"Blown about pitifully
In the whirlwind between birth and death,
As if wandering in a dream,
In the midst of illusion
I awaken to the true path."
~ Dogen (1200-1253)
"You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your Presence ..." ~ Psalm 16:11
"Those who attend to that Presence within will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." ~ Isaiah 40:31
The wise ones teach that the spiritual path is like a stairway of ascent in the realm of consciousness.
Jesus referred to this inner realm of pure, clear, transparent Light as "The Kingdom of God", or as "The Kingdom of heaven."
More modern spiritual teachers have referred to this realm as "The Light of Consciousness" or as "The Light of Awareness."
The wise will also teach that, from different perspective, there is actually no path to follow and no efforting to be made in order to acquire the great wisdom.
They may seem to contradict themselves because all real truth (the highest wisdom) is paradoxical. Paradox simply means that two seemingly opposite truths can be true at the same time.
An example of this is when Jesus apparently spoke about the necessity of "Dying (to the mind-made self) so that we may fully live" etc.
The awakened life that Jesus urged people to embrace and follow quickly became known as 'The Way' by those who understood him and determined to live by the same Light as he did.
The Way was just another name for The Path of Life -- the spiritual journey in consciousness followed by the truly wise since the dawn of time.
From the standpoint of the phenomenal world where we have our life-experience, it's quite OK to talk about a Way and to see ourselves as Wayfarers, but from the standpoint of absolute reality, there is, of course, no distance for the spiritual aspirant to cover nor anything for him or her to achieve. This will be clarified a little more below.
Since absolute reality is one, its full realization is identical for all, and so ultimate truth is one and the same for all. The spiritual path as the way to it is also one in essence, although it manifests itself in innumerable ways through individual quests.
For the one who has set their foot on the first step of this 'stairway of ascent' so to speak, there's no quick way up -- the whole stairway must be climbed step by step, or stage by stage. In this sense alone, it's identical for all.
This isn't meant to imply that there's only one way to progress, for the means are many, to be used as appropriate. So, while the path is one, 'pathwork' may be markedly different from individual to individual and even over the course of development of a single individual.
While the goal of realizing ultimate truth is ever one and the same, the paths or stairways are many and varied. In addition, each person's journey or ascent is individual. General principles, precepts, and practices must be adapted to individual conditions. Hence, freedom of thought, association and expression are necessary for making one's way.
Since everyone is shaped by individual temperament and each faces different circumstances in life, everyone's spiritual journey is unique. However, since all human beings have the same essential nature, all spiritual aspirants need to go through essentially the same process of awakening and evolution in order to reach the goal.
Having said all this, we can return to the paradox mentioned above and declare, that on the deepest (or highest) level of understanding, there actually is no path to be followed, no effort to be made, and no door or gate at the end to go through.
Why? Because, as the masters reveal, the moment you begin to awaken you find you're already Home. The awesome mystery is that there is nowhere to go but Here; the time of homecoming is always Now; there is nothing we need to be but This!
Just remember that all direct path techniques are meant simply to undermine, to cut away, the one who is performing them. No matter what spiritual path you've walked or what teachings you've followed, they must lead you back to no path and no teaching.
A true teaching is like a blazing fire that consumes itself. The teaching must not only consume you, but consume itself as well. All must be burned to ash, and then the ash must be burned. Then, and only then, is the Ultimate realized.
~ From: The Impact of Awakening, by Adyashanti www.adyashanti.org
Earnestness must be there from the start, intention is important and perseverance vital, but in truth no great efforting is required to realize at last what you, the real you, really are beyond outward appearances!
It takes no effort at all to turn your attention away from its habitual fixing on objects 'out there' (in the mind as in the material world) and turning it toward That, at the center of your being, which is awaring these thoughts, feelings, sights, sounds and tastes etc.
Then the full import of this turnaround hits us -- we don't just have awareness, we ARE Awareness -- unborn, undying, infinite, eternal Consciousness Itself ... awaring all this through our mortal frame. What a joke! What immense relief! What unspeakable joy!
In the end, the great transition happens by a simple shift of consciousness. It is the all important final step that occurs after all the other steps mentioned above have been taken. Inexplicably, the number of prior steps is not the same in every case.
We are finally freed or delivered by noticing something -- or more correctly, an immense absence that contains everything, but much much more than that, completely beyond words to describe -- once overlooked but now recognized as the 'Pearl of Great Price'.
To conclude this section, here are some verses by an old Persian poet that capture the essence of the spiritual path ...
When the path ignites a soul,
there's no remaining in place.
The foot touches ground,
but not for long.
The way where love tells its secret
stays always in motion,
and there is no you there, and no reason.
The rider urges his horse to gallop,
and so doing, throws himself
under the flying hooves.
In love-unity there's no old or new.
Everything is nothing.
God alone is.
For lovers the phenomena-veil is very transparent,
and the delicate tracings on it cannot
be explained with language.
Clouds burn off as the sun rises,
and the love-world floods with light.
But cloud-water can be obscuring,
as well as useful.
There is an affection that covers the glory,
rather than dissolving into it ....
There is a seeing of the beauty
of union that doesn't actively work
for the inner conversation.
Your hand and feet must move,
as a stream streams, working
as its Self, to get to the ocean.
Then there's no more mention
of the search.
Being famous, or being a disgrace,
who's ahead or behind, these considerations
are rocks and clogged places
that slow you. Be as naked as a wheat grain
out of its husk and sleek as Adam.
Don't ask for anything other
than the presence.
Don't speak of a "you"
apart from That.
A full container cannot be more full.
Be whole, and nothing."
~ Hakim Sanai (1044?-1150?) From The Hand of Poetry: Five Mystic Poets of Persia, Trans. Coleman Barks
Appreciating and trusting intuition as a bridge between knowledge of the mind and of the heart is important in the exploration of timeless wisdom. This wisdom is also referred to as the wisdom of the heart because when the mind gets to the end of its reach, the intuition heart can take us through to the full realization of What we really are.
Spirit guided intuition uses the best of the mind and the best of the heart. The intellect operates through discrimination and discernment. The heart, though love and appreciation. Discrimination and discernment as well as love and appreciation are essential in the pursuit of truth, which involves balancing head and heart.
Love and appreciation attract and unite; discrimination and discernment clarify and affirm. Therefore, discrimination and discernment as well as love and appreciation are integral to the pursuit of truth. A balance of head and heart is required for wisdom be to translated into action.
A significant aspect of our practical work together therefore involves balancing the head and the heart, as well as culturing intuition in the process of spiritual transformation. Sharing honestly and openly in fellowship, for example, is a powerful tool for culturing intuition and also testing it with trusted companions.
Since absolute reality is one and indivisible, the spiritual is not inherently separate from the material, but only seems so to limited awareness. One purpose of spiritual living is to integrate the spiritual and material consciously.
The spiritual is to be found within the material at its very core. This core is discovered not only through activities that have been traditionally considered to be spiritual or religious, but also in art, science, the humanities and, indeed, in all creative pursuits.
Spiritual values are also found at the basis of family life, in the friendship of companions, and in one's solitary time with oneself. Even business, which is often thought of as the antithesis of spirituality, presents opportunities as well as challenges for integrating lofty ideals and spiritual values into mundane pursuits.
Ordinary life is our church, monastery, ashram and spiritual school, and our spirituality is pursued principally in the context of otherwise ordinary activities. Therefore, a principal activity of ours is turning daily life into spiritual exercise, both individually and in concert with companions, by being in the world but not of it.
We are pleased to invite you to join us on the Path of Awakening, a process for continuing spiritual growth and transformation for those in earnest about the deeper (private) teachings of Jesus.
This process challenges you to show up and pay attention daily to the need to overcome the weight of your routine in order to realize a full, intense and well-grounded spiritual journey. Doing so is not easy, but is immensley rewarding.
Walking the Path involves the following clear elements:
- Show up and observe (Centering)
- Show up and get together (Gathering)
- Show up and share (Connecting)
- Show up and let go (Releasing)
- Show up and act (Serving)
By choosing to participate, you will enrich and enliven your existing spiritual practices, and create or restore balance in each step of your journey through a commitment to do the work that is the essence of spiritual discipline. What drives this process is accountability, both to yourself and others.
The journey awakens us to three essential challenges:
- to identify with the realm of being (kingdom of God within) -- the Christ Spirit which is our true nature.
- to be present (pay attention) to the body, mind and heart and observe the stirrings of pain-body.
- to act intentionally (show up) in the light of awakened consciousness.
Your personal investment in yourself and in the process is very important so that a group of elders can be raised up who live the values of awakened Seers and are not just into “joining” or “attending.”
While much of the “work” will be on your own, we will walk together in mutual love, respect and support.
This is indeed an exciting time and we have a strong sense that Spirit has called us all for a special purpose at this dawning of a new era. Thank you for your willingness and openness.
We are a center for experiential education, rooted in the five Gospels, encouraging the transformation of human consciousness through contemplation, and equipping people to be instruments of positive, peaceful change in the world.
Spiritual Reading List
We encourage you to read daily with journaling from the following:
- Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now / A New Earth
- Adyashanti, The Impact of Awakening / Emptiness Dancing / Falling Into Grace
- Swami Abhayananda, History of Mysticism.
- Nisargadatta Maharaj, I Am That