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The Tyranny Of Thought If you are seeker on a spiritual path, thoughts might seem to stand in the way...
What Does Enlightenment L... My web designer has suggested that I choose some images to illustrate my blog...
God, Or Whatever You Want... “God, or whatever you want to call it” is a phrase that is frequently heard in...
Positive Thinking—A... I was listening to someone talking to a group about how to accomplish a...
First-Hand Enlightenment Consider the following statement: “The world is just maya—it’s all an...
Definitions of Enlightenm... A reader recently asked me some very astute questions about enlightenment. The...

“Let Go And Let God”—And Beyond

letting go2“I’m trying to remember to trust that things will happen at the right time instead of me having to push to make things happen,” a friend said to me. “Things are going to take care of themselves. Let go and let God.”

This is a noble approach to daily life. It echoes aspects of the enlightened experience. And yet there is a difference between this approach and the enlightened experience.

The enlightened experience is that you don’t have to try to remember to trust that things will happen at the right time.

There is no need to try or to remember. Trust is an automatic and constant presence. It is the framework within which you always operate.

And in the enlightened experience, there is no issue of things happening at the right time. That is because time has been replaced by timelessness.

Timelessness makes everything right.

In time, there is one time and another time. There can be a right time and a wrong time for things to happen.

In timelessness, there is no other timelessness. Every timelessness is the right one, and everything happens at the right timelessness.

iStock_000006010201SmallYes, to have that sense is to have trust. But there is no need for acquiring that trust. It is directly built into your enlightened perceptions.

If you were asked to describe those perceptions, you might say, “I behold action taking place. Things take care of themselves. I do nothing. I am in God’s hands.”

And God never lets go of you.

—JC

Spiritual Success

junkmailI have ended up on several New Age email lists.

They send announcements telling me that there is something that I don’t have that I need to get.

I need to rewire my brain to overcome my blocks to success. I need to attend this seminar that will bring me the abundance that I was meant to have. I need to change my life by using this superior strategy for manifesting everything I dreamed of.

Spirituality is going to do this for me. My wishes will come true.

Yet something seems askew.

First, training oneself to think differently is not transcendental. It is what I would call re-arranging the furniture of your mind.

There can be benefits to it. But the “thoughts are things” angle is not fundamental enough. Even the mind is not fundamental enough.

There is something more primary than thoughts and more primary than the mind: pure consciousness itself. Before there was the painting, there was the canvas.

Dwelling there would be the best strategy.

Second, the premise that the purpose and the result of spirituality are to be able to score higher on worldly success is perhaps misdirected.

Worldly success is great. I am not disagreeing with that. If you arrive at it, you have my sincere congratulations.

It’s just that spiritual success can be measured differently. It is not about coming out on top, or doing things better and getting ahead, or positioning yourself for a bigger payoff from God.

It’s more about what God wants from you, and about you delivering that.

“Wants” is an interesting word. It can mean that there is a lack of something.

How could God lack anything?

If God is the awareness in everything of everything, as Answers From Silence says, then the lack would be in your awareness.

wave2What your awareness lacks is boundlessness and timelessness. It lacks the knowledge of yourself not as an individual in the cosmos but instead as the cosmos in an individual.

The drop of your tiny, limited, individual awareness needs to be taken back into the ocean of boundless awareness. There, it will be buoyed by the totality.

Then God’s wish will have come true.

—JC

The Tyranny Of Thought

stream2If you are seeker on a spiritual path, thoughts might seem to stand in the way of your evolution.

Thoughts run on completely spontaneously and effortlessly. They seem uninvited and unstoppable, an endless automatic stream of words with a mind of their own. Your mind.

Some people call this the tyranny of thought.

Why can’t you stop thinking? Worse yet (and here is the problem for spiritual seekers)—since you can’t, how will you ever quiet the mind sufficiently to contact and commune with your own pure consciousness, and to raise yourself to a higher level of spiritual being, and to dwell there without distraction and interference?

The way that you will do this is to know that you are not your thoughts. You were here before they were. Being precedes thought.

When you don’t identify with your thoughts, there can be no tyranny.

And in fact, it is possible to stop thinking. But you don’t do it by thinking about stopping thoughts. Instead, you drop your attention into pure consciousness.

boats2If thoughts persist, then you just let them happen as you withdraw from them. They recede into the background, like boats on the surface of a lake that you are diving into.

They may never get totally extinguished. Answers From Silence says, “It’s not that you make everything stop. It’s that you let everything go….everything keeps going. But YOU stop.”

Then you can be, without thoughts.

—JC

The Obstacles To Enlightenment

“I’m not yet adequately evolved spiritually to become enlightened.”

“I don’t want to give up the things that enlightenment requires me to give up.”

“My ego is a powerful adversary that I have to conquer in a titanic inner battle before I can reach enlightenment.”

“Enlightenment is for famous saints, not for an everyday person like me.”

“The collective consciousness of the people on this planet is too violent and materialistic to allow me to rise above it and become enlightened.”

“I need to work out all of my psychological problems first, and then I will be clear enough for enlightenment to happen.”

“After I’m enlightened, all of the people and things that I love are going to seem different to me. I feel sad about losing them.”

“In order to experience the pure consciousness of enlightenment I must stop thoughts from happening, but I can’t overcome the tyrrany of thought.”

“Enlightenment happens so rarely. It could never happen to me in this lifetime.”

“I’m starting to raise a family and build a career. All of those responsibilities will sidetrack me from becoming enlightened.”

People can find even more obstacles to add to the list.

All of these obstacles are perceived as being sufficient to defeat enlightenment.

All of them are invalid.

There are no obstacles to enlightenment.

That is because there are no obstacles to something that is ultimately inevitable.

In that case, the question is: why can’t you just stop waiting and hoping and striving, and say to enlightenment, “Take me, I’m yours,” and have it happen?

It’s because of the mistakes that are being made. The mistakes are:

—believing that you desire enlightenment, and

—believing that you have an individual existence, like a branch believing that it is separate from the tree.

Enlightenment corrects these mistakes.

Answers From Silence says, “You might think that you desire enlightenment. Actually, enlightenment desires you. When you are pushing toward it, you are misperceiving. It is actually pulling you.”

And when you are enlightened, you won’t be enlightened individually. You will be enlightenment, enlightenment will be you, and there will be nothing there but enlightenment.

Beyond that, you may subsequently come to recognize that you were never there at all but instead that divinity was projecting you the whole time. “You” were the offshoot.

And the obstacles to enlightenment were never there either.

—JC

Your Spiritual Path—And Beyond

There are many spiritual paths. A very small list would include:

yoga
wicca
t’ai chi
religion
kaballah
astrology
divination
meditation
channeling
shamanism

Every spiritual path is a means for the development of consciousness and the growth of knowledge and experience. A spiritual path that works for you will be one that picks you up from where you are and carries you to the next level of your evolution toward enlightenment.

At this website I have written even more about paths.

And Answers From Silence says that “everything that happens in a person’s life is their path of enlightenment.”

This seems to be acknowledging the existence of spiritual paths and validating their value and necessity. And I fully support the beneficial results that you get from them.

And yet there is another aspect to the topic.

A path is something that you follow. It requires activity, and the activity unfolds in time.

Enlightenment requires no activity, and it is timeless.

A path leads away from your door. You must go out and track it and see where it leads you.

The enlightened experience is that enlightenment is everywhere. Therefore, enlightenment leads nowhere else. There is no place “to” or “from” it. There is only “in” it.

Seeking advice, my student Gideon asked me, “What path do you suggest that I follow?”

To which I answered, “You don’t need to follow a path. You need to sit still.”

They say that every drop eventually returns to the ocean.

Sit silently. The ocean will come to the drop.

—JC

Meditation Techniques—And Beyond

There are many techniques for meditation. A very small list would include:

Making yourself relax.
Telling yourself to feel peaceful, joyful, or some other positive thing.
Tracking your breathing, perhaps slowing it down and making it very regular.
Concentrating your attention on one point—staring at a candle flame, for example.

And there is something else that you could do.

Nothing.

There is a remarkable result from this.

When you do nothing, there remains only being.

There is no technique for being. You know this, because you exist without trying and without calculation. You are just here.

When you drop into pure being, then these things can begin to happen automatically:

You relax.

You feel peaceful, joyful, and positive.

Your breathing becomes more regular.

Your ability to concentrate becomes stronger.

These are the effortless, automatic by-products of pure being. But they have been turned into meditation techniques in an attempt to reach the cause by imitating the effects. And yes, even though that’s kind of doing things backwards, apparently you can benefit from these techniques, and I support any results that you get from them.

Here, try this non-technique: Stop.

Stop.

Just—stop.

Stop doing anything.

No, I’m not saying that you should hold your breath. I am just saying that you should interrupt your activity, and do nothing, and simply be.

And here is a footnote: There is an important distinction here. It’s not that you make other things stop. Only you stop. Everything else keeps going.

And here is a common issue: The “everything else” that keeps going might even include your thoughts. And one of those thoughts might be that you haven’t stopped if they haven’t stopped. But there’s a solution.

Answers From Silence says, “You are not your thoughts. You were here before they were.”

Because of this, you can stop while they keep going. When this happens, you separate your identity from them. They become part of the scenery.

They may even fade into silence. Or not.

Either way, welcome to pure being.

—JC

Misconceptions of Enlightenment

Take an inventory of your concepts about what an enlightened person is like.

You may find that you expect that, upon enlightenment, such a person:

gives up sex
gains superpowers
is invulnerable to disease
never gets angry any more
won’t experience physical death
never encounters any misfortune
becomes clairvoyant and omniscient
undergoes a personality transformation
is constantly in some kind of lofty trance
starts seeing angels, God, and the future
goes around blessing everyone they meet
takes on solving all of the problems of the world
senses colors as more beautiful, flavors as more tasty

It’s hard to understand where these concepts came from, or why they are so ubiquitous and automatic in our consciousness. They seem to be the archetypal features of mythical superheroes, with perhaps a few odd leftovers from a Puritanical heritage.

But the list may not necessarily be accurate.

For one thing, any concept of enlightenment that you have will be incomplete. Enlightenment is not a concept. It is something lived. It is Life, living you and living through you. That might be all that you can accurately say about it.

For another, enlightenment isn’t about how you behave or about what your circumstances are.

But the biggest problem with the list is that it reinforces the main misconception about enlightenment: that it is beyond your reach.

Answers From Silence says, “It isn’t something that comes only to legendary historical figures. Your enlightenment is inevitable, and it could even happen in this lifetime.”

And, “I thought that this would make me into something else, and I didn’t know what. But I still get to be a human being. Maybe it is for real now, for the first time, and in the best sense of being human.”

Enlightened people may simply continue to live their everyday lives in society, quietly going about their business, which is probably the same business they were going about before enlightenment. It’s just that now they know who they truly are.

So when your enlightenment comes, don’t expect to give up anything or to gain anything.

Other than everything.

–JC

Definitions of Enlightenment

A reader recently asked me some very astute questions about enlightenment. The following is based on our exchange:

Daniel Barash: I have heard a definition of enlightenment as a shift from conditioned mind to unconditioned consciousness, from seeing things through the filters of one’s mind to seeing things as they really are. How does this compare with your definition of enlightenment: a shift of identity from that which is bound by time and space to that which is eternal?

Jeffrey Chappell: Both definitions are talking about a shift, so there is that similarity. The tiny sliver of difference between the two might be the use of the word “identity” to indicate exactly what it is that makes the shift.

In the definition that you quoted, there is an important distinction that is drawn between mind and pure (“unconditioned”) consciousness.

Mind is the apparatus that is full of thoughts. Pure consciousness is nothing except consciousness.

Before the shift, you experience consciousness as being in your mind. After the shift, you experience your mind as being in consciousness.

Answers From Silence says, “I have gone outside of my mind.”

The place outside of the mind is pure consciousness. And it does have a quality of being eternal.

D: Is becoming enlightened really as simple as shifting in a single moment, or does it happen over time?

J: Preparation for the moment of shift happens over time, possibly lifetimes, and the shift takes a moment.

D: Do you think there’s a gradient to enlightenment? Could one have moments of enlightenment, or be partially enlightened?

J: A metaphor comes to mind: swimming in the ocean. The swimmers in the shallows near the shore are as much in the water as are the swimmers in the deeper parts farther out. But if you’re in, you’re in. Someone walking along the beach, or wading, or standing in the water, has not yet yielded to the water. So perhaps there are gradients of enlightenment, but someone who is in enlightenment is in, no matter what.

Answers From Silence says that a temporary experience of transcending to pure consciousness is not the same as being enlightened. So you could have moments of transcendence and perhaps even call it partial enlightenment, but enlightenment itself means that you’re in all the way and that you operate from that place all the time.

D: Spiritual awakening and functioning in this culture seem to oppose each other. When you live in a world that constantly values and reinforces experiencing things through the mind, almost as if it were set up for that purpose, does that create an impediment to enlightenment?

J: No, the entire outer world at any time is equally an impediment to enlightenment, whether you are in Times Square or on a beautiful deserted island. No matter where you look, regardless of location or circumstance, positive or negative, the environment can be a distraction that causes consciousness to forget consciousness.

Answers From Silence says, “The illusion leads to its own demise. It is just a path to awakening from the illusion.” Those who awaken will do it anywhere that they are, even under the most resistant circumstances.

Besides that, the person making the shift can bring their own impediments to it as well. Most people do; otherwise there would be a lot more enlightened persons walking around. I know from personal experience that someone can even be on the very utmost edge of making the shift and come up with reasons not to do it. “Who needs it? What good is it?” was what I said at the time (Answers From Silence, page 208).

Even a spiritual experience can be an impediment to enlightenment.

D: Could enlightened people all be having a different experience of enlightenment?

J: What you are enlightened to is the experience of the sameness that underlies infinitely changing diversity. So all enlightened beings would be experiencing this sameness. But as I have said elsewhere, enlightenment doesn’t stop you from being human. The finite person remains, and so the expression of enlightened experience into the bounds of time and space would reflect the style of the individual. That’s why one definition of enlightenment can differ from another definition of enlightenment.

D: There is a part of me that watches my mind, my thoughts, and my experience as they are, from a disidentified vantage point, as if they are simply arising, and without the extra judgment, praise, evaluation, etc. Wouldn’t that be seeing things the way they really are?

J: Yes, that is called witnessing. Witnessing occurs when the self is separate from action. The self is separate from action when it is established in being. Therefore, when you are witnessing, you are experiencing higher consciousness. One marker of enlightenment is that witnessing is happening all the time.

But since you mention “without judgement” etc., it is worth pointing out that some people artificially enforce an attitude of neutrality in order to imitate what they think is an enlightened viewpoint. In that case, it is only something that is being layered on from the outside instead of being a spontaneous and natural quality.

It would also demonstrate a misunderstanding of the enlightened experience. To function in everyday life, the enlightened person still uses the mind and its tools of judgment and evaluation. It’s just that she doesn’t identify with them. And the enlightened experience is not neutral. It is positive. Positive, in the sense of wholeness.

The way things really are is that existence is whole.

Readers, a good way to start seeing things from unconditioned consciousness instead of through the filters of the mind would be to look at your mind. That means that you look at it from outside of your mind. In order to do that, you have to relocate to pure consciousness.

I have heard of a good way to do this, which is to ask yourself, “I wonder what my next thought will be?”

Try it.

Now you are outside your mind looking at it.

—JC