Mission Impossible

 

Your mission should you chose to accept it is to find out who you truly are!

Who are you?

 

You are not who you think you are.

You are not who you think you are.

You are not who you think you are.

~ Jac O’Keeffe

 

Your own Self Realization is the greatest service you can render to the world.

~ Ramana Maharshi

 

Anyone interested in spirituality, whether theistic, non-theistic, secular, or otherwise has encountered teachings that in some way declare that you are not your body, nor your thoughts, nor your emotions, sensations, or perceptions. We are asked to notice that our usual sense of self is merely a habit of identifying with the “I” thought. Furthermore, we are encouraged to discover our true nature that is described as formless, and since we lack the precise language to name the ineffable we apply terms such as spirit, pure consciousness, god, awareness, or something similar when referring to this non-conceptual reality. This discovery that you are, in fact, this reality, is often called self-realization.
 

Your mission should you chose to accept it is to make room for new learning possibilities by getting unattached to old paradigms.


Since birth into human form, with its inherited genetic tendencies and a lifetime of learned conditioning, our development (or evolution) has generally been confined by a society that includes an education system based upon a materialistic worldview. When we first encounter basic spiritual teachings we confront the problem of how to accept and embody ideas that seem to run counter to what we have learned, what we believe, our consensus reality, apparent common sense, and the stories we’ve told ourselves about our experiences of life. Your automatic reaction to new teachings may be one of resistance, skepticism, or disbelief.

Spiritual teachings are often referred to as pointers, not teachings in the sense we’re familiar with based on our classroom experiences. Students are reminded not to adopt the pointers and turn them into new beliefs. Instead, they are only encouraged to suspend their disbelief long enough to be sufficiently open and receptive to new ideas and concepts, and then to find out for themselves what is true. Sustaining disbelief (which itself is actually a belief) can be an obstacle because it closes the mind’s capacity for intellectual comprehension, a prelude to acceptance and integration of the teachings.

On the road to self-discovery it’s helpful to become aware of possibilities of expanded human experience that you may not know about, or have reflexively dismissed. An attitude of curiosity and open-mindedness can assist in overcoming habitual patterns of resistance. My own journey was initially inspired by many mind-expanding writings such as those of Paramahansa Yogananda, G.I. Gurdjieff, and various mystics and spiritual teachers. Each wrote of extraordinary possibilities and their words were convincing and sufficiently credible to arouse my curiosity and motivate me to learn more.

If you’re harboring doubts, reservations, or even fears about accepting some of the spiritual teachings, here are a few thoughts that might be worth exploring in order to address some limiting beliefs.

Instead of dismissing mystical reports of extraordinary human abilities, leading-edge research is finding evidence that confirms, rather than negates, some of these claims. I attended a talk by Dean Radin, Chief Scientist at the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS). He said that following scientific studies that verified the health benefits claimed from the practice of yogic meditation he began to ask “if these health claims made about yoga proved true, what other claims made by master yogis might also be true?” This led to years of research utilizing accepted scientific methodologies that have confirmed the existence of several psychic phenomena that were commonly denied by scientists (and still are by some scientists.) The great Yogic sage Patanjali, spoke of these capacities and many other extraordinary siddhis (powers) as being available to humanity. The IONS research is convincing in support of the spiritual idea that consciousness is not an epiphenomenon of the brain, but a basis of life itself – that we are not beings with consciousness, rather we are inseparable from infinite consciousness itself.

Discoveries in Quantum Physics in the early 20th century lead to questions that appeared to defy the long-standing understanding of reality based on Newtonian Physics. New perspectives about the very existence of time and space and matter, of cause & effect, and of the illusionary nature of reality resonate with the timeless wisdom of ancient Indian writings of the Upanishads. Physicist Fritjof Capra author of the bestseller The Tao of Physics: An Exploration of the Parallels Between Modern Physics and Eastern Mysticism and other related books made connections between physics and spirituality.

Neuroscience, benefitting from significant advances in brain scan technologies is exploring how the brain and body function together. Studies in neuroplasticity and epigenetics are shedding light on the value of spiritual practices. Based in large part on the learned functioning of neural networks in the brain, particularly the “default mode network”, in our ordinary life we react to stimuli in predictable and habitual ways. Spiritual teachings have long stated that the human being is not the doer of action; rather our behavior is fundamentally dictated by our genes and learned conditioning. Neuroscience is confirming this through measurable responses of the brain, independent of what we call free will. For another fascinating look at how the brain influences perception I encourage you to watch the video My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor. It’s available on YouTube.

From the discipline of psychology we’ve learned a tremendous amount about the formation of ego and the sense of self. We now recognize the vital role of childhood experiences, particularly developmental and extraordinary trauma, as determinants of reactive patterns and personality traits. Stemming from the human animal concerns for survival, habit patterns are formed to assure our safety. Unless these are recognized and integrated they may prove to be obstacles to our capacity to adopt new (and less safe) ideas. Another area of legitimate research is again taking place investigating the use of psychedelic substances as gateways to spiritual experiences of non-self, confirming ancient and current spiritual teachings.

You may have noticed that I’ve referred to how modern scientific methods are being referenced in support of ancient spiritual ideas. The current societal norm (perhaps the newly accepted religion) reveals a willingness to accept science as the gold-standard for truth (dare I say gospel truth?).

I’m an advocate of honoring the wisdom offered by anecdotal reports of spiritual or supernormal experiences. My personal witnessing of an event of telecommunication-at-a-distance convinced me that such a possibility exists. Following that event I viewed the commonly accepted interpretation of reality as limited at best. More importantly, I became convinced that much of science was locked into its self-determined (and self-limiting) paradigm for establishing truth. We need to be open to all possibilities across time/space/culture and geography. Life is constantly presenting opportunities to notice your resistance and to reconsider your limiting beliefs.

 

Your mission should you chose to accept it is to discover any resistance you may have.

 

I recognize the narrow focus of this message but I was motivated to write having observed some students spending years and years listening to the words yet finding it difficult to embody change. My heart sometimes aches as I watch you struggle. Perhaps it will be helpful to ask yourselves “are you holding back because you fear the insecurity of change or fear the unknown, or because it’s easier to stay in your comfort zone?” 

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