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Letting go of Spiritual Practice

Posted: Sun Feb 23, 2020 6:26 am
by Jataylove
To whom it may concern.

I’m writing this, spur of the moment, because of some hang-ups I’ve been experiencing with this whole Presence/Spiritual Awakening process these last few months. I see so many of my fellow beings confounded, defeated, and distraught in their journey towards stillness and a better life.

I myself have spent the last few months in the anguish-inducing back and forth that comes with spiritual awakening. After countless methods, meditations, and failed attempts at establishing presence consciously; I believe I’ve stumbled upon the answer to the inability of my fellow humans and myself to fully awaken..

I now firmly feel, and have always had an inkling of an intuitive notion, that awakening isn’t a consciously controlled process.. That’s to say, I don’t think there is a single bloody thing we can actually “do” to bring about authentic, clear, peaceful stillness in ourselves. In fact, in my experience it would seem the more I try and focus my attention, or do any form of self-enquiry, the more my mind fights back and I’m left with what I now call “Fools Presence”. After having experienced perfect stillness naturally, I can say without a doubt that focused attention, or consciously focused alertness, is not presence. I believe this misunderstanding is vital in part to realizing what actual stillness is.

The last few weeks I have conducted a personal experiment by means of letting go of all conscious attempts to be present, or focus attention in order to clear my mind. This includes: observing thought, feeling the body, watching the breath...etc.
Basically, I have stopped trying to be present, and just let my normal consciousness be as it is. I’ve stopped this attention war with ego and let it have its stay.

What I’m finding, especially over the past few weeks is sort of astonishing... Stillness is starting to creep in on its own, without effort on my part. And this is the real stillness, the vibrantly alive, no-thought, pure being-ness that we’ve all come here in search of. Not only that, but the synchronicities are overwhelming. I used to experience a few a week, but now it’s virtually multiple times, daily.

Now don’t get it twisted, I’ve experienced more suffering these past few weeks as well. At certain times, I almost thought I had lost it completely. But, I’m still here..
What I’m getting at in saying all this is to share, and hopefully find resonation with my “PIC’s” (Partners in Consciousness :wink: ) out there.

I’m not trying to persuade you to give up on your spiritual practice/lifestyle, but I am suggesting that if this post strikes a chord, maybe it’s time to let go of the reins for a bit. After all, it never sat well with me the idea that we have to “work” towards enlightenment. If awakening is truly a part of our current human evolution, then the true nature of our being should come forth regardless of our conscious interference with it, not because of it. It’s funny how almost all the prominent and authentic spiritual teachers, including Eckhart, were awakened naturally and not by means of meditation/conscious development. If they didn’t work for it, why should we?

But, I could be wrong.. haha.

Re: Letting go of Spiritual Practice

Posted: Sun Feb 23, 2020 7:39 am
by kiki
That is an important insight, so good for you. What you are is simplicity itself, so any effort to bring about simplicity is counterproductive because effort is an overlay of 'complexity' within the mind. It doesn't take effort to be what you already are, which is beyond mental activity. Effort/practice is a means to an end, but in reality the end isn't a goal to be achieved in the future because the end that is sought is already here. It's more a matter of seeing/realizing this for oneself.

Sometimes I advise people to investigate the many ways we continue to effort, which is so conditioned into thinking that it is easily overlooked. When you recognize effort is arising there is the possibility of simply relaxing and letting go. Relaxing and letting go of mental machinations clears the way for recognizing what's already here - presence; presence of awareness, presence of true nature, presence of being-ness.

The conditioned effort of wanting/needing to know, the conditioned effort to understand, the effort to acquire some imagined goal, the conditioned effort to resist what mind doesn't like and cling to what it does like, the conditioned effort/compulsion to name/label what is sensed. These are some of the things that can be allowed to drop away when they are seen to be operating. In their absence the spaciousness of what you are is laid bare, just waiting to be recognized.

Even so, there are spiritual practices that can aid in loosening the grip of the mind. The mistake is in thinking and believing that they are necessary. It is this thinking that sets you on a quest to discover which is the right practice/teacher/guru. That can lead to decades of searching. But, even that can lead to simply giving it all up in frustration when the expected results don't follow. In that giving up the opportunity is there for the seeing/recognition of the ever-present truth of what you have always been underneath all of that seeking/practicing.

So, well done, Jataylove, and welcome to the forum.

kiki

Re: Letting go of Spiritual Practice

Posted: Sun Feb 23, 2020 8:12 am
by Jataylove
@kiki

Thank you!

As for your reply, I couldn’t agree more. This entire process in my experience has been more of a continuous change in my perception rather than an acquisition of some skill or heightened consciousness (etc..)

I really feel this process is extremely individualistic and not cut and dry for people to follow one particular teaching or practice. What really shifted my position on all this was contemplating how people can have spiritual experience/awakenings without ever being involved in any spiritual or religious practice. I’m definitely not the first person to observe this. I believe some of the original Chan Buddishm philosophy, or something like that, was entirely built on enlightenment being entirely out of individual control. Basically, it happened by grace, or not at all. Now, I do agree with Eckhart in that for most people, awakening is gradual. Also, it seems he was one of the few selected for sudden realization. However, I’ve experienced it comparable to a slow, but steady, dissolution of the self; taking bits at a time, and replacing thought activity with stillness.

You’re right on the money about the trained patterns of effort that society has put in place on the collective consciousness. This implication of one having to earn your heaven/enlightenment through hard work and effort seems so logical, yet for me, always felt so against my very nature.

Thanks for your response. I can definitely say I’ve grown and taken a few insights from your message.

Re: Letting go of Spiritual Practice

Posted: Sun Feb 23, 2020 1:41 pm
by Testigo
After reading VERY CAREFULLY the book of David Carse "Perfect Brilliant Stillness" I found what you mean, Kiki. Even I stopped my dayly meditation. Now things are much more clear, because I have even realized that "awakening" is not necessary. It just would be enouh to put into realization that there is nobody home to be awakened.

Re: Letting go of Spiritual Practice

Posted: Sun Feb 23, 2020 4:47 pm
by Webwanderer
So here's my 'fly in the ointment' concern. Most people make no effort towards awakening. They live their lives in the stories they tell themselves as they relate to the world around them and the experiences that come their way. Precious few actually awaken. And when some realization of greater clarity does come it is most often caused by some traumatic event. Tolle was having a severe emotional crisis when he said 'I can't live with myself', and suddenly recognized the possibilities in questioning the distinction between the I and the myself.

He then spent a couple of years on a park bench sorting it out. Was that not his practice?

So if one gives up all practices like meditation and focusing on presence and simply surrenders to all of the mental stories flowing through the mind, are we not just awaiting some catastrophic emotional event to shock us into awakening? And even then, isn't it kind of the luck of the draw as to how we respond to it? The larger body of evidence suggests that some just live in depression, some commit suicide, and some just soldier on with little resolution for their pain. It was Thoreau that said "men lead lives of quiet desperation". Why don't more awaken if happenstance is the path?

With all that said, isn't actively and consciously waiting on awakening to come a kind of practice in itself?

How do we awaken from the dream of the ego self if we do not acknowledge the dream and simply continue to live it free of consideration? The Matrix makes for a good metaphor sans the evil machine consciousness running everything. So what is the 'red pill' of awakening?

WW

Re: Letting go of Spiritual Practice

Posted: Wed Feb 26, 2020 6:01 am
by turiya
Great thread! :D

Re: making an effort vs. letting go

The important questions are: Who is making the effort? and Who is letting go?

A good talk by Alan Watts (starting at 7:21):

https://youtu.be/QXX8XaZ8vV4?t=441

"If there's nothing you can do and also nothing you can not do about a given situation, it means that "you" are phony. In other words, what we call a separate ego isn't there." -Alan Watts

Re: Letting go of Spiritual Practice

Posted: Wed Feb 26, 2020 6:54 am
by turiya
Also there's this one by Eckhart:

https://youtu.be/qp40r_RfZiE

:wink:

Re: Letting go of Spiritual Practice

Posted: Thu Oct 08, 2020 6:07 am
by cobra22
Awakening can only happen by 'accident'. For instance, you can read Eckhart Tolle's books and listen to his talks all you want but you can never guarantee you will become more present by doing that. Only way you can potentially gain presence by specifically listening to him is by feeling the space in between his words, and you don't need Eckhart for that. You can feel the space between any words that anyone utters to achieve the same affect.

Of course, it may be easier to become present by listening to Tolle as he is already seemingly present himself. But you can't rely on present people to keep you present in this world. Ultimately the presence has to come from within.

I think when I first came across Tolle's teachings I actually lost presence in a way. After reading The Power of Now for the first time I put a lot of mental energy on the present moment and/or trying to focus in on it. It created more conflict, and thus suffering, within myself than was possibly there before.

Nowadays I can think about this stuff without getting all riled up thinking that I need to be present now. However, I do tend to find that during/after watching a Tolle video my mind sort of feels like it goes a bit numb and not in a good way. And so in order to feel good I tend to think that I need to avoid watching Tolle videos.

At some point you've got stop thinking about being present and just live and 'enjoy' in a manner of speaking. Eckhart Tolle's job is to teach presence and so he gets paid money to say the same stuff over and over again. If you're present, you don't need to listen to him over and over again. Instead you can just do things that you 'want to do' that may not necessarily be deemed that 'spiritual'.