"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.

Things I Know for Sure

Most-Beautiful-Sunrise-07 My coming radio show (this Friday at 10 a.m. PST), "Things I Know for Sure," is a reflection on the Truth as it has manifested in my life over 40-some years, and speaking as someone who, as a child, was immersed in the world of the Three Principles of Mr. Sydney Banks. I also speak from my experience as as an avid reader, writer and journalist, a researcher, a scholar and lover of many spiritual traditions.

In this show, as a general theme in my life at this time, I will reflect on what these many various traditions have in common. What is the common truth we might all be able to trust in? How do the Three Principles relate to that truth?

And, as a follow up to the recent webinar I did with Sheela Masand (in Spain), I am posting here some of my favorite quotes from various spiritual authors I have read that seem to me to have a common thread.

I start with Mr. Sydney Banks himself from his DVD set, "The Hawaii Lectures," and the DVD entitled "Going Home."

"The Buddha told you: 'You are the world.' You create the world you live in. Yet, you have to find this for yourself. Listen carefully. Not just to what I'm saying, [but] to some wise person that YOU think knows the secret. You can go to the library, you can find the Truth. You can go to the church of your choice and find it. You can go to a Kahuna and find it. You can go anywhere in the world, and once you know what Truth is, you'll hear it spoken all over the world. You'll hear it on a day-to-day basis.

"But you’ve got to listen, not with your ears. You don’t look with your eyes. It’s beyond the senses. It lies deep in here [points to chest/heart]. And once that secret comes out and is divulged to YOU, it’s a secret that cannot be told. It cannot be told by words. It has to be found within your own soul, because your own soul holds that secret.

"And what stops you from getting in here [points to chest] is your own thinking ... You could also call it Ego. [But] ego is a delusion. It’s non-existent."

From Gangaji, and her book (my favorite), You Are That:

"Living truth, whether it comes from the historical Buddha, or from the beggar on the street, is true nourishment ... I once heard it said that religion is the tracks where something alive once passed. In the tracks, there may be a great emanation of power and truth. If the tracks can serve to inspire you to turn to truth, then they are to be honored. Follow the tracks to their source."

From Ramana, from the book The Spiritual Teachings of Ramana Maharishi:

 "Know that you are really the infinite, pure Being, the Self Absolute. You are always that Self and nothing but that Self ... Know then that true Knowledge does not create a new Being for you; it only removes your ignorance. Bliss is not added to your nature; it is merely revealed as your true and natural state, eternal, imperishable. The only way to be rid of your grief is to know and be the Self. How can this be unattainable?"

From Toni Packer, The Work of this Moment:

"Why did the Buddha say in parting, 'Be a lamp unto yourself--take only the Truth for your refuge'? Why do we seek refuge in things created by thought and memory? ... Human beings communicate, commune with each other freely and lovingly only when the mind is not anchored in any system whatsoever--when there is a coming together empty-handedly.

"With any division into groups there inevitably arises the feeling: 'The group is me' ... In facing our own deep-seated need for security and belonging, can we see the immense attachment and dependency on groups and organizations? Can we see the need to feel that our organization, our religion, is superior to all others? And can we see what that does to us?"

From me:

The formless Truth is so vast and infinite as to encompass all forms of Truth, and go beyond all of them. It goes beyond any form of individual or personality, Jesus, Buddha, Moses, Abraham, Ramana, Sydney Banks, as much as they are to be honored and loved. It is both within and beyond any posture or form of the body--health or disease. In the end, the Truth is you. It has never not been You.

Everyone has been pointing you in this direction. Inside. You then discover what is inside you, what is outside you, what is everywhere. You discover Home, and you discover that Home has no location. It cannot be contained and encapsulated in a specific formulation of Truth. As helpful as all those formulations, all those past insights, all those beautiful teachers have been, they do not "contain" the Truth.

The Truth is a moving, flowing river--fullness, allness, Alive. And it is Nothing. Quiet, silence, Ground Zero, stillness. It lies in the unknown, past everything you have ever thought. And all of this is You.

 
Join me this Friday!
With Love,
Your Mystical Mama