When a person’s awakening vacillates, he or she often asks me, “How do I stay in the awakened state? That is asking the wrong question… Spirit never asks itself, “How do I stay within myself?” That would be ridiculous. It just makes no sense...
What makes more sense is to ask how you unenlighten yourself.
What is still held on to? What is still confusing? What situations in life can get you to believe things that aren’t true and cause you to go into contradiction, suffering, and separation? What is it specifically that has the power to entice consciousness back into the gravitational field of the dream state? ...
How is it specifically that I’m putting myself back in illusion… even though re-identification is totally spontaneous and it’s not happening to anybody and it’s not anybody’s fault – we still need to investigate how it happens.
Adyashanti, The End of Your World.
As I took up my investigation into “witnessing” I saw clearly that my pattern for many years has been to have a period of intense witnessing during which I was sure consciousness had shifted. Then, after some time, I would begin to doubt the authenticity of both my experience and interpretation.
I would decide, “No, this isn’t witnessing,” but merely something totally out of kilter physically. In essence, I would pathologize the situation. And off I’d go, stewing in that direction. How could I mend my body? Then, hopefully, the gap of witnessing would close and the unreality of creation would feel real once more. And I would stop telling myself a pretty spiritual story when in fact I was “sick.”
But, when I decided to accept that witnessing was a foundation I could count on, a fairly permanent, consistent spiritual experience, and investigate into the nature of the witness, I had to drop the habit of pathologizing.
Not that the habit didn’t try to re-establish itself. But, now I see it as that – simply a habit, a pattern of thought. I also see the power this belief has to immediately unenlighten.
So, I let it go. Dropped it. And guess what:
Our ideas about what’s good and bad and what’s happening to us are TOTALLY conditioned. We prefer soft grace over fierce grace. But soft grace is actually no better than fierce grace. It’s all grace…
If you want it to become stable, as I said, don’t worry about trying to get enlightenment back. Look in the moment, this moment, any moment: How am I unenlightening myself?
If you want to become stabilized in It – That’s how to do it.
“Humm, how am I un-realizing myself right now?”
Cause you can always see that.
And when you see that, the realization reveals itself of its own accord.
Adyashanti, Omega Institute, July, 2007.
Adya was right.
I dropped pathologizing and the witness became “the stick that stirs the funeral pyre [and] is itself consumed by the fire.”
But, this still left the doubt of consistency and permanency in the experience of consciousness. There are varying levels of intensity to the witnessing.
And again, doubt would always enter: “Have I lost it?”
I must have been mistaken. I am not enlightened.
Then, I recalled what “coming out” had been like. Discovering the truth in this instance had seemed a life and death decision. And I agonized for years.
Once I finally found the truth (and it wasn’t a decision- it was a seeing), I went through several days of fearing I would lose my realization if it slipped from my awareness.
So, I tried to hold it in my mind, “I’m gay. I’m gay.”
Well, guess what – sexual orientation doesn’t depend at all upon keeping it in your attention day and night. Which is not to say clearly knowing the reality doesn’t make all the difference in the world! It's just that the reality doesn't depend upon always noticing, "I gay."
Couldn’t awakening and enlightenment be similar?
You have to see and know. But, it needn’t be right there in your face every waking and sleeping moment.
Perhaps the Witness could also come and go in intensity without changing the reality of the situation. Because, whenever I chose to look, to pay attention, there it is unchanged.
I suspected that once again, holding an incorrect belief made me doubt my experience, made me unenlighten myself.
A couple days later I came across these words of Douglas Harding:
[Ramana] said when he was asked whether he was brilliantly awake or alert all the time that sometimes it’s like the treble melody in the piece of music which you attend to; if you’re attending to that music then that’s what you attend to, not to the bass accompaniment. But if the bass accompaniment were to stop you would notice it, and sometimes his experience is more in the bass accompaniment, and sometimes in the treble melody, and therefore there are rhythms of attention.
And the way I put it, is this. I think practice is enormously important indispensable to keep coming back to this. Coming back to it until it’s natural to be natural.
…it’s like my love for Catherine, for instance. For hours and hours, it might be the whole day when I didn’t think of Catherine. It doesn’t mean that I don’t love her anymore. There’s a level in my being where I go on loving her whether I’m celebrating it and spelling it out or not.
The love is going on anyway, and it’s similar with who I really, really, really am. I mean this deep, deep conviction of who I really, really, really am is not an idolatrous being hooked on all the time in being absorbed in that Reality… I’m convinced that it doesn’t have to be raised to consciousness the whole time. To think that it has to be raised to full consciousness the whole time seems to me a species of idolatry.
So, I was right. And Adya was right.
And, one by one, I have been examining how it is I unenlighten myself.
I am seeing what isn’t true.
Each “seeing” bursts a false belief and soothes my mind, my over active, scientific, skeptical, aggitated mind.
So, for most people some version of this is part of the phase of how awakening happens.
You know, awakening is sudden.
Enlightenment is the total harmonization of the Absolute and Relative so that we not only see and realize that the Absolute and Relative are One, but feel it, act it, and behave it on all levels of being.
Adyashanti, Omega Institute, July, 2007. CD 9 Track 6
Adya told me this three years ago. But, I hadn’t really listened.