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Burning Down the House....or Not?

| Nirmala | Awakening

Burning Down the House....or Not?

Published on
08 June 2010

Someone sent the following message to me on Facebook:

I’ve come to believe, (aside from the grace/lottery that some people get where their whole world crumbles and reveals what’s beyond the indivividual personality, the abiding non dual awareness), that one has to ignite one’s own world on fire. For that, it’s like we need matches, or the burning will to do so. What other thing could drive the individual to it’s own demise than this kind of madness, nearly a disgust for that which is not true. What's not “permanent”, not of the essence.

Since we cannot know where we are heading, but we can know what we are turning away from… This seems like a very important thing to look at. My question is then, can you recommend anyway of igniting this whole thing? I don’t seem to have the existential crisis that so many of the masters I respect have had. And I find it so strange that very few speak of this peeling off, unpleasant process as an essential part of their rebirth!

Here is the message I sent in return:

This is a very good question. My own sense is that there really is no formula for spiritual awakening. For some people, there is a kind of crumbling of their world that leads to a deeper opening. And for others, life just unfolds gracefully and easefully into the depths of their Being. And of course some people's lives crumble and they are only traumatized by the experience, and other people experience so much ease and comfort that they never even question very deeply.

So in answer to your question about how to ignite a burning, I would suggest a more general approach of being very curious and accepting of whatever is arising. Often when we try to ignite things or even when we try to stop the crumbling or burning, we only interfere with the deeper intelligence that actually knows the way things need to go. But by being curious and present to what is happening, you can allow the process to unfold in the most natural way.

This does mean being very curious and aware when a burning or crumbling or any kind of difficulty or challenge arises. But it is equally fruitful to be intensely curious about the easy and fun moments when life unfolds abundantly and delightfully. And finally you can inquire into and explore the ordinary moments when life is maybe a little boring or predictable.

This attitude of a gentle touching of experience just as it is already happening means that when a burning desire for the truth does arise, you have developed the capacity to stay with that experience all of the way. However it is not your job to set the whole house on fire. Fortunately, it turns out that every other experience is equally a doorway into the depths of your Being. Why miss all of the richness and many flavors of Being that are presenting themselves when life is easy or ordinary?

I hope this helps.