Sunday, January 18, 2009


Prolong not the past,
Invite not the future.
Alter not your innate wakefulness
Don't fear appearances.
There is nothing more than that.
You can work with those lines—they can be a whole practice for you: Let it all go. Past? Future? Just dream-stuff. Don't let it disturb your "innate wakefulness," your soul-view.
I find it helpful, in carrying out this curriculum of aging, to restructure my life so that my time is not quite so filled with activities. It gives me more opportunity to remember that I'm a soul. If I stay locked too tightly into chronological or physical time, time itself tends to seduce me into ego-view. So I let go of my busy-ness. I spend some time just looking out the window, say, or watching the flow of a stream; I slowly let myself into a different time scale, and that helps me open into the soul-perspective.

And if I go further still, if I leave the soul-view and enter into pure Awareness, it is timeless. There was a beautiful, spiritual woman, a great Indian saint named Anandamayi Ma. Millions of people came to be in her presence, because it felt so spacious and unconditional and loving. At one point, Paramahansa Yogananda said to her, "Ma, who are you?" She replied, "Father, there is little to tell. My consciousness has never associated itself with this temporary body. Before I came on this earth, Father, I was the same. I grew into womanhood, but still I was the same. When the family in which I had been born made arrangements to have this body married, I was the same. And Father, in front of you now, I am the same. Even afterwards, though the dance of creation changes around me in the hall of eternity, I shall be the same."

Imagine recognizing that in yourself—and then living your life. Just imagine: resting in no-time, and dancing in time. That's what's available to us—it's who we can be. It's who we are, it's right here; we just have to add in that other part of our consciousness, the part that is watching the whole show unfold. That will color and change everything.

A human life is an experiment in planes of consciousness. Incarnation tests our ability to remember who we are, to remember that we're also souls and that we don't have to get so caught up in the story line we're living out. We can be open to all of it—including growing old, suffering, death, everything. The game, as I see it, is ultimately to become one with Awareness—to just be, without any defining boundaries, without any conceptual structures. And the conceptual structure that's hardest to shed is the "I"—meaning "somebody separate from everything else."

The age-stage is a time when the ego faces a gradual erosion of its boundaries, of its image that "this is who I am." The soul looks to the age-stage as coincidental with a process in which the soul itself is dissolving its own boundaries, and expanding into its own greater identity as pure spirit. And death? A moment when the veils part, the ego falls away, and the soul lets go of all the encrusted layers of identity, with a sigh of relief.

What I understand from Eastern traditions is that if, at the moment of death, I am identified exclusively with ego, I am likely to be overwhelmed by my fear of the cessation of my own existence as a separate being. Because the ego will, in fact, die. If, however, I have developed some soul-perspective, I will have a better chance of remaining quietly conscious through it all, just observing: watching my ego dissolving, watching the body dropping away. At that point, whatever in me that is left uncooked will steer me towards my next incarnation in order to continue my karmic work. When the seeds are all cooked and my karmic work is complete, my identity at the moment of death will be solely with Number Three. So when my soul-karma is indeed totally finished, then life and death and ego and soul will all appear like bubbles of phenomena arising out of timeless Awareness, only to dissolve back into Awareness again. And through it all, I shall be the same.


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