Spiritual Assignments

When a spiritual teacher accepts a student, a karmic bond is created. The teacher agrees to share their awareness, and the student agrees to complete the assignments given by the teacher. The assignments are designed to help students incorporate the new levels of awareness they are learning about into their lives. This process is facilitated by the teacher giving empowerments to the student, during which energy is transmitted from Eternity directly into the student’s subtle body.

Ideally, the student then uses this extra energy to follow through with their assignments, even when it is not clear to the student exactly how the assignment will help to stabilize this new level of awareness. Sometimes students get lost in their personal dramas and allow the energy to be spent in other ways. No matter how the student uses the energy from the empowerment, the assignment is still there to be completed. Fortunately, teachers are very patient. They have been known to wait lifetimes for students; as with all karmic bonds, death does not end the arrangement.

Near the end of his life, Rama gave the Kalachakra Empowerment and a special teaching to all of his current and former students who responded to the invitation. During this event, he pointed out that we could use this technique and teaching to dissolve in Samadhi within 6 months, and Enlightenment within 5 years. Rama took contracts very seriously, so it was with great kindness he merely pointed out the option to us, instead of making it an assignment. He knew not all of his students were genuinely interested in dissolving into Enlightenment, and that many of them simply liked the feeling of being around the Light.

Of course, interesting things always happened at group events with Rama. He had this incredible ability to speak to us individually, even in a room packed with hundreds of people. This empowerment was no different, and people walked out with different details about the teaching. So, it’s possible some heard this idea of Enlightenment within 5 years as an assignment, while I heard that it was only an option. Years later, I met someone who had been at the event who told her students this special door to Enlightenment would stay open for only 7 years. Perhaps she used it as a method to inspire her students to work harder, since it’s easier to give 100% if you know it’s only for a short time. Or maybe that was what she heard, because that was what she needed to devote everything to the practice. If you were there, then only you know what the message was to you.

No matter who you study with, if they are an Enlightened Being, then when they speak to a group, part of your job as a student is to listen closely to what resonates with you. These things we hear from our teachers are important to contemplate on our own, especially if it causes any type of confusion, guilt, or pain. Sometimes we get lost in believing what others tell us they heard, instead of trusting ourselves. Beneath that resistance to trust is our way to Truth.

Ultimately, the awareness all spiritual teachers share is the wisdom of listening to our own heart. While we can hear about the practices and techniques a teacher followed to dissolve into Enlightenment, there is no fixed, works for everyone, Path. Each assignment leads the student closer to understanding this truth, and helps to develop trust in both the Teacher and in one’s own highest self. In the end, we all must find our own Path home.

 

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Jenna

 

Always More in Arches and Enlightenment

 

Enlightenment goes on forever. There is always more to explore in the endless play of consciousness. During my second trip to Arches National Park, this became even more evident.

Three years ago on my first visit to this special place of power, Enlightenment awakened and I was reborn as Isis. The energy of the Mother flowed through me and I dissolved, and along with it all doubt and any need for validation. The infinite Happiness and Peace I had chased for most of my life became a permanent state of being. Even when annoyed with the trials and tribulations of daily living, unreasonable joy permeates through my mind as if teasing my ego, constantly revealing the truth of non-dual Reality.

On this year’s retreat, a group of fellow students on the Path met me in Utah. Opposition greeted each of us on our journey; however we all made it to the little town of Moab by sunset. Over the course of the weekend, we explored Arches, discovering places I had not found on my first visit. Even now there are many more areas to visit; like Enlightenment, there is always more in Arches!

On our first walk to Broken Arch, dozens of blooming prickly pear cacti greeted us withBrokenArch yellow and ppurple-flower-cactusurple flowers. At the Arch, we sat on a shaded flat area as the wind began the first of many sand-blasting
purifications. The stress of the opposition we faced in our travels disappeared, leaving only shining joy. The world, with all of its worries and plans and schemes fell away from each of us. The energy of the Mother supported us, hugging and cradling us in her arms, fully accepting all aspects of our being.

That night, we visited what I call the Temple of the Eye. Steps lead up to a massive Arch overlooking the valley and facing another Arch, which appears like a portal with a river of pure creation pouring forth from its opening. As we began our walk up, I asked if the others were ready to see God. We meditated well past midnight as the clouds played with the moon and stars. At one point, the clouds parted, leaving a hole the same shape as the Arch we sat under. Stars twinkled through this sky eye like tiny pupils reacting to light.EyeSteps

As I focused on each chakra, I observed the movement from unity to individuality and back to unity. When I had trouble observing the third eye, I realized the eye cannot see itself. The earth, moon, and stars were my body and the wind my breath. Without a mirror, I could not see Myself, so I moved on to the crown. Waves of emotion pulsated through me, bringing tears of joy to my eyes as I felt all of this as me; I was being reborn thousands of times in an instant.

At some point during all of this, God appeared in the form of four women who were laughing and giggling at first, but grew quiet as they approached. Startled yet relieved, one of them spoke with me about how they were feeling some fear about being there alone in the dark. I told them we were meditating and enjoying the wind. One of them apologized for disturbing the peace and I laughed, saying “not at all.” We were one, and I loved the play of creation standing before me. Some in our party were a bit cranky about being disturbed, especially when the women started taking selfies around the one student who most wanted them to leave. Soon they went on their way and we returned to the silence within the roaring of the wind.

This new level of connection to this powerful place continued to grow within me the next day. We returned to the temple area, but this time we went to the portal arch. I sat outside, waiting for an invitation to enter this most holy space. When the time was right, I climbed up the rocks and passed through into another world. At the top, the most beautiful puddle puddleI have ever seen greeted me like a precious gift from God. A tourist walked by, so rather than let the emotion overpower me, I stifled a sob. I laughed at this new awareness of the exquisite beauty of this world that pulled such uncharacteristic sappiness from me.

Although I had visited this place three years before, it was completely different than I or my companion at the time remembered. Before, there had been only a large boulder with steep drop-offs on all sides. Now there was a path leading down to the valley and a stone bridge crossing to the huge formation marking the other side of the valley.

Despite a latent fear of heights, I was drawn to cross the narrow bridge. As I sat in meditation on the other side, I merged into the womb of the Mother. Energy flowed into my heart – everything: the light, the dark, the fear, the anguish and sorrow, and the joy of IMG_3876everyone and everything streamed into my chest. The energy passed through the channels and gathered at my second chakra, building and building until it connected with the kundalini in the first chakra and burst. It flowed up the central channel and exploded out my third eye as the river of creation I had seen the night before. At the same time, energy poured out the crown like a fountain, returning the energy to my heart keeping the cycle going. Ecstasy beyond bliss fails to express what it felt like to be that cycle of creation and destruction. The feeling remains with me even now as I write these words.

Later that day, we moved over to the Cathedral; a complex of Double Arches which creates the sense of being in an ancient church. We climbed over the rocks, as some of our party scaled a wall to perch inside a smaller Arch. Children scampered around, delighting us with their ability to pick the lines of travel up and down the rock walls without hesitation. As the sun set, we sat like Buddhas inside a mandala, each on our own private throne in the Cathedral, while the remaining tourists took pictures. With the descent of darkness, we meditated and waited for the moon.

Sliver light appeared behind a large rock formation that reminded me of a giant Ganesh. The clouds parted just behind his right ear as the moon began to shine. The wisps of cloud remaining took on ethereal shapes: a phoenix, a baby dinosaur, then a huge wolf with piercing eyes surveying us. The moon and clouds danced, revealing a peek of the silver orb, then hiding her in the shadows. She revealed her full light as we readied to leave, as a parting gift, before dark storm clouds swallowed her whole.

Following the path back to the cars, we walked in complete darkness with just flashlights to guide us. Only a few feet of the path could be seen in front of me, reminding me of how life is like that: we don’t usually get to see very far from where we are; all we are given is a light to show us where to step next.

At the retreat house we took a moment to express one thing we were thankful for during the trip. To my surprise, the student who had objected to the selfie-taking women said he was grateful for their presence. The experienced allowed him to shave off a bit more of the bondage to the ego, letting him be more at ease with things that disturb his peace. This change provided an excellent example of the sense of friendliness and openness I hoped we would all bring back to the world.  Each of the students grew a little deeper into Light over our short four day trip. I feel enormous gratitude to have been honored to be with these remarkable students of Light and share this beloved space.

While I have left Arches, Arches has not left me. The wind is my breath; the earth, moon, and stars are my body. As the play of consciousness continues, there is always more to explore. And for my next adventure, there’s a body to rest after all the over-exertion, dishes to wash and laundry to fold.

yellow-flower-cactus

 

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Perfection in an Imperfect World

Life is beautiful. It is a dance of Perfection: An endless play of intelligent Light, appearing and disappearing in every possible formation – yet Light is never affected by any of this.

Most people cannot see this; it is beyond the scope of their experience.

Watching this world is like watching a person holding their breath because they truly believe they cannot breathe. As they hold their breath, they experience all the suffering that comes with suffocation: The lungs burn, the muscles ache, the head hurts, and the mind races with anger and sorrow and self-pity. Finally, they pass out, and the body breathes.

They wake up, for a split-second, but then their sense of individuality returns. Their belief of not being able to breathe takes over, and karma carries them through the experience all over again.

We who are awake cannot make someone breathe. We can show them they are not in control of the breath, but they don’t believe it. And even if they do believe it, belief is not enough; it must be experienced. So we play games; we teach them how to control the breath.

We say: “For just one moment, take a breath in and release it.” Trusting students will do this, and thus begins the spiritual journey.

Over time, the student becomes adept at telling the mind and body when to inhale and when to exhale. We laugh at their “achievement” because we know no one controls the breath. Some students become frustrated at our humor and fall back into holding their breath until they pass out. Others keep going, playing more and more games of self-discovery, full of confusion yet willing to trust.

Even with all of this breath-holding going on, life is perfection. Let’s switch metaphors for a moment. Think of existence as an ocean, and awareness is restricted to a small area on the top of the ocean. On the surface of the ocean these waves of restricted awareness waves-water_640tumble about, and some parts of the ocean are cold enough where the water freezes. When the surface is turbulent, the waves and chunks of ice smash into one another. This is life for most people. A few are so moved by all of this pain they dive below the surface, where they discover they are much more than they ever imagined.

Even if in our wave formation, we find our way to the warm Caribbean Sea where the water is calm and we gently rock back and forth, we suffer. This restricted awareness knows there is more. We feel restless, a sense that our skin is too tight, or that there is something missing. This spiritual suffering motivates us to seek beyond our self.

All of the perceived imperfections reveal the restrictions upon awareness. Life, in its own perfect way, teaches us we are more than this.

We let go of controlling the breath, we let go of the wave formation, and we become the breathing, we become the ocean. As awareness expands, we explore endless experiences, each an example of perfection.  We dissolve in a timeless time as the play of Light, forever dancing.

 

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3 Short Poems

Rain Storm

Rain dowses the earth
The ground is unsettledmistymountain
Quakes, floods, mudslides
Disrupt the routine of human life
Mother is clearing away the stale energy
Wind tears through blockages
Leaving us and the trees bare

 

Loss

A friend fell over in the mud
He was long dead but stood like a sculpture
Branches framing the driveway for years
The dried wood cut and carried away
All that remains is a hole
Surrounded by petunias

 

The Endless Question

The endless question
The only question
What is Dharma?
Or, put another way:
Who is asking questions?

Awareness aware of Awareness
Playing with consciousness and perception
Feeling all there is,
All at once.
Stretching infinity into infinity
Yet within this tiny form
Of bone and blood and skin
Muscles pulsating with each breath
Existence breathes.

 

In case you don’t follow me on Facebook or Twitter, here’s a couple more with photos I took. Enjoy!

DoorToEnlightenment    RainHaiku

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Enlightenment Is Our Natural State

There are no words to describe Enlightenment. We can use concepts to allude to the state of Awakening, to God-Realization, to Self-Realization. That last one, Self-Realization is rather ironic since it’s realizing there is no Self. We can say it is a state of Unity, of ultimate bliss and peace; that it is freedom from suffering. Enlightenment is the end of Ignorance, the end of attachment to senses, and the end of coming to any state of Being.

Liberation from suffering is probably the closest we can come in words. It does not mean pleasure and pain are no longer felt. In reality, they are felt more deeply since there is no resistance. But a particular sensation doesn’t hang around very long because there is no self to cling to it. Beneath all the waves that arise, there is that indescribable sense of peace, but even the word peace falls flat in reality.

Enlightenment does not mean everything in your life works out. It doesn’t mean that all money problems and relationship issues and health challenges suddenly disappear. What it does mean is that the human drama does not block the endless Bliss that is the play of existence. Even Gautama Buddha had to eat, manage relationships, and deal with back problems that would cause him pain. When the back pain became intense and his body could not sit up straight, he would ask one of his disciples to give the discourse while he laid down. You may have seen statues of him in a reclined posture; now you know why he was memorialized in that position.buddha-relaxing

Why didn’t Gautama just heal himself, or ask one of the many gods, goddesses, or healers who came to him to hear the Dharma to fix his body? Having a perfect physical body was unnecessary for him to accomplish his task of teaching. When you know you are the Dharma-kaya, what difference does the temporary physical vehicle make? On another level, his physical pain also served as a teaching for his students to let go of their attachment and worship of the body.

Enlightenment does not mean you are a Saint. There are Enlightened Saints, but not all Saints are Enlightened and not all of the Enlightened are Saints. As long as the body exists, there is a sliver of ego and a variable personality that interacts with the world, complete with its own quirks and eccentricities. The difference between one who is Awakened and one who is not is that there is no clinging to the ego or personality. The Awakened changes to fit the needs of those around her, to show them Light in a way that they have the possibility of seeing It, to aid in the Awakening of those they meet. Or, sometimes their job is simply to meditate alone and let the Light shine through them, so they may chase people away. Their actions don’t always make sense to those who are watching from the outside. To the average person, the Enlightened may appear aloof, fickle, sometimes cold, and sometimes extremely loving. None of these words adequately describe Enlightenment. It is everything and nothing all at once.

All I or anyone can really tell you is the struggle to Awaken is worth every moment. Each experience you have in this world contains within it the seed of realization. While it is certainly not easy to let go of every last attachment and lay yourself bare before the Light, it is what we were made for. Enlightenment is our Natural State.

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Jenna