September 2008 Insights
This is a repost of some insights I had in September 2008 in the midst of a massive connection to consciousness, which I called "enlightenment" or "full consciousness".
What's the path to enlightenment?
The path to enlightenment is faith through meditation. Faith in yourself that you are more than you think you are. Notice I said think. Then you accept. Then you see without blinders. Then you are enlightened.
Aren't you just in denial?
No. Quite the opposite. The goal is to completely and honestly accept. When you accept all of your past and all of who you are, you are quite simply set free. It's really that simple. This is something I have thought endlessly about, for many years, and the answer is to simply accept who you are. This requires no thought.
Did your enlightment happen gradually or all at once?
I describe below what the process was like for me. You could look at it one way and say, yes, it happened all at once. But I believe it was meant to happen at that moment and everything I had been doing was leading up to that moment. I had been in traditional psychotherapy since 1991 and in and out of hospitals since 1991 (with a several year respite in the late 90s to start a family). Grounding was a very big lesson. And you do need to ground in order to get to higher states of consciousness. Think of it like getting different colored belts in Karate. Grounding is the ability to, in a small way, control your mind. For years and years I grappled with questions such as "Did it happen?", "If it didn't happen, I must be bad.", "Do I have parts or is that fake?", and similar questions; if you ever grappled with trauma and dissociation you will know what I'm talking about. I had to deal with almost every major malady one can have of the mind, was intensely suicidal, and just trapped inside. My journey over the past few years has led to my liberation from my mind. It has been about learning about my inside. But I had done so from purely an intellectual (i.e., thought) perspective. I realized several months ago that that approach wasn't going to work completely and began working with an expressive therapist with whom I have developed a connection. Drawing, writing, music, and talking now gave me several modalities with which to work. Suddenly I opened up and A LOT was accessible to me. In her office one day, it just happened with the aid of meditation. I was already open. I was already accepting. So what happened that day, while spontaneous, was part of a process and life history that led to that moment.
How does your body feel?
The physical sensations in my body are absolutely AMAZING! Everything feels tingly. Like "stuff" (toxins?) are getting released from my muscles. Now all I want to do is stretch. I've been doing stretching and yoga poses. And now, suddenly, that all makes sense to me. I must have been so bound up by my mind that my body was also bound up and unable to appreciate any modality such as stretching, Tai Chi, or Yoga. Wow! I have so much to learn and experience.
What does it mean to understand?
True understanding comes from complete acceptance. No matter how painful the material is, if you accept it, you are accepting it into all of human consciousness to which you are connected, so it cannot hurt or overwhelm you.
Come on, Paul, don't we practice conscious awareness all the time? I mean I'm pretty aware!
Like anything else, there is a continuum. Just like there's a dissociative continuum, there is a corresponding and quite related consciousness continuum. We certainly make attempts at conscious awareness. When we listen to music, we are freeing our minds from thought. The goal of sleep, I may suggest, is to free your mind of thought. When we look at the beauty of nature, or art, or other people we are largely freeing our minds of thought. When we take a tranquilizer, we are trying by chemical means to free our minds of thought. This is why I say that achieving full control over thought is a natural state. We are ALWAYS and forever trying to do this, even without realizing what and why! But there is a limit to how far this can take us. Enlightenment is so much more. It is like comparing the physical vastness of the universe with our tiny blue planet. You are only getting a tease. But the tease should entice you to seek more. Enlightenment is not meditation. It is not mindfullness. It is much more. It's a portal to something way beyond us. Sure, as you journey from music to meditation to mindfullness, you gradually begin to appreciate what you are seeking. But true enlightenment is a state unlike any other.
What has sleep been like for you since enlightenment experience?
I used to have terrible sleep. Unable to quiet inside and anxiety, amongst other things. Now sleep is an extension of my enlightenment. I sleep in a state of never ending bliss. I don't know how this is possible, but it is true. I have been sleeping a deep deep sleep from about 8pm until 1am and then come to a semi-awake state of being where I feel my being bathed in bliss (I must come up for a new word, because bliss is a feeling and I don't know if you can be bathed with a feeling). It's an awesome experience. I feel as if I am literally in heaven. I talk. I bask in knowledge that comes from some place I am connected to, but certainly not from within. I wonder about things. Thoughts pass through my mind and I don't judge or remember them. I just say them as they come. Actually out loud, but relatively quietly. I cannot explain this at all. As I write this, I cannot remember the things I said in sleep-awake. But I am certain that I remarked as I was saying these things that they were wonderful awarenesses. Oh my God, this keeps getting better and more expansive.
If enlightenment returns us to our natural state of being, why do you call it a miracle?
Partly because so many of us have forgotten how to achieve enlightenment and don't practice meditation. But, really, it's just a miracle in the same sense that conception-to-birth is a miracle. It's not unusual, I know. It's a gift from God and all of God's gifts are miracles. We take everything for granted that we don't realize we see miracles every day.
Carl Jung wrote: "If you get rid of the pain before you have answered its questions, you get rid of the self along with it." Thoughts?
My therapist gave this to me today. I would rephrase this to make it correct: "If you ignore the pain before you have accepted it, you ignore the self along with it." That's accurate. This causes internal conflict. For you really cannot ignore yourself. Denial is a terrible affliction. Pain holds no questions. It's just pain. But if we are bound to our minds and bodies we will be stuck. If we free ourselves from thought and connect to consciousness, pain ceases to exist (that's the only way to get rid of it). For we realize, then, that we can connect to that which is outside of us and bigger than us. This is another way of saying we accept it. We must accept everything within us in order to connect to our higher consciousness.
Note: In February 2009, I don't quite believe this statement to be true. Pain is sometimes unavoidable. The place of consciousness is wonderful to be sure, but it's important to realize that it's not a simple matter to get there. A lot of things have to be aligned.
What does it mean that a psychiatric hospital has 72 active journals and newsletters on display and none deal with spirituality, enlightenment, universe, or eastern philosophies?
I spend time at my local major psychiatric hospital waiting for my appointment (McLean Hospital in Belmont, MA) and love sitting in the library. Well today I was looking at all the books and journals and realized that they are all about symptoms, complex psychological constructs, techniques, and drugs; all from a western perspective. All these are artificial. They are not real! They are a result of our addiction to thinking and staying within ourselves. They propose solutions that are merely illusions. Enlightenment achieved through meditation is the key to health. At the very least, these western solutions are not the whole picture.
Enlightenment is the key to humanity's future. Will we continue down the road of materialism (which has plagued us for centuries and which further binds us to the earth)? Or can we escape these bonds and find true happiness? We need to evolve. We need to awaken from our sleep! Then we will realize our full potential.
Note that I am not saying that we do not have a need for psychiatric hospitals. In fact McLean is really good at emphasizing the NOW (at least in their dissociative disorders unit). And indeed they have staff who appreciate and encourage teachings of the east and practice mindfulness, yoga, and meditation.
Note: In February 2009, I have seen that many do embrace alternative approaches to healing. You just have to look a bit. The library added a book to its collection titled "Spiritually Integrated Psychotherapy". But, in general, I would like to see more of an emphasis on integrating consciousness and healing.
If you have Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) and achieved enlightenment, do you still have parts?
I am not sure for all people. I can have parts, and I do, but now it's not a big deal because I have joined the collective consciousness of humanity. Everything is now one. Everything is now infinity. I am sustained by all I am connected to. I am no longer me. I am everything that exists. I am one with the universe.
Taking these thoughts one step further, our bodies are bound to earth. Yet we will never die! Our consciousness is an energy outside ourselves. The universe. There is no beginning and no end. We are tiny and insignificant, yet we are everything. Both at the same time. I believe when our physical bodies die we simply free our consciousness from our brain and give it back to the collective consciousness of all of humanity. There is so much beyond us! I have seen it.
Does everyone believe I'm crazy for saying and believing these things I know to be true?
If we can believe in heaven.
And we believe when we die we go to heaven.
Then this means we must have a means of getting there (i.e., we are connected to heaven in some way).
If this is true in death, then who is to say this is not true in life?
Does this scare us or something?
What is so crazy about that? It seems completely natural to me.
All these things are said in church: life after, heaven, alpha and omega, etc. But church, at least christian churches with which I am familiar, teach from a young age in a manner which casts God as person. Church talks about God's divine wisdom. But wisdom implies thought. There's the flaw! Church has used the truth for political gain and power. This is not right. Church tells people to have faith. In their context, faith means what? Faith that there is a truth? We don't need faith. We can see the truth. God gave us eyes to see. What a gift.
God gave me this gift for all my suffering that was done in the name of God. This was against His will. A sin of epic magnitude. For this God has rewarded me. I am blessed. I know God!
Again, I am not saying "a church" does not have its place. Many require the structure in order to achieve some sense of higher purpose and self. I understand that. But the construct of church is severely limiting and one could make an argument that it can be dangerous.
What did I see during my enlightenment?
I could only "see" darkness. But I sensed consciousness. It was black. But there was a form. It was on the left of me. VAST! I was aware of vastness. I thought this was unbelievable. My breath was taken away. I could not believe what I was sensing. Then, when I thought there could be no more, the vastness increased a billion fold. I was fully sensing. Suspended. Free of thought. Free of judgement. I received an infinite amount of energy from this connectedness to my senses. I saw the parts within, they were just a part of the whole of consciousness. But 99% of my experience was about sensing.
Note: In January 2009, and at other times, I have had similar experiences, but they have been different. In January, I experienced being taken to an internal safe place while also experiencing this place of consciousness. So, it's not always been about darkness for me.
How have I viewed my environment since enlightenment?
I only see and sense energy. Everything is about energy. The trees, the grass, the sky, the people. They are all alive and sending out energy. Everthing bad in my life has been about bad energy. I simply avoid that now. And bask in the glory of normal living.
Can you lose enlightenment?
Of course I cannot be certain that I will be able to retain enlightenment. I do believe I can though. Enlightenment allows us to reach what is natural. This is a natural state of being. Perhaps a simple analogy would be riding a bike. Once you learn, you do not forget. It becomes easy. There is very little thought involved in riding a bike. It's memory, but it's a natural form of memory. This is unlike, say, remembering mathematical equations or chemical formulas, where there is a huge amount of thought and memory involved. With time, you forget the equations and formulas. Often, right after the test. We are often teaching students in order to achieve a short-term goal. Actually, the goal of education now is much more natural than in the past. We are now teaching students, for example, the rationale behind the mathematics so they learn the concept, which is more grounded, as opposed to just learning to calculate. But really what we need to teach is creativity and imagination. Einstein said (and I'm paraphrasing because I don't remember the actual quote): "Imagination is more important than knowledge." This is SO TRUE! Note: I wrote in subsequent entries about indeed losing this place of full consciousness, but not losing sight of trying to achieve it again.
What is the role of age and consciousness?
I am absolutely not certain about this. I know that consciousness is awareness. I know also you achieve full consciousness by freeing yourself from thought. Infants could quite possibly be free from thought, but are they aware? I am not sure. As infants become toddlers, I believe they achieve awareness. I would say that by age 2, children reach their peak consciousness. They soak up information and energy like a sponge. After some point their consciousness decreases. They learn to become slaves to their minds. This can last until advanced age (and even a lifetime). Usually, though, when you have reached Senior status, you become more aware and more accepting. The terrible thing here is that when we are at our peak physical strength, we are at our worst level of conscious awareness. Imagine combining strength, youth, and full awareness!
If the goal is to free yourself from thought, then when do you think?
We think all the time. You do not have to be a Tibetan Monk in order to achieve the benefits of conscious awareness. You just need to be free of thought in order to achieve enlightenment and to recharge yourself by periodically connecting to the reservoir of human consciousness. But, yes, you can be conscious. Solve a thought problem. And return to conscious. The trick is to allow your equilibrium state to be conscious awareness, not thought. In other words, always return to "no thought".