Kiss the Void

“What hurts you, blesses you. 
Darkness is your candle.”
- Rumi
The direct path to Enlightenment doesn't meander through sunny, spring meadows or traverse high, majestic mountain tops.  Enlightenment isn't something bestowed by another nor is it typically a direct ascension from wherever you believe you might be.  The direct path of awakening into the genesis of Enlightenment winds inward and downward.  It is a transcendent coalescence of a deeper awareness that is consonant with a lonely, dark, systematic deconstruction of the personal world that you thought you knew.

Cracking Relative Reality

The human experience is largely an output of a belief system created within conceptual reasoning.  As each moment arises and passes faster than our conscious minds can process in real-time, aggregates of these moments are assimilated conceptually as images about a life we perceive and stories about a self with which we identify.  These thoughts are passed along from moment to moment and from generation to generation.

The process of cracking conceptual reality tends to be brutal.  It can be experienced as falling, then falling further, and falling again - hoping and praying that you will hit bottom soon.  This is death - a destruction of one's egoic framework and everything in it, a release of attachments to the relative world and its insubstantial assets.  It can be a harsh and frightening path towards the natural state of the human soul.  Teachers and mentors may help or they may add to the confusion; either way, the path is traveled alone through the shadows of your own dark nights.  The spirit survives and, with careful effort and good fortune, the physical body might also. And, while you may anguish in your belief that you don't deserve it, you have earned every bit of it.  It is your blessing and it is your time for your descent into darkness.

Ye who enter here, abandon thy fear.

The inexorable journey doesn't have to be difficult, but it is always devastating.  Some leave the relative world more easily and gracefully than others, but no one leaves intact.  One relinquishes the comforts we have grown used to and the patterns that have become familiar to us - friends, family members, worldly possessions are often abandoned; self identity is striped bare.  Those who are faint of heart retreat until the force of the draw is irresistible - like gravity into a black hole.

The soul sheds the strata of karmic dust - fragments of relative world constructs that pollute the mind and hide our basic nature (c.f., Revealed).  Beneath it, there is corrosion to be chiseled away bit by bit and atrophy that must heal.  It's a process of letting go of everything.  We let go of materialism as our basis of reality.  We let go of our fixations on the superficial narratives we've created - our stories, our accounts of who we are. The path to enlightenment leads the seeker through layer after layer of constructs, concepts, mental images and shadows to the dormant soul of consciousness resting within inherent divinity.

Ultimately, the seeker finds what s/he seeks - that which had been but seen in intermittent glimpses.  We locate the vast, empty void within - we embrace the void, kiss the void - and dissolve into its pure, primal, unbound ocean of wisdom. The soul of Awareness pierces the veils that bind consciousness and experiences its pure fundamental nature directly - no thought, no reflection, no analysis, no strategy, no meditation.  The I returns to Awareness in present appearance, the natural state.  That art thou.

Disclaimer:   This blog reflects the inner journey through the lens of a single perspective.  The author makes no claim to knowledge or attainment.  Trust your own experience - question it, but don't doubt it.

Enlightenment Inchoate

A conceptual realization of Enlightenment seems more accessible today than in the day of the Buddha.  We know a lot more about the physiology of the mind, the biology of the body, and the physics of the material universe.  Yet, with all this knowledge available to us, most people continue to live out their lives in an unawakened state.  Our modern understanding of things is likely part of the problem because it deepens and broadens our conceptual grasp on our experience and interferes with the awakening process.  Thus, while we are better-equipped to understand it, in many ways we are further away from experiencing it.  

The monks who lived more than a thousand years ago had no way to study the neurological basis of the mind.  Yet, modern neuroscience confirms that our general real-time experience is a conceptual reality.  It is produced in the middle prefrontal cortex by the splicing of bits of perceptual data with images, stories, and memories stored in the visual cortex, temporal lobe, amygdala, and hippocampus.  This simulated reality is biased towards creating a self that favors input and memories that reinforce its own existence.  The virtual self is then enabled to engage in the dramas, traumas, and joys of life - some more real than others, many completely fabricated.  Attachments to material world objects, beliefs and a conceptual self are attachments to systems of conceptual reality.  

The terms Awakening and Enlightenment are useful primarily as conceptual demarcations that seduce the egoic mind to unwittingly release in the pursuit of a "better" experience - and, perhaps indirectly, for selling books and seats at workshops and retreats.  The terms function as egoic traps that lead ultimately to the submission of ego in favor of direct awareness.  I've described this transcendence of egoic consciousness as the Ordinary Awakening to recognize that there are still other awakenings that lie ahead.  It is a significant milestone on the path, but not an end destination.  Some teachers seem to equate it with Enlightenment - a term that is subject to definition, lineage and context within a sense of full realization.  It seems clear that the Ordinary Awakening is merely Enlightenment Inchoate

Primordial Consciousness
As the shift of the awakening process begins to firm, one sees that there is still a long path ahead.  For example, even with the mind awakened, there are still the body and subtle realms to deal with - each with its own intelligence and conscious orientation to awaken.  In fact, many people receive their first glimpses of awakening through yogic, spiritual or religious pursuits and then later - or never - attempt to work with the mind.  

The shift to a perspective of direct and objective experience is nearly impossible while confronted by the conceptual illusions of a social sphere that remains asleep.  Most serious seekers find it necessary to sequester themselves from the normal routine - often in extended solitary retreat of one form or another. However, unless one chooses to live out his/her life in a cave or monastery, one is then faced with the dilemma of how to re-enter the interactive world.  It's a serious challenge to maintain the new perspective as one recognizes that the conceptual world has changed very little during the time one was away.

As the process unfolds in multiple dimensions, a deconstruction takes place, the perspective reorients and a new game is unveiled.  Awareness is then able to entertain itself in an expanded realm that encompasses the old realm in a dance within the emptiness of its existence. The game is a cyclical flow from non-existence to existence and back to non-existence - from the Void to form and back to the Void.  It's played wherever Awareness places its attention, where every thought is an energy to be manifested or dissipated by choice.  Within a continuous stream of thought, it's a very interesting game - much more fun than the last one - and it seems worthy of waking up to play.  It is there that one realizes the rudimentary nature of the Ordinary Awakening.

Disclaimer:  Again, I'm writing from my reflections and inner wisdom rather than from academic, religious or philosophical authority.  Please accept only what feels true and useful.

Final edits:  5/12/13

Images updated:  8/16/13