiness will again be veiled and we will try something else, and something else, and something else, ad infinitum, until we wake up and investigate the true source of our sense of lack. When we trick our selves into believing that our true happiness is determined by our external conditions we will act in accordance with this false belief; and we will cause suffering to people, animals and the planet without taking appropriate responsibility for it. The depth at which we’ve tricked our self determines the depth of separation we feel, from those around us and the earth that we walk upon.

Happiness or our shared sense of being is the primary characteristic of the awareness that we experience right here and now, and this awareness is not limited to any person but extends infinitely and eternally, outside the confines of space and time. All things (including the mind’s constructs of space and time) are clearly contained within this awareness, are known by it and (since this awareness is the only true material present) are ultimately made of it. To get a direct taste of this realisation we can ask our self one simple question: am I aware? and go to the experience that precedes our answer yes. Instead of consciously or unconsciously focussing on what we are aware of, we let our attention relax until we have a crystal clear sense of the experience of awareness itself. This awareness is not aware of things because all things are contained within this awareness. It is simply aware of itself, because this is its nature.

If we genuinely ask this awareness whether it has the experience of being located in a specific place, we discover that whilst it is clearly experienced, it cannot be found as an object of experience; rather it is experienced as the only subject that exists. It is experienced as unified. In other words it is the one thing-less thing that connects us all. Whilst it cannot be found by the mind (since the mind can only operate in subject/ object terms) it is actually our constant experience. If we find that thoughts or feelings are attempting to distract our experiential acknowledgment of this awareness, we can ask our self the question what is it that is aware of this thought or feeling? and thus return again to the experience of our true nature, that which is aware. In time we will arrive at the experience that even our thinking process that separates our self out from the world is made of the very stuff whose nature is happiness.

We may ask this awareness whether it has ever actually experienced the absence of itself or whether it is ever present? We may see that not even in deep sleep does this awareness experience its own absence. It is simply that our thinking mind is not registering it. When we wake in the morning it is not boundless awareness that appears and begins, but rather the biological system that wakes up, registers the awareness and wrongly believes it to be its own. Similarly we may experiment as to whether there could ever be anything in experience that exists outside of this awareness: any thought, person, object; any life, any death, anything at all? We may ask our selves how could there be? – for if something were to exist outside awareness, how could there be an awareness of its existence?

This enquiry is fundamental to our increased sense of connection to the world in which we live and the planet which provides for us. When we see a child, what is it in the child that touches us really? It is the absence of a developed ego that sees itself to be separate. It is the absence of corruption. We secretly long for this playful, innocent and uncorrupted child within us. We look to the world of objects, states of mind and relationships to try to reclaim this child like innocence, without realising that if we simply look inside to enquire into the nature of the awareness that is fundamental to our very existence, we will find its uncorrupted innocence right there shining. We’ll discover that it’s simply our preoccupation with the the objective world of thoughts, feelings, perceptions, relationships and states of mind that has led us to overlook it.

We’ve all developed a necessary sense of separation in order to be able to function in the world, but most of us have stopped short of developing beyond it, and we associate the call towards happiness and a better world to a problem with our conditions, unaware that all suffering is a signal that we have overlooked the peace and happiness that is inherent in our unified identity. Happiness or the truth of our being calls us throughout our life but we misunderstand it and to make matters worse we think we are to blame for this absence of lasting happiness. Yet the veiling of our true nature happens to everyone. It is the way of creation.

When we do the work to investigate and reclaim our true identity, the gifts we receive are profound. Our actions become infused with the experiential understanding that our being is shared, not just with each other but with everything. Our sense of separation from each other and from the earth quietly dissipates.

The original tantra sages of the East were considered by many to be the true anarchists. They knew who they were and didn’t depend upon the objective world for their happiness. They didn’t form organisations nor religions because they knew that centralised power led to corruption. As a result they were rarely noticed nor written about and their teachings lay largely hidden. Our true self does not make a great story, unless it is inappropriately clothed in robes and colourful stories of enlightenment. Realising our true uncorrupted identity is about as ordinary as it gets. Yet it is the placeless place of peace and love that we all long for. It is uncorrupted presence, already and always awakened to itself. We just need to remember this.

Heartbeat

I’m currently listening to an audiobook called ‘The Mindbody Prescription’ by John Sarno about how the human being manages seemingly unmanageable feelings that arise predominantly in infancy and childhood. What this book is saying is that there is a point at which the bodymind system makes a switch – it decides (unconsciously) that a feeling is too much, and immediately the brain kicks in and creates a discomfort or pain in the physical body as a way of distracting the system away from the emotional process. There’s all sorts of research that has been done by the doctor who wrote this book, and it really resonated for me and got me thinking.

Imagine that we are the wide open blank canvas that fully allows the emotions to be painted onto the canvas – the whole realm of emotions – no resistance whatsoever. As they are painted onto the canvas they are simultaneously dissolved into the canvas, since only a resistance by the canvas would have the paint stick. What if we never ever even dreamt of repressing another emotion, another feeling – to the point that we would never even have to categorise the feelings into these rather superficial boxes of fear, anger, sadness and joy. As if emotions can really be boxed and labelled! It’s a very useful tool to be able to label, but we have to understand that in reality they are not really separate from each other. There is not one emotion called joy and another emotion called sadness.

Perhaps we have boxed them up in order to somehow try to manage them in our life, because we are conditioned by our culture to accept certain emotions above others. This even differs from culture to culture. In some cultures it is natural to walk down the street in floods of tears. That wouldn’t be a struggle for the person or anybody else – but in our culture this would be very rare. In our culture it’s even rare to be extremely joyful. That would likely trigger people almost as much as anger or sadness. Certainly it’s not common to hear the functional expression of fear, or hear the expression of clear blameless anger.

We are this blank canvas – but we have been conditioned and have become somewhat lost in this conditioning. On the whole we don’t recognise our nature as this blank canvas; and the paint sticks. We need to do something to address this because this subtle or unsubtle controlling of the emotions creates suffering. One of the fundamental things that we can do is understand one essential fact about this process: the emotions being felt are not ours, nor anybody else’s. The fear being felt is not our fear. The anger being felt is not our anger. The sadness being felt is not our sadness and the joy being felt is not our joy. And since they are not ours we don’t need to cling onto them and we don’t need to repress them.

However we are conditioned into thinking that they are ours: ‘this is my anger; this is your fear’ etc. We are scared that if we don’t control them and claim them, we will somehow be overwhelmed by them. It was sensible for us at some point in our life to claim them by identifying what appears to be ours and what appears to be someone else’s. It was a way that we managed feelings that were potentially or actually overwhelming. However we are now adults and have the capacity to see that we no longer need to live from a place of rejecting or manipulating certain feelings. Ownership of an emotion only needs to take place if we have an investment in controlling that emotion. When we come to see that controlling the emotion impacts the free flow of energy, we can begin to relinquish that control.

In order for us to relinquish the subtle and unsubtle manipulation of our feelings (so as to catalyse healing), we need to feel safe, and understand that the work is about integrity rather than intensity. It is about gentle surrender rather than push. So we connect to the ground, the earth, the one that provides for our very survival and holds us with pure compassion throughout our lives. We feel the physical connection to the ground and welcome it. We notice our breath. We develop an intimate relationship with our breath as an oasis. Our breath connects us to a sense of peace. It regulates our nervous system. Relaxed deep breathing brings us home amidst any amount of turmoil.

There is no need for catharsis. Catharsis may occur and but there is absolutely no necessity for it. In fact catharsis can be just another way that we avoid the feeling being felt. We can hide behind the apparent release of it without seeing that we are just cycling through the same process of subtle avoidance. What is important is to establish our connection with the earth, our breath, and the understanding that the feelings are not ours, before we consciously welcome in the realm of the emotions, so that we don’t get lost. Our embodiment of the emotion is key. Without embodiment, or the movement of the emotion through the awareness of the body and breath, we cannot expect much healing to occur.

And with embodiment comes movement. The feelings wish to be free and uninhibited and through moving the body with conscious intention we are automatically welcoming this movement towards freedom; freedom not just for the emotional realm but for the entire being.

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Location of The Hebden Wave 5Rhythms class:
Hebden Bridge Methodist Church,
Market Street HX7 6EU.
Francis Michael Eliot:
francis@awakenedpresence.org
+44 (0)7749 418640