Does the experience of self-realization or awakening naturally give rise to a nondual understanding?

Or is it the other way around – that a nondual concept of reality conditions the very nature and experience of self-realization?

This is a very interesting question.  It is true that our experiences tend to conform to our expectations and concepts.  There is a well known idea in India that God appears to you in the form you expect and conceptualize.  So if you are Christian, God appears to you as Christ.  If you are an ISKCON memeber, God appears to you as Krishna.  If you believe/conceive a formless God, God appears to you without a form.  The experience of the Divine tends to conform to our concepts of the Divine. Continue reading Does the experience of self-realization or awakening naturally give rise to a nondual understanding?

Is our unique sense of self unreal and only the universal is real?

I don’t like using the terms “real” and “unreal.”  Is a mirage real or unreal?  I bet I would get conflicting answers if I asked many people.  When a magician pulls a rabbit out of a hat, was it real or unreal?  Again, I bet I would get conflicting answers.  So I am not sure what you mean when you ask about “real” or “unreal”.

We do have a unique sense of self.  Much of it is bound by recurring thought, memory, the limited and localized experience of the sense organs, and a sense of contraction within the body.  Continue reading Is our unique sense of self unreal and only the universal is real?

“Problems are really fictions of the mind”…isn’t this spiritual bypassing?

Not at all.  Spiritual bypassing is the tendency to use spiritual ideas and practices to sidestep or avoid dealing
 with uncomfortable feelings and psychological wounds.  Spiritual bypassing causes us to withdraw from ourselves and others, hiding behind a kind of spiritual veil of metaphysical beliefs and practices.  Spiritual bypassing means putting up the facade of inner peace while inwardly in turmoil and conflict.  Spiritual bypassing is a form of escapism. Continue reading “Problems are really fictions of the mind”…isn’t this spiritual bypassing?

Is awakening a way to avoid reincarnation? Liberation from the wheel of birth & death?

Who knows?  There is no way to tell what will happen after we die.  The desire to be and to experience is the root cause of reincarnation (further being and experiencing), so it may be possible that when there is no longer the desire to be or to experience…it will all cease on its own.

I don’t really care either way.  I don’t care if the individual game continues or not.  I don’t care if all sense of being is done at the end of this life and there is no more experience.  I don’t care if some personal “me” continues on into another life and there is more experience. Continue reading Is awakening a way to avoid reincarnation? Liberation from the wheel of birth & death?

How can one be happy in life even when they didn’t get what they want?

Even if you get what you want, you won’t be happy.

If it was a car, a job, a spouse, or whatever…you will fear and worry about losing what you got and so you will never truly be happy even when you get it. There will always be the anxiety of “what if I lose it?”  Happiness does not come from getting the things you want. Continue reading How can one be happy in life even when they didn’t get what they want?

Is awakening a chance event?

You could call it a chance event.  What is chance?  It is something that we do not control.  It is something that happens of itself.  It is something that happens not due to an act of our will.

Awakening is like this.  Awakening happens of itself…not due to an act of our will.  Awakening is a seeing through the illusion of “me”, but what can an illusory “me” do to see through itself?  Any act of will by the “me” only reinforces the illusion of a “me”.  We do not control awakening or make it happen…awakening just happens of itself. Continue reading Is awakening a chance event?

Do we choose our thoughts?

Yes and no.

You can choose to reminisce about your childhood or past trips.  You can choose to imagine and dream about what you want to do in the future and plan trips.  There is no doubt that we do choose some of our thoughts.  However, there are times when we don’t choose our thoughts and they just happen.  Many are plagued by fear, worry, guilt, shame, etc…and no one chooses to put themselves through that kind of suffering.  They can’t help it, the thoughts just arise. Continue reading Do we choose our thoughts?

Should I renounce everything to achieve enlightenment?

Renunciation is a classic spiritual practice and I see value in it, but it will not lead to achieving enlightenment.  Enlightenment is not achieved…because upon enlightenment there is a seeing that nothing is gained and the “me” who could achieve is an illusion.  Renunciation may weaken the sense of a “me” through giving up “my” and “mine”.  However, this should not become an accomplishment.  “Look at all that I have given up!”  In this way, it subtly sustains the fiction of a “me”. Continue reading Should I renounce everything to achieve enlightenment?

What do you think about charging money for spiritual teachings?

I am OK with it.  I understand that there is a long tradition in the East (like India) that says you should not charge for spiritual teachings.  However, they also have had a cultural tradition of taking care of the needs of spiritual teachers.  For some spiritual teachers, sponsors and donors give land, give food, pay for publishing books, pay for expenses and upkeep of buildings, and more.

In the West (like in the USA), we do not have such a tradition.  And so if you want to devote your life to being a spiritual teacher (as they do in India), then you may have to charge because no one will else will be paying your rent, paying your bills, and buying your meals.  It is just not a part of our culture. Continue reading What do you think about charging money for spiritual teachings?

Why do I even have to realize the Self?

You don’t have to realize the Self…you are the Self regardless.  The Self is what you have always been, is, and will be.  So really, what you might realize is that you are not the body/mind…this fictitious “me”.  You never realize the Self.  In the previous sentence, you can plainly see that “you” is the subject and “the Self” is the object and “realize” is the verb that connects the two.  This never occurs.  The Self is not an object…the Self is the subject. Continue reading Why do I even have to realize the Self?