Over the years of writing this newsletter, I have had several people ask me: "Russell since you help people awaken to their true nature how about you tell us one of your awakening experiences?"
I've never really wanted to toot my on horn on this until once again someone asked me the other day, "You know Russell maybe by sharing what you have experienced others may be helped in recognizing that they too, have similiar experiences and they are not alone?"
So I have decided to share an experience with you.
I was a participant on a self-inquiry retreat near San Francisco many years ago and on the third day I was out on a walking contemplation contemplating the question "What is another?" I was deeply intent on experiencing what other individuals actually were. I had experienced the nature of myself in another retreat and I was wondering: "Are others the same as me in their essence or different?"
It was apparent that the world was full of people that were unique in their presentation but was there something that was the same?
I walked up to the top of a hill overlooking the Bay. My attention was drawn to a large boulder and suddenly as I put my attention on it I felt the sense of myself in it. I thought to myself, "What am I doing over there?".
I put my attention back on myself and the same sense of self was there. Then I put my attention on a tree and my sense of self was in it too. I asked myself; "This is very weird, how is it possible that I am over there?" My mind intervened and said this is not logical. It can't be true.
Then I put my attention on the panorama before me: the sky, the bay, the sea, the landscape, the houses and I felt myself implode. It was as if I went crazy for a nano-second and suddenly went completely sane. Suddenly all my thoughts vanished and my mind got totally clear. The sense of myself was everywhere.
There was no difference between the inside and outside. There was no separate self. All there was, was one self: the self of all and it was me. Everything that I thought was on the outside was in fact in me. It was me...and I was everything.
When I say "me" I don't mean an ego, a personality or a individual...all that was gone. I could best describe it as a universal self. There was a perfect sense of happiness, wholeness, contentment and completeness about the realization like I had finally come home.
There was a normalcy about it: this was the fact of existence and dwelling in any other sense of separateness was an illusion or abnormal. Then I walked back to the workshop room and met my fellow participants.
I saw that they too were that universal self but they were unaware of the wonderful magnificence within them. I instantly fell in love with them all and at the same laughed at the absurdity of how we were already fulfilled yet desperately searching for happiness outside when it was already inside.
They were in me and I was in them, in this cosmic eternal dance of consciousness becoming conscious of itself.
I understood the value of individuation...that consciousness needed to take on the illusion of individuality...for as we each related to another individual, the whole became more conscious of itself while each individual was paradoxically the whole. I understood that the whole of the universe was in a grand relationship like a mobius strip ceaselessly revealing itself to itself.
Ever since then I am constantly reminded that every kind of relationship and every act of communication has an element of sacredness to it. The universe is our relationship and we are all, one to another, unfolding in it.
The remarkable thing about this experience is that these kind of realizations are now available to everyone who has a sincere desire to inquire into the nature of self, life and others and who want live from a deeper place in themselves.
I am just an ordinary bloak just like every other person, but each ordinary person can have these special experiences.
It doesn't have to take years or a lifetime.
Just as technology has advanced, so too have methods of awakening. The technique as practiced on the Coming Home Retreat is one such method.
Check it out here and then get back to me if you want to further explore the self-inquiry technique that I teach on the retreat. Coming Home Retreat
By Russell Scott
From the 7th to the 13th of November 2011, Russell spent time in two hospitals diagnosed with a sub-arachnoid hemorrhage (burst blood vessel in his head) facing the possibility of dying. Out of this came some important realizations about life.
By Russell Scott
Throughout the ages to the present time there have been many reports of a new form of consciousness arising in individuals. This form of consciousness has been called by many names. A few of these labels are "awakening", "enlightenment", "illumination", "transcendence", "self-realization", "kensho" in Zen, "anubhava" in Hinduism" and "unitive consciousness" in modern psychology.
By Russell Scott
A selection of Russell's writing from his book: Awakening the Guru in You
Many years ago I had an alarming and comic cosmic experience of the power of belief in creating a reality that did not exist. It led me into contemplating the power of masses of people holding the same belief. The implications were illuminating and at the same time alarming.
by Miles Murphy, Toronto
I sat before my partner, contemplating the instruction she had given me, “Tell me who you are” I closed my eyes and gradually felt my entire body transformed into a great bellows. My hands moved in front of me squeezing the bellows in and out. As I squeezed, I felt the heat rise straight up into my head until it burst into a blaze of white light.
By Russell Scott
Many years ago I had a powerful insight that shifted the direction of my life. I thought I would share it with you. Perhaps it may inform your life as well.
In my mid twenties I was an aspiring actor working at Alberta Theatre Projects, a repertory company in Calgary. As an actor I was trained to willingly suspend my disbelief in the fact that I was on a stage and to totally believe I was the person in the role I was in as a part of the reality of the play. The more immersed and real I was in that role the better the actor I could become.
An excerpt from the book "Awakening the Guru in You" by Russell Scott
The Conscious Seeker
We’ve come a long way in our investigation and I want to thank you for persisting with me in this journey together. We have looked at what the spiritual path is, what truth is, what blocks us from awakening, how we can and cannot experience the divine and what the true spiritual guide is and isn’t.
But there is one glaring thing that is missing in all of this investigation: US!
What is our responsibility in all of this? I’d like to suggest to you that this is where the focus of most of our investigation should be. If we have had bad experiences with gurus, are we victims? How can we be accountable so that we have good experiences?
I believe that the solution for navigating our way through the spiritual marketplace is to learn how to become a conscious seeker. This is not something we can be right away. It is something we need to learn. This type of learning is very much like leaning. Just as we lean on a bicycle until it moves or leans on the side of a sailboat to straighten it up, so too we can lean in the direction of an ability that we want to learn. If we force too much, then we may get too fanatical in the other direction. The term leaning implies being gentle with ourselves by making an effort. But we’re not to make so much of an effort that we put all of our attention on the action and miss what we become aware of as we engage in the new learning experience.
1. Lean Towards Responsibility
It may sound like some fluffy new-age truism to hear this, but the fact is we are all 100% responsible for what happens to us in life. This does not discount the fact that there are people in life who try to hurt or take advantage of others, nor is this a way of using spiritual by-passing to avoid opening our hearts in an uncompassionate way to others by saying “you are responsible” or “it’s your karma”. Look at leaning in the direction of “I am responsible for what happens to me on the spiritual path” as a way of eventually freeing ourselves from suffering.
Even if we cannot take responsibility for the trauma that has been inflicted on us by others or by a guru, we can at the least try to be accountable for the limiting conclusions that we have made up about life, others and our Selves as a result of these events. Even though bad things happen to us in life, we are still the ones who decide how to hold or view these incidents in life. No one reaches inside our heads and turns the choice-making switch onto one of the available options. We are the ones who choose.
I know about this all too well.
My Journey to Self-Responsibility
For many years I suffered from the infidelity of women, from feeling trapped in work that I hated, being scammed financially by others, and being a part of two cults where there were sexual, financial and power dynamic abuses. I felt like I could never get ahead in life. Early on in my spiritual path, all this shadow side of my personality started to rear its ugly head.
Memories surfaced of six weeks of physical abuse and abandonment when I was in the hospital as a two-year-old, of physical trauma by a neighborhood boy who abducted me when I was three, of several incidents of sexual abuse when I was seven, and of numerous disappointments involving my alcoholic father. I could not believe that I caused these. “How could I as a young boy cause this?” It was inconceivable that an innocent young boy made this all happen. I got angry at people’s glib responses to my story: “Oh you created this!”
But I leaned on this idea – “I am not a victim. I am responsible”.
The first thing I asked was one of the most important questions that I have ever asked myself. “As a result of these incidents, what belief did I make up?” I realized that I made up the beliefs: “I am no good”, “I am unlovable”, “I am alone in life”, “I can’t get what I want”, “My needs are not important”, “I am a victim” and others. Even though I was young, I realized that no one made me make these things up, it was the inner consciousness within me that had to make sense of the abuse and try to explain it all. I did this innocently because I didn’t know any better.
So I worked through therapy and meditation and the co-evolution process (described in another chapter) and was able to dissolve these beliefs. It was these beliefs that caused the later experiences to occur in my life. Even though I could not see how I attracted the abuse, I saw that I created the future experiences of betrayal and victimization through my beliefs. But I kept leaning on the thought “I am responsible” and over the years, images and memories of past lives surfaced. I recalled one past life as a Nazi officer that explained that the abuse in this life happened because in a past life I inflicted pain on others.
I needed to experience the effects of abuse so that I would become more conscious and compassionate of others. I saw that the man who had an affair with the woman I loved, who tried to secretly destroy my business and almost drove me to suicide, was a man whom I had deceived and killed in a past life. We had been getting even with one another for many lifetimes. But getting even only made us odd.
I was able to forgive these people and myself and let go of these recurring patterns. In the process I continued my spiritual search and had numerous Enlightenment experiences that gave me the deep knowingness that throughout all the abuse that had happened to me, the essential me had always been untouched. Nothing could destroy who I was.
My true nature was still pristine, pure and unsullied. In a very practical way, these deep awakenings allowed me to heal. So the understandings that have liberated me do not come from some superficial new-age theory. They come from blood and guts on the path, as well as relentless investigation.
As with everything else I am presenting, I suggest that you lean on the idea that we are responsible for everything that happens to us on the spiritual path. We need to be accountable for the decisions and actions we take or avoid taking. We need to be wary on the spiritual path and not blindly trust someone because they have a white beard and saffron robe. We don’t know what is “arising” underneath that robe or behind the backdrop. We need to remember that if someone is in a body, they have stuff to work out. They are not perfect yet. Trust needs to be earned.
2. Lean towards being your own guru.
Lean on the idea that the ultimate spiritual guide is inside – that is, you. Even though you might be exploring the path of Buddhism or Christianity, we are not inherently Buddhist or Christian. You are always you. We are always the True Self. Our identity is not the religion. We are just putting on the personality of the “ism” or “ity”. To put on a label is to get trapped in that label.
Ultimately each one of us is the Truth itself. How could we recognize something is true unless it was already in us? There has to be an inner reference point from which to compare it. Each one of us is that reference point because each one of us is the Truth. Hold the idea that the only reason something occurs as being true is because it is the inner guru (Gee You Are You) that is verifying it. It is the existent Truth within us that is comparing what is said by the teacher on the outside with the teacher within. Don’t accept this because I say it. Lean on it and one day if you are graced by divine experience it will appear as a reality and free you.
Lean on the idea that the true spiritual path is your life.
There is so much wisdom in our lives already; it is so obvious that we miss it. If we can take this point of view, then even if we are on a specific spiritual path, then we can open up to the greater inspiration that may not be part of the tradition we are trying out for awhile. Restricting our unfoldment to only the tradition we are exploring can lead to the viewpoint that “there’s no spiritual growth in everyday life”. In fact, life is the testing ground.
If we want to find out how centered we are in equanimity there’s no greater test than facing someone yelling at us when we innocently cut them off in traffic or being with our daughter having a temper tantrum in a public place. There is great learning in life. Lean on the idea that there is nowhere else to go. This is It! Life is our spiritual path. And since our life is the ultimate spiritual path we should continually be looking for the wisdom we have found in it. “What did I become aware of today?” “How did I grow in greater ability to be and present my True Self today?” are wonderful questions with which to end the day.
But even though we are ultimately our own guru in the spiritual path of our lives, we should paradoxically be a good student. This means acquiring as much understanding of the philosophy and as much training in the techniques presented as possible. We should be passionate about our learning, asking questions and not going on to more learning unless we have fully understood what has come before. Maybe you will be drawn to become a spiritual teacher yourself. The best teachers have always been the best students.
“Like the bee, gathering honey from different flowers, the wise man accepts the essence of different scriptures and sees only the good in all religions.” Srimad Nhagavatum – Hindu spiritual text
3. Lean towards your Dogma Detector
We should learn to recognize when dogma is present so that we can decide whether or not we want accept it or not. Here are some recommendations.
The first thing we need is to get clear for ourselves is what dogma actually is. Right from the beginning we should not accept anyone else’s definition of dogma even the one that I offer. I will offer my own definition but it is best if we each develop our own. From this deeper insight, we will have an understanding of the features of dogma from which to recognize it.
If it is perceived, then we can consciously decide to reject, accept or suspend it. (A way to develop your own definition is to do the co-evolution exercises on dogma in the back of the book) But for the sake of exploration right now, I will offer my own definition of dogma: a set of fixed second-hand beliefs that we ourselves (or the person communicating them) have not experienced as being true.
There is intractableness about dogma that indicates: “This is the way it is and there’s no other way”. There is no alternative view. There is no room for debate or discussion. There is an illusory certainty about it as the person delivers it.
One might ask, “Is there not certainty when one directly experiences the nature of one’s True Self. What is the difference then?” Yes there is certainty but this comes from union with the Truth. It comes directly from one’s Self. There is an inner authority.
With dogma the surety is propped up by an external standard. The person who uses dogma is hiding his/her own uncertainty with the vicarious certainty of their teacher or their “sacred” scripture almost like the wimp talking tough hiding behind his big giant friend. As a friend of mine once said: “She’s got it all together. She’s like concrete…all mixed up and permanently set.”
To detect dogma, the question to ask is: “Is there evidence of rigidity here that is reinforced by an external authority?” As you do this you will be able to identify when dogma is present and then to accept it, reject it or put it on the shelf for further consideration. Here are some specific examples of rigidity:
Rigidity of belief: Notice what the person, system or religion uses to validate their beliefs. As stated above if, they use an external authority (their great Saint says it is true) or they appeal to the number of years of their tradition (it’s been around for 1,000 years) or they refer to the rule of the written word (the sacred scripture says it is true), we can assume it is dogma.
Often people will say a belief is true because they have faith in it and no amount of argument or presentation of an alternative view can dislodge them. The argument is circular: “My faith has made it true and I believe my faith is true.” Often people will say they have experienced a belief system to be true when in fact they only “experienced” an intellectual understanding of it. It makes sense to them. It is the same “party-line” reproduction of reality that is propounded by their scripture, therapeutic system or teacher. There is “hole-lessness” to the holy party-line in which any variation or lack of coherence to the philosophy is explained.
There is no aspect of existence that cannot fit into the religious container in spite of the fact that it is leaking all over the place. There is nothing that is unknown and therefore the wonderful mystery of you and me together in the universe is dry and dead. All wonder is gone. Any opposition to the dogma is met with over-reactive righteous indignation or the admonition that non-believers are less advanced spiritually. It is all part of the socialization structure that ensures conformity and is a sure indication of dogma.
“True Religion is sensitivity to reality” J. Krishnamurti
Rigidity of language: Are there terms that are used over and over again in spiritual discourse (e.g. non-self, ego, karma, non-duality, Holy Ghost, sin) to explain spiritual phenomena but little originality in the use of this terminology. Certain concepts ebb and flow in and out of “new-age” and religious culture. They come into vogue-like fashion statements and people present them out of a manufactured spiritual personality but the foundation of it all is jargon.
Remember that words are very powerful and certain terminology used over and over again can, over time, create indoctrination into dogma. As we know, names are labels and can limit our experiences to certain belief prescriptions and exclude others. Notice if there are common words used over and over again. If so, this indicates dogma. However, if there is other terminology employed that creatively expands these concepts or introduces subtler spiritual understandings or a unique iteration, we can conclude that there is a genuine spiritual experience being communicated.
Even so, taking on the unique terminology of others even if it originates from that individual’s own direct perception is just creating dogma within us. We should take the time to develop our own personal insights and direct experiences and be wary of limiting our own concepts of Self and consciousness to jargon.
Rigidity of attire: Strict adherence to a particular dress code often indicates adherence to a set of beliefs. This is certainly obvious with established religions where a dress code indicates a respect and an honouring of the tradition but at the same time fosters conformity to that tradition. But certain styles of clothing or common dress (e.g. white shirt and tie) can also serve to socialize followers into a dogma. There may be different attire for the leader that denotes a certain level of spiritual attainment that may not have anything to do with their level of consciousness.
When I owned a retreat centre I recall serving a group who set-up our meeting hall as a holy temple. I was asked to put a hat on my head before I went into the hall as a gesture of respect for their guru and tradition. A month later, a different spiritual group came to the centre and set-up their meditation hall. I was asked by the monk to take off my hat before I entered the space. I imagined the potential discord if these two groups ever shared the same meeting hall, each arguing over whose hat or lack of hat was more sacred, missing the whole point that it is not the sacred objects that make us holy, it is really us imbuing the object with our own reverence that makes it holy.
This act of respect is essentially a reminder to create in our hearts the necessary attitude to establish a sacred container for the worship and spiritual practice that occurs in that space.
Rigidity of emotion. Those stuck in a dogma may have a limited or even a low emotional response. Emotional dullness is often equated with calmness. Spontaneity or a fuller expression of emotions may be held back with the belief that emotional expression, even laughter, is wrong.
Excessive seriousness can be evidence of dogma. Those who adhere to a dogma can be more in their minds than their hearts and can use their beliefs as a way to avoid a compassionate response. They can even use the dogma as an excuse to mistreat others. Spiritual by-passing or using spiritual concepts as a way of dismissing the suffering of others or avoiding to take responsibility is common with dogma. “Well that’s her karma”, “If it is God’s will, it will happen”, “He created this himself”.
People stuck in dogma tend to default to these empty aphorisms when they lack the courage to venture into the unknown world of just being with another in their suffering and experiencing that intimate moment where we truly touch another on a soul level.
Rigidity of hierarchical structure: Is there a hierarchy of passing down a belief system, (e.g. Pope to bishop to priest) or a generational hierarchy from one generation to the next. There will always be some variety of indoctrination into a system of dogma in a hierarchy. Wherever there is a structured bureaucracy, belief has to be encapsulated in order for it to be transferred from one generation to the next and dispute is less tolerated.
Often the reason there are schisms in religion is because someone in the system has had a deep insight or divine experience that does not fit the prescribed belief construct and they have to leave to avoid persecution.
"The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present." Abraham Lincoln.
I’d like to suggest that even if many ancient hierarchical traditions carry dogma within their teachings, we should not automatically dismiss them. This would be like throwing the baby out with the bath water. Part of the reason that a tradition may have existed for so long is that there is an actual basis of ultimate truth and a genuine foundation of effective techniques for awakening.
There is a great value in studying these traditions and their age-old literature and being guided by a teacher for a period of time. Before one has had awakening experiences, one can use these teachings to point the way as long as one is able to identify the dogma. Another value in studying these traditions is being able to recognize in these teachings the description of Enlightenment experiences similar to our own after we have awakened. This can discount the doubt in the mind about our own enlightenment experiences and validate the awakenings.
Just because a tradition is dogmatic, does not necessarily mean we should reject the teachings (just as we should not accept them). The teachings may in fact be an accurate description of reality; we just don’t know they are true because we have not had our own direct experience of them.
This task of “dogma-detecting” is a necessary skill on the path of the “Conscious Seeker”. It is no easy task and it is not for the faint-hearted. It requires the courage of a rebel and a renegade, not in the sense of facing an outward tyrant but in facing our inner victim, the one who so easily accepts the theoretical hearsay of others rather than be with our own reality.
“We must approach life as though stepping from a dark chamber into a lighted one for the first time, without anticipation or expectation as to what we are to see or hear and then subject each experience to our own analysis, not coloured with the analysis of others. The person who really wishes to approach the mystical life in a frank manner… must not be a coward. He must not hesitate to oppose or challenge tradition.” Ralph M Lewis. The Sanctuary of Self. AMORC
4. Lean towards the unknown
This is one of the hardest things to do on the path of transformation: being willing to hangout in not knowing. In our culture there is a lot of investment in being certain. We need to do business with people that know their profession and understand what they are doing. We want to work with people that can give us predictable results. We have been educated to be an expert in a certain field, to be proficient and clear about what we know and what we do. Our employability depends on it. Knowledge is power. Knowledge is money.
But in the realm of awakening, knowledge is actually an impediment. It is a barrier. If we are to find the truth we must go beyond what our present knowledge is. We must go beyond the boundaries of what we know, because we do not know what we don’t know. We also don’t know what we need to know. And to know the truth we must give up what we now know so that we have a fresh openness for any new deeper insights.
We must give up the barrier of the old to find the new. When we hang onto our old knowledge, when we set out into the unknown, the mind just manipulates the new knowledge to fit in with the old. It will overlay the old understanding on the new experience and interpret the present experience with the eyes of the past.
To find the Truth for ourselves, we do not have to say that we are wrong or stupid or deluded about what we know, we just have to set our concepts of reality aside for the time that we are investigating. Instead of being afraid of the unknown, let ourselves replace the fear with an openness and curiosity, as if we are seeing through the eyes of a child. We should approach our search for truth with a sense of wonder and fascination. “Wow, this is a new experience. One that is similar to another experience but totally unique and new. What is this all about?” like a scientist observing an experiment with intense interest.
To do this requires an extraordinary sensitivity to take in all the nuances in our inner and outer perceptive field. It requires a new skill of receptivity of moving with and adapting to every shade and colour of reality. And as we do this we will find that heaviness of old knowledge falls away and we move into a new lightness of being. A new deeper sense of satisfaction arises in us as we enter into a new world of wonder with a heightened sense of openness and curiosity. It will be as if we have found a new life, a new evanescent vitality where there is a deep satisfaction that comes inherently out of the natural desire to inquire into our true nature.
In reality, this activity of mindfully observing and taking in experience is what all of life is doing anyway: being alive and wanting to know all there is to know of its existence.
“Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your own inner voice...and most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” Steve Jobs
As we develop this skill of being with things as they are, we will see the tyranny of dogma…how dogma makes us dull, contained and replaces our aliveness with something deflated and dead. We will see how those who settle for dogma settle for a reasonable facsimile of life in an effort to avoid the fear of the unknown, even though when on the other side of the veil of the unknown is a world of experience, full of the delight of continual newness. And once we have tasted this new spiritual manna, we can never settle for dogma food again. There’s no comparison.
Just living life in this new openness becomes inherently fulfilling. Existence becomes its own reward.
We should cultivate being okay in the zone of the unknown. Let ourselves know that we don’t know. Be okay with this. It does not mean we are dolts, it means we are explorers.
We should try to detect any belief or point of view about reality that we have not experienced as being valid and ask “How do I know this to be true”. “Do I know past lives exist? Angels? Karma? Akashic records? Chakras?”, “Is there a non-Self or an Atman (Supreme Self)”, “Is there a God?”
We should not accept anything until we have had the experience ourselves. One of us could be the only person in history that proves all other sages wrong or maybe directly experiences an aspect of reality or a different view of Truth that no one has ever seen before (and start a new movement). After all, this is what Buddha did.
We should avoid rejecting or accepting any belief but rather take it on as an assumption, that it may or may not be true. Let it be tentative. We could look on it as a possibility, like everything in this book, being skeptical but not to the extent of being cynical and rejecting, holding up every point of view about reality that comes our way for later inspection.
When we take it in without examination, there is little chance of the growth of a new insight and self-awareness, little growth of real intelligence. It’s the lazy way. It’s the way of cheating in the school of life by writing down somebody else’s answers in the mind.
When we suspend the dogma, we then increase our potential for more insight to occur in our lives. We have more material for our future experience to connect to and to integrate. The more material we have to connect to, the more we integrate the new insight and the more solid our new awareness is. (As in the phenomenon of bi-sociation we explored in the personal insight section).
Many of us have had epiphanies where we have exclaimed, “Ah, yes! Now I understand. That explains it all. This now explains that, explains that, and explains that. I thought I knew it all but now I really understand it!” It’s an event where a new insight or even a direct experience connects to a lot of other suspended thoughts and feelings and then it all powerfully comes together.
So dogma is valuable insofar as we neither accept nor reject it, but rather hold it out until our own insight allows us to understand it with new awareness.
Secondly, when we communicate our new awareness, we should try to develop as much as possible our own language for our experiences. We can default into the terminology of many ancient traditions, but there is a great value to developing our own language.
As we explored in a previous chapter about the importance of our presentation, the very struggle of accessing the right words to communicate our inner realms (even though the wording is still a description, not the real phenomenon) is a way of drawing out that experience and integrating it.
It helps us embody or live from our Self-realization. Ultimately, our unique explication is the very gift that the world needs to expand our collective evolution. It is a factor in the co-evolution concept that we will explore in a later chapter.
“Mind speaking truth through the lips, or thinking truth consciously can bring all the satisfaction to the world which the world is seeking. Nothing material can strengthen people, but the omnipresent can strengthen them with all the power of truth.” Emma Curtis Hopkins, Scientific Christian Mental Practice
Our biggest challenge on the spiritual path is to continually monitor whether or not we are taking on as true, beliefs, points of view, ideas, or concepts that we have not experienced ourselves. We need to vigilantly discriminate clearly between knowledge or understanding and “knowingness” - namely, that which we actually know through our own experience.
This practice will be rewarded, eventually with profound insights and inspirations that spontaneously come out of “know” where. Once we have a taste of this divine experience, there will be no going back. We will see dogma for what it really is--a ghost hiding in the shadows trying to convince us it is the light, when we now know the sun shines within us. It will be our own brightness that will be our gift to the world.
“The truth of Illumination is found through honouring every person’s right to have personal truths, following the voice of his or her own Spiritual essence…ignoring the rigid human rules that evolve when one human wants others to follow the leader instead of the voice inside.” Jamie Sams – Thirteen Original Clan Mothers
Finally there is one more thing we need to consider to be a conscious seeker. It is probably one of the most important:
5. Lean Towards Personal Psychological Work
Many years ago, when I was the owner of the Ecology Retreat Centre business near Orangeville, Ontario, I was asked to deliver a bowl of fruit to the cabin of one of the spiritual teachers who was running a 2-week meditation retreat. He was a Buddhist monk from the Theravada forest tradition.
I was going through a bit of a spiritual anarchist phase at the time and when I knocked on his cabin door and he opened it, I said irreverently: “Here’s your fruit, sir, and do I have to bow down to you before I give it to you?”. He laughed and we were instant friends! I had recognized one of his challenges as a guru.
He asked me to come in and we had the most wonderful conversation about the conflict he was having in honouring his tradition by wearing his robes. He confided that the robes engendered an idealized fantasy in students’ minds of a perfect, realized teacher that he had to frequently dispel by reminding them that he was human, too! (I think he even farted when I was talking to him).
My Human Meeting with an Exalted Man
About 30 years before, I had a similar human experience with the Dalai Lama before he became famous. He had just escaped from Tibet and came to Canada for his first tour. He gave a talk in the Tibetan language in a small meeting hall in downtown Toronto. His interpreter was very bad and we hardly understood a word he said.
After the talk, his entourage was clearing a small path in the crowd so that he could exit. During the commotion, somehow I got pushed right in front of him. I did not know what to do, and in shy embarrassment, I automatically put out my hand and said “Hello”. There was hush in the audience as if some sacrilege was about to happen. A mortal was going to touch this ideal holy man. Suddenly the Dalai Lama stretched out his hand to me, shook my hand and bowed to me and laughed uproariously. Everyone in the crowd laughed along for about two minutes.
It was the most wonderful lesson to everyone: to treat the most holy man as if he is human and to treat the most human person as if he were holy! In spite of the fact that no one understood his talk, that small gesture to me has been the most enduring message of this man’s life.
Yet so many spiritual teachers and students get caught in the trap of idolization. Why? Teachers may create that image and juice us with their charisma but ultimately we go along with it. If we put a guru on a pedestal and they topple off and we get hurt, who’s to blame? Remember: I suggested that we are all 100% responsible.
There are two further issues that I’d like to suggest you consider. The first is the reality that many spiritual teachers have awakened to the state of unified existence to varying degrees, and we feel the radiance of their clarity, serenity, joy and love.
We are drawn to them because the connection to their true essence is causing us to get in touch with our own essence. We are unconsciously resonating to the vibration of their conscious connection to themselves. We are attracted to what they are aware of in themselves, because it is in us, but we are not noticing yet that it is.
They are reflecting back to us what we are. We can get enthralled by this and if we are not careful we can only see their divine presence and ignore the fact that they are human beings with frailties, neurotic tendencies and human desires. We may believe that they are flawless. Maybe we forget to notice that they burp, go to the bathroom and think about sex like the rest of us.
We may ignore our intuition that something in the way they act is not quite right. We may believe that their dogma is the truth and deny our own experience. It is these human factors that can hurt us just like any other human can hurt us. Yes, we should honour and respect the wisdom they present to us but we must also honour and respect ourselves because, on the level of ultimate Truth, there is no higher or lower.
There is no hierarchy. There is only the one Truth that is the same for everyone to experience whether it is you, Buddha, Jesus or me.
The second is that we may get caught in the trap of idolizing a teacher because we have not done our inner psychological work.
Maybe we see in the teacher the ideal parent we never had. We may have desperately wanted to experience the unconditional love we missed as a child so that we could grow into the person we could have grown into but if we haven’t done our personal work to let go of our early trauma, we will still be unconsciously acting as children.
We may attract a guru who we let violate our boundaries in all kinds of unscrupulous and abusive ways just to get that love. Then we repeat the same victimization that we experienced in our childhood with our parent(s). When the guru falls off the pedestal onto us, it is a nasty way to begin personal work. The student can be re-traumatized to the point where they are hurt for the rest of their life and they may never, ever recover.
We should also realize that being in a relationship with a teacher by accepting his/her beliefs, without investigating their veracity, is essentially an immature relationship. It lets both the teacher, and us, off the hook. We don’t have to do the work to find out the truth on our own and the teacher doesn’t have to do the work to lead us to our own experience of the truth.
It takes effort to be liberated. Freedom is not free. It requires persistence, patience and focused effort.
It also takes a lot of effort, discipline and compassion on the part of a true spiritual guide to let go of teaching dogma and support the seeker to Self-realization. They have to deal with individuals in a journey of purification. They enter into the world of the reactivity of the human mind.
The true teacher often holds up a lighted mirror to the seeker who will resist seeing the shadows in themselves and instead project their neurotic patterns onto the spiritual guide. They are tested to stay connected to their true presence in the face of this abnormality. The real teacher knows that the craziness of the human mind is very compelling, yet sees the divinity in all of us.
Out of compassion for our suffering, the real teacher jumps into the cesspool. But guides also have to do their own personal work.
Most people on the spiritual path are attracted to the light of the fire on the path but they don’t want to face the heat.
The deep psychological work of trauma and core belief clearing is essential for us to become whole. This work will help us re-claim what we have neurotically tried to find in the guru: the rejected parts of ourselves and our self-love.
It will open the space for more expansive awakening and self-integration to occur and help us for us avoid attracting these types of dogma gurus. We need to walk the journey of awakening as an adult not as a co-dependent child.
“It takes courage to grow up and be who you really are.” E.E. Cummings
In summary, here are the suggestions on becoming a conscious seeker:
- Be 100% responsible for what happens on the spiritual path.
- Be your own guru and take on life as your spiritual path.
- Be really clear on your personal definition of dogma (second-hand knowledge) and learn to recognize it.
- Be willing to ask this important question with any new spiritual concepts to which you are exposed: “Do I really know this to be true in my own experience?” and suspend what you do not know to be true and hang out in the unknown.
- Do your psychological work.
To read more and to purchase an author signed copy of the book go to: http://www.awakentheguruinyou.com/book/product.html
Russell Scott - Retreat Leader, Speaker, Spiritual Mentor and Author of Awakening the Guru in You
By Russell Scott
Usually around the end of January I notice many people suffering from what I call NYRRS or New Year's Resolution Relapse Syndrome.
Some of us have made wonderful promises to ourselves that we just can't keep. In desperation we give ourselves a good tongue-lashing, enthusiastically pronounce some affirmations, pump ourselves up with some jumping jacks or maybe listen to one of the motivational tele-seminars that come into our in-box to try to get going again.
I was at a food court in a Guelph Ontario mall the other day and I suddenly had the odd feeling I didn’t know where I was.
I looked up and down the mall and noticed that 75% of all the stores were franchises. I literally could have been in any mall in North America and have no idea what city I was in. How many malls are just the same?
“I saw myself as being exactly as I am. The beauty of it was beyond anything I could describe. I felt that every single thing I did was being done for the first time: food was unbelievable, my reflection in the mirror was beautiful and hilarious, my belly – which I typically have a negative relationship with – felt bountiful, solid and exactly the way it should be. I wanted absolutely everyone in the world to experience what I had experienced!"
—Brenda McMorrow - Singer/Songwriter, Guelph, Ontario
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