Stepping into the Inner Adventure
Unless you accept inner adventure as a way of life, discovery will not come to you. Do it for the adventure, self-discovery is born of direct experience. (Nisagardatta, I Am That. p. 434P).
The reality of the world we live in today requires that we prepare ourselves for the adventures that come to us throughout our lifetime. Escalating personal, social, environmental, and world crisis push against our doors of denial and ignorance to bring forth true, firsthand experiences of what it is like to be you in human form. The ways of the past are gone! You are invited to discover the real you within the reality you’ve been living, from this moment forward.
Many spiritual practices, with the majority of Religious and Spiritual Traditions, take us away from ourselves as the source of wisdom and truth. Meditation, prayer of supplication, and practices that take you into ecstatic places have you look outside yourself for truth. You are invited to engage in a myriad of practice that promise to give you the answer, will change your energy patterns, your brainwaves, your chakras and provide instant transformation with no effort.
"Listen to ME! Buy What I Have to Offer! My Way Is the Way!" People spend billions of dollars on all the "self-help" tools, but most of them don’t work because people don’t want to do the real work, which requires the stopping of what doesn’t work and being in direct relationship with themselves.
Heading to India to find that Guru you believe will bring you to fulfillment and enlightenment, well, it won’t. A truthful Guru will tell you they can’t, and you’ll feel disappointed, frustrated, perhaps angered, which in itself tells you you’ve got some work to do on yourself. You’ve heard it a thousand times from a thousand sources; you won’t find it outside yourself. You just won’t!
Reading Nisagardatta’s “I am That” revealed to me the degree to which seekers are seeking the answer to their question outside themselves. That answer, they believe, will magically transform their reality â€“ eliminating fear, doubt, and negative patterns, and bring them to a state of Nirvana that will never disappear. When told what to do: "Be With Your Self", these seekers argue, get defensive and question the reality of their guru. We want a guru to do the work for us. None of us want to do the work that is required for sustainable states of enlightenment to be realized. What’s the work? Be with yourself!
A delightful point that has been made time and time again is that we will not even get close to an enlightened state if we rely on mentations. The cognitive approach to spirituality doesn’t work! We rely on our thinking as a kind of spiritual by-pass. If you want to get to Heaven, to Nirvana or Enlightenment, you’ve got to put on your sneakers and start walking your talk. Stop thinking about what enlightenment is and how to get there, and begin the personal investigation one step at a time.
Again, the most important message I can pass on to you is that you are adventuring into a deep relationship with you. There are others â€“ seen and unseen who will empower you, one way or another, but it’s a trek you’ll be taking alone â€“ but not really alone, because you have yourself.
Circumventing the realization of YOU
Up until this point, if you are anything like me, you have most likely abandoned yourself for the sake of companionship with others. You’ve probably said many times that anything or anyone is better than your own company. Based on how we are treated as children by parents, teachers, friends, and perhaps by God, most of us have come to believe that we are inadequate, fraudulent, failures. We better DO something in order to ensure we don’t get found out, and we don’t get kicked out, ostracized or humiliated. As long as we hold onto this belief about, we will continue to avoid and distract ourselves from being present to we are. We will continue to circumvent the exploration of the actual truth of who we are. And without that investigation we’ll never come close to knowing Heaven, Nirvana or Enlightenment â€“ YOU!
The most challenging spiritual practices are those that engage a relationship with you â€“ not just your thoughts, but your emotions, your body, your humanness (which more often than not gets totally ignored). Questioning who you are inside this body, inside this persona, inside the roles you play at work, at home, in your community and most importantly the role you play with yourself: Why you think the way you do and what could possibly bring this all to a better outcome.
I hate yoga
Though I’ve been practicing yoga on and off for most of my adult life, I enter the yoga class facing my inadequacies and weaknesses. Mostly, I face that part of me that judges myself as inadequate, weak, and pathetic. For this one hour and a half a week, I’m choosing to practice being, in or with, yoga postures that bring up thoughts and sensations, which leave me with some of these very disempowering interpretations. In this moment I come face to face with that part of me that interprets me as a pathetically inadequate loser. I hate that feeling. How can I, such an extraordinary woman, be that?
The constructs of a reality, from a spiritual perspective, is that we develop enough ego strength to be torn apart, shredded and dismembered with only our essential Self intact. This process includes being pummelled into humiliation and degradation, which, is only an egoic construct. By bringing presence and compassion into practice, I inevitably transform myself into graceful humility. Sounds delightful! It is once you get there.
In my current circumstances of my life, I am brought to my knees, surrendering every inch of ground I’ve gained regarding self-respect and self-worth. These gains came through false hope and made up truths. I thought that because of all of the experience and credentials I’ve accumulated, that I’d somehow be immune to life’s practical jokes and lessons, and that I would remain agile in the face of any potential demise. No one gets out unscathed, no matter how smart or wise we are. That’s not why we came to Earth and into human form.
If you’ve ever witnessed any martial art, you’ve seen that masters aren’t out to kill each other; they are looking for that opponent that will test their mettle in order to find that growing edge, which requires honing. If we look at life’s events and circumstances we can see that it’s the same. We continually invite circumstances and teachers into our lives, in service to continually growing ourselves. Rarely are we conscious of these invitations until it’s too late. We are fighting for our lives, then wondering "What the heck was I thinking?"
Though people question the degree to which I may be masochistic, I continue to attend yoga classes. In downward facing dog, I come face to face with the opponent that has defeated me forever â€“ until now. It’s the inner demon that sees me as the pathetically weak, inadequate loser.
Any individual faced with fighting for their lives â€“ whether it be martial arts, a life-threatening illness, and financial ruin or otherwise, we simultaneously hate what we’ve gotten ourselves into and at the same time we are grateful to have the opportunity to test our own grit, courage, and faith. Our wise self knows that the learning is far more valuable than the safety found in avoiding fear.
A very large percentage of human beings do the greatest amount of their spiritual development within the last few weeks of their life. When fighting, too often we don’t understand what we are fighting for, what we are setting ourselves up for, regarding learning, losing, success, fulfillment … we just don’t know! When death seems imminent and the teacher can be clearly seen, the student surrenders their egoic self knowing they have nothing else to lose.
Just about every day of the past nine months I’ve faced this moment of realizing I have nothing left to lose. It’s not physical death I’ve been facing, but the death of my egoic self. I chose to liberate myself in service to the knowing that there’s something far more vibrant and alive beyond the fenced-in borders of fear-based living. On the one hand, I choose freely; on the other hand, I feel like I have no other choice. It’s time.
Back to downward facing dog
I see how victimized I’ve been by my own inner perpetrator. I can begin to see a lifetime ahead of me, of living as if I’m not a pathetic looser; that I’m actually fulfilled within my own being. Until I had my nose to the mat I didn’t see that: a) I set the rules, signed the contract and hired the hit man myself; that b) I’ll never experience peace as long as my own internal perpetrator of assaults is holding me hostage; and that c) I’m the only one that can call the whole thing off. What was I thinking?
How do I fire the hit man before he does me in? I QUIT!
I change the paradigm by declaring all contracts null in void! I declare that I’m no longer playing by the old rules. I’m Done!
So if I’m not playing by the old rules, which had me live from hopes, fears, resentments, anger and deep seated self-hatred that I didn’t even know was there … how do I be? If I’m not a victim to my own hit man, what shows up? What qualities are present?
Engaging myself without the constraints of such a contract, the feelings that arise within me are freedom, peace, ease, joy, fun, anticipation and knowing. I know this because my body is informing me. I’m experiencing this in the moment. My chest is opening and so are my hips. My whole body begins to release tension it never knew it was carrying. Ahhhhhhh!
In this moment, just as an experiment, I choose to choose to no longer make choices from the old paradigm, the one that is based on fears, anger and resentment. I’ll experiment with making choices only from freedom, relaxed, ease, joy, fun, anticipation, and knowing. By choosing to experiment with this practice, I begin to sense that I’m actually a willing participant in the unfoldment of the Universe as a willing adventurer. And as such, I need do nothing!
I show up on the yoga mat again, stretching muscles that have been locked in placed for decades. I have no doubt that releasing what was holding these muscles in lock-down is going to express energy that is experienced as emotion and perhaps physical flu-like sensations. Because I’m dedicated to realizing the truth of who I am, I show up to all sorts of humbling practices. If I don’t go, I won’t know!
The practice is: To Thine Own Self Be True. And how you get to being true only to yourself is what this book and this practice is about. To cut through all of the beliefs and interpretations â€“ the consensus reality that we assume to be real â€“ well, it takes discipline, dedication, and a destination at which you want to arrive. That destination is you.
Who do you know yourself to be? To what degree to you live as this Being you know yourself to be? What needs to shift for you to be your truest self as often as you like? What are you willing to practice in order to Be YOU? What can you let go of in order to support your intention?
The adventure awaits: Take the Plunge!
I’d love to hear your comments and receive feedback. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org