For those who don't know me. I was raised in the Hindu tradition. And growing up, we used to hear stories about men & women called "jivanmukta." (a person who has attained liberation in this life)
I would always be in awe of how that might feel, how it might feel to have attained that state. (I didn't know what liberation meant then, but it sure sounded cool!)
We would hear stories about saints & sages. Stories about their special powers (siddhi's) – powers to heal, divine the future, and much more.
But more importantly. Their anecdotal reports of having absolute peace. And by absolute, I mean ABSOLUTE.
That, for obvious reasons, piqued my curiosity.
For most of my life, I've only known feelings like tension, anxiety, and excitement. (I bet you have too). I rarely have, if ever, consciously (awake during the day) experienced true, everlasting peace. Something would always get in the way (mind, emotions, sensations).
So hearing the words of these spiritual giants would make me feel like, "Damn, can I do the same? Can I reach that same level?"
WE WANT PEACE!
So I decided to listen to what I could from these masters. Books, videos, articles, you name it. I looked and looked. Asked and asked some more.
Tried to meditate. Tried to breathe this way and that way.
Did some yoga postures, stopped eating meat, woke up at certain times, and stopped drinking.
I took advice where I could get it—both from reputable and somewhat questionable sources.
I got some benefits. But it indeed wasn't everlasting peace. (Ugh.)
Outside of feeling slightly miffed, I pondered whether or not peace would ever be in the cards for me. Maybe destiny has different plans for me. Maybe my samskaras were too strong. Maybe I was genetically incapable?
All of that negative thinking changed once I found my teacher.
Meet Rupert Spira
Rupert does not look like your typical spiritual teacher. He doesn't wear a robe or do anything out of this world. He doesn't float (to my knowledge) nor live in a cave. And that is partly why I connected with him so strongly – he is incredibly approachable.
He has many videos up on YouTube, hosted for free. Going over many spiritual matters, but most importantly, going over everlasting peace.
The teaching that helps us get there is called the "Direct Path."
The Teaching (Direct Path)
The teaching is straightforward:
Your essential nature is already peace, love, and happiness (awareness), but we have overlooked this. All that is needed is to remember this experientially and realize that you were always peace. (Not a typo – you are peace)
You don't have to do anything. You've got to remember. You've got to SEE!
No need for meditation. No need to do anything at all. Just remember. And you're there.
"Okay, but how do we remember?"
It might sound like a rhetorical question but stick with me.
Am I aware?
And watch where your mind goes. There is a pause. Then a thought arises, "Yes, I am aware."
Where did the mind go during that pause?
It momentarily dissolved itself in awareness (you might experience no thoughts or mind during this moment). Then, the mind reforms and concludes that "Yes! I am aware."
THE HUMAN DILEMMA
The problem that keeps us from everlasting peace lies solely in wrong identification.
Suppose I was sitting next to you and asked where YOU are located. What would you say? Some might say they are their body, somewhere in their brain.
But, are you your body or are you aware of your body? If we opened up your brain, where would you be exactly? I doubt you could know.
Notice: You are NOT your hand, but you have a hand. You are NOT your body, but you have a body.
Making this distinction between awareness and what awareness is aware of is the key.
Are you the mind? Or are you aware of the mind?
That voice in your head that is currently reading these words–is that you? Or are you aware of that voice?
Do you see? It goes all the way down.
Recursively go through your experience. Starting with the outermost experience (the world) and going into the innermost (your mind).
You should eventually notice (strongly) that the voice in your head, the one reading these words, is NOT YOU. You are aware of it. Subtle.
But this distinction is enough to LIBERATE.
For most of my life, I wrongly assumed that I was some combo of mind and body. But that wasn't it. Instead, I realized that I held a mind and a body. It is another object that arises but isn't my true nature. It's just another cloud in the sky. That somewhat neurotic human isn't what I truly am. It simply arises in what I truly am. That is the difference.
Become aware of being aware
Forget about the world for a second. Instead, trace your way back to what currently knows this present-moment experience.
Forget about your body.
Forget about your mind.
Forget about your emotions.
Don't label. Don't react.
What is left? What is the thread that exists among all of these objects? What knows that it knows? Be that.
Be as you are. Awareness.
bring your attention not to the content of your awareness, but to the fact of it. - Jeff Warren
This is a very foreign experience for most. It's 100% likely that your mind will interrupt, and your attention will move on to other things.
But through practice & subtraction, you are left with the only possible thing you are. That is this awareness.
There is NOTHING to look for—nothing to do. No breathing. No yoga poses. No chakra bs. None of that matters.
Instead, remember to be aware of that something that is aware. That is it.
This gives you access to NOT-MIND.
Your connection to the universe. (WOO WOO! I know. But is it wrong?)
The image below might do a better job of visualizing what I mean.
That center of consciousness is where we return to. This is where our true nature lies. And it's marvellous.
There are no words I can offer to describe it. But we have access to this (not a this, actually) at any time. It exists before experience.
This is the offer of ever-lasting peace. Having access to and essentially being this space.
The mind, body, and world become less important. Which means less focus on our neurotic mind and its insistent chatting. Our emotions don't cause us discomfort. Things don't bother us as much. We find ourselves able to be in this world but not of it.
We have put the world in its place. And all that remains is awareness.
- Notice that you're lost in objective experience
- Slip back into being aware OF objective experience. Bring your attention to the fact of awareness. Be aware of awareness itself.
- Stay as long as you can
- Repeat once you get lost in object experience
Over time, you will be able to stay for longer and longer until it is your default experience to be aware of awareness at all times.
PS: I have left a small gallery of spiritual masters (that I learned about growing up) below