When we first delve into the world of non duality it can be mind blowing to discover that we are not controlling our thoughts, feelings and actions, that we are not a limited self contained inside a body, that who we really are is this limitless, undivided presence, knowing and being the entire expression of life. However, as that initial euphoria begins to fade, we often find we’re still longing for something more, still getting anxious and frustrated, maybe even more so. To make matters worse, when we go looking for further guidance, we find so many different, often contradictory messages from writers and teachers, that it only adds to our confusion.
Some tell us that getting locked up in anxiety and frustration is a sure sign that we still believe we are a separate fraction of life. And so, in wanting to be free of those uncomfortable feelings, we inadvertently begin judging ourself for being such a failure, that for all our seeking we still don’t get it, that we’ll never get it, that everyone else gets it but us; we judge ourself for having judged ourself which is only more judgment, or resist our mental resistance which is only more resistance, or else we deny that these feelings are even happening, wearing instead a glowing spiritual smile to hide all the inner turmoil. What a mess!
Others tell us that ‘this is it’, that ‘everything is awareness’, that all our anxiety and frustration is simply life happening. This can bring a great sigh of relief and a seeming magical end to all those brutal self recriminations. But again, as time goes on, we find ourself still longing for more, still suffering in those old familiar ways, for the deep feeling that we are separate from life remains intact, only now dressed up and masquerading in non duality clothing, pulling out the trump card of ‘everything is awareness’ to win any argument, the ultimate justification for all our fear based reacting.
Our thought stream is such a slippery character that it can quickly hijack any new insight we might glean, and non duality is not immune. We can read all the books, visit all the teachers and build a beautiful conceptual structure of what it’s all about, but until we are willing to explore that obscure world of our feelings, of our sense of vulnerability, then the psychological suffering continues to torment us.
So where do we go from here? Whenever that suffering flares up, right there, in the heat of the moment, we get curious about it, we explore it intimately, we see the mental busyness trying to resist the intensity of the feeling, trying to bandage up the rawness with stories of distraction, stories about ‘my injustice’, ‘my inadequacy’, ‘my sadness’, each with a full case history, see the whole mechanism of ‘me-ing’ rising up, born of the fear of being overwhelmed, the fear of being destroyed, the fear of fear itself.
But what if we courageously fall into that fear, courageously feel the explosion of energy, the waves of hot/icy, dense emotion, feel the heartbeat thumping louder and faster, the heaviness of the breath, can we even see the exquisite beauty in that powerful energetic dance?
For when we dare to burn through all the layers, we miraculously discover that we are not destroyed, that we’re not even scratched, that we have been needlessly splitting ourself apart, needlessly creating our own mental suffering, needlessly barricading off this rich, energetic dimension of our being out of the deep delusion that we are a separate self under threat, a self that derives its very existence from all of our resistance.
Then it’s our children, our partners, our families, friends and work colleagues that become our ultimate teachers, offering a continual supply of fresh opportunities to lift the lid on life and illuminate all the dark corners where the trick of ‘me-ing’ still operates. And as we courageously open to this pulsating world of aliveness, our painful memories that were locked up and buried deep down are finally set free, free to express, free to release, welcomed home from their banishment in an infinite, loving embrace.
And as we naturally lose interest in all the mental resisting, the peace inherent in our being begins to pervade our daily experience, deepening and enriching, unlocking and enlivening our character, our relationships, our lives.
Image: ‘Heat of the Moment’ by Aidan O’Regan, buckleyfineart.com