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The Aloneness of Enlightenment (Audio)
AYP Plus Additions:
392.1 - A Dialog on Rising Unity (Audio)
Something in Nothing (Audio)
March 31, 2010
New Visitors: It is recommended you read from the beginning of the archive, as previous
lessons are prerequisite to this one. The first lesson is, "Why
practicing for five years or so with good progress, I have lately been
having a deep feeling of aloneness. Not all the time. It comes and goes. Why
this sense of aloneness? Not loneliness. I am in the middle of family and
friends, and then there may be a sudden onset of aloneness, accompanied by
sadness, well not really sadness as it used to be, but like in a place where
I am all alone and no one to share with. Hard to put in words.
always had a strong connection with certain traditional spiritual icons in
my life, but I don't feel those connections anymore. Practices continue as
usual, but bhakti seems to have diminished. Could it be because there is no
sense of needing to achieve anything anymore, or the need to be something
else or somewhere else anymore? There is just living what is happening in
this moment. I am joyful and helping everyone around me, but there is no
sense of enjoyment.
Is this how it is supposed to be?
A1: It is
the aloneness of awakening, a mixture of personal and impersonal expressions
of consciousness. There is nothing more alone than Self, where everything is
seen as That,
self-contained and illuminated by the impersonal eternal radiance of inner
silence. On the other hand, the personal aspect longs for company -
the eternal has manifested as the universe for some company, creating the
illusion (maya) so the play of duality (lila) can happen. Seeing both sides
at the same time is strange, isn't it? You are this and you are that. It is
a transitional experience, a shifting perspective from dual to non-dual
point of view. What experience on the path is not
a shifting perspective? This interim stage
shall pass like all the
sometimes hear from people saying that they feel alone on their spiritual
quest, that few around them can relate to the openings occurring, though the
steadiness and strength that come through are welcomed by friends and
family. A desire for camaraderie is often expressed. But who is there for
camaraderie? No one and everyone. Ecstatic radiance is its own relationship,
and it is also an unfolding divine relationship with everyone. There is a
paradox in it.
why the enlightened serve, for the sake of relationship, for the expression
of divine love. It is like creation moving in another dimension that is not
primarily about the physical, not primarily about time and space. It is
about the timeless flow of love. Everyone wants that.
For those who are expressing that as their
natural state, it is to be the One
- infinitely full, yet alone.
is not much of an answer, except to say, in your aloneness you are not
alone. Mind stuff and our lingering tendency to identify with it is what
raises these kinds of questions. Like anything else that happens on the
path, we get used to "what is," and move on. It is normal to experience some
dislocations and oddities as our path advances. But not too much
dislocation, because we have covered nearly all of the bases previously in a
logical fashion, so there are going to be fewer surprises in the end game.
And this is the end
game - the shift from duality to a divine
outpouring in the unity of non-duality. It is the infinite joy of
without the cycles of enjoyment leading to sadness, then back up to
enjoyment, and then back down again, like a yo-yo. It is the end of
joy without enjoyment. For there to be enjoyment, there has to be the
counterpart of boredom or sadness. It makes sense. There cannot be one
without the other. And yet, there can be joy without enjoyment, and sorrow
without sadness, and love without attachment. In fact, I was feeling bad the
other day because
the love I feel for my children is the exact same as the love I feel for my
neighbor, and the exact same as the love I feel for a flower. No excitement
in that. That is what made me wonder if I have lost my heart. But what you
are saying makes sense.
like I have forgotten everything. Life is teaching me everything new. Most
of the conditioning has dropped. So everything I do now is like doing it for
the first time. It's a bit scary, not knowing, feeling not in control, and
yet everything is flowing. I am learning
anew to do things without stress. I am having fun, but there is no
enjoyment. That's the thing I
could not understand. I have never enjoyed
being alive so much. Shoveling deep snow was so much fun. I never thought I
would be so happy doing that kind of work. And yet, there is no enjoyment in
anything. It feels like no heart, like the heart is closed off.
and stability are very mechanical. The heart seems to be missing. I feel
connected to it all, and serving all, but there is no heart involved. Does
my heart need to open again, or is it the mind trying to fit connection into
what it has defined connection to be?
non-duality, everything happens in the heart, so there is less (or no)
contrast between heart and other
things from our point of view.
The duality of "I" and "heart" is
fading. One becomes the same as the other in stillness, so the contrast is
much less. Even so, the flow is there in a
dual sense (the outpouring), whether we are identified with it or not, so we
keep doing for others. We do have the option to engage in the play. This is
why saints are so playful, laughing and cutting up all the time. It is all a
So, not to
take our "enlightened" condition too seriously. Play is how non-duality
expresses itself. If that sounds like a contradiction, it is. So is
"stillness in action," but it is happening all around us, and it is what we
are. The whole of creation is that play, and a grand drama. We can do the
same in our lives, established in abiding inner silence, never forgetting
who we are. So go out have some fun! Everyone will benefit from your divine
same time, for one who knows the truth, there is only
and those feelings of aloneness can come when there is some lingering
identification with mind as it questions what is perceived. The heart (or
anything) can only be known in duality. When we become universal heart, the
contrast becomes a shadow, including our relationship with our
innermost thoughts and feelings. That is the essence of non-duality. It
doesn't mean there is no heart, or that the heart is not functioning. In
fact, in unity the heart is operating on a vast scale. It only means our
relationship with it has changed. We are beyond the duality of heart and
mind. The two have merged in moving stillness. It is beyond the feelings,
beyond the enjoyment, beyond the pain, beyond the responsibility. Yet, all
is being done passionately. It is just as the scriptures say.
Can the Self (emptiness) ever "enjoy" anything, even while doing everything?
these feelings of doubt may be associated with the unwinding of a deep
obstruction in the nervous system, where
there may still be some blockage
due to old trauma. If you feel the heart is closed, it may well be to a
degree. If there is an expectation or a block, it will pass
with continuing daily practices. If it is
bothering you, creating ongoing emotions, it is likely an obstruction
forgetting, it is funny how that works. At one point, we may have carried a
pencil with us to record the many inspirations that come from rising inner
silence, or perhaps we have
been busily going through mental
checklists in daily life. In time, we find we do not need the pencil or the
mental checklists so much anymore, when we realize that everything is being
taken care of by the endless divine flow pouring through us. As purification
and opening advance, the natural flow is available to us according to the
need of the moment. There is no way to catch all that intelligence pouring
out with a pencil or a checklist. So we can let much of it go. When we need
something, it will be there.
forgetting is letting go of the past, and the future. Whatever we need from
memory of the past will be there, whenever we need it from the river of love
surging out through our purified nervous system. And the future will take
care of itself. We only need
attend to right now.
We can get
used to anything. It takes some time to develop trust in what is. It can be
a little lonely and disorienting on the way home to our natural non-dual
dance goes on...
(emptiness) is radiant, its own source of joy, just as it is the source of
everything. So, even while we are living as the witness, that radiance is
bubbling from within our essence. That is what we mean by ecstatic
conductivity becoming ecstatic radiance. If you are experiencing it as
somewhat flat, closed, and alone, then there is more. The Self is the heart.
If there seems to be a paradox in this (joy without enjoyment), that is the
nature of enlightenment.
is universal has no opposites, and therefore no contrasting duality. It
doesn't mean nothing is happening. Everything is happening. It is the divine
love has no object. Outpouring divine love and service experienced as
stillness in action have no object.
of it is that it is not philosophical. It is experiential. We certainly
could never invent this in mind and behavior. There are no rules of conduct
that can create this condition. It simply arises from practices and engaging
in life. Love has its own
agenda, and it is for us to let go in the divine flow. The world is being
changed by this. So many have tried to
catch it in a "mind bottle." That is not it. Meditation is it.
Abiding inner silence is it.
is in you.
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Note: For detailed
discussion on the experience of duality dissolving into non-duality, see the
and the Liberation book.
For more on enlightenment experiences, and instructions for building a
self-directed routine of practices, see the
Eight Limbs of Yoga Book.