Sin and virtue, right and wrong;
I have judged and been judged;
I have passed through birth and death,
Joy and sorrow, heaven and hell;
And in the end I realized
That I am in everything
And everything is in me.”
(Hazrat Inayat Khan)
The words above tell a tale of life in this place of duality – where everything has its opposite. There is a sound of freedom, in Khan’s realization that, in the end, ‘I am in all and everything is in me.’
His awakening to the truth of oneness beyond duality and separation is the uncluttered awareness that lies open to all of us. This awareness is our liberation from the ‘wound of duality’; from the heaven and hell of living in the mind and time ruled world.
It is time that keeps us locked in the left-brain, mind dominated, egoic consciousness – and it is time that anchors us to the illusion of separateness – the source of so much of our pain. We transcend the limitations of time when we are able to hold an awareness of presence. In the ‘now’ we are freed, for a ‘time’, from the painful memories of the past and the imagined fears of the future. We are freed from the tyranny of the ego-mind. Our childhood traumas, and the wounding we sustained in past lives – dragged from lifetime to lifetime as energetic imprints on our emotional bodies – can be healed in the timelessness of the eternal now. Beyond the mind and ego, in the here and now, there is no emotional charge, there is only non-vibrating stillness.
Mindfulness, paradoxically, is required, to take us beyond the mind. Mindfulness is the taming of the mind. As we tame the mind, as we pay attention to the present – we function through the higher mind. This is the mind we need to go beyond the ego and the emotions – and to the realization that we are not them. Emotions are the outward action or response to feelings and feelings are the fluctuating gauge of our response to life in this reality. They are as unstable and changeable as the Moon (which, in astrology has rulership over our feeling nature). Our suffering is always connected to our identification – with a thought, a feeling, an emotion – and invariably it is to a transient state. Everything in the world of form is transient, and that includes our thoughts and emotions. This identification is a trick of the ego. But it is a trick that is part of our evolutionary intent. We need this identification with emotional states in order to know them, and ultimately to grow beyond them.
Carl Jung said, there is no coming to consciousness without pain. We need, it seems, the experience of pain and suffering in order to go beyond it. Mindless creatures do not experience emotional suffering as we do… simply because they have no ego-mind with which to do so. Many animals, of course, have a level of conscious awareness that allows them to experience a wide range of emotions – more than some (damaged) humans in fact.
When we experience suffering, it is the wake-up call that we are resisting something, we are denying something, we are not accepting something; we have taken up residence at one end of a polarity. In Hazrat Inayat Khan’s poem above, he had to experience separateness, he had to taste both sides of emotion, of birth and death, to know he was, all along, inseparable – from everything. He realized that he was in everything and everything was in him – but not before he had suffered.
As we all know, pain and suffering is a very real part of the human condition. We are not all enlightened spiritual masters. We are human. We have highly developed nervous systems and we feel physical pain. We form bonds of love and emotional ties with other people. Bonds we are later forced to sever, as we lose, one way or another, everyone we have loved. It is natural to try to avoid pain – whether it is physical or emotional – because it hurts. We are drawn to form intimate relationships with people who seem to have been beamed in to us to make us suffer. In truth, they come to help us heal our imbalances. Our lovers and betrayers, our soul mates, our parents and children and others we form relationships with are all showing us sides of ourselves, sides of human nature, which we couldn’t know without personally experiencing them in our bodies, in the form of feelings and emotions.
What can we do then, to at least minimise our ‘human condition’ suffering? We can begin to pay attention to the present moment, at any moment through the day. Whatever we are feeling or experiencing, we can remind ourselves of the present moment. Zen Master, Thich Nhat Hanh has a wonderful little mantra – say to yourself, whenever you remember: “I have arrived. I am home, in the here and now.” This mantra, he says, will take you immediately to your ‘ultimate nature’ – your infinite, timeless, self.
If we are experiencing stronger feelings, we can try to detach our awareness from the sensations and thoughts and take a birds’ eye view. We can, even if for a brief moment, observe ourselves having thoughts, having feelings, having emotions. We might realize how we have become so identified with our emotional state, that our whole body is involved with it. If the suffering is too great, say we are grieving the loss of someone dear to us, we can breathe. This is enough: to consciously breathe – in and out. Deep, slow, even breaths bring us, momentarily, into presence – as focus on the breath stills the mind and alters our vibrational frequency. Until another wave of pain surfs in, picking us up in its cold embrace, taking us beneath the surface where we cannot breathe, where our heart is squeezed so hard the pain radiates out and down through our entire body. We go with it, feeling the pain, feeling the tears. Then, reminding ourselves to breathe again, we watch the wave begin to subside. We feel the vice grip in our heart-space begin to release. We soften a little, in the wake of the wave of pain – and rest, for a moment……..until the next wave comes. The waves may continue for however long they may. But as we allow our grief, as we meet the pain, from a place of non-resistance, we allow the process to move through us and out the other side. We don’t need to embrace it, we don’t need to welcome it. We simply need to feel it and allow it to flow.
Spiritual teacher and founder of the Light Institute, Chris Griscom, says: “….We see that our body mirrors the same messages as our feelings and thoughts. In fact, if we do not express our feelings, the body will store them just as it stores biochemical substances such as glycogen. In other words, the body is a magnificent translator of matter to energy and energy to matter. It views emotions as energy and ultimately stores that energy as matter within the cells. If the emotional energy is not subsequently released, it will condense into matter and create blockages within the body itself – leading to disease.”
We realize, if we are very conscious, that the emotion of pain flowing through us, is not really us. It is moving through our body, altering our biochemistry, causing physical sensations within our body – it feels intensely personal and we feel very alone in our pain – but if we can, even for a moment, detach our awareness from the sensations, we can glimpse a stillness behind the waves of pain. This is who we are! We are the stillness! So we are experiencing pain but it is not us. And this is as it is, or as it needs to be. Pain has a purpose. Its purpose is to create awareness. There is no coming to consciousness, said Jung, without pain. But, having said that, I would like to believe that as we evolve, we can learn to minimise pain. In not identifying so completely with our pain, we realize that we are experiencing a temporary state, just as we are temporarily experiencing being in these bodies. And we come to the awareness that, in the end, we are much more than our passing feelings and emotions – we are infinite consciousness. And that is what will continue on – the oneness which is our true nature. As we release the energy of our emotions (grief, loss, fear, regret, bitterness, anger, sadness…..) through non-resistance and the power of presence, we free our oneness, our true self, to continue on, unencumbered. This is the mission we are all on here – to heal our emotions and move through the illusion of time, free and unencumbered – for we are in everything, and everything is in us.
About the Author
Linda George is a writer, yogi, and evolutionary astrologer living in New Zealand. She has been deeply involved in astrology, alternative health, spirituality and metaphysics for 35 years. Author of two books on consciousness and astrology – both finalists in the Ashton Wylie Mind/Body/Spirit book awards, she is committed to joining with others in ‘spreading the word’ in these waking times. Please join us. Her blog is www.acosmicride.wordpress.com