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Seeking vs. Letting Go of Seeking

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Someone contacted me with a question about the best practice or approach for their spiritual unfoldment:

Q: How does one make the leap, from a witness still anchored in the body to not being confined to the body, where you are everywhere and feel and listen globally? I realize, have experienced and understand that there is only perceiving, there is no perceiver or perceived, but still this perceiving...this silent witnessing....with no mental constructs or formulations or commentary of any kind still seems to happen predominantly from and within the body, although from no specific point.

Is it grace that takes one to the next level...this sense of universal presence.  How does one orient or shift to this?

A: This is a very good question and is one that I receive some form of often. My experience is that at every point of the spiritual journey, there is no formula for how to shift to another level or depth that works for everyone. We are all unique and so is our journey.

In fact, my good friend, Jeffery Martin, who is a neuroscientist, has researched this extensively and his findings suggest that all of the well known spiritual paths and practices only really work for about five percent of the people who engage with them. But it is not the same five percent on all of the different paths. So his suggestion is to try different spiritual practices until you find the one that does work for you. And as you progress on the path, that may also shift. The practice that opens and expands you at one point may no longer work after a time, while another practice may then be very effective.

That being said, one way you could specifically start experimenting with shifting the location of your perception is to read part one of my free ebook, Living from the Heart, which is available here: http://endless-satsang.com/free-ebooks-free-spiritual-books61.htm  The exercises in the book are meant to develop more flexibility in where you are looking/sensing from, and eventually there are exercises that work with shifting the source of awareness to space itself.

I will also add that from my perspective, there is no one ideal state of consciousness or location for perception. My sense is that the ideal actually is a total flexibility of consciousness where you can freely and easily move from one state and one location to another. No particular state is functional all of the time, and all states or forms of perception have their purposes. The biggest freedom and the greatest functional effectiveness in life comes from this total flexibility and is not attained through reaching a particular state of being and then getting stuck there.

However, this flexibility is only achieved by having direct experiences of all of the different capacities of your own consciousness, so there is still a place for what is generally called spiritual seeking or spiritual practice. Again, the key is to find a practice that actually works for you now as a unique individual at this unique place and time.

Along the way, you may find that pursuing spiritual practices is often a two edged sword. When we read about or have glimpses of different spiritual experiences and states, we may then end up desiring them and thereby suffer from the struggle and effort to reach some ideal experience or spiritual attainment.  It is ironic and paradoxical that our efforts to end our suffering often create some of the most intense suffering we can experience in life.

So along with our seeking and pursuit of spiritual attainment, it is important to develop a capacity to simply let go of seeking and striving. As you have suggested, it is mostly up to Grace or the universal intelligence how quickly or easily our spirituality unfolds. Our essence or Being seems to love all the many dimensions of existence and may not be in as much of a hurry to become enlightened as we are!

These two approaches are not contradictory, but rather complimentary. It is worthwhile to seek and effort toward the goal, and it is equally important to hold the whole process lightly and simply be curious about what you are already experiencing, even when there does not seem to be any progress or even when you seem to be going backwards. I said that the ideal may be a total flexibility of consciousness, and by that standard, every experience throughout our entire existence is an expression of our already inherent flexibility as consciousness. This moment is a rich and unique facet of the diamond of our potential as consciousness. So even as you seek and strive for new and different experiences, take some time to stop and savor the ones that you are already having.

Should you seek spiritual attainment or should you let go of seeking? Yes!!!

I hope this helps.

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Loving Your Desires

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I recently worked with someone in a mentoring session on how to give love freely to everything and thereby be filled with love, as described in this article on here. She wrote to me with some follow up questions:

Q: As I'm feeling the love towards everything and everyone including the body, I m feeling that I am this LOVE itself with no beginning or end. Even as thoughts of my financial  situation or relationship come up, I'm finding myself touching those images with love. Also I have some small health issues due to childhood illness. I'm finding myself touching these issues with loving awareness.

However, would it be wrong to imagine more finances, a better relationship, improved health and send those ideals more love? I’m finding myself sending love to all areas and sending love to more positive outcomes naturally.  I do know it feels different now as I feel the love flowing from emptiness and I don’t have the same cravings. But I'm afraid if I m taking a step back by sending love to these areas of my life and the beautiful visualisations that are coming up. Please advise.

A: The truth is bigger than we usually imagine it to be. All there is, is truth, and so everything has some truth to it. So there really is no contradiction between loving things just as they are and then also holding an image of a different outcome or possibility.

However, some truths are bigger than others, and so they are not all equal. Your capacity to give love is a very big truth and will open your heart even if your situation does not improve or even if it gets worse. So the simplest and best approach is to focus on the bigger truth of giving love freely and without expectations or conditions. Give that most of your attention.

And then you can also spend some time and effort on imagining the positive changes you would like to experience. Again, there is no contradiction. And if you start to feel overly contracted or attached to the outcomes you would like, then take a moment to drop back into simply loving what is. This will soften your awareness and allow you to see things in perspective again. And then you can once again imagine things improving, only you will be imaging it with a lightness and ease that actually allows your imagining to be more effective and more in alignment with your higher purpose. It is never wrong or harmful to want things to be different, but it can limit our ability to see the whole picture if we get stuck in focusing exclusively on our desires.

Improved finances, relationships and health without an experience of infinite love will never be fully satisfying, whereas an experience of the open hearted fullness of love will be deeply satisfying even if your relationship, health or financial situation does not improve. So it makes sense to focus more on giving love, even as normal and healthy desires for greater ease and abundance arise in your awareness.

Finally, if you are really caught up in a strong desire, then it can also work to simply love the experience of wanting. There is a lot of energy and passion and joy in desire itself....so instead of trying to stop the desire or imagination, just direct that same open and accepting awareness of love to the experience of desire itself. It is a subtle shift to simply redirect some of the attention from the object of the desire and onto the sensations and energetic experience of wanting or desiring. If you can deeply enjoy the experience of wanting, then it matters less and less whether you get what you want or not.

I hope this is helpful.

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Loving Your Hatred

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Q: How do I feel love? I feel more hatred, jealousy and all other negative emotions than LOVE. I try my level best but I've never tasted it. I grew up as an unwanted child and experienced hatred, ill will and jealousy. How can I come out of it all? I have been doing meditation many years trusting that I will develop love for everyone, but still there seems to be no hope.

A: I would suggest that you consider the possibility that you already do love your hatred, jealousy and other negative emotions. Love in its most basic essence is just attention and acceptance, and you are probably already giving attention and space or acceptance to those feelings. So I would invite you to let yourself really love those feelings when they arise. Get to know them as you would get to know a new lover. Explore them and discriminate everything you can about them.

This will allow your inherent love to start flowing, and from there, it might be possible to also start loving more things. You can start with neutral things or things that you already like as it is easier to shower attention and acceptance on things that we like. But it is also possible to give that same quality of attention to things that you do not like or even hate. You do not have to like something to pay attention to it and let it be here.

If you have not already, I suggest you read part 3 of my free ebook, Living from the Heart, which is available here: http://endless-satsang.com/free-ebooks-free-spiritual-books61.htm

And here is another short article that explores the true nature of love: http://endless-satsang.com/the-many-dimensions-of-love.htm

I hope this helps.

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The Endless Satsang advaita blog by Nirmala is a place for occasional musings and also answers to questions via the contact form on here.
Please feel free to contact him with any questions you may have for this nonduality blog.