awareness, consciousness, inspiration, spirituality, Walking The Bridge books

How Awareness Heals Us and the World

Isaac said –

We don’t need to fix our flaws. Awareness itself is curative. Just being aware of your own behavior, just seeing it, is often enough to correct it. When you see your blind spot, your habitual reaction and how it impacts others, you naturally want to make a better choice.

We accept our traits, positive and negative. We accept our humanity.
I contain both light and dark, giving and taking, aggression and retreat, all these opposites.

When opposites split from each other, they yearn always to get back together. They want to be held, both together. They go together, really, in this duality. You can’t have one without the other. Mountain and valley, high and low, the crest and the dip of the wave.

The positive and negative poles of a battery need each other. When you hook them up to each other, the current flows.

The Divine current is always seeking a way to flow.

Question: You say it’s enough to see our poor behavior, but isn’t forgiveness important?

Yes and no, because the very awareness heals. Underneath everything, we really don’t need to fix things. All is in right order. It is our awareness that is growing, our understanding that brings more freedom and peace.

Question: Sometimes the words of the Masters can help us into greater release?

Yes and no. The Masters can point the way, but you need to learn to release on your own. You don’t really need a teacher. There is too much reliance on teachers. The best way is to choose your growth for yourself. Learn your way.

Question: As my spiritual journey continues, I find myself sometimes forgetting the daily-life things I used to keep track of.

Yes, and this is not all Alzheimer’s. As you evolve, you naturally re-prioritize the things you’re really interested in. Your old interests don’t match up with your new interests.

Emotion causes us to remember things. If you don’t feel as much emotion with certain things, you won’t remember them like you used to do. Your priorities have changed. You will be remembering on new topics. You will remember what you really care about.

It is this increased awareness that helps us move from one level of our metaphorical building to the next level. In a way, every bit of increased awareness is more enlightenment.

This discussion with Isaac is from Chapter 58 of Volume 1, Walking the Bridge – With a Fearless Heart.

Self Aware by Nancy White on Flickr

(Thanks to Nancy White on Flickr for this image.)

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Shift Your Identity into Bliss

We’ve said before how we tend to hold onto stories of ourselves. Our identity is embedded in the stories we hold. Lots of words, defining to us who we are, who we think ourselves to be. Stories we have come to believe. Even though they are just stories, they are solid to us. They are us.

Imagine being put away in a place, maybe prison, where I have nothing – yet I take comfort in my thoughts. I still have my thoughts, no matter what. I can enjoy my memories. I can think things out. I can re-hash my opinions and the reasons for them. I can remember people and my difficulties with them, or my good times.

But if you go on like this awhile, recycling your thoughts, memories, opinions, you might reach a point where you get tired of hearing yourself talk. Maybe you finally say “enough” and you just let go of all the words.

If you were to let go of all the words, you might find your awareness moving into the blissful sheath, beyond words.

Then your identity would shift into one of bliss.
You wouldn’t have words, but you would have more expansion, more joy.

If you weren’t glued to the mind, your identity could change like this.

Comment: When we are outside in Nature, God doesn’t hide so much.
Yes, Nature is a wonderful wordless place that moves us toward the blissful sheath.

Question: Would it help to try a practice of changing our language? Maybe if a person were to avoid saying “I” and “me” – in order to decrease the small self and increase the awareness of Unity?

Actually, no, said Isaac. What we need is something altogether outside the arena of language. Moving to the blissful sheath is a subtle inner shift. If anything you could call it a kind of disinterest. Disinterest in my own opinions.

You see, I am so familiar with my own opinions, my thoughts, the stories I tell myself about me. But eventually it’s not worth it to stay there in the mental sheath.

We get a taste of the blissful sheath and eventually we want to take up residence there. The mind will still perform what it needs to do in this world. It’s just that we don’t take anything as seriously as we did before.

More than anything else, this subtle shift feels like a release of my prior outlook, my previous mental habits.
It feels refreshing to release the mental layer.
You realize you don’t have to depend on it.
There’s something more beyond it.
There’s bliss, inviting you into comfort and effortlessness.

You know sometimes when people lose their mind with Alzheimer’s, they become happier. They were so burdened before, with all their stories, and now without their stories, they become happy. I’ve met several people like this, and maybe you have, too. They are living in the moment. They lost their identity in the mental realm and have taken on a new identity beyond that.

Comment: My Grandma was like that. She had Alzheimer’s and she played Hungarian tunes on her whistle. She entertained all the other patients with her music. I remember the way my six year old daughter so enjoyed her, and the two of them connected so well. They were blissful together.

That’s wonderful.
You know this bliss is our neighbor. It’s the next layer beyond the higher mind. We can visit it. We do visit it.
With enough visits, we want to live there. So we sell our home in the mental world and take up residence in the bliss world.

Question: I find myself becoming more quiet and less willing to do social things. Is that part of moving away from the mental sheath?

Yes, it is, and the people around you may feel disappointed that you don’t want to participate as much. It isn’t easy for them to accept the change in you.

This happened to me as a young man. I just couldn’t bear all the chatter anymore. I needed depth. I needed more quiet. So I went to Yeshiva in Israel, where every moment was dedicated to prayer or study or meditation.
Even now, you see my quiet social life. I shuttle between home and here.

But life itself is so rich. I can get so much happiness from a simple cup of tea, or from listening to the birdsong in my backyard. These are deeply meaningful moments for me.

My children might walk in and say, “Dad, why are you doing nothing? Why are you so boring?” They don’t know what depth of meaning there is for me in the birdsong.

Maybe it happens that I feel so transported that I lift the cup of tea halfway to my lips, and my arm just stays there. I may not complete the movement for a long time, because I’m in such contentment. I don’t need to reach any goal. The end of the movement is no more important than the beginning, and I don’t mind staying in the middle of it. It’s almost like the death of desire. I’m perfectly happy holding my tea like that, just as it is.

You know, when we live in our mental residence, it’s all about goals. We begin something so we can end it. For instance, I drive to the grocery store to find food for supper. I select it, buy it, load it in the car, unload it, put it away and cook it for dinner. I don’t rest until the whole thing is completed.

This is what I set out to do, and I have to put up with all the steps to achieve it.
Apply this pattern to any activity. This is the way we usually live, fulfilling each step for the purpose of finishing the goal.

But if we have taken up residence in the blissful sheath, each part is fun and meaningful in itself. I enjoy the drive to the store. The products on the shelves are fascinating. I get to stroll the aisles and make choices. It’s fun to arrange them in my trunk, and then in my kitchen.

Comment: That sounds like when you’re able to see God in everything – even in things that are difficult or painful. When a person can really see God everywhere they look.
Yes, and thank you, because what you’re voicing is Enlightenment. A person who can see God everywhere has found Enlightenment.

.

This is an excerpt from Chapter 1 of Volume 5, Walking the Bridge: to Freedom and Light

sky river bliss by jools_sh on Pixabay(Thanks to jools_sh for this bliss image on Pixabay.)

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Ancient Esoteric Notes on the Patriarchs

Question: Isaac, recently you alluded to a meditation school run by one of Noah’s sons, Ham or Shem? I would like to know everything about that.

“In a dropper,” said Isaac, smiling. I might have already said everything I know about it. But let’s see. This tradition is commentary from the rabbis, not mentioned in the Torah.

First of all, let’s remember that the first man, Adam, was extraordinary. It is said that he was so filled with divine light that even after he died, his heels shone brighter than the sun. That was how strong his God connection was.

Through the generations, the ability to connect to God was passed from father to son.

This was not a religion. Call it perennial wisdom. We would call it meditation.

From Adam to Noah, there are ten generations, during which time this wisdom was passed down.

Chanoch (Enoch) lived within those ancient generations. Most of us have heard stories of his great wisdom. It is said that he didn’t die, but rather he suddenly just wasn’t there. He moved to another dimension, another realm.

Noah taught his son Shem how to connect to God. Much later Shem and Shem’s grandson, Ever, opened a Yeshiva where it is said they taught meditation (in a cave in Safed, according to some sources). The very word Yeshiva means “to sit,” so this means they sat – presumably in meditation, for God connection.

It is also interesting, the commentary tells us that many generations later the greatest of our patriarchs, Jacob, went to learn in this school. You know our patriarchs – Abraham, Isaac, Jacob.
When Jacob fled from Israel to escape from his brother Esau, he didn’t go straight to his future father-in-law Laban. He first spent fourteen years in the Yeshiva of Shem v’ Ever.

It is said that he meditated without sleep for fourteen years. Then he had his enlightenment experience and went on his way. He may have traveled even further. In India they say they know Jacob by another name.

 

Question: Fascinating. And do you know, in the Yeshiva Shem v’ Ever – what was the method they taught? Could it have been kriya?

That I don’t know, but there’s a strong possibility.
You know, in ancient times it was not so much about method. Those seekers who wanted the teaching would naturally find the teacher. When the student was ready, the teacher would be there to take him in. And it wasn’t so much about the work of the student.

The teacher gave the student “Smicha,” which is done through touch. Placing a hand upon the student, the teacher would transfer insight, grace, and enlightenment to them.
There would be teachings, yet the ability was given through “Smicha” (pronounced “smeeha”).

 

Question: Adam and Eve had only two sons. How did the race of humans even propagate?

The Midrash tells us they also had a daughter.
There is a huge oral tradition of stories in Judaism.

When I arrived to the Yeshiva in Jerusalem, they expected me to already know things I didn’t know. At first I was missing the oral teachings. In Yeshiva there, they expected you had already mastered the Torah. Most of our studying was the Talmud and the Midrash (ancient commentary attached to the scriptures).

In ancient times sacred stories were not written down. They were considered too sacred to write. In fact it was forbidden to put them into writing. They were passed orally from generation to generation. Those who memorized the stories were vital to the community.

As centuries passed, however, people began to forget the stories. Then new laws decreed that the headlines of the stories could be written down. This was the Midrash. Only the headlines, not the stories themselves.

Even later in history, it was decided to put the stories themselves into writing, and this became the Talmud. That’s why our tradition has so much extra material not mentioned in the Torah.

 

 

 

This is an excerpt from Chapter 21 of Volume 5, Walking the Bridge: to Freedom and Light

 

Synagogue_Acco_Beit_Midrash

(Thanks to Wikimedia Commons for this photo of a Beit Midrash in Acco, Israel.)

awareness, inspiration, Judaism, meditation, spirituality

Your True Home and True Self

Isaac said,

Meditation should be an awareness of deep Peace, which is our true home.
Many of us visit Peace. We get a taste or two when we sit to meditate. But we shouldn’t think of it as just a visit, just a little relief before we jump into our day. It’s not about a quick visit.

Rather we should gain full awareness that this Peace is our Home, our true Self. The larger part of us lives in this Home all the time.

We tend to think of our earthly life and responsibilities as our real life. We consider this moment of Peace in meditation as refreshment. But truly, this Peace is our Home.

It doesn’t matter if your body is strong or weak, or your personality strong or weak today. Your true Self resides always in Light. That’s your real home.

There is a proverb from the ancient sages: “Ner mitzvah ve Torah or.”
In English, “The mitzvah (good deed) is the candle, and the Torah is the flame that lights the candle.”

You can’t have a flame without a candle and a wick. Our good deed is the candle of loving-kindness which provides the fuel. The Torah, in this case, is our meditation — the Light or flame of meditation.

Without the loving-kindness mitzvah, there would be no candle, no fuel for the flame.
You need both loving-kindness and meditation.

Let’s say you do a positive mitzvah, like visiting the sick. You find you can fulfill this mitzvah, and you do. The next time you sit to meditate, more Light will flood into you, because the mitzvah is the candle, and now you have more fuel. The sages would say the mitzvah poured more oil into you, more fuel.

Or we could talk about a negative mitzvah — which does not carry the usual connotation of “negative” but rather it means “self-restraint.” Negative mitzvot are about discipline, restraining ourselves appropriately.

After eating half a pint of ice cream, I stop. I restrain myself. If I ate the whole thing, I would get sick. But if I restrain myself to half, then I can keep on eating half-cartons because my body is able to handle that much without consequences. This self-discipline can be the candle, the fuel for Light.

This isn’t to say that pleasure should not be indulged. Pleasure is definitely a part of life. In fact one of our teachers has said, if you do not enjoy some pleasures in this life, you will be asked to explain yourself in Heaven. To explain why you refused pleasure.

Our tradition values three pillars of a life well-lived: Torah, divine service, and the good deeds of mitzvot. Here we would say that the candle is a combination of divine service and mitzvot. Mitzvot may be positive, taking action to help others, or negative, which means acts of self-discipline.

There are meditators who may find lots of bliss and amazing experiences, but if they don’t build the candle of loving-kindness and service, then their light will have no fuel, and they will not have a lasting practice. Even if they are experts in meditation. Even if they write books about it. If they don’t create the fuel, the Light upon them will not last.

We may have any number of spiritual experiences and insights that we consider enlightening, but true enlightenment requires both the fuel of loving-kindness and the light of meditation.

Excerpted from chapter 23 of Volume 2, Walking the Bridge – With Balance.

pexels-candle Zac Frith

(Thanks to Zac Frith at Pexels for this image.)

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“I Am” Meditation Practice

A sage named Nisargadatta Maharaj gives a simple teaching, based on witness consciousness.

No matter how young or old you are, no matter what turmoil or sweetness you go through, there is a Self that is always with you. This Self never changes. It watches with a loving eye. It loves all it sees.

It is the part of you that joins together your many experiences. If you didn’t have It, you’d think you were being reborn each day to a different life. This Self joins together all the events and stages of your life, so you can say things like, “when I was young” or “when I was dreaming.” It is your basic awareness.

The way to bring this Self forward is to simply meditate on the feeling in your heart that “I am.”
I exist, I’m here.
Don’t meditate on the words or the thought, but on the feeling.
I am here.

Nisargadatta meditated many long hours on this. Through this alone he found enlightenment. This is all you need.

The mind leads to thought which creates emotion.
Emotion sucks you into the world of story, and by then you are asleep, drugged into the ordinary world.
Hooks of desire and worry keep you immersed in this world.

Unhook yourself, step back, and see.
The continuous truth is “I am.”

.
These are Isaac’s suggestions from chapter 20 of Volume 1, Walking the Bridge – With a Fearless Heart.)
(Thanks to Vimeo for this image of Nisargadatta.)
Nisargadatta from Vimeo