|Dr. Robert Puff|
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Nondual Highlights Issue #2464, Saturday, May 6, 2006, Editor: Mark
- Two amazing awakening stories...
It was about 10 PM, and I was commuting from Boston to New York in late September of 1984. It had been a bumpy year, so to speak, and I was on the brink of a rather complex career turning point.
Earlier that afternoon, I had just retrieved my car from a Boston body shop after an unenviable encounter with a runaway bus in Cuban Harlem. This had been my second visit to that particular sheet metal doctor, who was kind enough to remind me, as I drove away, that "the third time is the charm". In retrospect, I must admit that these little cliches, floating around in the vast collective consciousness, have an odd way of validating themselves.
I was overly familiar with the stretch of highway that I was currently navigating, and mind had slipped into semi-automatic, entertaining the random road musings about God and work and love and mortgage payments, pasts and futures vying for attention, even as the present was rushing to itself with arms wildly waving. Glancing up, I noticed that I was approaching my designated exit along the Saw Mill Parkway. It had come up sooner than expected, punctuating my reveries. Funny how that happens.
I checked the rear view mirror to see if I could move into the right lane to exit, and saw a pair of headlights in what seemed a good bit of distance behind me in the right lane. I felt comfortable about the lane switch, but as I began to cross over, I was rear-ended by the on-coming car, which had been moving at much faster speed than I had calculated. I was pushed into the guardrail to the right, then lost control and swerved through the rail on the left, plunging over the side of the mountain.
As I plummeted down the hillside, my visibility was thwarted by the darkness and the strobe-like streaks from my headlight beams as they bounced wildly off the onrushing landscape. I knew with complete certainty that "this was it." Not only was I about to die, but it was actually going to be quite gruesome, with mangled body parts and all the attendant undesirable horrors now swarming back from the 60's cautionary "Drivers Ed" films. An enormous fear raced through me on the wings of adrenaline, the primal survival response crushing up against sure knowledge of sheer ruin.
Suddenly I hit the bottom of the hill, but unlike the movie finale, I did not explode in a blazing fireball. Rather, my car catapulted up through the air, flipping over and over as it crossed the oncoming 2-lane highway. It continued air-borne across the service road, finally slamming into the side of the hill on the other side, where it proceeded to roll down a bit until it hung, teetering, on the edge of an embankment.
It must have been while I was in mid-air (although my recollected sense was that time itself had truly stopped) that the fear was swallowed up by a great silence. This silence was deeper than I had ever known and certainly beyond my feeble adjectives, and yet curiously "familiar", as if it had always been here, just behind the chitchat of everyday mind and imagined identity. Spontaneously, there was a "knowing" that I could never be implicated by death, but more to the point that there had never been, nor could there ever be, such a thing as "I".
There was no car, no accident, no trace of any self. There was no narrative or story line of "my life", any life, any world, any personal or collective history, any future. Consciousness without object. Awareness/Beingness, boundless and inexpressible, vastness with no center, motionless, serenity with no opposite, and thus not even serenity - such words and phrases don't even touch it! Truly, nothing can be said that is anything more than an interpretation on apperception.
Suddenly "I" was back in the crushed driver's seat, my left foot had pierced through the floor board of the car, and was dangling shoeless in the air over the embankment, shattered. People were milling about, sharing their disbelief that someone could have survived such a disaster!
I was engulfed in tears, but these tears had nothing to do with the accident, or survival, or relief to be essentially in one piece. I was dissolved in the core of Heart, and these tears were tears of Gratitude for such Grace, that I had been set free of Death, and had come Home at last.
Even as I write this I am overwhelmed by these same tears. Our True Nature is such Unimaginable Freedom! We are not what we suppose ourselves to be, not what we have been told we are, and certainly not some soulful bird in a cage of skin and bones! The whole universe appears and disappears in ordinary, majestic perfection within This - This That We Really Are! The only "recourse" for me now was to be what I am, which is Love. This is only the obvious motion and activity of Life Itself, despite what may seem to be otherwise in our imaginary histories of experience.
When the paramedics placed me in the ambulance and closed the doors, they immediately fell silent and stopped their busy work, overcome themselves by the current of Bliss filling up the space with Heart Light. They stared at me, and then at each other, and one said: "What is happening here?" as the three of us all felt the unmistakable Presence permeating the ambulance. We took each other's hand, and all were drawn into that drenching Stillness. At the emergency room we all embraced, and they were reluctant to leave. One said: "The miracle didn't happen out there. It's in here!"
An interesting postscript to that event was brought to my attention later. Several of my friends reported intense experiences of Presence timed to that very night. Another, who was sitting hospital vigil with her husband in the final stages of his terminal illness, reported that -- at around 10 PM that night -- she was overwhelmed by a brilliant streak of light which shone through her heart and into and around her husband for several minutes. By the next day he had recovered completely from his illness, much to the bewilderment of the medical staff.
- Mazie Lane, posted to DailyDharma
On the morning of February 5, 1997, my life was changed, at a deep and fundamental level, by a completely unexpected and inexplicable experience.
To this day, I still do not fully comprehend, with my rational mind or intellect, exactly what happened. And yet, the validity and power of this incredible moment remain with me today, profoundly vivid and clear more than three years after the fact.
It was a moment of intuitive revelation which arrived suddenly and without warning, and which I can only describe as an "epiphany," or an Awakening. In this timeless moment, my understanding and experience of the universe were completely and irrevocably transformed.
Now, well over three years later, I am still feeling the effects of this remarkable experience. The epiphany lasted only briefly, perhaps 3 hours or less, but as a result of the fundamental shift that occurred during this momentary revelation, my priorities, my identity, and the shape and form of my work have all begun to change.
Epiphany at the Rodeway Inn
Epiphany: a sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something; an intuitive grasp of reality through something usually simple and striking.
The epiphany arrived suddenly, and without warning. In fact, I was asleep when the experience began.
The night before, my partner and I had driven from where we live in San Antonio, Texas, to Austin, where we rented an overnight room at a Rodeway Inn. As meeting facilitators and management consultants, we were scheduled to facilitate a planning meeting for one of our Austin clients, in preparation for one of their upcoming construction projects.
This was a routine work assignment, and we spent the evening as we usually did, reviewing our agenda for the next day, and confirming a new work opportunity with another of our clients. Little did I realize when I lay down to sleep that night, I would awaken in the morning seeing and experiencing the world through new eyes.
Awakening into Awareness
Sometime during the early morning hours of February 5th, I began to dream. During the dream, I found myself standing before a man, apparently a healer, who used acupressure points to release and encourage the flow of chi (essential energy) throughout the body.
As I stood before this man, energy was moving and surging within the upper part of my body; he was kneeling behind me. Then, he touched my body in two places: first, on the mid-point of the back of my left arm, and then on the back of my right leg, just below the knee.
Suddenly, an invisible, but significant, shift occurred internally: it felt as if any residual or latent energy blockages within my body had been instantly and completely released.
Before I knew or could understand what was happening, the top of my head opened up, and a flood of brilliant white light poured over me, flowing into and through my entire body.
Overwhelmed by the intensity of this flooding energy and light, my knees buckled beneath me, and I awakened abruptly. Now wide awake and in utter amazement, I felt the surging energy continuing to flow through my entire body! As it moved through me, flooding through the very essence of my being, the energy rapidly began changing -- transforming into an wave of complete and absolute euphoria, an indescribable contentment that extended far beyond the bounds of human expression.
(NOTE: For an Awakening experience seemingly initiated from a similar dream-based start, compare the above with the writings of Ann Faraday who relates in her article: "I fell asleep one night in October 1985 and woke next morning without a self." A similar experience is related to by the American spiritual teacher Lee Lozowick, as well.)
Realizing the Natural Great Perfection
Within this timeless, euphoric space, I suddenly realized and knew with unmistakable clarity that the universe, exactly as it is within the present moment, is absolutely complete and perfect. The present moment was whole and integrated. Any sense of fundamental separateness was gone. "I" was still there, but any anxiety I had ever felt was completely eliminated. All I knew/felt/experienced was the complete and absolute perfection of the present moment.
I became keenly aware of the river of energy flowing through each of us -- an energy arising from within and intuitively guided by this exquisite and innate perfection. I realized that everything appearing before us is simply a manifestation and expression of this energy, and that this energy is always moving through each of us, guiding us throughout our lives.
In this moment of Recognition, I suddenly realized the fundamental simplicity of our existence and our purpose:
There is nothing we need to do or achieve, beyond the fullness of the present moment.
And, I understood that this realization will dawn upon each of us, naturally and inevitably, as we begin to release our resistance to the flow of this energy moving within our lives.
With this realization, I began to understand, more clearly than ever before, the value of paying attention to:
the relationship between body, mind, and spirit,
the relationship between intellect and intuition, and
the energetic rhythms and intuitive impulses moving within each of us.
This was a moment of overwhelming revelation, of pure and absolute joy. The perfection and wholeness of the universe seemed so obvious, so simple, so complete, so absolute. Like a bliss-filled fool, I alternately laughed and cried, spontaneously and irresistibly, at the exquisite perfection of All That Is.
Even as I eventually awakened my partner, and began to shower and prepare for our client's meeting, this astonishing energy continued to move through me, in wave after wave of sweet and unspeakable joy.
Intuitive Integration There was no question in my mind, during this timeless, indescribable moment that:
Within the present moment, each of us is where we need to be, doing what we need to do.
In our lives, and through our being, the Infinite Universe is continuously manifesting its completeness and perfection;
An exquisite bliss arises when we recognize and acknowledge this perfection and wholeness within our own, immediate experience.
I realized that it is at the intuitive level that we have our deepest moments of "knowingness" and "beingness" and insight, and that for each of us, this process of revelation begins simply with an intuitive faith and trust in our own energetic movement toward wholeness and integration.
I realized that, within this very moment, this energetic impulse is guiding each of us toward deeper levels of intuitive recognition of this innate integration and inherent completeness. And, I realized that we can begin to recognize this energetic impulse through body work and energy work; through yoga, movement and dance; through dream work and intuitive process work; through our relationships, and through our work in the world. I realized that this movement of energy, through our daily life experiences, is our greatest and most potent teacher.
I realized that this process is simply an intuitive exploration of the movement of chi -- the essential life force within the universe -- within the body/mind/spirit in the present moment. I realized that this experience of intuitive integration is simply a process of gradually realizing the energetic balance within our lives, within our intuition/intellect, and within our work/play.
I realized that throughout our lives, we are all intuitively drawn toward deeper and more profound levels of physical, mental, emotional, psychic and spiritual integration by deep impulses and timeless rhythms of wholeness. And, I realized that this process allows each of us to explore the depths of our own innate potential to achieve an ever deepening Awareness and Recognition of our own fundamental and essential nature.
I realized that within each of our lives, there is a pattern of intuitive recognition that has developed over time, an "intuitive river" that can provide clues to understanding the development of this integration process. I realized that the pattern and rhythm of this process are uniquely and individually appropriate to each of us, within the present moment. And, I understood that regardless of the path we choose, this process of intuitive integration will gradually to guide us all through, and toward, a recognition of the essential wholeness, completeness and perfection of All That Is.
I realized that in all our efforts to discern a sense of meaning and purpose in our lives, and in our struggle to understand the nature of the universe, our simple goal -- and our greatest freedom -- ultimately lie in recognizing this fundamental and essential state of natural Awareness. I realized that all of our efforts and struggle ultimately dissolve into our ability to trust the process of the completeness and perfection of the universe manifesting within the present moment.
With this recognition came a deepening understanding that:
"Mistakes," as we know them, are not possible.
"Whatever happens is the only thing that could have."
Our most fundamental freedom is our freedom to choose within the present moment.
The present moment and the human soul are a converging nexus point of the Infinite.
The past and future are pale shadows and faint echoes of the luminescent present.
Bliss is recognizing the absolute, complete perfection of the universe, exactly as it is, within the infinite present.
The perfection of the universe lies within its complete integrity and wholeness. Within this larger context, there is room for all the smaller, diverse "imperfections" of our daily, human experience.
All suffering in the universe ultimately is not absurd because it is contained within an Infinite Benevolence that extends far beyond the limits of all imaginable suffering.
Discovering the "Open Secret"
In this Awakening, I discovered that my restless seeking and ceaseless longing were suddenly and completely resolved in the Perfection of the present moment. With a sense of indescribable delight and relief, I discovered that my search for meaning and purpose was finally over.
I realized that our common, "ordinary" human experience is indistinguishable from the Fullness and Essence of Reality.
And, I finally understood that nothing ever needs to be done to achieve or obtain this Great Perfection. It is already absolute, complete and inherent within the present moment.
I realized that this shift in Awareness is not about a change in perspective or position: it is simply a Recognition of our essential Beingness.
I realized that this shift is both gradual and sudden: it happens suddenly, and it exists outside of time. And, it emerges gradually, both in and over time.
I also realized that this shift is not about arriving somewhere; it is simply borne of a contentment that no longer feels the need to go anywhere.
I realized that throughout history the saints and sages have always supported and encouraged us until this experience of Awareness and insight is one we recognize, and accept, as our own.
I realized that part of the Great Mystery of the universe is that the Infinite is continuously manifesting in and through our individual, personal experiences of the finite.
I also realized that this discovery was simply a pure expression of my own truth, not an absolute "Truth." At the same time, I knew that a larger Truth and deeper meaning were revealed within my individual experience.
I realized that each experience of "awakening," each Realization, each discovery of That which is Real, is unique to each individual. At the same time, I understood that we all ultimately "break through" into a recognition of the same essential Presence: a vast and spacious background of whole, integrated and natural Awareness.
I was also delightfully surprised to discover, in this moment of exquisite euphoria, that "I" - the little identity I recognize as "me" - did not disappear or extinguish! I was astonished that "I" didn't have to die in order to "experience" this magnificent Wholeness! The Realization of this incredible integration occurred, and yet "I" still remained conscious and aware. The personality remained intact: "I" was still "me," and "I" was still here, but "I" was now contained within, and not separate from, the Presence and Essence of vast and integrated Wholeness.
Initial Reflections on Awakening
I do not know what, if any, specific factors triggered this Awakening. The emergence of the epiphany felt like pure, unadulterated Grace. I suspect, however, that during the months preceding this experience, a groundwork may have been laid, at least in part (1) through an increasing trust in my own intuitive potential, and (2) through an intensification of my on-going search for answers to some of life's most compelling questions about the nature, meaning and purpose of existence.
I also do not know what essential conditions would be necessary in order to initiate a similar experience within another individual, but I have begun to believe that:
Everything within our lives - without exception - is a revelation and expression of That which is the Source of our own inevitable Awakening.
Each of us is already gradually "ripening" into a recognition of our own innate Awareness and Essence.
In its own unique way and appropriate time, each individual experience of Awakening occurs quite naturally, unpredictably and with absolute spontaneity.
Since the epiphany, I have discovered that the background of spacious, natural Awareness revealed within this experience of "awakening" has remained the frame of reference for all my experience of being human. And, I have found that as a result of this revelation, my understanding and experience of life have gradually, and irrevocably, begun to change. I have discovered that for me, now, there can be no turning back: That which has been Seen cannot be Unseen, and with this epiphany, my life will never be the same again....
With the epiphany, it has also become clear to me is that we do not need to pursue or cultivate a spiritual hunger for experiences such as this awakening, simply because even the "highest" of mystical experiences is still just that: another experience. Rather, I believe we are best served by beginning to recognize that our own immediate, present moment reality is not separate from, or other than, the larger Truth or Reality for which we have been searching.
I believe that when we finally release our attachment to the misconception that "This moment, or this experience, is not It," we will suddenly realize, with an exquisite and overwhelming delight, that we already are That for which we have been seeking....
Sharing the Epiphany
Please feel free to share this description of the epiphany with others, as long as it is copied and distributed in its entirety, retaining all the source, contact and copyright information included below. Thank you.
Awakening into Awareness:
Insight Mentoring with Metta Zetty
P.O. Box 781955
San Antonio, Texas 78278
©1997-2001, Metta Zetty -- All Rights Reserved.
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