In your view, what is the most valuable “practice” in the path of self-realization?
That question is not properly made. It is biased with the belief that we need to “practice” to achieve something in “spirituality” to become a “better” person.
Nevertheless, let me share my experience.
To learn to be comfortable with yourself and to have a full life while living alone, is the most important “practice.”
Most “spiritual” people may understand this as to “force yourself” to DO it, because practice “makes perfect.” That is the conditioning, the discipline of practicing something to “achieve it.” That is fine for man-made ideals, but BEING does not change like that.
Life will put you in that situation. That is the natural path, that goes along with individual readiness.
Someone who is not ready, will internally fight it. Outwardly he may be living a life of a hermit like monks and nuns DO. However, they are busy with their own mental ideas, desires and needs to achieve Paradise, enlightenment and favors from God.
When you are comfortable with yourself, at peace; there is nothing to DO, nothing to achieve, nothing to look forward to. In our language and conditioning that may sound as the description of a “loser,” but it is far from it. It is the plain enjoyment of your own company and the experience of feeling fulfilled, at peace, vital.
This is not a compulsory activity (DOING) to become enlightened or “better.” It is a harmonized, natural response of being at peace.
It is in that state of balance how we discover the meaning of to “live in the now,” for the mind cannot go to the future as there is no need to achieve anything: No prize, no grandiose ideal to become, no “spiritual” after-life fantasy to get.
Going into the memories of the past, will show me all the pieces of the riddle which are building the “now,” although without identification with the one who at one time “I was,” the traumatic past experiences do not have the pull to remain in my psyche and change my enjoyment into sadness. The one from that past is not the same as the one who is now. Even though we have the same name and the same memories, there is no continuity of that “I” internally. “I” am free by not BEING a particular “I” at any point in time, by not defining me.
When the mind has no place to go, then enjoyment arrives through the feeling of BEING at peace, in harmony with “what is.”
The mental conditioning of what is supposed to be “fun,” or enjoyable does not allow us to BE, for the mind will look for that idea as the definition of success. Anything less is failure and the conditioning is to avoid it at all costs.
Define something, then that exists. Make that into an ideal to obtain, and the “reality” will be that it cannot be obtained. However, the mind will be entertained with the possibility to achieve that.
What is what I can DO to “improve”?
Become aware of the conditionings. Not to reject them, but to observe that any decision, any choice that we think we make, is coming from certain conditioning which we label as “truth.”
This awareness of all those things that we have learned through conditioning, is the “solution” that will prompt us to unlearn.
Without unlearning there cannot be newness.
Without newness, life may be the “same old thing.” 🙂
To remain undivided in life means to stop analyzing, dividing things, separating things with our minds.
That oneness is very simple. Nevertheless, that “oneness” as just an idea becomes an intellectual theory without insight. That “ intellectual oneness” has been marketed as another belief, another idea, another philosophy, another religion.
For any “learned individual” all is about gaining information. “Information is power,” they may say. In the spiritual realm, “information” is meaningless to experience a different realm of consciousness.
Without a “different” consciousness; our ability to see and experience becomes trapped in the setting of the “average guy.”
That is the guy surviving on TV; movies; his “own” business, the “news,” books, Cds, the internet, the latest research, the talk by Mr. politician; the class by Dr. Ph.D. ; M.D or the priest … That is the guy who only absorbs and “regurgitates” information he heard/read someplace; that person is there to “take from the outside and repeat it,” that is the person who is truly sleeping even though moving and breathing in the world; that sort of consciousness is easy to manipulate and “brain wash” with the “latest” information.
None of the above is “bad.” However, a person totally immersed in the above characteristics does not have inside him the “guts” to undergo a total change in personality.
Because that person is “sleeping.” That person does not have the capacity to look at himself and the things he does everyday automatically, without noticing. That person has no developed inner observation.
Please see that this is not a religious belief.
That person could be a great critic or commentator of “outside” reality. That person could write or talk with great ease, by using logic and reasoning…. But that person does not have the capacity to look inside; where there is no fluency in language or “powerful” writing that could help.
If someone asks me what is the single most important experience to start transforming the self; my answer without a doubt is the feeling of being alone.
This is the time when we could face ourselves as we truly are without any of the distractions that we are accustomed to.
Alone. By yourself. No family, No friends. No religious group to support you. Nothing.
That could be a good setting to start, if we can handle it.
If we survive the experience, then we will recognize what ego is all about at different levels. That “self” looking for different ways to survive or to live through others; looking to please others just to be accepted. That ego/sense of self begging for some sort of company to be busy with; something or someone to posses, something to call “ours,” something to fill the void, the empty sensation of existing with nothing permanent, but worries about ceasing to exist.
Here is when the “I” will look for certainty, for security in the afterlife, with God; “His protection” with a religious group; with someone as long as that pain of inner emptiness is mitigated.
A hopeless day yells
for a bright sunny sky,
this loneliness is dry
turning my heaven into hell
After that hell; the light… then the discovery that no one is ever alone appears in the experience of your own company. Then, a bright sunny sky comes in your life despite the ups and downs of the weather of life.
Everything was just a bunch of thoughts, and those moments of feeling loneliness only brought the key to experience the inner self.
Many throw that key away as soon as possible. Few, will use that key to open the door into themselves.
That is where everything starts. 🙂
“Being alone, by myself
A company of my own
My business is loneliness
And my song, to be alone”
Avyakt7 was able to hear about 50 minutes of this talk, and highly recommends it for those who are looking for a different perspective of the “truth” without beliefs. 🙂
Adyashanti has a Zen Buddhist background; however, with the cultural understanding of someone coming from a “modern” society.
Harmonious movement: Take your time. Smile. Breath in. Clear your thoughts. That is it.
When you become acquainted with solitude, in that silence of being just with yourself, when the inner chattering disappears; that is the time when serenity arrives.
To maintain that state of being is a matter of becoming more and more acquainted with that solitude.
There is nothing to “do.”
Thoughts will be moving slowly, in such a way that we can perceive them passing by and to catch the dreamer, dreaming again without effort.
If we have the chance to sit by a park and just look at a tree; Is it possible to look at that scene without thinking about it? Can we stop counting the number of branches or the birds passing by? Can’t we stop thinking about anything else?
If we become acquainted with this state of consciousness of just looking, we will be able to perceive that all of that rush, all of that “being late,” all of that “having so many things to do and so little time,” all of that will vanish; because in the experience of that state of serenity there is peace, there is fulfillment.
We truly want that.
Then, this will become our priority without “effort.”
In that experience, we will automatically look for it and we will realize that there is no place to go, no belief to believe in, but just to be there, observing, feeling, smiling, moving in harmony, taking our time….
Just living life in calmness.
Early in the morning, when we wake up; we could sit, breathe in and out and acknowledge the little movie going on in our minds.
The minute we realize that “show time” is on again; that is the moment when the movie will finish. If we place our attention to that sacred moment when all inner chattering is gone; we are in a good position to discover more about ourselves.
It is in that calmness, in that serenity when our consciousness could open to experience something more.
It is in that space of solitude when deep changes occur.
Becoming acquainted with that solitude and that silence will turn little by little in a very fulfilling company.
We will no longer feel alone.
Thank you for your great question!
Living alone is the opportunity to look at the self. It is the opportunity to find out our emotions and how they direct our lives. Living alone is the opportunity to practice awareness of our own thoughts, our own feelings and to feel that “center,” the soul, that which is in itself what we are looking for but that we do not realize by being distracted by the outside world.
Without an understanding of the reason why we are living alone, there will not be an “objective.” We do not live alone just because we cannot find a BK center to take us or because we don’t want to live with the same gender companion.
When the objective is clear, then to eat is an opportunity to observe where my thoughts are going, what do I feel, if I eat with anxiety or anguish; that is the way of becoming aware, conscious, so those sanskaras go away permanently. “Remember me alone” starts with an awaken consciousness. It starts with the self. When you use every opportunity to do something worthwhile to discover the self, you will see that time is actually enjoyable, for there are times when you will have experiences with the self which will allow you to continue looking for more.
For instance, for me as soon as it starts becoming dark, I will shutdown the computer, the cellphone and that night is to eat and enjoy that in awareness and to walk by Nature afterwards and get recharged. A “thought-less” (no thinking) walk is healing. At that time when the “objective” is clear and you truly want to experiment with the self; time to be with yourself is valuable time.
Therefore, a clear objective is first.
Spirituality requires your utmost energy to be conscious, aware. Therefore, eat well, sleep good and learn to discern those activities which are superfluous in your life. Your time becomes precious. Until that hasn’t been experienced, you will be “in between.” You will be longing for company and people around you, just like a “normal” person.
However, this practice of “being alone” is not meant to be “alone” for all time but to be around people. That is the paradox.
That is how you will do “service” automatically, for that introversion will be noticeable, that strength of being awake will be noticeable and your interactions with others will be necessary, but not to “take” their company but to “give” your awareness.
The practice of living alone takes time. Once you have mastered it, life will give you different avenues. When opportunity knocks at your door, be ready to open it.
This video by Eckhart Tolle is recommended for those souls interested in overcoming loneliness.
If it is in your “fortune” to be by yourself, then it is the perfect “spot” to find those weaknesses popping up like hot pop corn.
What Mr. Tolle refers as “presence” is what we BKs, may know as silence. The experience of the “true” self.
Through that, there is change. Note that our mind needs to fully accept a situation before there is opportunity for change. Ego does not allow us to accept but rather is looking to “fight back.”
That fight is delaying those changes. Flowing is the answer.
Also note that once loneliness becomes, through acceptance into solitude; the Drama may change and once there is no neediness in the self for company; that company may in fact appear…. So be careful what you wish for… for you may not like it after all… 🙂
Those are the workings of the Drama. Don’t desire anything, so you will have everything…
Loneliness: A faithful companion
when everyone is gone
and there is no one to call
Its voice is heard loudly
following a breath
in a unison with death
Waking up in void
holding you dearly in my empty hands
waiting for the long moment
to release you in the faraway sands
You are the one who all fear
but to me you are very dear
for in your awareness am alive
finally, an opportunity to thrive
Sleep with me, whisper in my ears
hold me tight, release my fears
loneliness is not that bad
if it doesn’t make you mad.