Question: I want my heart to open.
Craig: If we truly want our heart to open, we must be willing to feel and experience everything within us and all around us.
Many of us imagine that if our heart were to open we would simply experience never ending bliss. While this may be partly true, we must also know that if the heart is to open that we will also experience all the pain and turmoil within us and in this world. The true heart does not shy away from pain, it is not afraid of any emotion or shadow within us.
Its only desire is to love freely. And this true heart does not have any bias about what it loves or what it wishes to experience. It is only our mind which has a bias toward only that which feels good. A good mother does not only love her child when her child is well behaved, a good mother loves her child in every moment. The true heart is the same, it is willing to love and experience everything within us, the good, the bad and the ugly. This is a fearless love—an unconditional love. If we truly want this spiritual heart to open, we must first be willing to feel, we must be willing to surrender any biases within us and love everything without reservation.
Question: Is it possible to merge with truth, “be free”, by just meditating? Or do we need therapy work as well – to empty out old conditioning?
Craig: It is easy to be free in meditation. But how about free in the world? That takes some real sincerity and yes, work.
We can merge with Truth in the present moment, but if we have shadows, pains, or messes in our unconscious world, then we will be pulled out of truth to do our healing work. The main reason why an individual “loses” their awakening is because there is unresolved pain within them, which needs their loving attention, so that they can heal. If an individual is psychologically divided, there is not much chance they will be able to live as Oneness.
Said differently, if you first do your personal work, and then wake up, you will stay awake. Your awakening will be abiding. This is how it works, in theory.
Yet a deeper truth is that nirvana and samsara are one. If we fall out of the awakened state and have to “work” on our humanity again, this is actually the Intelligence of the universe, wanting to liberate itself—in all the places of darkness, pain or confusion in us.
In truth there is no separation.
The way I teach is that we are absolutely divine and yet, our humanity is the evolving edge of God.
We open to both our absolute divinity and our evolving Divinity. If we do not do both, we will never truly be free in a practical, inclusive way. Maybe we can be free on our meditation cushion, but that freedom is quite shallow.
Question: After studying with many nondual teachers it strikes me how un-Indian/yogic nonduality is. That world (yoga/tantra) is about energy, meditation, mantras, fasts, homas, bhajans, darshan, holy days, anusthan, lineage, devotion…
The Western non-dual/advaita world tends to be anywhere from mildly interested to almost entirely uninterested in ANY of that. So one has to wonder, do they both really lead to the same thing, and with the same efficiency – to the same Truth and with the same embodiment and grounding? Why do they tend to be so uninterested in one another?
Craig: God has two very distinct qualities, that of spacious empty freedom and dynamic creation. Where you place your attention, that world will grow. All of life including the heaven worlds, shakti, tantra, Gods, avatars, siddhis, etc. all arise out of spacious emptiness. The Buddha focused on the spacious emptiness, the ground out of which everything arises. Nirvana is that space, the space where all creation dies into. Most Nondual teachers, Buddha, and Ramana live/lived and teach from this space. It is where the majority of their focus is.
The yogic traditions primarily arise out of the dynamic aliveness, power, and Shakti of the creative and manifest aspect of God. In a sense, shakti is the second coming of God, because She arises or is born into this space of freedom, which is always present. It is not that the two are separate, Nirvana is pregnant with all phenomena. Yet the focus of the Buddha was on the peace and emptiness, whereas the focus of the yogi is on the shakti.
Although any great master from either tradition will exhibit both, because they are not separate. (Adya, perhaps the greatest nondual teacher alive, had an intense kundalini awakening, despite never focusing on it. Ramana had a deep love of Shakti and worshiped Her.) In fact, it is difficult for anyone who has progressed far on the path to have one world without the other. Again, they are not separate, they are one.
Yet a teacher or student’s life tends to manifest that which they focus on, i.e. if you focus on shakti, you tend to get more shakti, if you focus on the great emptiness you tend to experience that. If you simply focus on one or the other, we tend to become lopsided in this world. This is why I emphasize both.
In my teachings, I tend to focus on more on freedom, because that is what is the most relevant to my life and resonates with my heart, and leads to greater sanity. Without this deep clarity, it is easy to become lost in this world, as well as lost in the worlds of yoga, without having any clear sense of freedom. Without clarity, Truth and sanity, we will never make it far in our quest to live as our highest nature.
But I want to be clear, that so much can be learned from Mother Shakti; without Her, we become cold and dead inside. I have a deep love for Mother Shakti, if she is not alive within and giving birth in me as me, I begin to feel subtly depressed in my nature.
I recommend you ask your heart, what is my next step is mind in need of freedom, or your heart in desire of greater expression.
Put your attention there. In the end, it all becomes one movement.
Question: Who am I? I use the path of neti neti, to let go of who I am not. But I find it impossible to know who I am? Am I missing something?
Craig: You can absolutely know who you are in your direct experience. The only way to truly know who and what we are, is to look to our direct experience. Much of what you have shared is the path of Neti Neti: not this, not that. And this is a powerful doorway into the truth of what you are. I myself walked through this doorway. It is good to let go of what you are not, so that you can begin to know what you are.
Letting go is a good first step…next I invite you to: Feel into the direct experience of your presence. Become quite exact and be completely honest about this inquiry. It is easy to see that thoughts come and go and they are not what we are. But what is here that does not come and go? If you don’t feel kundalini, don’t worry about that, I simply mention that because this page contains some of my kundalini teachings. Instead, notice what is your direct experience of aliveness? What is aliveness, what is presence? What is looking out of your eyes? Is it spacious? Is it luminous? Is it free? Are you this? What are you, my friend? Don’t look for some philosophical nondual explanation of what you are and parrot that back… instead look to the direct experience of this moment, what is looking out of your eyes? It is impossible to embody the truth of what you are if you do not know what you are. What is here in every moment of your life? Be with this my friend.
Question: I am afraid if I surrender, I will lose myself and just lay on the couch, I am afraid I will lose my job and my love for music and life. I am terrified of this kundalini energy will take over my life and I will no longer be myself.
Craig: You will not lose your love for music and you do not have to lose your job. This world is a divine play and please yes, by all means enjoy your play. Surrender is about surrendering to something greater. Like when you go to a concert and you surrender to the music, you do not lie dead on the ground; the music moves through you as you. You become one with something greater than your own self. The same is true with kundalini, you are surrendering to something greater than your own self.
Keep in mind you will not lose anything which does not serve you, and you will gain so much more. Imagine simply losing what you no longer need. Like when we were teenagers we had a lot of beliefs and opinions, yet 5 years later we did not need our teenaged beliefs – we let them go because they no longer served us. Surrender is always into something greater, not something less.
Question: I definitely have a bias against thought in the sense that Ego, the illusory separate self, seems to exist only by the continual stream of self-referential thoughts (me, mine, etc.). Egoic thinking is compulsive, addicting and 99.9 percent irrelevant. At best, thinking is a practical tool for living when the mind is established in pure, silent awareness. Otherwise, thoughts are pretty useless.
On the other hand, if thought and Awareness are made of the same “stuff”–i.e. thought emerges from Awareness (the Divine), then one has to acknowledge (and to experience and appreciate) the essential unity of the thought-in-consciousness (the unity of form and formless). See, that’s where the non-dual teaching loses me. I can experience pure awareness along with thought, but I don’t perceive thought “emerging” out of awareness. Thoughts just seem to show up spontaneously. (Sometimes they explode on the scene like fireworks, then quickly fade away.) That divine unity seems very foreign to me.
Craig: It is true that most of us struggle with our minds, and as a result tend to make the assumption that: because I struggle with my mind, therefore it must be outside of the Divine, it must not be good, it must be separate from my inherent freedom and Divinity.
But you may ask yourself, “is this true? Because something seems to bother me, because something seems to make me feel separate is it actually outside of God? Is it outside of Life, which I am one with? Is it possible for anything to be outside of oneness?”
But if we deeply investigate thought on an experiential level, what do we find?
- What is thought made of? What is the experience of the essence of thought?
- Where do thoughts come from? Do they not come from this mysterious and intelligent place?
- Could it be that this place is the mind of God arising within me as me?
- Knowing this, can I still have a bias against thought?
Question: Craig, I am feeling incredibly flat! Feels like loss of identity/purpose/drive/motivation. I also get the sense that I am grieving this loss. It’s such a strange, disorienting feeling. I feel like all the passion has been sucked out of me. Any thoughts about how to move with this?
Craig: Unfortunately, the part of you asking the question, “how to move with this?,” that is what needs to let go.
Basically, let go, trust and live from your heart. That being said, during this phase, many things may fall away, it may even seem as if your heart has fallen away. It hasn’t, it is quietly present in the background. Can you trust that you are simply walking through the fog and one day you will make it to the sunny beach? Keep walking forward with trust and faith. Let go of anything which is no longer serving you. If you need to do anything practical, do what is practical. In the meantime, try to enjoy the fog, enjoy the space and emptiness and see that this emptiness is made of both freedom and peace. Not a dead Peace, but an alive Peace. Notice the Peace all around you and within you and give yourself to this. Take your energy out of your mind, which is still trying to control life and reorient your energy around the quiet space which you are.
Question: I wanted to ask your thoughts on Advaita/Nondual vs yogas like mantra sadhana for example.
Do you feel there is a place for yoga sadhana, or is this emerging nondual movement with pioneers like Adya for example, making all of that stuff unnecessary and distractions?
Part of me feels like it would be nice to take up mantra sadhana again – although not via Siddha Yoga/Gurumayi – but to receive mantra diksha from a genuine Guru and really dive into it. I’m curious what you learned and got into over the years with your teacher David and I recall Aurobindo has a special place in your heart too.
Craig: Do what is in your heart. If it is in your heart to do a practice by all means practice. For a practice to be truly powerful, we must practice from the sincerity of our hearts. If it is something we are just doing in our minds or out of habit, it will have little impact upon our lives. But if you practice sincerely and with the attitude of both surrender and growth, your practice will bring you to a new place within yourself.
Every great Master has had a practice. There may have been a few exceptions throughout history, but those are a rare soul. Practice keeps us both honest and humble, the ego can come forward at any time in our life, whether we are a self-proclaimed enlightened nondual God, or a mere human. =) By all means, practice every day. I certainly do.
For someone who is sincere, I recommend at least one hour of formal practice each day. This helps to solidify our realizations and gives us the time and space to truly go deep. Without practice, we can easily become lost in our minds.
Question: I saw you on YouTube and loved it. I have now entered into the void of nothing. An emptiness that I only hope I have the courage and patience to make it through. To find this narrow path through the great negation. Thank you brother, for your video.
Craig: Thanks for the kind words. If you are in the void, see if you can not call it that, because “the void” has somewhat of a negative connotation. I recommend that you see it as a great and empty Peace, within this Peace is boundless freedom. Give yourself to this freedom and one day you will see that this Peace, this depth of emptiness is not separate from you, and something to get through, but your very nature.
Also, keep in mind this Peace has a deep cleansing and letting go quality. This Peace, which you are, can help you to let go of all that is unnecessary in your life and can help you to let go of that which is unessential to your nature. Take good care, my friend
Question: It would appear that I flew a little too close to this Eternal Sun. What I have found is a Purity on such a high Spiritual level that all I can repeat to myself lately is, Holy, Holy, Holy. The world is not ready for this, nor obviously am I. My wings were made of wax, and I came crashing back to earth. The Purity and Cleanliness the soul must arrive at in order to be achieved by this Glorious Light and Love, is unearthly.
Craig: Yes, my friend, this is so beautiful. But remember that which is holy made this world, made your humanity. When we compare our egoic nature and all the suffering of this world to the brightness of heaven, we will become quite depressed. But if you can allow your highest nature to see this Earthly world through the lens of the divinity of your heart, you will find that this world too is heaven. =) At some point, the two worlds dissolve into one. But when we first glance heaven, we see such a gap, between this world and heaven, but if we can be so humble to allow ourselves to see and experience this world through the goodness of our being, we will discover absolute beauty within ourselves, each other and even within suffering.
Question: Craig, I feel as if I have had a transcendent awakening, and things are quite wonderful and yet I feel that somehow there is more? Am I missing something? Can you help me with my next step?
Craig: Drop out of the mind and into the heart. Allow your innocence to come forward and guide you, this will have a radically different feel than where you find yourself to be now. Imagine allowing all walls of mind to fall away into this new unknown.
As you descend into this new space you will feel more alive, more intimate with life, there will be a depth of oneness like you have never experienced before and yet, it will be/become quite ordinary. From this space a natural intelligence will arise—the intelligence of the heart. When we let go into this, we no longer struggle with wanting the truth, because we have become the truth, in the most innocent of ways.
But what is required is that you deeply surrender your mind to your heart. Most of us unconsciously, after awakening, develop a very subtle spiritual ego, which we can trip over for some time. It is a normal process, so do not waste time being offended, it happens to all of us. And when we have this spiritual ego, we will feel it as a wall between us and the full truth. There will be this division within us, even if it is a very subtle one. But from the embodiment of the innocence of your heart, notice these very subtle layers of ego, and then choose to instead live from this innocence. Often there is a very subtle doorway of fear here, find this door and walk through it with trust and innocence. You will know that you have made it though this door, when there is a deeper level of feeling at home within yourself, and the experience of intimacy with all of life—like you have not known before.
Spend some time with these words, and exploring this on your own, and if you need some guidance, just let me know and we can meet again. These truths I speak of, are very subtle so do not be afraid to ask for support. It is important to have a teacher or guide along the journey, to offer you some support through the various realms of our being.
Question: Most people who reach Moksha, just cross over….yet you have reached Moksha at a young age and stay around to teach and help others on the path. Curious?
Craig: Moksha is about being free, I choose to be in this world. I love this world, I love my family and close relationships, I love life and this dynamic evolutionary world, I love that’s why I am here. The great paradox is, if we have aversion to this world we remain stuck in it. If we freely love what is here, we are bound by nothing. Moksha comes through embracing life, not through wanting to leave it.
Question: I want to be free, I want to get rid of myself, can you help me?
Craig: In regards your questions, do your best to simply relax, let go and don’t fight with life. Be simple and loving in this world and in your workplace. And please be simple and loving to yourself. So many individuals use nonduality as a violence against themselves, trying to get rid of themselves. What you are is good, open to that and see how life changes.
If you find aspects of yourself which are out of alignment with the truth of your being, I invite you to love those aspects of self–to love them to death, love them into healing, love them into alignment with your highest nature. Give an open hearted compassion a try and see if these energies within you begin to dissolve or transform.
Question: Do I need to make effort and do I need a teacher? I hear a lot of nondual teachers saying there is no effort necessary and all truth is within…but I don’t seem to make much progress on my own?
Craig: It is important and helpful to have a teacher along the way, it is easy to get lost on our own. I would encourage you to continue to walk forward in the truth. You have a good heart, my friend. And yes it is true: all goodness, innocence and freedom is within you. But you must realize this for yourself. Continue your study, continue deeply contemplating these truths. Continue meditating and giving yourself fully to this path.
There is a subtle misunderstanding in the nondual world, in that nondual teachings are very advanced and reserved for those who have built a solid spiritual foundation within themselves and their lives.
The teachings are designed for those who have already spent many years meditating, doing yoga and working with and cleaning up their psychology. So yes, while it is taught that no effort is necessary, I would say this is true, after we have walked far on the path and learned to meditate and still the mind, after we have healed our inner wounds, then yes, let go of all effort. In the meantime, give everything to the path until you realize the truth within you. If you look at the lives of most great nondual teachers, they spent years meditating, going on retreats, listening to teachers, before they realized the truth that is within. I am a teacher that embraces the path. Both the path of direct experience and the path of continual effort and continual surrender. Effort is not really a problem if done from the heart—from this space, it is simply the natural response to life.
In the meantime, I would encourage you to continue to do what is wise, give yourself fully to the path in every area of your life. Open your heart and see that God is everywhere and in everything. Pray for guidance and a teacher, and see what comes your way.
It is important and helpful to have a teacher along the way, it is easy to get lost on our own.
Question: I thought I’d write to you quickly, as your teaching has worked wonders recently. In this time, I became ill with all sorts of persistent digestive issues that would not go away. This was until I met everything inside me from a place of love and compassion, rather than trying to rid myself of certain thoughts, feelings etc. All I am aiming for now is love, first from within, then to without, to all, always. Love, love, love! To whatever arises internally and externally.
Slowly, slowly symptoms of whatever was plaguing me physically disappeared, as did the noise of the mind. I am not out of the woods yet so to speak, as I am going through a detox of body, mind and emotion. There is one belief that keeps propping up – one that states that due to my antidepressant medication in the past; I will not be able to progress past a certain point – that it has changed my brain permanently for the worse. I am trying to do as I have been; which is not to listen to the story, but show a love and compassion to the one telling it. I believe this and my digestive issues (burning gut etc) to all be kundalini related.
It’s odd that the insight I receive is paralleled so frequently in your teachings. My love and thanks.
Craig: So glad to hear my friend. Keep up the good work.
The fear of damaging your brain, is a common fear among those who take antidepressants. It is a part of a greater fear, which arises out of the doubt thought, “that I am separate from God and always will be separate and alone in this world.” See if you can find this thought or a similar doubt thought, in your relationship to the Divine.
Of course, there is no truth to this thought, for the absolute Truth is that you are one with God in every aspect of your being.
When you truly discover this through continuing forward on your path, one day all you will discover is Love—inside and out and that Love is the very nature of this world. Peace be with you, my friend.
Craig: In the ultimate Reality we are all one. Be with your experience, not the literal interpretations of what a teacher says. Everyone and everything is another expression of the One Divine Nature. The One Divine Nature is us. When you meet another, you are meeting yourself.
When you see the world, the sky the trees, the city, you are seeing yourself. This teaching doesn’t make much sense until we realize total non-division, which is a very high degree of realization.
Take this moment for example, when I speak to you, I feel as if I am speaking to myself. I truly mean that. This is why I love you so much, because I feel as if I am speaking to myself. Your Beauty is my Beauty and vice versa. I literally experience you as me. Me as you. Everything in our Reality is Us.
Now of course in this world, we can also, experience ourselves as individuals who have an individual spiritual path. This is how most of humanity lives, but as the ego heals, transforms and dissolves, you begin to see yourself everywhere.
None of this though will make sense, until you experience it directly. In the meantime, begin to see that all is God. Begin to know that you are God. Open to this truth. So how my friend, would this be directly experienced? Sit with this and let me know your truth… Peace be with you.
Question: Lately, I feel like there’s been some progress in the sense that I’m realizing how easy it is to get a sense of and reside in the awareness that is me. However, as soon as I reside in it for more than a minute, my heart starts to beat very rapidly and it gets exponentially more intense to the point where it becomes very painful.
I feel like I’m gonna die, and I really do want to let go into it, but it’s a bit hard to push through how overwhelming it is.
Any idea what that could be? Is it normal? Thank you so much for reading this.
Craig: Yes, this is a normal experience. Here is the best answer I can offer over email – but you would find it more helpful if we could schedule a session together, so that we could look deeply at your experience. That being said, for some reason, your heart and your humanity is feeling left out of your journey. Many people on the spiritual path, try to divorce themselves from their humanity and simply step into vast impersonal spacious awareness. When we do this our heart, will react with fear or anxiety.
It is a sign that our awareness and our heart are divorced from each other. A very common experience in the dry world of modern day nonduality.
To heal or integrate this process one must be willing to face all fear, sadness, anger, guilt, and shame within oneself. After this healing takes place, awareness and the heart naturally integrate into one experience/movement. This type of work takes time and it is often helpful to have a skilled guide, teacher or therapist.
If you would like to schedule a session to work with this, let me know, along with your Skype name and timezone.
When working with this on your own, I encourage you to shift your direction from up and out of myself into the space of awareness, to down and in: invite the clear space of awareness down and into the heart. See and experience the pain etc, and invite the true heart to come forward and to meet your experience with both clarity and love. As you do so, your heart will awaken, and the space of awareness will become integrated. This often can be a dramatic experience involving tears, shaking, emotional releases etc. etc. Basically, I’m inviting you to walk into the darkness with love and clarity as you do so, you will find a true lasting peace, freedom and strength. Peace be with you, my friend.
Craig: Thank you for the kind words and email. I’m glad that you have found this meditation practice and the yoga.
I cannot emphasize this enough, the importance of including every aspect of ourselves. I have spent many years, practicing yoga and somatic meditation and have discovered a great healing benefit from these practices. Reggie does a great job of helping individuals to include their body and form. Yoga, of course, does the same.
True healing is only possible when we are willing to work with these very human layers and levels of our being. I am so glad you are practicing in this way.
Beyond healing, if we want to be awake in the world, it is simultaneously necessary to understand and know directly—that our direct experience is the space of awakening. By this I mean, the space of aliveness that we feel in the body somatically or with the practice of yoga—this space is alive, awake and intelligent. Our job is to let go of our egoic survival mind and into our own awake alive presence. When we do so and begin to know ourselves as this, we awaken to a true identity beyond mind, and beyond ego. When we bring these two worlds together: nonduality and our direct somatic experience and let go fully into it, we realize that the very truth we have been seeking has been within us all along. May Peace be with you, my dear.
Question: You know I always appreciate your replies. Especially the last one.
In your book, you write “This invitation to the realization that Life is Divine… only becomes possible if we are first willing to put down our old belief systems about life. This requires that with humility, we question our collective egoic conditioning on every level within ourselves, as well as question our ancient spiritual beliefs about this world and our place here in it. For us to look deeply at ourselves and our world in an unbiased way, we must first become humble and empty of our assumptions that we have about life and ourselves. Furthermore, we have to be willing to examine everything within us, until we find the Beauty of our hearts and make this truth the object of our constant attention – until it is our very identity.”
Now my question is can someone without any spiritual experience or awakening actually do this by themselves – get rid of old beliefs? And how do they know that they’re actually doing this and not being fooled by their own ego? or getting rid of old beliefs only to develop new egoic beliefs thinking they’re divinely inspired.
Craig: It is always helpful to have a teacher, someone who can reflect the truth to you, someone who you trust to steer you in the right direction and point our your shadow and faulty belief systems. This is the job of the spiritual teacher, but it is also the job of Life, Life is continually giving us feedback. When we act out of alignment with truth, we experience more pain, and division, yet when we act in alignment with truth, our lives become more harmonious and at peace. Life is always speaking to us. From the space of mindfulness, I invite you to look honestly at your heart, what is your life telling you? What belief systems cause you or others pain? What belief systems are causing harm and karma in this world?
In addition to having a good spiritual teacher, and life continually giving us feedback; our heart is always speaking to us. If you have a heart, then you can know the truth. Fortunately, God has given us all a heart. I encourage you to connect with that which is already, always pure within you. From this space, ask yourself: Is this thought, belief or action in alignment with my innate goodness?
Is this thought, in alignment with truth, with peace, or with love. Do not ask your mind, because like you know, our minds continually delude us…
Yet our heart is always in alignment with the truth. Therefore, direct these questions to the heart and the heart alone. One of the ways that we can discern the answer to our question is that our heart is always giving us feedback. When we act in alignment with peace, our lives become more peaceful. When we see our own meanness or anger and choose to love instead, our heart lights up and fills with warmth. But when we choose to continue to be mean and ignore the intelligence of our own heart space, we will feel plagued with pain and inner division.
When we choose to tell the truth, our hearts will feel good and true and at peace, even if it was difficult to tell the truth, inside we will feel as if we did the right thing. But if we lie, we will feel a subtle poison fills our heart and form. The heart leads us to the truth, and to the space of awakening through good and divine feelings. When we act in alignment with wisdom our heart is peaceful, at ease and happy. Yet when we act in alignment with falsehood, we will literally experience pain, contraction, and dis ease or division in our mind and emotional world. Our heart is continually giving us feedback. The question is are we listening to it.
I hope that makes sense. Most of us live our whole lives in our mental minds or egoic nature, but your job my friend is to step into the the heart. For the heart is the seat of your own innate Divinity. Whether you are awake or not, whether you have profound spiritual experiences or not, you have a heart which is always reflecting the truth. The reason most of us miss this is because our heart often speaks in a still quiet voice, whereas our ego speaks in a loud voice.
If you sincerely get to know your own heart intelligence, you will come to find it is always gently guiding you toward the awakened state.
Once you do wake up, you may find yourself laughing, after you realize this truth, love, and beauty that you were seeking, was always right here within you. Peace be with you, my friend.
Question: Craig I heard a nondual teacher named B$#%#, say that “when we are enlightened we never experience suffering again.” Is this really true? I find this hard to believe. I live in a state of chronic pain due to an illness and have been bedridden for two years now. I was quite upset when I heard this teacher, because it did not seem to honor the human experience.
Craig: I can’t speak for B@#$#, but I have seen this type of confusion many times in the nondual world.
The confusion often comes in the way that we use the word suffering. Suffering in the nondual world often refers to our mind arguing with reality. I can have cancer and know that my body is in pain and experience pain. It is possible that I could be free of an internal argument about my cancer and about my pain. When I have let go of my total argument with life, this is possible, to experience pain and not “suffer.” If you worked in a hospice, you may see a handful of folks come to this place before their own death. They come to a space of total acceptance with what is…
This internal argument is how suffering is defined, by most nondual teachers. To not suffer is to fully let go of this argument. Pain is still present, but suffering can (mostly) fall away. I always add the word mostly, because I do not believe in absolutes, in regards to the messiness of life. Life is complicated and absolute teachings do not attend to or acknowledge the complicated nature of life.
Two years ago, I was in an accident where I almost drowned and I was at total peace with the moment of my impending death. Afterwards I was taken to the hospital and was at peace with my experience, I was in pain—but there was no argument (no suffering) that this shouldn’t have happened, or that it was my friend’s fault for not having control of the white water raft, which flipped and almost killed me. I was not upset with God at all for what happened, I did not go into any thoughts that God did not love me or I had terrible karma, I deserved this, or did not deserve this. It simply was and is. This is what most nondual teachers call (the end of suffering). There is no argument with what was or what is…..
But what I did experience, and still do, is a head injury. I experience pain on a daily basis, in the form of intense headaches. I experience the pain fully, yet do not argue with the fact that there is pain here—often a lot of debilitating pain, which causes me to miss out on the experience of life. I had a very similar experience with Kundalini.
Now, I can also say, that during the course of the last 2 years, since my head injury, I have been irritated, I have been grumpy, I have even been angry. Someone might ask, “Craig are you suffering? Are you arguing with life?” Yes, I am =) Absolutely. I am not perfect, I am human, I fall and am often humbled… “Craig do you experience and express enlightenment in every single moment of life: waking, sleeping and dreaming?” No, I do not. There has been a great burden of what I call extra suffering, created by the mind that has mostly ceased. Pain is pain, but argument with pain is an extra burden and adds unnecessary suffering to the experience of being human. Yet, suffering is also human. Did the great enlightened Jesus, suffer? Absolutely.
It is easy to talk about the end of suffering, when we are seating in a comfortable seat, and teaching before a quiet audience. Most nondual teachers, I do not think could handle and experience total uninterrupted enlightenment, given your situation. Most enlightened individuals would fall from total uninterrupted experience and expression of enlightenment, simply through the experience of raising a toddler or teenager.
They would suffer, if they were a refugee fleeing a war zone. They would suffer if they had to be up 3 nights with a sick baby. They would suffer if their teenaged daughter, was addicted to meth or ran away. They would suffer, along with the rest of the humans on this planet, because they are also human.
I use the words awakening (instead of enlightenment), because it is much more fluid, and I would say we suffer less—there is much less after awakening. Suffering is different than the direct experience of pain. But show me a human who does not suffer when his child is diagnosed with cancer and I would look into their chest and see if they had a heart missing.
Sometimes nondual teachers can be quite arrogant, or said differently, are often very immature or speak in absolutes. In his defense, it is just a quote, there is no further context…
Almost all absolute teachings, are not applicable absolutely. Life is complicated. Or as the Buddha put it, Life is suffering.
Peace be with you. If you can let go anymore and give up any resistance consciously or unconsciously, do so… otherwise, keep up the good work.
Question: Dear Craig, when we spoke you talked a lot about working with pain, and the shadow, but I have some other questions:
- What daily practices do you recommend when there is no major problem?
- Do you recommend a meditation practice?
- How much effort do I need?
Craig: In regards to a practice when there is no problem, it is a similar practice which we spoke about when you referred to “finding a peaceful place inside.” Yet perhaps you did not understand the fullness of what I was conveying: I call it finding, seeing and experiencing Beauty everywhere. Of course by Beauty, I mean luminosity, Divinity, Radiance, spaciousness. This is the natural experience when we step out of our habitual mind and see life through the lens of our heart. The practice is to directly experience life, in every moment of your day, until you realize there is no difference between the Beauty of God and the Beauty of you.
So how does one do this? First, you must leave your egoic nature behind. When we are in our habitual thinking mind, we are not directly experiencing Reality. We are thinking about this thing or that thing. We are commenting on life, not experiencing life. You can talk about hiking, you can go hiking in the jungle and be thinking about work, or you can walk into the jungle and directly experience the aliveness of the jungle. You can feel the heat and moisture of the air, you can see the plants, animals, and insects in a profoundly open-hearted and innocent way, and as you do so you will experience Beauty, Radiance, Luminosity, and oneness which is the natural, direct experience of life. I encourage you to feel life, experience life, through your heart. How? Bring awareness to your heart and notice how the heart experiences life. This shift out of limited mind and into the limitless nature of the heart is profound. Feel life, experience life, with no filter of mind. Experience your food, experience the sky, experience your body. Experience water, air, the beauty of your girlfriend…
You can do this practice in every moment of your life. You always have the choice to see, experience and relate from your habitual egoic mind, or the wise, open-hearted space of the heart. When you truly discover this, we naturally let go of the thought of practice and simply be this presence–it only makes sense too. This is not about “finding a peaceful place inside.” This is a huge shift in consciousness–it is about waking up the absolute Beauty and Divinity of life, it is here all the time. When you discover it, you will be shocked by the immensity of it. To not live in this way is to suffer, whether you are raising children, teaching a class, driving a car, or meditating it all becomes the same choice: Am I relating to my experience in a habitual way or directly through the freedom of my own heart space? These two perspectives feel radically different.
In regards to meditation, I assume everyone who wants to be free will be meditating as much as they can. At least an hour a day of formal practice is a minimum. If we want to wake to our highest nature, we must put our attention there again and again, until it naturally rests there. The vast majority of traditions call for a formal meditative practice.
In regards to the practice of meditation, there are hundreds of styles and forms. My question to you is what is in your heart? Most of my longer talks on Youtube offer a guided meditation. But at the core of the practice must be sitting in silence and directly experiencing your heart and subtle body. Sit quietly, pull attention away from the habitual mind, and place it on the radiance of your heart. Feel the luminosity of your heart, and feel the spacious radiance of your nature. Notice that you do not end at the boundaries of your body. Notice what you truly are, being mind, emotion and physical body. That would be a good start.
In regards to the topic of effort: it is a common human egoic tendency to simply do a little bit here and there. But if you truly want to be free, you must give everything. At first, the effort will seem very disciplined. But later, our efforting will soften into a natural movement of the heart. Again it feels wonderful to be awake in the world. It feels terrible to be lost in suffering. When we know this, and find ourselves lost in thought, choosing to step into the heart is like drinking water after hiking in the desert. There is no thought about it, we do it because it works and feels incredible to live from our hearts, and again, it feels like hell to live in the status quo.
Give yourself to this fully, may Peace be with you.
Question: I have a deep fear of feeling lonely, isolated and scared in the experience of nondual empty awareness. I am afraid that I will no longer have an identity and will not know where to make my decisions from. How do I get over this fear? Also, I really have no experience of my heart, except for pain. I want to try and figure this out on my own, do I really need a teacher on the path? I read Eckhart Tolle and he was able to walk this path alone, is it possible for me to be like him?
Craig: The direction you are looking for, comes from your heart. If you simply go into emptiness, without any direction, it will remain scary until you connect with the beauty, intelligence, and radiance of your own heart space. The heart is the other half of the equation. Without the heart truly coming forward, you will feel alone and empty and yes frightened. You are supposed to feel that way because you only have half the truth and are disconnected from the embodied truth of your being.
The reason most of us avoid our heart is because there is repressed pain, in our heart. So we unconsciously avoid it. If you want to be awake and embodied in the world, you must be courageous in a heart-centered way. You must be willing to face everything and avoid nothing. You must open to both your innate beauty and divinity, along with your pain and humanity. It is this courageous openness that propels us toward true spiritual awakening.
We all need teachers, my friend. I am quite confused as to why individuals try to do this alone. Eckhart Tolle is a rare example of someone who woke up, alone, yet even he did not really understand his experience until he met with some teachers and read the sutras. Human life and the spiritual life is confusing, complicated, messy and disorienting. A teacher, guide, and counselor can help the process become much more efficient.
If you want to meet, and look at this question more deeply, I would be happy to meet with you.
Question: I don’t want to be a seeker any longer, I want to just rest as awareness. But I walk around with so much pain in my body, yet also feel spacious. I don’t want to have to deal with this pain, I just want to rest as awareness. You told me to focus on my heart, and do my healing work, but I find this difficult, it is much easier for me just to be awareness…
Craig: In regards to your work, there is a connection between being a seeker and healing…To be honest, as long as you have pain within your humanity, you will be a seeker, whether that is consciously or unconsciously. When we are healed and awake, there is nothing to seek. Yet if we are “awake,” yet walking around with unresolved pain within our humanity, that very pain will be seeking healing… in fact this is the natural movement of evolution, everything unresolved wants to work itself out and come into the Truth.
In regards to your meditation practice, it is fine to rest as awareness, but then naturally allow the awareness to penetrate your heart. Notice not only the spaciousness of awareness, but the loving, compassionate and radiant aspect of awareness as well. Gently bring this love and attention to your heart and your humanity.
Question: I know I’ve asked this before but it keeps coming up. Every time I start to open up to truth – this mind pattern brings up all these things that Steve Taylor said which conflicts with the non-dual understanding of Mooji or Adyashanti or Rupert Spira. It’s immensely frustrating and I get lost in it all the time. What can I do? I feel like I’m really opening up, but this just comes up every time. The two understandings don’t fit together – I think Steve is wrong. He says there is a knower that knows the world… how can this be when all there is is knowing ??
Craig: At some point we realize that everyone has their own perspective of the world, dependent upon their experience. Can you give Steve the freedom to live in his experience? Can you give other teachers the freedom to live in their experience? Can you look into what your highest realization is and live there, despite what Steve, or Mooji, or Adya, or Rupert says?
Your mind will argue with itself until its end. No answer can be found in the mind… that is actually what your divided mind is trying to communicate to you right now in this moment. See that. Don’t listen to the story on top of “Who’s right? Steve or Mooji?” If you look deeper your mind is trying to tell you no truth will be found here within the mind and it communicates that in the feeling of pain and confusion within yourself. As long as you look there in the mind, you will experience division. When you look to that which is beyond the mind, you discover True Peace and non-division, no matter which teacher says what…
The argument makes no difference. It is the mind that argues… That is the Truth that the mind is communicating to you. Find for yourself if what I am saying is true. Peace be with you.
Question: I would love to meet with you but feel I must walk this path alone like the Buddha did.
Craig: Yes, I understand. If you would like to meet in the future, just let me know. It is important that you have a teacher and a sangha to offer you some support along the way. Unfortunately, more often than not, this is not the case, as more and more individuals are awakening outside the context of a spiritual lineage. I most likely would have been lost without my teachers. Even with their great help, yes it is true we must walk the path on our own. We must all do our own work for it is our path. But a teacher can offer us great support and show us how we might walk this path more efficiently, with an open and trusting heart. A good teacher gently guides the student forward and offers feedback and insight into what the student may be missing, and points out unconscious traps that the student may become stuck in. But yes, at the end of the day the student must walk their own journey, it simply goes much quicker and there tends to be much less confusion with the help and support of others who have walked this same path before us. May Peace be with you.
Question: Hello Craig. I have been following you for quite a while now, and I have always been so inspired by your teaching. I was wondering how and if it was possible for me to become your student. I don’t know if you are even looking for more students but I felt the need to ask nevertheless. In any case, thank you so much for your service to the planet, for your teachings, your satsang, and for inspiring me of being who I am.
Craig: Thank you for the kind email. This teaching is inclusive and open to all. So yes, my friend, in regards to being a student, in what capacity do you want to work with me?
Most students visit with me by way of Skype video sessions. If you would like to meet in that way, please visit my website for details on setting that up. Other individuals write me emails with questions and commit to the weekly Sunday Online Satsang and offer a donation in support of the teachings.
Some individuals volunteer with editing and organizing events. Some do all three. If you do want to develop a relationship, the best way to begin is through a meeting on Skype.
In regards to your next step on the path, I encourage you to ask yourself:
- What is in my heart which wants to come forward?
- Is there any emotional block or shadow I must first face?
- Is there anything here right now which desires my full attention in order for me to go forward spiritually?
I encourage you to meditate upon these things. May peace be with you.
Question: I’ve noticed that the more I meditate and the further I go on this journey of spirituality and living from my heart, that yes it has made me a much more inspired person and it has made me a much more passionate and caring person, but I feel it has also amplified some other not good qualities as well. For example, I am much more sensitive and that means possibly sometimes if someone says something to me that is rude or treats me wrong, that my feelings of distaste and sourness towards this person can feel stronger as well.
Craig: Yes, meditation does make us more peaceful and sensitive. But there is a space that is beyond sensitivity. There is a space which is beyond the pairs of opposites.
In fact, even within you right now there is a space of awareness which sees that part of you is benefiting from meditation and that same space of awareness notices that you are becoming more sensitive. If you align with the space and not the contents of the space you will understand this freedom I write about.
Question: I have been on a retreat from life for some time, simply integrating this awakening experience. But sometimes, I wonder what is the point of joining with Life? Is not Life like the myth of Sisyphus–an eternal struggle repeating itself again and again?
Craig: For some of us there is a great desire to join with life, with others there is no desire to join with life but then we become forced to do so (often because of financial reasons, family emergencies or physical pain). Life wants us to truly know that all is God—in stillness and in action, one and the same. Eventually, we come to find that we have no choice in the matter, so it is better to go with the flow than resist it. But if there is not a strong pressure from life in this moment, that is fine, take your time. Integrate your energies, for there will be a day when life is no longer waiting. You will know when it is time to join life; perhaps it will come slowly for you.