The emerging self and awakening

Image: Mr Suggs (my bear) relaxing in a bra and saying “Ahhhhhhhh… Fuck it!”

You might like to make a coffee first…

Awakening is a long process and for each person it’s a journey as unique as our finger prints, and yet, just like fingerprints, it’s of the same stuff for everyone. I’d like to share some thoughts from my own life experiences.

The first step is the awakening to our self and one of the key steps is learning and allowing ourselves to be vulnerable. Owning our mistakes, weaknesses, avariciousness and selfishness and so on, and also our strengths, talents, desires, abilities and our predilections (those personal preferences and likings we each have) in life. Shame, guilt, fear of being caught out or being wrong, are among the most difficult challenges that hinder our awakening. Ego, which does not submit to being vulnerable easily, crushes the life out of us and locks us out of understanding ourselves. There are also environmental challenges, the degree to which our environment is difficult or hostile will affect the degree to which we can become self aware, especially if it is conditioning of which we are, as yet, unaware. We grow up with a whole range of national and cultural norms which are absorbed into our subconscious mind, but nevertheless affect us deeply.

In Britain we’ve just been through what for many was a profound cultural event which is largely about social conditioning, though our egos do not respond well to even the suggestion that it might be about conditioning. Patriotism is a similar beast, instilled and reinforced by oft repeated propaganda, invoking rage against those who call for peace and reason. Another barrier to wholeness is mind itself, it is incredible the nonsense that mind can make up, from the explanations we make up about why someone we’ve texted has not yet replied, to, in my case, thinking that nothing will ever go right for me because the universe is against me, something that I have only recently overcome, because it is simply not true.

I recently embarked on a journey to change my mind in which certain things pertain and which shape the process of change. Firstly, I use God, nature and the universe interchangeably because whichever view you take, it is indisputable that the life in us is granted by any one or all three, regardless, and whilst life is challenging, it is for us and not against us. If God, nature or universe were hostile to life we simply would not be here and I believe that is a self evident truth, it just took me a very long time to get there. In fact the laws of nature are immutable and exquisite, and we are indivisible from nature, and our being is exquisite whether we know it or not. Science is a process of experiment which compares its results to nature, if the results disagree with nature, our hypothesis is wrong. In that sense, nature is the final arbiter of truth, for there is no greater existential truth in the physical universe than nature.

The above paragraph is necessary because the attitude required in the practice of meditation and therefore the expansion of consciousness, is surrender. Surrender to what? Life the universe and everything. We do not gain enlightenment through discipline or righteousness or through the persistence of personal effort, we learn, through surrender, to drop all our human barriers and enlightenment steps in, as an inevitability, because it is ever present. However the idea of dropping our barriers is not a trivial idea, anyone who has experienced grief knows how difficult it is to deal with the barriers we erect against the overwhelming feelings that the death of a loved one gives rise to. Even on the best of days we have to deal with the frustrations of physical existence, things go wrong, break down, accidents happen, we can be subjected to wilful cruelty, we stumble along from one error to the next and have to learn patience to put them right without losing our minds.

I cannot speak about pain and suffering as I am far from being open to them and therefore dealing with them without barriers, however I can talk about surviving cancer as a positive experience, despite unimaginable and overwhelming pain, which has taught me more about life and love and joy than anything else in my life. In fact, I do not think I could ever have learnt to experience joy without cancer. It’s incredibly difficult to find a way to express it, though perhaps it’s a little like climbing Everest, which is one of the most difficult challenges a human being can willingly inflict upon themselves, and what it feels like to reach the summit and even, the elation of getting back to base camp in one piece. I died in the hospital, due to the cancer, and was resuscitated, to find my lifelong depression had burnt out and was no more and I awoke to unimaginable joy, to the point of being a somewhat pain in the arse because I had no inner mechanisms with which to handle it. I imagine the sudden accumulation of great wealth can be somewhat similar, many do not learn how to handle it and lose it all through a total lack of experience and possibly a lack of common sense.

The last thing I want to talk about is the most difficult. I’ve learnt that I cannot change my mind by thinking any more than I can climb a mountain by talking or thinking about it. Thinking and the constant dialogue of mind is the problem and no part of the solution. There’s a very good reason why people use a mantra or breathing in meditation and always bring their attention back to their mantra or breath. That focus enables us to ignore thought, and put our attention elsewhere, not resist it. We go deeper in by relaxing, surrendering, being, not striving or resisting thoughts. I am self aware but am far from being enlightened in the sense that eastern mystics mean it, and if my experience of personal awakening is any gauge, I would guess that enlightenment is a progressive thing. But I don’t care, I meditate for an entirely different reason, to change my mind and to do something about the noise and interference of my own mind in which, as a guesstimate, over 90% of its wittering is entirely useless and pointless. Most people, if not everyone, have rehearsed some real life scenario, like an interview, in the build up to it, only to discover, come the day, not a single thing that ran through our mind was remotely relevant. That’s the stuff I am talking about, it’s as much good as a chocolate tea pot, and it strips us of a ridiculous amount of energy running the stories. I’d much rather use that time meditating, which is genuinely productive and self caring. I prefer surrender to God, nature or the universe than the tricks and fancies of an overactive mind. That actually makes perfect sense to me. And it’s working.

I cannot claim this is infallible or faultless, I am a process, not a result (I know that’s true because I am still breathing), but it is a sincere attempt to express some insights on my journey thus far. I sincerely wish you well on yours.

With love, Keith.

Keith Lindsay-Cameron aka Keith Ordinary Guy. 28 September 2022.

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