This is the outline for a workshop presentation:
This information comes from study of a new expression of spiritual teachings that go back at least 2,600 years. This new expression is sometimes called non-dual, meaning that while we experience an obvious seeming split between the observer and the observed there is actually no separation; and direct path, indicating that each of us experiencing this apparent split can always make a direct, experiential approach to the source we arise from.
From a non-dual, direct path perspective, there is a non-physical source that omnipresently supports everything that exists each instant. It’s been given many names, but it’s not a thing that can be captured and held in our minds. This eternal source is deeper than anything we can think of. It’s infinite. It’s alive. Mind is just a tiny, finite fraction of it.
Each of us makes our own approach to what’s true for us about this, and each of us is the only authority on what’s true for him or her. In searching for what’s true for me, I’ve looked through many ideas that simply didn’t resonate as truthful for me at the time. I think we need to feel free to pay attention to what makes sense to us and to set aside what doesn’t.
What I’m presenting here is not meant as any kind of dogma or rulebook. I think this process of awakening to source, sometimes called our essential nature, is unique for each of us. The process is very forgiving of our limitations, mistakes, detours and time-outs. Actually, there are no detours, every experience is essential to the whole of life. As our realization of what’s true for us emerges and deepens, so does our tolerance for the truths of others.
At the center of our being, we (and everyone) are always already in direct touch with the undefinable source of Life, which supports us constantly. There is no barrier other than the beliefs we hold, between this vital, living source and what we actually are right now. Many Scientists now confirm they can find no real divisions in what is sometimes called the Unified Field.
These beliefs that we’re separate are driven by many subconscious fears which together form an interlocking structure of emotional defenses. The subconscious fears are held together by identification, the idea that all the experiences that triggered these fears happened to “me,” the person I think I am now, and that they define who I really am, all the time.
This body of emotional defenses, and the beliefs about ourselves that go with them, is what is often referred to by the current use of the word Ego.
One way the development of Ego is often explained is that I had perhaps thousands of experiences during my early development that I didn’t understand or have the skills to cope with effectively – maybe I dealt with them by clenching my body and cutting off my life energy, along with taking on mistaken beliefs about the meaning of what happened, like I was bad or unworthy. I remember clearly feeling how uncomfortable my father was one time when I hugged him when I was maybe five or six. The beliefs I carried about this for years included thoughts that my Dad didn’t love me, and that I was unacceptable in some way.
Countless experiences like this, both apparent failures and successes, become linked together in a story that is a prominent feature of Ego. Thinking about what I believe is my story reinforces my sense of being someone who’s separate from the rest of Life.
The Ego is a powerful, deeply hypnotic self-image built out of millions of often unreliable memories of our life experiences from every stage of our development. It includes our ideas about our bodies and minds and their capabilities.
Ego is a powerful tool. This sense of who we are is vital to performing any task in the 3-D space-time world*(examples). And it seems pivotal to humanity’s development of modern society and technology.
We were also programmed to see ourselves as separate, distinct persons by parents and mentors who believed themselves to be apart from Life. A child looking in the mirror will be told “There’s Johnny,” may be given toys that “belong” only to them, or will be told things like “You have to look out for number one.”
Perhaps the principal phenomenon that the Ego’s sense of separation is based on is Projection – rejected parts of ourselves, seen as bad in our assumptions, get split off and assigned to other people, who then take on a quality of being “The Other.” They’re seen as a threat the Ego needs to defend us from. Holding onto the idea that someone has hurt me gets built into my story of separation. In the end, what I end up defending myself from is from experiencing the love from my fundamental connection to other people through the source of our being. Opening to my connection to source can release powerful flows of joy and love I hold away because of fear.
The Ego is imaginary, built out of mistaken assumptions, yet our tendencies to defend this self-image are mistakenly devoted to its preservation.
Its primary drives are: to control, to get approval and validation from others, and to be secure – and through the development of the Ego in human society this has led to a history of increasing conflict, antagonism, destructive technology, manipulation, and suffering.
It seems probable that anything as apparently powerful and costly for humankind as the Ego must have come into being for very important reasons, but we now seem to have reached a stage in history where its dangers seem to threaten our survival.
My Ego is incapable of “Attaining Enlightenment” through its own efforts and it can actually strengthen itself by trying, but through grace our essential nature begins to call us to awaken. If any of this seems to make sense, this process may have already started within you.
When we begin to intuitively sense this essential nature, we do it while we’re still largely stuck in our habits of resistance to these deep feelings – dominated by our conditioning. At a certain point I sensed my connection to the peace and love within me, but life still generally seemed difficult, unsatisfactory or wrong. This unsatisfactoriness is always an indication that I’m holding onto a mistaken assumption. Habits from my conditioning caused me to react with negative emotions, resisting the present moment, obscuring its perfection – this is sometimes called “arguing with reality.”
A change came when I started to notice that something felt wrong – perhaps a disturbing thought, someone’s behavior (which I might be blaming them for), something painful physically or emotionally, or something about who I believe I am – I found I could accept the moment anyway, instead of reacting against it.
One part of the Ego is a powerful belief that it’s been my identity every moment since I was born, but this belief is just a mental impression I have. One of the reasons that babies seem so obviously blissful and open is that the conditioning of their identities hasn’t yet taken hold. Also, almost everyone is aware of having moments, or gaps, when the beauty of Life shows through in unquestionable ways that transcend our personalities.
As I let in recognitions that I’m frequently arguing with what is right now, the awareness of these gaps starts to deepen and become more persistent.
One way to help allow these gaps is to take three conscious breaths when I become aware of feeling something’s wrong – this brings me into the present, the only moment that’s real. Bringing attention to my awareness of how the energy in my body feels now is also very effective for dropping into the now.
As we cultivate the gaps in thinking, the death-grip of our habits of thinking and holding energy begins to loosen, and our energy and hearts open. The remnants of the stuck egoic energies dissolve. Spiritual practices help to clean out these old, stagnant energies.
I can clean these energies by taking responsibility for my part in creating them, and for my resentments, my projections onto other people. A potent method for this is Ho’oponopono:
Ho’oponopono – means “to make right” in the Hawaiian Huna tradition. It’s a simple four-part ritual that opens an empathetic and healing connection with any person, object, or memory we have any negative feelings toward – the four stages are:
- “I’m sorry” · “I love you” · “Please forgive me” and · “Thank you” – What is important is not the verbal formula, but dropping into the feelings and connections the words evoke.
Meditation: Try simply sitting in silence attentively, allowing everything you’re aware of to be as it is.
A Key Practice: is to develop rigorous honesty about when you’re feeling something is wrong or that something is making you feel anxious, and let yourself simply be with that feeling. Observe what you’re thinking, especially thoughts that are tied to emotions of fear, anger or guilt, without following the thoughts that arise because of these feelings, which can cause you to relive the past or worry about the future. See what happens.
Awakening to our essential nature isn’t a thing that needs to be added to ourselves, but is a natural state that arises in experience when we release our conditioning. The process of opening to this has its own timing and wisdom. It isn’t about making anyone wrong or controlling what happens, but about allowing EVERYTHING to be, just as it is. As Eckhart Tolle has written, “Accept the Present Moment fully and enter into the Perfection that is deeper than any Form and untouched by Time.”