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Meditations on My True Nature
How the Goose Came Out of the Bottle--Part I
By Helga Schleiter Smith

The author is affiliated with The Society of Abidance in Truth

HOW A MASTER WORKS:
The story is that a local governor once asked a Ch'an (Zen) Master:
"Once upon a time there was a man who kept a baby goose in a bottle. After a time it grew bigger and could no longer get out of the bottle. The question is: If the bottle is not to be destroyed and the goose is not to be hurt, how can the goose get out of the bottle?"
The Master called out, "O Governor".
The Governor answered, "Yes, Master."
Thereupon the Master exclaimed, "There! The goose is out."

The following passages are the beginning of a series of meditations I applied during the years 1988 and 1989 in order to come to the Realization of my True Nature. The notes were discovered in this very abbreviated, sketchy diary form just recently, and I would like to offer them as inspiration to all seekers on the path of Non-duality.

Everybody experiences a variety of different situations and encounters in daily life, but the common thread in all situations is the inherent potential for deep meditation and knowledge of one's True Self. Allow yourself to experience your life as such: an opportunity to understand who you really are. Allow yourself to be inspired by your mind's potential to see clearly and deeply into Truth, and enjoy the resulting freedom and joy which is yours to begin with.

In the following months "Reflections" you will see in these diary entries that not all meditations are purely joyful, peaceful and serene, but also many times depicting an urgency, a deep need to find a resolve and a way out of imagined bondage. This imagined bondage seems so very real and its unreality can only be seen by intense, focused inquiry into the nature of Self. Nevertheless, the moment of intense, total commitment to Truth, born out of the desperate need to become free from illusion, is in its essence as perfect as the most joyful and serene contemplation on the nature of Mind itself.

And that is the beauty and perfection of spiritual practice: that the beginning, the middle and the end are made up of the same essence, the essence of Mind itself and that nothing was ever wrong or missing in one's True Nature. But, a word of caution from the wise to the wise: YOU have to discover this truth for yourself because nobody can do it for you and you really would not want to miss this most amazing adventure life has to offer.

The following is a reprint of this personal diary and is followed by a brief commentary when clarification or expansion on a point is in order.

Life is an expression of LOVE. Take down the walls, it is not difficult when there is Love, Unity, Joy, Peace, Closeness, Oneness, Happiness.

Forthright, open, honest communication. Leave all shyness behind, push for the right things. Be ruthless on yourself (ego) and loving towards others.

No judgement. Love-Energy-Consciousness

Attunement to that which is holiness, that which is ancient, that which is reflected in symmetry, that which is the true usefulness in all holy objects. Experience versus inspiration - speaking from my heart according to my experience.

Self-judgement is a filter between the true feelings in my heart and the outer communication. Tear down all walls, even the small ones.

Openness, directness, honesty are important spiritual qualities. Let the love shine in your heart and let your life be an expression of your love, always.

More desire is needed, whole hearted application of practice. There is still more than 100% - and I'll try.

In order to experience life as it really is we need to destroy the invisible walls we have constructed around us. These walls were supposed to protect us from others who might see how incomplete we really are, but is this really so? To open up to love, unity, peace, joy, closeness, oneness and happiness makes it so easy to let go of defenses and the walls seem to have no longer any use, because there is no need to hide something that is made up of the same substance as life itself. The division between the inner (which is mistaken as flawed) and the outer (which is seen now as beautiful and filled with love) disappears and imaginary walls dissolve.

Without forthrightness true communication cannot be established. One has to be open and honest, overcoming personality attributes such as shyness, in order to get to the core of the really important questions in life. By being absolutely unforgiving and ruthless with one's ego and loving toward others we enter into a true communion where there is no difference between self and others. When judgement of self and others is destroyed, the flow from love into energy into consciousness is established.

At the time of this entry I still believed that spiritual forms, symbols and rituals were an important avenue into meditation, and that in order to see into my True Nature the outer circumstances had to be "right" and only a certain "holy" atmosphere was conducive to this inward turning of the mind. Later, during the course of my practice, I realized that this artificial division between the sacred and the mundane, as an important prerequisite for meditation, of course only prevented me from taking all situations as an opportunity for spiritual practice.

All things in life can teach lessons and offer opportunity for meditation. When I learned to look at life from an ever deepening view, I noticed that Reality was reflected in so many ways. I became attuned to this view and the sacredness of life itself opened up like a flower in spring, and everyday life was transformed. I let myself be inspired by things which were meant to be pointers into a true depth, and then allowed my heart to open to the direct experience of this depth and speak from there rather than an intellectual analysis of spirituality.

"How do I look when I speak about this? What will he/she/they think if I talk about this feeling or thought? What will happen if I use the wrong spiritual terms to express my meditations? Etc., etc., etc...." All these self-judgments are standing in the way of true and honest communication. They do not allow the true feelings in the heart to come forth and be expressed, and they just add another layer of bricks to the wall.

The desire for Liberation is one of the most important qualities a seeker can bring to the Teaching of Non-duality. You do not have to be smart, well-read, carry a huge backpack of past spiritual knowledge or be a special person in any other way, but if you have the desire and intent to find out who you really are, you are well on the way to experiencing a deeply rewarding life that is lived more and more consciously every day. This desire will help you to see through imagined limitations and will give you the strength to go through trying times in practice, when old concepts seem just too overwhelming. The desire for freedom is your best friend, so hold on to your best friend on your path.

In my meditations, I would usually spend a moment of reflection on how much I had applied myself to my spiritual practice during the day and how much more I could give of myself tomorrow. And if I felt that it had been a good day of meditation and I had given a 100% of my energy I would promise myself that tomorrow it would be 110%. That way I was living in a universe of expansion, and less and less limitations I previously had imposed on my mind. And that is a wonderful way to live life!

Meditations on My True Nature
How the Goose Came Out of the Bottle*--
Diary Entry Part II

By Helga Schleiter Smith

I consider the following entry you are about to read as one of the major life-changing meditations in which I immersed myself at that stage of my spiritual practice. In order to understand the excerpts of the diary I am sharing with you it is important to understand that a seeker should attempt to meditate with intensity and high energy. I tried to meditate with the assumption that meditation was going to open my mind to reveal a vaster view of life and a deeper understanding of my True Nature. Sometimes this experience of opening my mind would occur in an instant, on such a deep level that it could not be "forgotten" and left me irreversibly changed. Sometimes the experience would be more like a glimpse, like a sun ray on a cloudy day, which with repeated meditation became bright and clear.

As in the first diary entry, I would like to share some of these meditations (below) with you and add a short commentary in the hope that they may be useful to your practice.

View of life: no self-judgment, no desire for acceptance, no worries. Life is a journey to Liberation. Life, freedom, peace, and love are all the same.

The more energy you bring the greater the power of concentration.

Being like water, Consciousness can take the form of any vessel I bring, and if I don't hold up anything any more, I am Consciousness which is pure space.

View of Life: Before turning spiritual, my life was a seemingly endless series of unrelated events. Some seemed happy and "nice", others upsetting, frustrating or sad, but all situations seemed to happen to me, always beyond my choice or my doing. In other words, I often felt like an object tossed about by the waves in the ocean. Life felt like a never ending search for acceptance by someone, filled with fears of not being good enough or smart enough. Somehow, deep inside I knew that I was not meant to experience life like this, but I did not know how to do otherwise nor did I have an alternative. It just seemed to go on this way.

One of the first things that struck me upon learning about the Teaching of Non-duality was the constant reminder that I was to question myself, to look at myself, my assumptions about others, life, and myself. And truly, when I started to take the first glances, I was amazed at how much I assumed on a regular basis about life, without ever questioning the validity of these mostly theoretical ideas. No wonder it was so difficult and slow to change!

When I started to meditate on the meaning of life, my view started to change also. First I realized that life had a much vaster meaning than what I had attributed to it. One night, I looked up into the clear night sky, with thousands of stars sparkling, and I felt so small and humble in front of this majestic sight. I wondered if all my ideas really mattered so much and were so very important to me in the light of such overwhelming vastness. That night, I realized how life was not meant to be confined to a small box. My conceptual mind seemed to be nothing more than this small box, but the vastness of the universe contained and supported all beings and all things, and it seemed only natural that everyone was meant to experience life like this.

This experience led me to wonder that if there was such perfection right in front of my eyes maybe that same perfection was also inside of everyone and that my natural state was actually whole and perfect to begin with. This was the beginning of a series of interesting meditations on the macrocosm and the microcosm, i.e. the perfection of the universe and the perfection inside every being.

In order to change my experience of life and myself, I knew that I also needed to change on a daily basis. So, I began to search out everyday situations and occurrences and examined them on the background of those meditations. In other words, I tried to bring my life up to the lofty heights of my seated meditations and change my views of myself and others. Very quickly the mundane everyday life became infused with more focus, self-criticism, and the strong desire not to give up my search for Self-knowledge.

Some examples of these examinations are the loss of self-judgement in the light of desire for Enlightenment. By "self-judgement" I mean the egotistical notion disguised as humility of a "poor me", who is lacking of energy, spiritual potential, the ability to change and discover her True Nature. Self-judgement seemed to be a very poor excuse for not wanting to change and grow, and it definitely did not fit into my deepening understanding of the perfection of the universe and life. So whenever self-judgement became an issue in a situation, I referred to my view of life and my new found understanding.

The same applied to the wish for acceptance. Who was going to accept me and for what was I to be accepted? If every being is perfect and whole inside, how could she be rejected or accepted? It seemed to become a silly joke and a detour to immediate change from conceptual thinking that only made me unhappy anyway.

The more I became conscious of the mistaken ways and illusionary thoughts I held, the less worries I had. Before I turned spiritual, I used to worry so much, about so many things, hardly ever willing to change or trying to see life a different way. Worry seemed to be self-validating; it gave some meaning to life, however unhappy and distorted it appeared.

All this changed when I started to meditate on life being a journey to Liberation. Life now held the promise of freedom, peace and love for everyone. I started to have an understanding that all I needed to do was to give it everything I had, all my energy and focus and my willingness to question myself. What a wonderful treasure I had found! With the support, compassion and unlimited patience of Russ and Nome, I explored these questions, in dialog with either one of them and in meditation. And I started to have a vague sense that this understanding came from inside of me. Could it be true that all Sages in history had been quite literal when they said that the Buddha is found within one's own Mind?!

Insights like these gave me so much energy, and the more energy I generated and brought to not only dialogs in Satsang, but equally to my daily inquiry and my seated meditation practice, the more focus and concentration manifested. I had never been a very intense and energized person, yet in my spiritual practice I discovered a bottomless well of energy fueled by my thirst for Wisdom and Self-knowledge. Life was so exciting, intensely in motion, yet still and peaceful inside my mind.

Just like many spiritual seekers, I had the (mistaken) notion that Consciousness manifests itself in forms: the forms of Gurus, rituals, etc. In meditation, I started to discover that Consciousness seemed to manifest as spiritual experience, shaping itself like water to the experience I brought. Yet even that did not seem to be a deep enough understanding of Consciousness. With continued meditation and self-critical examination of my own mind, I finally discovered that the less definition I held of myself, of "my" spiritual experience, the more I saw that Consciousness actually was pure space in which the separate experiencer of Consciousness dissolved.

My sincere wish is that this great Teaching of Non-duality may be discovered by as many beings as possible so that they may experience the infinitude of their Self-nature in all its perfection and fullness.

 
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