• May

    Learning How To Live All Over Again


    This post is the back-story to being homeless for a few hours, then running into a conflict and having to move again. The recurring theme in all of this is a single word: “Surrender.” When everything fell apart on the night of April 29th, the thoughts that kept going through my mind were: “I can’t do this anymore.” and “I can’t make my life work.” Since I knew I could no longer hold on, something inside me let go.

    Immediately, I felt like I was falling. I knew I could do nothing about it and surrendered to the sense of being in free fall. As I fell, something changed and I felt like I’d arrived where I’ve always been.

    I felt a sense of aliveness, of seeing the world in a totally new way. I also felt a sense of deep inner peace. And in that peace, periods of joy would suddenly bubble to the surface and I had no idea why.

    It felt like I should be in fear and anxiety, but I couldn’t hold onto that. Peace was all-pervasive. That, and an aliveness I saw in the plants and all around me. Everything was shimmering with life.

    I felt this once before, five years ago at this time. The event was spiritual awakening, of waking up out of the dream of so-called reality and learning who I was beyond name and form.

    When it happened, I was walking out of my bedroom into the living room. As I did so, I felt something turn over and fall out. I looked up, turned around inside my mind and looked down into my body; into the darkness.

    As I looked, a candle flame flared and my attention was immediately drawn to it. After a while it faded and then I clearly heard a man’s voice say: “I AM.” After that, all was silent and I was left looking into the darkness.

    After a few moments I thought: “My God, there’s no person. There’s no-one here.” And then the thought: “Well, if there’s no one here, then who is bound? And who is going to be liberated?” It struck me as the most ludicrous thing I’d ever heard, yet it was the foundation of my Yoga practice for many years. And I started to laugh inside my mind, for I realized this was what Gangaji (another spiritual teacher) called: “The Joke.”

    At that moment, my entire world turned inside out and in an instant, I became an entirely different person. Part of my personality, that of the spiritual seeker, dissolved, so completely it feels like it never happened. Even today, I can no longer remember who I was before. I know it happened but feels like the wisps of a long ago and faraway dream, nothing more.

    As I said earlier, this was spiritual awakening, the kind you might have read about in books. One month later it was verified by Stephan Bodian, my Zen teacher and by another teacher, as well. I wasn’t surprised though. When it happened I instantly knew what it was.

    In the wake of this transformation I’ve had to learn how to live all over again, which has been disorienting at times. This is the back-story behind what’s happening now.

    I’ll write more about the aftereffects in another post, but for now, I want to get back into what happened when I found out I had to move out. It reactivated the mental story and grasping, my mind demanding results, anything to make my life work.

    Immediately, the suffering returned as did the drama, which lasted for several days. Then, as I rode a bus into town yesterday afternoon, I felt something move down and back in my chest. It instantly stopped the story in my mind and returned my mental state to stillness and peace. Even as I write these words, I still feel an inner calmness and stillness.

    I still have no idea where I’m going to go or what I’m going to do. For me, surrender is the watchword. So long as it’s possible to rest in the stillness, free of the mental story, I know all will be well, even if I have no idea how it will look.

    Will the story of the “Me” come back? Probably. And it will go again, too. Eventually, from what I understand, it will dissolve completely but I have no idea when nor what my life will look like when it does.

    © Nathan Segal

    P.S. For those of you who are curious as to what is going on, I leave you with these two videos by Adyashanti.

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