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?

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?

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?

Please explain, “it’s all in the mind.”

The mind is through which we see the world…typically.  Of course, there is what the world looks like when there is no thought…which is something else.  The world, as we see it, is tinted and filtered by the mind.  Mind is just another word for thoughts that arise.  You see what your thoughts allow you to see.  So, it’s all a matter of thought.  Based on our thoughts and beliefs, the world we see is tinted and filtered. Continue reading Please explain, “it’s all in the mind.”

Should I remind myself throughout the day – I am not the body or mind?

This is a kind of affirmation, but I do not recommend any affirmations…even “I am not the body or mind.”  When you do this, what you are trying to do is to train the mind and alter your beliefs.  You are trying to change the habitual thinking of “I am the body and mind” with “I am not the body or mind”.  This will not help realization.  You will not awaken this way.  This is just trying to alter the illusions of the mind.  You can not awaken by training the mind.  You can only awaken by seeing through the illusions of the mind.

When you realize who/what you are (clearly and without a doubt)…you will just know you are not the body or mind.  You won’t have to remind yourself or try to remember. Continue reading Should I remind myself throughout the day – I am not the body or mind?

Why do my old habits of thinking I am a separate self keep returning?

There is a distinction I want to make between thinking you are a separate self and believing/feeling deep down that you are a separate self.  Only you can say for certain which it is for you.

Thoughts of a separate self may always return.  Thoughts are not you.  Thoughts are largely not controlled by you.  Thoughts just happen.  The brain/mind creates most of the thoughts in relation to a “me”.  The brain/mind is trying to protect this organism from danger and to continue living.  And so thoughts about “what could happen to me” may arise…even after enlightenment.  Awakening just means you have seen through the illusion of “me” and so although the thought “what could happen to me” may arise, it simply is not believed.  You do not suffer from worry after the initial random thought. Continue reading Why do my old habits of thinking I am a separate self keep returning?

Can adopting the belief ”I am enlightened” make someone enlightened?

No.

Enlightenment is sometimes called Liberation. However, enlightenment means realizing that you were never in bondage to begin with.

Now the ego could try to adopt the belief, “I am enlightened” and try to play the part of someone who is not bound…because you (the ego) will still feel that you suffer, have problems, etc. (i.e. in bondage). Continue reading Can adopting the belief ”I am enlightened” make someone enlightened?