Saturday, September 06, 2008

The Seeker and Fear

Diving Within
Originally uploaded by Seeking Tao

We all have a deep longing and a Deep Fear of the discovery of what we are, and the mind devises any way it can to avoid this discovery.
The most effective way it (the mind) AVOIDS Awakening is to SEEK it.
Tony Parsons, The Open Secret

This Sunday I leave for a five-day silent retreat with Adyashanti.
I’ve been wondering if I’ll ask him a question.
And if I do, how can I word it?

Just now, I began it this way:
“I’m not sure if I have some strange metabolic state, some aberrant physiology that makes my daily consciousness seem strange, OR if I am ‘treading water on the void’.”
I then heard Adya say, “You know which it is.”
And tears broke into my eyes.
I do know.
I am treading water.

Some time ago, I gave a synopsis of Adya’s discussion with a woman who was also treading water.
She was using doubt, always doubting her experience, as a means of preventing herself from going deeper.

I am using fear. …Ok, and throw in a dose of doubting intellect and a dash of core issues regarding love.
But, for now let’s look at fear.

Fear in one form or another keeps coming up these days.
One version is intense anxiety. In the characteristic manner of painbody flare-ups, these attacks are way out of proportion to precipitating events.
The causes of my anxiety can almost elude my awareness and are simply the same daily pressures I have dealt with for years. But now, my reaction seems to fill every cell within me. Something obviously is going on.
So, it’s been easy, if quite uncomfortable, to simply focus on the physical sensations.

During these times of intense anxiety, I have some version of these words of Suzanne Segal running through my head:

Behind most spiritual practices is the belief that you have to get someplace you’re not- a destination called realization or enlightenment. But realization isn’t someplace else...

For example, when I described how much fear was present, people told me the fear meant that something must be wrong, because fear was an indication that I wasn’t in the proper state. But fear is just what it is, and it’s there too in the vastness of who we are.

And, just like that I can see the anxiety is on the level of something like a broken arm - I can feel it and it's no more a part of Me than, let's say, that chair. And then I try to see what IS me... and do not like the view. I do not like to even put the words to what I see. For, that is far too scary.

So, other times, there is simply down right fear.
For instance, recall awhile back I mentioned The Tibetan Yogas of Dream and Sleep? It’s been an interesting teaching and I was enjoying the book,
Until I came across these words:

The second way of understanding the practice is to realize that waking life is actually the same as dream,
that the entirety of normal experience is made up of the mind’s projections…
This is one way of articulating the realization that all phenomena are empty and that the apparent self-nature of beings and objects is illusory.
There is not an actual “thing” anywhere in waking life – just as in dream –
but only transient, essenceless appearances.
Arising and self-liberating in the empty, luminous base of existence.
Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche

This passage is now highlighted in yellow and in the margin you will find, scribbled in blue pen, “I hate this!”

I mean really, who wants such a vision?
Nothing is really real! Only temporary dreams rising and dissolving into emptiness!
(Yet, those trucks will flatten you.)
Sometimes, the paradox is so ludicrous I find it truly a cosmic joke and am filled with laughter.
But mostly, it makes me kind of cringe or leads to down right panic.

So, I have adopted a strategy. It consists of largely trying to ignore the vision, or quietly accepting it with a kind of periphery vision.
Either way, I consciously avoid looking at the situation all too carefully.
And if such behavior isn’t treading water, then I really don’t know what is.

In some version or another, this has been going of for years.
Years – Years! of suffering and drama to the point of near exhaustion and what a waste of life.
No not waste, it’s just the way I’m going about things.
But clearly, it is time for resolution.
And I have no idea of how to go about that.

Oh, I know the words comprising one answer or another.
Adya, has addressed it many times.
So have many others whom I do not even know, but I do enjoy their words:

One of the things I came to see is that Enlightenment only becomes available when it has been accepted that it cannot be achieved.
Doctrines, processes, and progressive paths which seek Enlightenment only exacerbate the problem they address by reinforcing the idea that the Self can find something that it presumes it has lost.

It is that very effort, that investment in self-identity, that continuously recreates the illusion of separation from oneness.
This is the veil that we believe exists.
It is the dream of individuality…

But your mind is frightened to let go and still has an idea that something special should happen…
Tony Parsons

Something special, yes. We all expect a bit of flash.
But, I think that in the end it just takes simple Grace.

...once again there was a pervasive silence and once again I waited for the onset of fear to break it up. But this time the fear never came. . . . Within, all was still, silent and motionless. In the stillness, I was not aware of the moment when the fear and tension of waiting had left. Still I continued to wait for a movement not of myself and when no movement came, I simply remained in a great stillness.
Bernadette Roberts

Have a nice week while I am gone. I will get back with you later.

PS - If you miss reading a post midweek, take the time to GO HERE and read an interview with Bernadette Roberts by Stephen Bodian. It's an old interview but rather remarkable, RE: The Void.


Beth said...

Pat, you may have left by now, but I hope the retreat really does bring you some resolution and forward motion that leaves the fear behind. I'll be thinking about you this week, and looking forward to reading what you can tell us about your experience.

Pat Bralley said...

Thanks! I'm still packing and cleaning the house... and freaking that the airline has changed my flight yet again without telling me. How, apropro. I can practice all the way there. ;)

Anonymous said...


Pincushion said...

Look forward to hearing about your experiences Pat!

Pat Bralley said...

Thank you all... I am back and will look-up maha-sunya... among other things.

Anonymous said...

Good post. Fear is an essential part of 'spiritual awakening' - it's fuel for the fire. Spiritual awakening is utterly destructive and has nothing to do with 'growth', and everything to do with unbecomming - the price paid for the truth is enormous.

Western culture, with it's obsession with the illusion of control often equates ego-gratifying states of bliss and transient mystical experiences with genuine 'awakening'. Furthermore, many will claim that fear equals an imbalance, a wrongly applied technique or some other delusory idea conjured up to defend and preserve their own 'spiritual identity'. If there's no fear present accompanying a complete dive in the existentially unknown, then nothing will happen. What usually happens is that a spiritual-identity is formed along with a hive mentality to some particular paradigm or tradition, usually in the name of 'spiritual growth'. You can see these types all over the internet, in forums, discussing the authenticity of this teacher, that technique, this experience.

Awakening wakes up from the person. There is no awakening to be had since it cancels out the experiencer. This is a living death - and since annihilation is the mother of all human fears, of which all culture and selfhood is a defence mechanism against - if no fear is present during that process then the liklihood is that you're not there at all.

The best sources of information regarding this process come from an older era. Mythology for examples presents us with many tales of brave heroes who trod this path, and faced all kinds of ordeals. Also, the shamans of indigenous cultures always faced a crisis of monumental, earth-shattering proportions during their initiatory process.

There are a small amount of messengers out there who have lived through it and 'get it', but most don't. Most have had a cosy transient mystical experience and then fashion that into something, usually in the name of 'spiritual growth and evolution'. True awakening is involution - it's a peeling back until only truth remains - and that changeless truth was always present, just obscured.

Pat Bralley said...

Good points. Thanks. In addition, you got me to reread this post. Tony Parson point about giving up the idea of enlightenment hit home.

Sister Mother Beloved said...

you wrote this 2008before I think i had heard of adya. now i have .
and i'm treading water...but i bet you have managed by grace to dive deeper now! i'm going to look and find your blog and see what you're writing today 2014.
i'm glad for the scientist in your that can take the time to write and be so precise.

Pat Bralley said...

Hello Sister, I'm sorry I've not commented sooner, but I missed the notification. I have not written anything in 7 months. I'd run out of words, and you were right, things have moved along in their won way.
RE: Fear - which I have not written about here - last year I got really clear on not wanting to end my life having always lived it in fear. So I decided to simply dive into and live my life in a manner that my intellect said "wasn't the smart thing to do" - It has all worked out fine. And the fear ... I've not really noticed it leaving. From time to time I notice, well in the past, that would have terrified me. Now there are quick little ripples. .. . I HOPE the trend continues, but who knows what's ahead! ha, ha!