The Illusion of Self-Realization and the Restless Remembrance of Things Past

madeleines

“Meditation is a lie… when we try to control the mind or hold on to an experience, we don’t see the innate perfection of the present moment.” ~Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche

The grand illusion of self-realization, or enlightenment, is that it actually exists. Of course, since we are evidently human beings that exist in the form, we have a history and all sorts of problems to deal with in this life, it’s only natural that we should seek some great escape from this reality. There is no great escape more widely contested, misunderstood and enjoyable than that of true self-realization (other than perhaps deep and extended bouts of love making, but that’s up for debate another time). That being said, I’m drawn to clear up one little misunderstanding once and for all, for the sake of history and for your sanity:

The radiant essence of your own self is already enlightened, you have only to remove whatever is blocking you from witnessing and bathing in this glorious perfection.

Not unlike awakening to find a magnificent diamond has been there all along, awaiting to be recognized in the palm of your hands.

Perhaps the greatest illusion of all, though, is that we do in fact exist; that these beating hearts, these great vast minds, these wildly shifting emotional bodies we inhabit are somehow actually real. After all, science has proven it to be so. And if, as science has evidently proven we do exist, then it follows that we are born, we live and we die, and the march of history carries on where we left off in the linear fashion commonly understood, and backed by our great scientists, and our hallowed Gregorian calendar.

But if there is one truth to “science” is that it is ever shifting, and the Truths of today, will be inevitably replaced by whatever is fashionable among the leading majority of the scientific establishment tomorrow.

And so, I propose to you an alternate vision that may help free you from the long-suffering notion of your reality, the uncanny need to blame yourself for arbitrarily-set goals not yet reached, and that other related, and most unsavory habit, of setting “resolutions” for a “New Year”:

We believe that we exist, just as we believe that “self-realization” exists, for we have seen the evidence of it, we have heard the stories, we have experienced various states of reality, various experiences in our short lives… and so we exist, and there is some place we are going, we are evolving, and we are moving towards something… ever closer to death, or ever closer to that most perfect state of being beyond life and death, the state of enlightenment, or nirvana.

Perhaps, in fact, we are simultaneously living, breathing, and of the eternally unborn. Maybe we are really just a kiss on the wind of the universe, an extension of that universal experience known as involuntary memory.

Where I’ve been, and what it all means to you

For the past 6 weeks I’ve journeyed through hell and back, seen beauty of blinding brilliance, experienced heights of pleasure and joy, and depths of misery and inequities that I shiver to recall.

Through it all I sat patiently, a witness to the unfolding, and a willing participant in this mysterious play of life. I have promised to share with you my findings on the “art of superfocus,” and I assure you that I will continue to offer more on that in my future post(s) (you’ll have to subscribe to be notified). For now, I’m compelled to report on what has finally emerged after 6 weeks of a “media diet,” and near absence in the online world.

There is little I’ll be sharing here from now on that you will recognize in light of my past work, or at all akin to the multiplicity of content shared by otherwise well-meaning bloggers who tend to waste a lot of time and energy on platitudes of earnest wisdom and declarations of great intent, all amounting to not much more than vaguely useful information and “self-improvement” blather, the pursuit of ever more minimalist forms of minimalism and other dreary and generally useless topics. Granted, I may post a few more recognizably “bloggy” articles, but above all this is now a sanctuary to unleash the creative flow of universal energy that comes through me in whatever form it wishes to be released, and for you and the world to freely dive in.

I am letting love come alive through my hands and spirit, offering you flashes of a lifetime of making love with the eternal made manifest in a moment, or just one timeless afternoon…

In Search of Lost Time, or The Restless Remembrance of Things Past

In a previous article I explored the nature of time and offered my own evidence that, in fact, time does not exist. We are ever thirsting to make up for lost time, and simultaneously stuck in the perpetual cycle of not having “enough time” to complete what we have set ourselves up to accomplish. The great irony is that it takes only an instantaneous moment of recognition to awaken to the truth of our spirit, and dive into the space of eternal timelessness.

Nonetheless, there is an obstacle or difficulty for most of us to overcome first: On the one hand, we are atoms of energy that somehow as if by magic amass into this glorious temporal form known as ‘human life'; on the other hand, we are divine spirits carried here on the timeless winds of eternal truth, and installed momentarily to bear witness to this existence, and maybe to “do something.” (If by something you divine that to potentially mean both anything and everything, I invite you to continue reading, as the significance of this work will soon reveal itself to us both, I’m sure…).

The main challenge is our hard-headed belief that we are actually more human than divine, as if the miracle of this mass of continually regenerating energy weren’t enough to prove otherwise. So, the great artists among us are left with no choice but to explore the limits of existence, and create vehicles of escape for us to experience through music, through cinema, through writing, and of course through the greatest of all divine artistic creations, the natural world.

Consider the case of Marcel Proust and the Madeleine “cake,” that most sublime creation of the French boulangerie, dating back to even before the 18th century: (From a book I first had the privilege to read half my life ago under the deftly guiding hand of Angela Moger at Sarah Lawrence my freshman year.)

“She sent for one of those squat plump little cakes called “petites madeleines” which look as though they had been moulded in the fluted valve of a scallop shell… I raised to my lips a spoonful of the tea in which I had soaked a morsel of the cake. No sooner had the warm liquid mixed with the crumbs touched my palate than a shudder ran through me and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary thing that was happening to me. An exquisite pleasure invaded my senses…
And suddenly the memory revealed itself. The taste was that of the little piece of madeleine which on Sunday mornings in Combray when I went to say good morning to her in her bedroom, my aunt Leonie used to give me, dipping it first in her own cup of tea or tisane… and the whole of Combray and it’s surroundings, taking shape and solidity sprang into being, town and garden alike from my cup of tea.” ~ Marcel Proust, In Search of Lost Time (or, Remembrance of Things Past)

I’ve never forgotten this passage, and the imprint of its memory often wafts through my consciousness at the slightest actual experience of involuntary memory, as when a strangely familiar waft of night-blooming jasmine blows through the air on a warm dry desert-summer night wind, and I’m taken back to the vague innocence of a restlessly fervent long-lost childhood summer spent digging holes to the other side of the earth, or exploring the farthest fringes of the local park on bike with the bad-ass neighborhood boys.

Oh, the restless search for times long past…

The Involuntary Madness of Perfection

The greatest memories come involuntarily without warning, and without intention. Compare the contrived memory of an experience with the full-depth sensory experience awakened with an involuntary bout of remembrance. Such it is also with the greatest moments of realization and awakening. They are not cultivated artificially, but rather come upon us as though on the winds of lost time, for they speak to us from an eternal space hidden unfathomably deep within our minds.

Yes, there is awakening, and experiences accompanying those awakenings, and with practice and patience it can be found that you too are situated comfortably in a realized state of being that can never be lost. This is the path of “The Great Perfection” (Dzogchen in Tibetan Buddhism).

Look out into the blue sky. Pure awareness is like space, boundless and open. It’s always here. You don’t have to make it up. All you have to do is rest in that. ~Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche

There is no real reason not to be in that state in this and any or every moment, other than perhaps your own resistance and lack of sensitivity to who you truly are, and what is going on inside of yourself. This is not something you must work hard at to achieve, or acquire, it’s simply a conscious act of love directed inwards towards your self, where the answers to any questions about the true nature of reality are waiting to be revealed. This is insight cultivated through the great vehicle that is your mind and spirit, directed through your attention.

The greatest madness is the belief that we are somehow separate from our divinely effervescent true nature…

I have raised the question of whether we do, in fact, at all exist, and I have questioned the existence of enlightenment, or self-realization, but perhaps the greatest illusion of our so-called existence is the belief that we are separate from our divine essence of who we really are. From the place of true awareness or realization, the disputable fact of our actual existence here on earth is easy to laugh at. It matters less not whether it does or does not exist, but that this life is here to be enjoyed, experienced, and dropped deeply into at will.

Drop into the joy of the experience, the flow, and perhaps the occasional remembrance of things past. Just don’t get caught into trying to recreate the experience of things past, or mistaking them for the Truth. Above all, avoid the mistaken belief in the great illusions of what you have been taught and programmed to believe over a lifetime. Allow yourself to question everything you believe to be true, and everything the scientists, the rationalists, and the “institutionalists” will insist is true. For there is no deceit greater than believing the unquestionable truth of everything you believe to be true.

If the memories and imprints of a lifetime are making you restless for something you cannot have, or something that you must escape, perhaps it’s time to stop resisting so damn hard…

Allow these restless remembrances of things past to arouse you to a fervent feverish passion, and a reminder that in fact you DO exist. For without this great human form and the vast gift of existence, joy and experience without limit, we would simply not be here enjoying this very moment. Take these great gifts and dive as deep and as fully as you can into the endless depths of their luscious absorption. Catch the screaming banshee of inspiration, and let us all know what you find when you go there. Then, perhaps, you will understand what I really mean, when I ask, ‘Can you truly say that we exist, or that we do not exist…that realization, enlightenment and the absolute are any more or less real than we…?’

In Love and Glory,

satya-sig

(Thanks to Carol Rode for the glorious Proust quote from her history and recipe for the Madeleine, and the ephemeral photo of her baking triumph.)

To join me in the superfocus experiment, subscribe to my email list or RSS. Follow me on twitter, but most importantly: reflect on this for yourself, and blog or write or share about your own experiences with the people you love.

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7 Responses to The Illusion of Self-Realization and the Restless Remembrance of Things Past

  1. Dandy January 21, 2011 at 9:56 pm #

    Hi Satya,
    What an incredible post! I’m absolutely intruged to learn more. I love the discoveries I make when I start to question my beliefs. it’s empowering to stop believing in the things that have never helped me in life. It’s a facinating journey to take. I look forward to reading your future blog posts! Thanks Satya!

  2. Satya Colombo January 23, 2011 at 9:15 pm #

    Thanks Dandy — there’s nothing better than living and defining a life of freedom on your own terms. At least that’s what I’ve found for myself! Lots of love and support for you on your journey…

  3. Galen Pearl January 26, 2011 at 10:29 am #

    What an intriguing post! I immediately thought of the saying “If you meet the Buddha, kill the Buddha.” There is nothing but this holy instant.

    The illusion of separation. Are we breathing or being breathed?

    So much to think about. Thank you!

  4. Emily January 26, 2011 at 4:25 pm #

    Satya, this is amazing – I love it!

  5. Marga February 3, 2011 at 9:12 am #

    A-ho!!!!!

    Right on.

  6. Nina Yau February 5, 2011 at 8:19 pm #

    Beautiful. Just beautiful. Reading this, I feel you are inside my mind. Digital connectivity, truth, purity, flawless ambiguity.

    Life. It just is.

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