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?

Is awakening about personal development or spiritual growth?

No.  Awakening (aka enlightenment, realization, liberation, etc.) is not a process of development, growth, addition, or expansion.

Eckhart Tolle once said at one of his seminars, “this is not a personal development seminar, but a personal diminishment seminar.”  He is quite right in that you are not trying to develop or grow or add to or expand yourself.  Also, a common teaching tactic is to diminish or demolish the ego and sense of “me”. Continue reading Is awakening about personal development or spiritual growth?

What advice would you give someone seeking the Self?

I would immediately ask, “where are you looking?”  And then follow that up with, “what is looking?”

Looking anywhere or anywhen else than here and now would be pointless.  The Self is here in this very moment.  The whole idea of seeking means to look somewhere else and find in the future.  When you seek your keys, you look for it everywhere but where you are.  You wouldn’t think to see if they are in your pocket.  When you seek your keys, you expect to find them in the future…but not now.  In this way, seeking is an egoic way of delaying finding…or more accurately, realizing what-is right here and right now. Continue reading What advice would you give someone seeking the Self?

What is mindfulness and does memory play a role in it?

Mindfulness is mostly just being present.  Mindfulness is being 100% devoted to the experience of this moment…and not resisting or denying anything in the moment.  For example, eating with mindfulness is “just eating”.  Not judging, labeling, or otherwise reflectively thinking about the experience.  Eating with mindfulness is seeing the food that you are eating, smelling the aroma of the food, feeling the texture of the food in the mouth, experiencing the taste of the food, hearing the sound of eating the food, etc.  Totally accepting the experience as it is…not wanting it to be other than what it is…with curiosity and kindness. Continue reading What is mindfulness and does memory play a role in it?

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?

Please describe the path to enlightenment. How long does it take?

There is no path…there are no steps. How long does it take – that is a question assuming a path and steps. It assumes a process and progress. Enlightenment is not a process…it is realization…Self-realization. A realization regarding who/what you really are and seeing through the misidentification and illusions of the mind (especially those that create division). Enlightened can be described as seeing through the illusion of ego. Therefore, you can not willfully do anything to become enlightened. What can the ego do to see through itself? Any willful action (which is ego) only reinforces the apparent reality of the illusion. This is why some have called enlightenment a grace…it happens to you. Continue reading Please describe the path to enlightenment. How long does it take?

Don’t we have to practice in daily life what we have realized?

With realization / understanding, there is no need to practice…it is just lived automatically.

For example, there is a Tibetan Buddhist saying that goes something like – “if a problem can be solved there is no use worrying about it. If it can’t be solved, worrying will do no good.”

Now you could try to put this saying into practice to overcome your worries…every time worry comes up you could remind yourself about it.  You lose your job and worry arises, and then you can say to yourself the saying and look for things you can do about the situation.  If there is nothing you can do about it, you can try to practice accepting the situation and not worry about it. Continue reading Don’t we have to practice in daily life what we have realized?

Didn’t your spiritual practices lead you to your awakening?

I can’t say none of it helped, but I can say none of it led to awakening.  I know this may sound contradictory to some, but one thing that was seen clearly upon awakening was that none of my practices awakened me and no progress towards awakening was really achieved by any of the practices.

Awakening involves seeing through the mirage of ego and the illusions/delusions of the mind.  Not mentally, which can be very fickle, but in the heart and bones.  Many of the spiritual practices and experiments that I did were focused on weakening this sense of “I” and ego.  At the time, I did not really know that.  I just thought I was overcoming fears and attachments and I was learning about acceptance (for example). Continue reading Didn’t your spiritual practices lead you to your awakening?