"Spiritual Maturity"

I first came across the phrase “spiritual maturity” in a book, I believe, by the (North) American spiritual teacher Adyashanti. It spoke to me because I had been recognizing myself as spiritually “immature,” actually. I was just beginning to see the light, as it were, about how I was personalizing spiritual growth or expansion. For me, “spiritual growth” simply means freedom—freedom from constriction, freedom from fear and freedom to express Love.

But when we seek something for ourselves, as individuals, we are necessarily contracting down into ownership, something gained for the identity or “ego.”

At this time in my life (about six years ago), while I had grown tremendously, I still (subtly, subtly!) thought money, for example, meant something about my “level of consciousness;” I still thought that high spiritual experiences or awakening experiences were something to be sought, and meant something about me, and my growth.

I still sought confirmation from outside teachers about some level of achievement I had in my mind. I still saw “holiness” often times as something either outside of me (in a place or teacher), or something I had yet to totally attain. I still thought one might live in a constant state of bliss—and that this would be ultimate spiritual achievement.

The phrase spiritual maturity, as I stumbled onto it, spoke of something deeper than experiences, something deeper than achievement, deeper than moods that come and go, something deeper than identity itself.

As it often happens, one thing led to another, one book to another, and I was led to the teachers Gangaji, Toni Packer, and John Wheeler (a student of “Sailor Bob,” himself a student of the venerable Nisargadatta Maharaj). Through these vehicles of truth (and others), I began to see that identity was the trap.

My first and highly significant teacher, Sydney Banks, used to say the “whole problem” was ego, or the “image of self importance,” as he put it. I began to see that.

We imagine some kind of spiritual (or material) glory for the individual, or, on the flip side, we imagine the individual as broken, wounded, unworthy or insufficient.

In the process of seeking glory, repair, redemption or punishment for the identity, we completely miss the boundless, current presence of Life itself—expressing itself as us, and within us, as this remarkable world, this universe. All existing here and now.

Amounts of money, popularity, roles, importance, recognition, spiritual experiences, moods and insights, tragedies, dark nights, our personalities and histories … all come and go within this vast energy and impersonal intelligence called Life or Love, or Mind.

When we identify, through Thought, with a self-concept created over time—and which we project into the imagined future, we ostensibly bind and narrow this energy, which cannot actually be bound.

Understanding the “Three Principles” of Mind, Consciousness and Thought, we understand that the very energy of Life has created this “personal” experience of Life, and so even our darkest darknesses have been divine! We have imagined ourselves to be separate from Life … in order to return to Oneness and wholeness again.

To see through identity, to see identity and ego as simply illusions created via Thought, is to understand one’s intrinsic worth and “enlightenment” as pure and simple Beingness—before, within, and after all thoughts.

When one gives up the self, one then enters into--or experiences--what one has actually always been, energy, God, Life, Love.

Sydney Banks once offered the analogy that the spiritual journey was like climbing a giant hedge on a ladder. The higher up you go, the better and bigger the view, and the less fear. Then, he said something quite interesting. He said that once you get to the top of the hedge, you look down and realize there was never any hedge, nor ladder, at all. You are, and have always been That.

The hedge was a thought creation. The climbing both necessary and totally unnecessary! This insight is “spiritual maturity,” as I use the term.

Beginning November 3, I, along with Jen Lucas and Brett Chitty of Three Principles Supermind will be offering a four-part series toward the release of the thought-created identity, and what it thinks it still “needs” …

Registration at least one week in advance (at reduced cost) is encouraged, as reading and audio-visual assignments from a variety of teachers will be recommended prior to our first meeting.

An online forum will serve to support all participants in the series toward our shared freedom, and our oneness in this energy and intelligence called Life. When one stops being “in service” to the self concept, true Service flows through us unimpeded, in whatever form it may take. May life bless life through this series!

Registration information here: http://threeprinciplessupermind.com/products/spiritual-maturity-with-ami-chen.9/

 

 

Postcard from the Front Porch

How are you all?

I thought I'd check in on this lazy blog of mine. We get several hundred visitors (400? 500?) per month here--nothing stunning by blogging standards--but I do consider all of you my friends, and I so appreciate your coming back from time to time to check in on me, even though my blogs land here erratically.

And once again, How are we?

I was visited recently by Jenny and Rudi Kennard of the amazing 3 Principles Movies website--a site featuring hours of totally inspirational 3 Principles-based audio & video footage that this young and energetic couple collected using their own monies and volunteering their time.

They sent me the video blog they've posted of their recent travels, and I noticed that in the midst of the elegant offices and fab kitchens of many other 3P "practitioners," their footage of my own front porch showed a sort of shabby, cluttered entryway--and me opening a front door that started to need paint many years ago. All the rest of the footage of me was with my kids--as is the norm these days, especially with school out.

"On the Front Porch" with Kid (Tori Elle) and Chantal Burns from England

 And so, here I am! My front porch, the nominal inspiration for my radio show, "On the Front Porch with Ami Chen," is indeed rather ragged. The paint on its cement steps peeling horribly. Scattered about in a thoroughly unorganized fashion are garden tools, snail bait (organic! so they say ... ), lots of shoes (thankfully, mostly in pairs), and a shoe organizing contraption that is, of course, completely empty.

Filling in any otherwise clear, uncluttered space would be the children's various formal and informal arts and crafts projects, plastic cups, hair bands, twigs ... that have made it out from the car but not quite through our front door and into the garbage, or onto shelves.

The whole thing is terribly unimpressive. We have plans to blow it out completely and create a spectacular sun room/entryway/mudroom type space, everything in its place. But who knows when this will happen? Perhaps next month. Perhaps never.

In the meantime, Life continues. And here I am. I used to be "waiting for" things to change and "happen," for more money to be coming in, a new "level" of work to unfold--and while these things have happened, I have discovered that "waiting" is a waste of time. It is endless. And endless distraction.

My next radio show on "Money and Support," (this coming Friday, July 13) will be all about this--the constant leaning into the future we do, expecting something "better" to come along, whether that be more money, a better job, a better relationship, or even a better state of mind. This constant leaning is a direct interference with our experience of Reality as it is. Now. The wonder of what is!

This leaning, I have discovered for myself, can be into the next year or the next five years and beyond. Or it can be into "when the kids finally fall asleep," "when this traffic clears up," "when I finish cooking dinner," "when I can finally work on that book project," "when I lose 15 pounds," "when I get so-and-so's approval," "when I experience enlightenment," "when I can find some time to meditate," or any time after this moment.


Just not this moment, God forbid! I can't relax now! Look at this mess!

We would then have to accept our circumstances, internal and external, exactly as they are.

Yet in this stopping, this relaxing, this acceptance, we discover the depths of Life, God, Love itself. We discover who and what we are.

Life is so incredibly short, and yet we spend so much of our Thought energy, and resulting emotional and physical energy on trying to distinguish and decorate it (the personal life) in various ways. We miss, in these efforts, the overarching fact that Life Is. That one is part of Life, and the absolute miracle of That.

We become entangled in the particulars of our own lives, and we miss the constant support we receive, always, from the Energy of Life--that Universal Mind, with which we are one.

I have learned to surrender: to the porch, to life, to the children, the husband, to the Truth as I see it (and as unpopular as my current opinions may be). Surrender to disapproval. Surrender to nothing-to-be-done-about-it. All of it is what is. And here I am, what I am. What I gloriously am!

Past, future, goals, obstacles, problems, "not enough" ... All require a sort of "fantasy projection" that distracts us from Stillness, now, and the impersonal gratitude of Consciousness recognizing Itself in everything it sees and hears and feels and touches. All of it!

So, here I am. My family and I muddling through the summer, summer camps, camping. ... We've been hosting visitors like Jenny and Rudi, Robert Jackson (of the "A Quiet Mind" podcast), Drs. Bill and Linda Pettit, brave 3 Principles colleagues. All of it a blessing beyond belief ... Heading out soon to Grass Valley, later in the summer, Kauai. Exasperation with children. Complete exhaustion from time to time. Forgetting to surrender. Surrender. Love. Intimacy. Peeling porch. Joy and laughter. New ridiculously cute puppy. There will be a garage sale, a new drop-in class in Santa Cruz, a larger retreat in North Carolina in September. How will any of these events "go?"

Who knows?

Does it matter?

During my interview with her, the renown spiritual teacher Gangaji and I spoke of "stopping," a word, she said, that has no end. "Surrender" too, she said, is another such word. No end to surrender!

I surrender to this Life. All I have, will ever have, have ever had. All of it collapsed into this one moment, Consciousness, Formlessness, regarding itself in form after form after form. An endless entertainment, springing from Love itself.

From this space of surrender, I greet you, my Friend. Are you in the midst of your own surrender? To every experience? Every thought? Every state of mind? Letting it go, letting it be ... No effort to control, get rid of or gain anything.

Perhaps one day, we will sit together on my old and shabby, or chic and spiffy, new front porch

 ... and simply laugh.

With Love from

Your Mystical Mama

No Words

Spring has come,
a humid breath
between,
beneath
these ancient oaks

With their mossy beards
slowly
growing

Unknown grasses,
Stems of unknown blossoms
Rising Up!
Emanating a thousand shades of green
I have never
seen before

Or have I?

Goldsmith once said
The World is New!

And so it is
When the windows to the soul
are cleansed

Here, such a beauty
and stillness

as to overtake
this small me
totally

And this poem,
this creation of the mind,
even
a heresy!
a bastardization

of silence.

Spring

moment

that cannot be
spoken.

To open my lips
to invent a stanza
and already
I have departed
from Truth!

But for now,
Dear Lord,
this, this
is all I have to give

My humble and inadequate
offering.