• Apr

    In Berzerkly (er, Berkeley) and Palo Alto


    For the last week or so, I’ve been hanging out in Berkeley and Palo Alto. After Yanik’s mind blowing seminar, I had to make a decision, to go back to Mexico or to head north. As much as Mexico beckoned, it seemed like it was time to head back to Canada (despite my thorough distaste for cold weather).

    But where to go? Ultimately, I chose north, to the San Francisco Bay area and went on a long drive to Berkeley. When I arrived, I was exhausted and about all I wanted was sleep. I wound up at hotel off Carling Blvd. in Berkeley.

    When I got there, I was disappointed in that the hotel was nowhere near any of the places I liked, but was also near the highway. Major bummer, but I was pretty wiped and sleep was a top priority.

    The next day, I scouted around for a new hotel and found another one in an area that I liked. This was The Golden Bear Inn and it was much more comfortable and central. Part of the reason I came back here was to visit a few friends, and to hang out at the Siddha Yoga medation center in Oakland.

    For many years, Siddha Yoga was my main spiritual practice, but over time I became disenchanted with the rules and structure. For me, I felt that the teachings were being hidden in a lot of dogma and I became tired of it.

    Ultimately, I left, after finding another teacher (Ramesh Balsekar), who, I felt gave teachings in a more direct way. Still, going to the center was a bit of a touchstone, and I wanted to see if any of my old friends were there. I found one and visited for awhile, but it also became apparent that the place felt old and it was time to move on.

    After hanging out in Berkeley for a few days, I went to Palo Alto. I’d traveled here last summer on another road trip and really liked it. I was able to get a room in a favorite spot, the Oak Motel, on El Camino Real.

    I came back here for many reasons, the familiarity, the energy of the place, the wide open spaces and to revisit some of the hangouts I found last summer. I also have a personal connection, from long ago. When I was a kid, my father tried to make a go of it in the US and we moved here from Canada. At one point we lived in San Jose and my father worked for Hewlett Packard, in, you guessed it – Palo Alto.

    There was another reason why I came here. One of my favorite spiritual teachers, Adyashanti, gives talks at a local church not too far from here. I’d encountered Adya’s teachings several years ago and was immediately attracted to his straighforward approach.

    Another reason I wanted to be here is because Adya was returning to teaching after a long convalescence after contracting Bell’s Palsy. He had done a radio show the previous week, but this week’s event was his first live teaching in all those months.

    As you might expect, there was a huge turnout. I was also here for another reason, to ask a question, if no one else beat me to it. As it turned out, a woman in the audience asked almost precisely what was on my mind, and the answer was what I needed to hear.

    One of the things that is encountered on the spiritual journey is the ebbing away of the personal will. (Adya has a great DVD on the subject called, “Beyond the Personal Will.”) You can watch an excerpt of that here and the DVD is for sale as well.

    It’s one DVD I refer to repeatedly because there’s so much richness in it. In this DVD, Adya talks about how this ebbing away comes into play, either before or after spiritual awakening. (In my case, it began before and manifested in a way that I didn’t understand.) All I knew is that I’d acquired a new habit, but I had no idea where it came from.

    It coincided with an email that I got from one of my friends, a 20 page document filled with quotes from Nisargadatta, another of my favorite spiritual teachers. Although he died in 1982, his words are impressive in their directness, force and clarity.

    Around this time it became my habit to do my morning routine, then head down to Los Chatos in Bucerias, have a coffee and read these quotes. I did this almost every day for months.

    At one point, I don’t recall when, a change took place. Instead of having coffee with a fixed agenda in mind, I would sit there until something inside me told me it was time to go and I never knew when it would happen. It wasn’t unusual to sit for as long as 3 hours before the energy inside would direct me to leave and I would then go about my tasks for the day.

    Later, when I came back to Canada, I was visiting Adya’s site and watching some of the videos. I was immediately captured by the one about the personal will and ordered it, along with one other. When I got the DVD and watched it, so much fell into place and part of that was addressed at his talk on Wednesday night.

    Essentially, the question was about the loss of motivation and purpose. This is something that’s been a part of my life for quite awhile and it’s a normal part of spiritual practice.

    The only problem is the confusion generated as passion and motivation dissolves and what was once meaningful often becomes meaningless. As one part of your life dissolves, another way of living comes into being, and this is what I’ve been experiencing.

    In years previous to this, I could collect information and make a decision, usually quite quickly. Now, it doesn’t happen that way. I seem to run on feeling, on intuition, on what “feels” right and that often flies into the face of what appears to be around me.

    To elaborate, if I want to make a decision, I’ll often gather information about the task at hand, but even with the amount of information, quite often I was unable to decide, even though it seemed that there was more than enough knowledge to make an informed choice. Nothing I did would make the decision happen.

    In time, I began to realize that this waffling back and forth was my body’s way of saying, “NO,” but it took quite awhile to figure that out.

    A case in point was when I wanted to go on a road trip last summer with a friend. She kept calling me and asking when we were going and I was unable to tell her. Essentially, the energy inside me wasn’t moving and it was obvious the answer was a “No.” After some months of this, I felt a change one day and I knew it was time. Within two weeks we were on the road and had a great adventure.

    Another, major change concerns my sense of direction and certainty. Years ago, one of my favorite expressions was, “I know.” Now, all of that is gone. I have no sense of certainty about anything at all, not my life, direction or anything else.

    Now, when I’m asked a question about a future event, my response takes one of the following forms, “I don’t now, I have no idea, I can’t tell you.” When I look back over my past and consider what happened, I realized that I’ve actually never known anything, I only thought I did, which is rather humbling.

    Now, I tend to know things when they happen or a few moments before. Sometimes I get previews, but they’re often wrong so I don’t put much stock in them. And for the big question, how do I decide where I’m going to travel? I don’t, not really. Life dictates where I’m to go, but quite often I don’t know until a few hours or a day or two before the journey.

    If any of this rings a bell for anyone, I’d like to hear about your experiences.

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