I was smiling again. I had direction. I felt like in the thick of being confused about where I was headed, I had been given a simple road map. . . a simple direction to a potentially very important place I needed to arrive to. I didn’t need to book a ticket but I did need to do something I had never done before. Not quite like this. No, never. I had to take some time out regularly for doing what outwardly seems like nothing. No-thing. Not even thinking. In fact, especially not thinking. And unless I was asleep or unconscious in an operating theater, I realized I had never done this before. I had never consciously decided not to utilize my mind for any period of time. I didn’t know that thinking or not thinking was an option. I didn’t know I had a choice. So I geared up to practice a skill called meditation… being silent in the mind… being focused on stillness by purposeful choice while simultaneously not being attached to or hopeful of any specific result.
I remember deciding to give myself two to three months out of my life for this. Even though meditation can be easily incorporated into ones daily routine, I felt at the time that I needed to get into it intensively, almost exclusively. Two to three months was the amount of time I could afford to not earn a living. As a freelancer I had no earnings if I didn’t show up at the schools for work. [Its funny, “earn a living” has also a "whole" other meaning for me today.] Anyway, I decided to restrict my activities during those two months to daily meditation, working out at the gym, working on a script I had started, managing the apartment building on the weekends, and spending some time with my little sister. I even shared this decision with my parents and found them very supportive. This change in my immediate plan of action felt very important to me. I had a project at hand… figuring out my life without doing things I thought I had to do and without thinking about any scary details.
Fifteen minutes set on my alarm clock, I sat in my curtain-drawn bedroom on the floor– erect but comfortable, alert but relaxed– every morning after I rose, and every evening sometime after sunset. Eyes closed, I did nothing, except focus on my breath as it entered my nostrils, as it left my nostrils. I frequently acknowledged the random thoughts that barged into my silence and, as instructed by my friend, I tenderly put them aside each time. I re-focused on my breaths and the silences in between that separated the breaths in and out of my nose.
This was somewhere in September or October of that year.
On November 19th, about two months later, I had an experience. I had felt no closer to any ‘beyond thoughts’ experience even a day prior to the 19th. But that day, something happened. Something I could describe as… simply beautiful and deeply liberating. To describe what was probably a few seconds(?) minutes(?) (I don’t know) of a visualization beyond my mind’s control as just a “visualization”, would be injustice to the experience of it, but I’ll do it in case you are curious. Visually it could be described as literally being pulled through a dark tunnel with squiggly, pale-grayish lines interspersed through the darkness that I was moving through (it’s important not to get attached to this visual because it could be something else for some one else). But on the experiential level, it translated into: freedom from my burdening perspectives about my life with the aid of pure undeniable divine intervention. Why do I say that? Because the experience changed my world. I was somehow able to feel a Truth that set me free from my questions and confusions… from the effects of the clutter in my mind… the clutter of thoughts or concerns or worries or fears. And the scared, confused and anxious feelings that came from these thoughts were in one swoop, like a magic wand effect, gone. Feelings like being afraid of not knowing where I was headed, a base sense of unease unless I was doing something that would hopefully help me get to my career destination, the recurring frustration, a sense of feeling trapped, helplessness… all gone. Suddenly (well, suddenly after about a mere two months of disciplined effort to experience the un-experienced), what had felt like pointless noise and aimless activity around me, had become precious, gorgeous, brimming with joy, valuable moments of a beautiful life meant to be savored and Savored and SAvored. Life made beautiful sense, beautiful music, just the way it was. Every thing and every body held within them the blessing of an undeniable divine grace. . . and I could more than see, feel, touch, smell, and taste this truth I uncovered… I could be it and live it. I was it.
I was in a state of grace. I was a human in the act of being and it felt brilliant! I felt pure and simple. And SO very ALIVE. And I was undeniably, first-and-foremost, a feeling called love. And this love that I was, was me plus MORE. It OVERFLOWED. It poured out of my every pore. It embraced every animate and inanimate object. I was in a constant state of wholeness, completeness, and offering-ness because I was limitless in my resources. And the truth of my life was that all the success of my entire lifetime was present right here with me… and all I had to do was acknowledge this. Like a box of everything I could possibly want, it sat with me. . . and I watched it with a smile. I knew all was okay. And I was not alone. And that I alone was all. I was full. I was filled. Heh, I was fulfilled.
So as I un-hastily and peacefully arrived at the decision to move (not run!) to India 5 months later, I enjoyed the process of my life. Every day was a new day for the creative in me. Every action was a reflection of my truth… and every person was bonded with me in their eternal essence. The truth of each of us felt exactly the same… we were in fact one. I carried joy, peace, and love in me everywhere. Call it corny deep shit and I’d hug you for it because everything was beautiful. EVERYTHING. Even your inexperienced opinions.
Over the next month, starting that November 19th, words describing the truth I had uncovered poured out of me in a writing style we call “poetry”. Everyday I became an instrument of delivering this truth as I found myself at my computer typing away without any pre-conceived plan to do so. The words just flowed. The poetry wrote itself. A calendar year later it made its way into a book printed by a publishing house in Calcutta, India. It apparently touched and moved several of its readers. This is a good thing because it was a priceless gift to me and if it can feel like a priceless gift to anyone else, it makes me smile. I feel a valuable purpose has been served.
What the experience of November 19th did for me was set me free to enjoy in the moment to moment that I was living and to trust in the magic of life. I believed intrinsically and undoubtedly in a force that is present with me and cares for me and is working for my progress. I had tapped into a power both within and beyond. And it showed. My transition to Mumbai, India was effortless and several appropriate work opportunities landed right in front of me immediately during my first year in Mumbai. And I had done nothing that took “effort” on my part. I was connected with a natural flow that worked its magic for me. No fear, just intrinsic faith. Opportunities found me. And my creative expressions also found me. I did not have to go out searching for either. Let me repeat that… I did not have to run around searching for work opportunities and creative expressions. They found their way to me. Not that I would not move toward them when they were moving toward me… I just wasn’t to any degree apprehensive, scared, anxious, or worrying. I just knew something that my mind could never tell me. I was not the haphazard workings of a wandering mind. I was an energy beyond this. There were moments I felt like I was floating about on a lotus! I’m sure some others have had this experience too, and they will attest to my honesty when I say, there were no drugs involved.
I apparently also had a peaceful and powerful effect on others. My being was embracing people with a calming, accepting, loving and inspiring effect, just in my mere presence and in casual interactions. This was beyond a positive-attitude rub. It was ethereal. I felt an ethereal connection.
One afternoon as I sat with a couple of chatty friends at Mocha™ coffee shop in Bandra, Mumbai, I found myself innately aware of the energy molecules that lived within the atmosphere I was in and the magnificent illusion of the form objects called furniture and people around me. What a trip!
But it wasn’t supposed to be a trip. It wasn’t supposed to be a short get-away. I, however, didn’t know it was supposed to be anything or not be anything. I in fact had no idea what exactly had happened to me. I lacked what is called “knowledge” about the experience I had. I did not know that the effort I had put in for almost two months in my apartment in Los Angeles, in the disciplined manner that I did, was meant to be incorporated into my life as a life-style, not a one-off thing. I didn’t know that the experience I had had was then meant to be followed up with gaining spiritual knowledge about it and then applying this knowledge in practical everyday life, so as to maintain, nurture and further cultivate this new me. The truest me I had ever felt. I didn’t know I needed to continue my daily meditation practice to further deepen and expand my awareness. And that there was danger of again losing the way if I did not continue along the path shown me. That there was a me I had to even further get attuned to and acknowledge so that certain virtues sustained and prevailed in any and all circumstances for the sake of everlasting true love and true freedom… and that the detailed mechanics of my mind and body were still to be understood and the powerful reality of who I am was a treasure still waiting to be understood by me… I just didn’t know. I didn’t know there was so much I didn’t know. . . truths waiting inside still to be realized, experienced, and put to application. Truths that would have to again save me from false ideas about me and my life and all life… ideas that were lurking around, desperately wanting to creep back into my life. And they did creep back in. Creep is a good word to describe not only their movement but also their personality… all these creepy ideas came from one entity… the ego… the fearful ego. The creep. And, gradually, whenever it could, it crept its way in. I didn’t know I needed help from this. I didn’t know it was happening. I got busy again with activities. And my beautiful new reality, which was suddenly awakened on the 19th of a November, started to fade into the background. My false self, my man-made self, was taking over my true self through the workings of the mind… and I had no idea. It sounds scary doesn’t it? Like a mental disorder… something that requires hospitalization. Well… we should all be hospitalized… or at least most of us… but not in man-made hospitals. And not with mind-made doctors. The dis-ease I describe here can take over every one of us as we live what seem like normal lives. And it is when we face challenges and react out of our sense of fear rather than respond with our power of love, that the results show.
So the dis-ease started creeping into my life here and there. I guess I needed to suffer some more to return to a want for understanding the deeper truths… to re-awaken and realize the importance of staying awake. It’s not that I regret my falling asleep again. Well, actually, maybe at times I do have a degree of regret. But only because I find being awake so much more creative and exciting and magical. It is a shame to deny oneself this journey. But I understand what had happened and feel compassion and forgiveness for my self also. And this helps me stay awake. If i live with regret or a feeling of disappointment it is again the ego creep using self-pity to hinder my growth. No persistent negative feeling is your true nature. Negative feelings are obstacles to your truth. They are the ego playing with you again in order to survive because if you allow positive feelings to be you, love to be you, the ego will have to die… and it does not want to die. It has been your identity for too long to allow that. I mean, what will become of you if who you’ve thought you are suddenly dies!!
Let me tell you a secret… if you die to yourself everyday, you will understand living.
In the words of the music artist A.R. Rahman (Allah Rakha Rahman) a spiritually practicing man who follows the pure wisdom of Islam, “five times prayer a day is like going through death five times and being born again with all purity… leaving behind the baggage of disturbances.” A.R. Rahman’s relationship with divinity flows out as music – music that has rewritten the age old rules of music on the Indian Screen.
It is a good death this death. And it has been described in several religions as the true meaning of Holy War (jihad in the Islamic religion)… the battle within in which purity must defeat impurity… where love prevails over fear. In the Hindu religion, we have the God of creation (of purity within) and destruction (of impurity within).
It took intense suffering again to search for answers and move toward the knowledge and practice that could set me free from re-found pain and confusion (emanating from my own ego-empowered insecurities… which I didn’t realize at the time). This suffering came from a set of false ideas of who I am and what I need and what is love. This suffering climaxed almost seven years after the experience of that liberating November 19th… this time in my personal life. I was hurting deeply in my handling of difficulties in the sweet and beautiful experience of loving someone.
So. . . I arrived to another struggling point, and having once already experienced true liberation from suffering, I found myself being steered to the truth within again– this time with a grander humbleness than I have ever felt.
I was guided tenderly, lovingly and assuredly along the way by several sweet souls who had awakened to their truth and had remained awake. Spiritual teachers from various walks of life who somehow (there are no coincidences) came into my life as I walked along a path for answers. And this brought to my awareness a popular saying I have never before experienced the truth of as deeply as I do now. . . “I am a work in progress”. Every section of this phrase bursts with my truth.
I Am (Present moment, the only thing that truly exists, the am, the now)
A Work (Disciplined daily practice of meditation; accumulation and application of spiritual knowledge)
In (In-side, with-in.)
Progress. (The results… my journey that increasingly experiences joy, love, peace, inner security, self-empowerment and freedom from self-delusion — the on-going fruits of my on-going labor. The reduction and removal of my part of “drama” from both my life and others’ lives… a treasure-skill unearthed.)
I forgave myself for not knowing what I didn’t know. I forgave myself for talking in my sleep and walking in my sleep and loving in my sleep. I forgave myself for falling asleep during my own performances in life. And I decided I like being awake. I want to stay awake simply because the quality of my performance depends on it. The quality of my life depends on it. I could now much more clearly distinguish between my self acting out of awareness/consciousness/awakening, and my ego acting out of reactions/unconsciousness/past impressions and beliefs.
And even though I do believe that “all is exactly as it should be and that there is a valid reason for everything as it is today”, this does not excuse me today from my responsibility to my life and all that my life affects. My surrender to a disciplined spiritual practice… which empowers me to increasingly live simply, spiritually, accurately, knowingly, consistently, assuredly, deeply, confidently, consciously, purely, honestly, tenderly, acceptingly, caringly, fearlessly, lovingly, humbly, firmly and gratefully embracing my present—my every now… is my first step always. It is the step that connects me to the all-powerful force within and without. The rest of my steps fall in alignment automatically as I do my best to offer no resistance. I just have to allow for the magic everyday as I tune in to the Force. This may be hard at first because you must recognize and quiet your own false self in order for this to be possible.
So when people say, “a relationship takes work”, do not misunderstand. The work it takes is not on or about another person. The work you must do is within in order to bring your best to any relationship. Your pain is not because of anyone else. Your pain is yours… and it is emerging in the presence of another because it has to… it lives to emerge… your job is to start dealing with it with the help of your non-judging, observing true self. Love then conquers all… it flows profusely within you.
There is great depth and several salutes to this “awakening to and aligning with our stillness” (our True self, our Universe’s force within) in several famous writings in theatrical entertainment world, such as…
“To be, or not to be, that is the question;
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing, end them. To die, to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to - ’tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish’d. To die, to sleep…
… Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pitch and moment
With this regard their currents turn away,
And lose the name of actio”
n William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, when he is deciding whether to “kill” himself… the entire monologue addresses this exact battle within of one’s true self vs. one’s mind/ego and how the latter, if given the rule, will make cowards of us in a seemingly mortal and fearful world and we would fail to act with the magnificence of our true enterprise — the powerful creative artist in us who is capable of acting/performing in tune (in pitch) with regard to the only reality that exists — the past-less, futureless, thought-less moment called now.
“Resistance is futile.”
n made famous by Star Trek’s Captain Jean-Luc Picard’s alter-ego Locutus.
“May the Force be with you.”
n Obi-Wan Kenobi, to his student Anakin Skywalker, in Star Wars. The phrase implied the speaker’s wish that the power of the Force would be working alongside the addressee, in order that the addressee’s goals would be more effectively accomplished.
Tap into the force that resides within and without… the only everlasting, all-empowering truth.
Tap into it. And Use it. It will guide you through a magical journey of discovery and creativity.
Discover the path and uncover your treasure.
Take the road less travelled when you are ready for a new and fresh experience… the kind of joy-filled experience that actually has a way of lasting.
Tap into it and make your way to your home sweet home. . . no matter where you are.