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The Only Weatherman You Need

Written by Nirmala on .

Q: If someone has low self-esteem, confidence, and self-love, and has not awakened to True Nature, what can be done?

From a non-dual perspective, I know the answer is to wake up. But from a day-to-day perspective, even if we have had tastes of Presence, it is not much use if we are suffering deeply and are caught badly in the snare of mind - where we are barely functional and there is no sign of any significant spiritual shift in the cards. Should we then put aside what we know to be Truth in order to shore up the ego and restore balance in our mind/body/persona - whatever that may look like? To work on self-love, self-acceptance, little steps to re-engage with ourselves and the world around us? This is a fuzzy/confusing area I find - must we have a healthy/functional ego/mind before we can hope to be free of that false identity?

I have heard some teachers insinuate or flat-out declare that so-called mental illness need not be an obstacle to awakening - and others that it is. And similar comments regarding anti-depressant/anxiety meds for example. Also, that we the seekers should not expect spiritual pursuit to address mental/emotional/life issues. Even if it may end up helping in these areas to one degree or another.

I have heard some teachers (and critics) say that the spiritual package (teachers, books, practices, sites, community) can be used as an escape from the things that hound us in our lives. That we can cherry-pick aspects of teachings, and also interpret teachings, in such a way that suits our neuroses (for example remaining single, or celibate, or only associating with like-minded/interested people, or clinging to a teacher as a parental/God replacement, etc).

It would be very helpful if you can speak on these things.

A: Thanks for these very thoughtful and practical questions. My perspective is that there are many different sizes and levels of truth. These different levels of truth can seem contradictory when in fact they are complimentary, and often the smaller truth is contained within the bigger truth. A simple example of this is how when you are standing outdoors on a rainy day, the sky is cloudy and grey. But if you fly in an airplane over that same spot, the sky is clear and blue. Both things are true at the same time. The clear sky at the level of 35,000 feet is the bigger truth as it encompasses the entire planet, while the clouds and rain are only happening over a smaller area.

So when it comes to questions of how emotional and mental issues relate to bigger spiritual questions, the emotions and mental patterns are like the clouds within the larger expanse of our true nature as the limitless sky. How this practically works itself out seems to be completely unique for every person I have ever explored these questions with. So within the very big truth of the totality of existence, there are people whose spiritual life benefits from psychotherapy and even medication, and others who seem to be able to just wake up even while suffering from very painful and difficult conditioning. Conversely, some people are freed by spiritual teachings and practices and other people are caught by the same words and methods in a net of the ego.

There is no formula that works for everyone. And yet every formula also works for someone. This is why you can hear such seemingly contradictory statements about what matters and what does not matter from different teachers....or sometimes from the same teacher! They may be speaking generally from their own experience, or they may be speaking very specifically to what they see happening in the student or seeker right in front of them. All there is, is truth. Every perspective has at least a small part of truth to it, but there is no perspective that can be put into words that contains all of the truth, or even all of the truth about just this one question of how to approach our neurosis with a spiritual outcome in mind.

This is why I point to a more experiential way of discriminating the truth using your own heart. The truth is whatever in this moment opens your heart (or your sense of your self) and quiets your mind. And something that is less true tends to contract your heart and your sense of being while making your mind busier. This is a completely dynamic, ever-changing equation that is different for every person at each new moment of their lives. And it is also always relative: for one person a process that heals and clears emotions may be a wonderful expansion of their perspective and capacity to feel Presence, while for another person the same process is a contraction into a smaller truth. (Note: you can read more about this way of discriminating the truth using your heart in the free download of part two of my book, Living from the Heart, available here.)

Therefore, the important question is: what is true for you right here and right now, and at this particular point in your own spiritual unfoldment? Do the practices, therapeutic approaches and teachings you are involved with now generally open your heart, expand your sense of being, and quiet your mind? Or do they generally have the opposite effect? It helps to notice the general overall effect as every practice or therapy will have moments that are more or less expansive, in part because any practice or therapy will also trigger conditioned reactions to the process. But the best question is what is the overall trajectory or overall climate of your involvement with a particular teaching or therapeutic approach? Does psychotherapy with a particular therapist open you up even more to big truths, or does it wrap you up even tighter in your pain? Does a particular anti-depressant free you from an oppressive neuro-chemical imbalance to therefore be able to do spiritual inquiry and exploration, or does the medicine cause a contraction of your awareness that makes you less aware of everything including both your pain and your deeper nature?

It is also possible that the biggest truth is a combination of different truths. There is a tendency when a big truth is seen to use it to discount or ignore the smaller truths. This can lead to a situation where the smaller truth suddenly becomes unavoidable because it has been neglected. I often ask people who say that since there is no separate self that there is no need whatsoever for healing, where they would draw the line? If there is no need to actively address an emotional wound, does that mean there is no need to address a physical wound also? You can see the limitation of using a big truth to negate a smaller truth if you take an exaggerated example: would it make sense to just let someone bleed to death because after all, "There is no one that dies"?

Conversely, it is also obviously limiting to ignore or negate a bigger truth. I have found it a more effective and balanced approach to work with psychological issues within a bigger spiritual perspective. It is often when we are shifting in and out of the different levels of truth that the most profound transformations happen. If we have both feet in our traumatic conditioning, then reliving or exploring the pain often just re-traumatizes us. And if we have both feet in a vast empty experience of the absolute, the experience is profound, but does not usually effectively release or heal our conditioning. It is when we have one foot in both dimensions, or when we are shifting in and out of both perspectives, that the potential for lasting healing and transcendence is the greatest.

It does not make sense to think the world is coming to an end when there are dark clouds overhead, and it does not make sense to carry an open umbrella on a sunny day, just in case the weather might change. The truth that matters most is the weather that is happening now, and if we pay attention to that, we can also learn more about the climate overall. Why limit yourself to only exploring and enjoying one type of weather? Why not explore and enjoy it all, and learn the importance and significance of every size of truth that shows up? Ultimately, your own heart and its direct sense of how true things are can be the only weatherman you need. It is a trustworthy guide when there are so many levels and shapes and sizes of truth out there.

Note: Nirmala invites questions for his blog. You can contact him by replying to this newsletter.

 

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Three Free Telesatsangs with Neelam in August

Written by Nirmala on .

Nirmala's teacher, Neelam's August Teaching Schedule

Free Open TeleSatsang
Sunday, August 10, 2014
11am MT/US
Information and registration here: http://neelam.org/events/freedom-in-every-moment-free-open-satsang/

Free Open TeleSatsang
Sunday, August 24, 2014
11am MT/US

Information and registration here: http://neelam.org/events/freedom-in-every-moment-free-open-satsang-2/

Freedom in Every Moment
An Open TeleSatsang with Neelam hosted by Open Circle
Sunday, August 17, 2014
11am - 1pm MT/US
For information & to register: http://www.opencirclecenter.org/images.php
    
A TeleSatsang with Neelam is an opportunity to explore a particular topic and get Neelam's direct guidance on any related questions that arise for you.  You'll gain a deeper peace by engaging in Neelam's inquiry process and come away with clear discrimination and a better understanding of how to deal with these issues in real life situations. Visit Neelam's website here: http://neelam.org/

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How Big You Feel Is Not About You!

Written by Nirmala on .

Q: Could you please write more on the Holy Grail of self-awareness and intuition:  how to discern the difference between egoic self-sabotage and the Heart's "no"?  For example, when something "doesn't feel right", though in its externals it looks to be of advantage, how do you know when the feeling is egoic fear, a tendency toward self-sabotage, or the Heart saying "not for you, not now", or even "not bad, though not without some trouble."

Generally speaking, the Truth's voice is characterized by a feeling of relief.  However, we make many decisions each day, and many of these are not pure truth, but some combination of Truth with illusion.  This leads the sensitive to a position of vigilance and a low-level anxiety.  Not a great advertisement for the spiritual life.  As Jung said,   "Could there be a more uncomfortable position intellectually than that of floating in the thin air of unproved possibilities, not knowing whether what one sees is truth or illusion?"

A: The biggest perspective is that there is only truth and only Presence. so whatever you are seeing is pure divine presence, and that is what you really are. So even when the illusion gets pretty scary and confusing, it is still Divine Presence. My favorite definition of illusion is that an illusion is something real that appears to be something other than what it really is. Ultimately, all illusion is the one Being appearing as all of this stuff.

Remembering this biggest truth can allow you to relax and hold everything lightly. Even if you misread every intuition and deeper sense of the right direction in life, you are never really lost. And at any moment, no matter how difficult or painful the moment is, you can stop and sense the pure Presence that is at the heart of it all.

It is from this place of holding things lightly that we are also able to sometimes catch the subtle clues coming from our inner guidance. If you listen to your heart hoping that it will somehow make your life easy and make everything turn out the way you want it to, that is not a place of holding everything lightly. If you listen to your heart just to listen to your heart, you will find that it is a rewarding activity in and of itself. This is when you also happen to sense the nudge to step back just before a big wave that would otherwise have knocked you over.

As for your specific question, the difference between an egoic fear and a clear heart knowing that something is just not the best choice right now is that when it is an egoic fear, you feel small and vulnerable and inadequate. When it is a deeper knowing, you feel normal size or even expanded and have a sense that whatever does happen, you will be able to adequately respond. If it is a very deep insight and intuition, then you might even feel very expanded and a profound sense of your own ultimate invulnerability. This is not a rigid, hard invulnerability, but a flexible, comfortable sense that you are big enough and capable enough to handle the situation easily.

I invite you to reread part two of Living from the Heart (available for free here: http://endless-satsang.com/living-from-the-heart.htm ) as it can take a while for this subtle and yet radical shift in perspective to really sink in: How big and adequate you feel is not telling you how big and adequate you are, instead it is telling you how big and adequate your perspective or knowing is in that particular moment. When this is truly grasped, it turns the world inside out and upside down. How big you feel is not about you! What a strange concept, and yet how freeing when you discover that how big you feel, how expanded or contracted your own sense of your self is in this moment, is just a way your awareness distinguishes and discriminates the world around you. It is almost as if you were having someone else's sensations and feelings. If you did not realize they were someone else's sensations, that would be very confusing. Similarly, If you think your sense of yourself is about you, that is equally confusing. When you realize that how big and adequate you feel is not about you, but is instead about the relative balance between the truth and any beliefs and conditioning that just happen to be triggered in that moment, then the confusion is resolved.

The key element is how literally big, adequate, and even OK and worthy you sense your own self to be in that moment. Fear reduces that sense, makes you feel small like a young child, and contracts your awareness, including your awareness that everything is going to be fine no matter what. A deep knowing, even a deep knowing that you need to leave the situation or relationship in order to be safe does not take away the sense that you are capable and that everything will be alright. It can expand your awareness and give you the sense that you are bigger than your body. And it can increase the knowing that everything will be alright even as life appears to be falling apart.

As I mentioned, even if you miss these signals and make the apparently wrong choice, the stakes are not that high. Your eternal soul will still be fine. All of the hurt and difficulty will eventually be used by your true nature as food for your soul. From the soul's perspective, these daily decisions are not that important even if you totally blow it and get killed. For the soul, that is no great loss, and it just carries on in its journey as if it just dropped a penny down a sewer drain.

The real gift of listening to your heart and sensing these expansions and contractions of your awareness is not in making your life easier or avoiding the numerous pitfalls in life including the biggest pitfalls, although it can sometimes help a bit with that also. The real gift is that if you develop this habit of listening to your heart, then you may be listening someday when a powerful sense of your infinite eternal nature and completely transparent invulnerability arises, and you suddenly know that this deepest knowing is true beyond any doubt. It is these bigger knowings that transform us and fulfill our deepest longing for the truth. Following your heart in the moment to moment affairs of life simply makes you more available and trusting when a really big knowing appears.

In the meantime, you can notice and trust whatever sense of self you have in this moment. As you point out, many moments are a mix of truth and illusion. And in those moments, the sense of self will be somewhere in between the contracted sense of self when you are  completely lost in the mind's fearful projections, and the profoundly expanded sense of self that comes when you are having an epiphany or even an awakening. A medium sized sense of self is just a reflection of a medium sized perspective. The good news is you are always having the correct sense of yourself. It is always accurately showing you how big the truth of your perspective is right now.

 I would add that if you trust the moments where you know that everything is alright and will always be alright then the other moments when you are "floating in the thin air of unproved possibilities, not knowing whether what one sees is truth or illusion" are actually a wonderful adventure. Knowing is not something that we have to have ahead of time. Instead knowing is something that we can unfold gradually like a elaborate meal or a long stroll through a botantical garden. As long as we remember that illusion can't harm us, then we can enjoy the dance between truth and illusion, knowing and not knowing, to the max!

 

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