"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/

 

 

On "Outsourcing" Well-Being

When I first became involved in my own “movement” toward spiritual and mental freedom, toward innate well-being, I learned with some elation that the external “things,” or circumstances upon which (or in which) I had placed my well-being were actually not capable of providing well-being! So, for me, in my early twenties this may have been 1) having the right friends 2) getting published as a writer 3) making sure people “liked” me or 4) making money … When I learned that true mental and spiritual wellness could come only from inside of me, a great deal of “thought baggage” was released.

I realized I could stop trying to get people to like me. I could stop attaching my mood to whether I received a rejection letter or acceptance letter from a newspaper. I could let go of thinking too much about the past or future. Indeed, I learned that letting go of my personal efforts in Thought to try to “make myself happy” was the quickest route to actually being happy. Happiness was, and is, my natural state, as this formless energy (also called “Universal Mind”) that I Am.

As I heard of the depression, suicides and troubles of so many people, young and old (and I myself had suffered from depression), I was moved—and still am—to help relieve such suffering through sharing simple facts, or “principles” that comprise our mental well-being, and create our mental dis-ease, too.

For nearly 20 years now, in all sorts of settings, from jails and juvenile halls to school districts, health care facilities, communities and various organizations, I have worked to share the simple, formless facts that create our mental states. Facts that, when recognized and understood, help human beings become free from their entangling and restricting (often choking!) thoughts.

Over these years, I began to notice the more subtle ways we can “outsource” our well-being. I noticed that when we put too much dependence on a spiritual or self-help teacher, or even a “teaching,” a religion, or on our role or identity within such a teaching ... on practices or even spiritual places at which we have felt enlightened or “high,” these are all new ways in which we outsource well-being. In these more subtle ways, people on a spiritual, religious or self-help path begin, once again, to look outside of themselves for what they already are.

There is nothing wrong with any of this. And perhaps this human journey will necessarily involve our being “helped” by various forms of spirituality, and becoming subtly attached to them. Hopefully, we accept the eventual invitation to dis-attach—and discover a deeper freedom, again.

More and more, I have been discovering, and interested in what I call “Ground Zero”—this “full Nothingness”—that is always with us, no matter where we are, who we are sitting with, or what we “teach” or “learn.” This Nothingness is beyond, before and within all words, practices and teachings. It is beyond all individual teachers and religious figures. It is inside of YOU.

There is always a greater depth and breadth of mental and spiritual freedom to be discovered, and with courage, prayer (intention), and insight, these greater depths are revealed.

Ami will co-lead a retreat on the Island of Kauai, August 2-5 of this year (2015) with Gabriela Maldonado-Montano, “Unleashing Wellness Within,” click here for more information.