The invitation of the Ineffable
What follows is a collection of reflections on what it means to be free and liberated in this world – through embracing the absolute Beauty of our Divinity and our humanity. It is an invitation to the conscious discovery that no aspect of our life is outside of the realm of the Divine. It is an exploration of how our very humanity is the doorway to our innate Beauty. It is an invitation to see that all of Life is Divine – from our struggles, pain, and suffering to our bliss and vastness. This is not an invitation to solely experience spiritual freedom at the end of a ten day meditation retreat, but to be Freedom Itself, even while life is falling apart around you; while the kids are fighting, while experiencing heartache, while losing your job or place in life. This book is a doorway to our freedom, a freedom so vast that it includes every aspect of ourselves and our lives, even the parts that we wish did not exist.
What this book offers is both the perspective of what it actually means to be free in our practical daily lives and the invitation to join in this freedom in our direct experience of life. What this practically means is that we are able to feel and experience this freedom in our hearts, minds, and souls—that we have the direct experience of being God in human form. In order to truly be free, beyond simply a mental understanding of freedom, we must directly experience ourselves as the awake space of awareness beyond our collective egoic conditioning that has been given to us by our past. This book is an invitation to step into the awake, aware space that is our very true nature and from this space, to then work with our habitual and repetitive minds so that we can maintain our freedom as everyday challenges and situations arise.
Yet in order for us to maintain our freedom, we must know how to work skillfully with the difficult aspects of ourselves, the places within us that we normally ignore, or hide from; because if we do not learn how to work with our shadows, we will never be free for any extended period of time. This is why throughout the majority of this book, I focus on and offer down to Earth practical teachings on working with pain, anxiety, and difficult emotions such as sadness, anger, heartache, as well as change, transitions, loss and our relationship to the experience of suffering in this world.
What follows is an invitation to courageously embrace our hopes, fears, sadness and pain, and to learn to uncompromisingly love every aspect of ourselves—and in doing so, becoming fearlessly free. It is the invitation to step out of our habitual and neurotic minds and into the beauty and vastness of the universe and to live as the very movement of this force here in our everyday human lives. It is an invitation to see that our life is perfect with all the difficulties and challenges. To discover that our life is the very essence of God in creation, and to discover that we have a choice to consciously join in the dynamic movement of evolution Itself, as awakened conscious beings here on Earth.
This invitation to the realization that life is Divine and that we are the very embodiment of this Divinity here on Earth, 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.
If we are going to know directly what it means to be free, to be awake, to be enlightened—we must start by investigating what we have been taught about enlightenment or spiritual freedom and our place here in the world—and how these two are intricately connected. For thousands of years, religion and spirituality has taught us to deny ourselves and this world, and to seek enlightenment in transcendent states or to seek spiritual freedom in heaven, while denying our humanity and the overwhelming Beauty of this world. Yet if we follow a teaching about spiritual freedom which denies ourselves, which denies our humanity, which denies our world, we will miss the overwhelming Divinity that is overflowing from this world right here, right now. If we buy into the age old belief that we are here to transcend this world, simply to leave it behind, we miss the opportunity to live a divine life as fully enlightened beings sharing our unique purpose here on Earth. Instead of believing in this old belief that enlightenment is the end of the spiritual path, only to be found outside of Earthly life, we may instead choose to view enlightenment as a radical new beginning from which we can choose to consciously evolve as the dynamic movement of Life Itself. Because as long as we deny any aspect of ourselves with our hopes, dreams, fears and struggles, and simply attempt to bypass our fundamental humanity and our greater purpose here, we will only be deluding ourselves by trying to escape life through spirituality. If we choose to deny life through spirituality, our spiritual path is little more than another sophisticated egoic game of escaping.
There are simply too many teachings that emphasize denying and transcending the world, while missing the creative, dynamic, and evolving aspect of this Divinity that we are. I have met and studied with many individuals who have tried to simply transcend this world, to only later one day crash and burn, because they did not do their personal work. I was also, one of those individuals. As I started the path, I tried to transcend my suffering, and get rid of myself as quickly as I could as an attempt to find freedom; yet to only find 14 years later that, my humanity—my vulnerabilities, my pain and agony, my hopes and fears, along with my innocence and tenderness was the doorway into the very freedom, I had been searching for. With humility, what I have discovered is that with spiritual awakening there is no end, no ultimate resting place; this world, this Life, who and what we are is the vastness of the Universe, and the dynamic and continual growth and evolution of this Divinity as our own Self.
Many teachers say that this world is simply about awakening, and coming to the end point of nirvana where suffering ceases, where we become the imperturbable stillness of mind, where we realize our innate unborn perfection and simply rest as this perfection. While this is a humble and lofty goal, many of us may wonder what this means in relationship to our practical daily lives where change seems to happen on an hourly basis. Realizing imperturbable stillness as our true nature is absolutely necessary if we want to be free, yet discovering our unique purpose here, is also absolutely essential to the embodiment of this freedom. What I have discovered is that although spiritual awakening and the unimaginable Peace that comes with it is overwhelming profound, life changing and fully incredible; this is not the full story, but only half the truth. Awakening to our true nature of peace is not the end, but a wonderful new beginning; liberation is not the end of the path, but the pregnant ground out of which our fully conscious life begins. Would it make any sense that the purpose of the spiritual path and this world, was for us to wake up out of it and to come to some ultimate resting place? What would be the point? For our awakening and liberation to be complete, beyond the realization of our innate Divinity pregnant with all potential, we must also discover that we are the dynamic movement or force of the Divine here on Earth, right now in our mortal frames, right now in our busy lives. To realize this, we must come to the conscious choice to be here in this evolutionary world as the very movement of Evolution Itself. This book is about waking up to the discovery that we are both the static never changing, pregnant potential of the universe, and the dynamic, ever evolving expression of that potential. What this means is that we fully acknowledge our innate Divinity and Beauty as our Self, and that we consciously choose to grow and evolve as a dynamic expression of Life Itself in this world. In a humble and practical way, this means that we look at our life with an open heart and humbly and passionately walk toward the places within us that are still dark, still deluded, still suffering and bring the force of Love with us, as Us to heal, liberate, and transform these very places within us—for as long as we are human, we will still have these places within us because our lives are the very matter of evolution.
All the great sages and masters from Jesus, to the Buddha, to Ramana Maharshi, to Nisargatta, to Sri Aurobindo have reminded us that we must continually work with our humanity. As long as we are in human form (or any form), we will be growing because we live in an evolving universe. Because we are one with the Divine and the Divine is both the unmanifest and manifest, static and evolving, we too are both the unmanifest and the ever evolving manifest. In fact, awakening and liberation are steps in our very evolution. Although they seem from one perspective as if they are the end, as we realize our total Divinity and innate perfection, one day we will see that they too, were baby steps in the great span of things.
For the purposes of writing this book, I choose in a practical way to simply focus on working with our humanity, because this is where we all seem to get confused and struggle and this is also, the arena where we are ripe for growth. Our humanity is our evolving edge; it is the point at which our innate, unborn and undying Divinity meets our dynamic, unfolding, evolutionary Divinity. When I sat down to write this book, I chose to focus on the practical steps toward spiritual awakening and to not discuss the endless array of spiritual experiences or byproducts that come with awakening, (these two are often confused) so that the reader could simply focus on waking up to what is here in every moment beyond our collective egoic conditioning; and from this perspective of freedom, to then work with our humanity, so that it more accurately reflects the innate Beauty that we are. When our work is twofold in this way, we experience a total awakening: first to our unborn nature and next to our ever becoming nature. As we awaken to both, we become a dynamic individual operating from the vastness of Divinity in this world.
My work is based on my direct experience and on thousands of years of wisdom that has been passed down from Teacher to student. For the good part of twenty years, I have been on the receiving end of this wisdom and feel inspired to share what has been shared with me. I will not offer a teaching in the form of an intellectual philosophy or dogma, but rather an energetic transmission that comes from two sources, which are really one. This transmission comes from what I have received from Life and discovered in myself, as my Self and what I have been given from my Teachers which have I tried, put to test and found within myself. It has been my commitment to myself and to my Teachers, that I will not offer anything in this book that I have not found within myself to be true.
From one perspective, it may seem as if I plagiarized this book. The teachings contained in it belong to my Teachers and their Teachers and ultimately to God, Life, Reality or whatever we call it. Many of the teachings that I have received, I have written them down word for word as best as I can remember them. This wisdom does not belong to me. It belongs to my Teachers and it has been gathered from teachings on countless retreats, workshops, meetings and through my intimate work with them. My main teacher David, I must fully thank and acknowledge for he has taught and apprenticed me for almost 20 years now; to him I owe the deepest acknowledgment, he has been my constant guiding light and has modeled total mastery to me. And yet, he wishes to live a mostly anonymous life outside the chatter of the modern spiritual world. I have to humbly admit that the wisdom I have received from my Teachers is on each page of this book. I hope this is clear and that the credit goes to my teachers: Life, David, Adyashanti, Ammachi, Jon Bernie, Andrew Cohen, Pema Chodron, Kehaulani, Byron Katie, Lama Tsultrim, Eli Jaxon Bear, and Matt Kahn. Also I must thank my kids Amaya, and Noah, my mother and father, my team of editors, especially Emily Hartsfield, Jennifer Christensen, and Kathleen Grady, my friends and family for all their support. I must also thank, all those I have had the honor to study with, and to those who have broken my heart wide open; to them I bow again and again. I ask for forgiveness from anyone who I have not acknowledged. Furthermore, if I misquoted or did not acknowledge anyone for teachings contained in this book please forgive me. Any teachings I share in this work or in the meetings that I offer, I have first taken deep into my heart, found their Truth and put it thoroughly to use, and have allowed the teaching to become my direct experience, until it is no longer separate from me. Often through this process, I have forgotten the original source of much of this wisdom; for those unacknowledged teachings, forgive me.