Note: For the Original
Internet Lessons with additions,
For the Expanded and Interactive Internet Lessons, AYP Online Books,
Audiobooks and more, see AYP Plus.
The Aloneness of Enlightenment (Audio)
AYP Plus Additions:
392.1 - A Dialog on Rising Unity (Audio)
Something in Nothing
March 31, 2010
New Visitors: It is recommended you read from the beginning of the archive, as previous
lessons are prerequisite to this one. The first lesson is, "Why
practicing for five years or so with good progress, I have lately been
having a deep feeling of aloneness. Not all the time. It comes and goes. Why
this sense of aloneness? Not loneliness. I am in the middle of family and
friends, and then there may be a sudden onset of aloneness, accompanied by
sadness, well not really sadness as it used to be, but like in a place where
I am all alone and no one to share with. Hard to put in words.
always had a strong connection with certain traditional spiritual icons in
my life, but I don't feel those connections anymore. Practices continue as
usual, but bhakti seems to have diminished. Could it be because there is no
sense of needing to achieve anything anymore, or the need to be something
else or somewhere else anymore? There is just living what is happening in
this moment. I am joyful and helping everyone around me, but there is no
sense of enjoyment.
Is this how it is supposed to be?
A1: It is the aloneness of awakening, a mixture of personal and impersonal
expressions of consciousness. There is nothing more alone than Self, where
everything is seen as That, self-contained and illuminated by the
impersonal eternal radiance of inner silence. On the other hand, the
personal aspect longs for company - relationship.
Perhaps the eternal
has manifested as the universe for some company, creating the illusion
(maya) so the play of duality (lila) can happen. Seeing both sides at the
same time is strange, isn't it? You are this and you are that. It is a
transitional experience, a shifting perspective from dual to non-dual point
of view. What experience on the path is not a shifting
perspective? This interim stage shall pass like
all the others have.
I sometimes hear from people saying that
they feel alone on their spiritual quest, that few around them can relate to
the openings occurring, though the steadiness and strength that come through
are welcomed by friends and family. A desire for camaraderie is often
expressed. But who is there for camaraderie? No one and everyone. Ecstatic
radiance is its own relationship, and it is also an unfolding divine
relationship with everyone. There is a paradox in it.
This is why the
enlightened serve, for the sake of relationship, for the expression of
divine love. It is like creation moving in another dimension that is not
primarily about the physical, not primarily about time and space. It is
about the timeless flow of love. Everyone wants that. For
those who are expressing that as their natural state, it is to be the
infinitely full, yet alone.
Maybe this is not much of an answer,
except to say, in your aloneness you are not alone. Mind stuff and our
lingering tendency to identify with it is what raises these kinds of
questions. Like anything else that happens on the path, we get used to "what
is," and move on. It is normal to experience some dislocations and oddities
as our path advances. But not too much dislocation, because we have covered
nearly all of the bases previously in a logical fashion, so there are going
to be fewer surprises in the end game. And this is the end
game - the shift from duality to a divine outpouring in the unity of
non-duality. It is the infinite joy of Oneness, without the cycles of
enjoyment leading to sadness, then back up to enjoyment, and then back down
again, like a yo-yo. It is the end of suffering.
Q2: Yes, joy
without enjoyment. For there to be enjoyment, there has to be the
counterpart of boredom or sadness. It makes sense. There cannot be one
without the other. And yet, there can be joy without enjoyment, and sorrow
without sadness, and love without attachment. In fact, I was feeling bad the
other day because the love I feel for my children
is the exact same as the love I feel for my neighbor, and the exact same as
the love I feel for a flower. No excitement in that. That is what made me
wonder if I have lost my heart. But what you are saying makes sense.
I feel like I have forgotten everything. Life is teaching me everything new.
Most of the conditioning has dropped. So everything I do now is like doing
it for the first time. It's a bit scary, not knowing, feeling not in
control, and yet everything is flowing. I am learning
anew to do things without stress. I am having fun, but there is no
enjoyment. That's the thing I
understand. I have never enjoyed being alive so much. Shoveling deep snow
was so much fun. I never thought I would be so happy doing that kind of
work. And yet, there is no enjoyment in anything. It feels like no heart,
like the heart is closed off.
This peace and stability are very
mechanical. The heart seems to be missing. I feel connected to it all, and
serving all, but there is no heart involved. Does my heart need to open
again, or is it the mind trying to fit connection into what it has defined
connection to be?
A2: In non-duality, everything happens in the
heart, so there is less (or no) contrast between heart and other
things from our point of view.
The duality of "I"
and "heart" is fading. One becomes the same as the other in stillness, so
the contrast is much less. Even so, the flow is there in a dual sense
(the outpouring), whether we are identified with it or not, so we keep doing
for others. We do have the option to engage in the play. This is why saints
are so playful, laughing and cutting up all the time. It is all a big joke.
So, not to take our "enlightened" condition too seriously. Play is how
non-duality expresses itself. If that sounds like a contradiction, it is. So
is "stillness in action," but it is happening all around us, and it is what
we are. The whole of creation is that play, and a grand drama. We can do the
same in our lives, established in abiding inner silence, never forgetting
who we are. So go out have some fun! Everyone will benefit from your divine
At the same time, for one who knows the truth, there is only
One playing, and those feelings of aloneness can come when there is some
lingering identification with mind as it questions what is perceived. The
heart (or anything) can only be known in duality. When we become universal
heart, the contrast becomes a shadow, including our relationship with our
innermost thoughts and feelings. That is the essence of non-duality. It
doesn't mean there is no heart, or that the heart is not functioning. In
fact, in unity the heart is operating on a vast scale. It only means our
relationship with it has changed. We are beyond the duality of heart and
mind. The two have merged in moving stillness. It is beyond the feelings,
beyond the enjoyment, beyond the pain, beyond the responsibility. Yet, all
is being done passionately. It is just as the scriptures say.
Can the Self (emptiness) ever "enjoy" anything, even while doing everything?
Sometimes these feelings of doubt may be associated with the unwinding
of a deep obstruction in the nervous system, where
may still be some blockage due to old trauma. If you feel the heart
is closed, it may well be to a degree. If there is an expectation or a
block, it will pass with continuing daily practices.
If it is bothering you, creating ongoing emotions, it is likely an
obstruction being dissolved.
forgetting, it is funny how that works. At one point, we may have carried a
pencil with us to record the many inspirations that come from rising inner
silence, or perhaps we have been
through mental checklists in daily life. In time, we find we do not need the
pencil or the mental checklists so much anymore, when we realize that
everything is being taken care of by the endless divine flow pouring through
us. As purification and opening advance, the natural flow is available to us
according to the need of the moment. There is no way to catch all that
intelligence pouring out with a pencil or a checklist. So we can let much of
it go. When we need something, it will be there.
The forgetting is
letting go of the past, and the future. Whatever we need from memory of the
past will be there, whenever we need it from the river of love surging out
through our purified nervous system. And the future will take care of
itself. We only need attend to right now.
We can get used to anything. It takes some time to develop trust in what is.
It can be a little lonely and disorienting on the way home to our natural
And the dance goes on...
(emptiness) is radiant, its own source of joy, just as it is the source of
everything. So, even while we are living as the witness, that radiance is
bubbling from within our essence. That is what we mean by ecstatic
conductivity becoming ecstatic radiance. If you are experiencing it as
somewhat flat, closed, and alone, then there is more. The Self is the heart.
If there seems to be a paradox in this (joy without enjoyment), that is the
nature of enlightenment.
That which is universal has no opposites,
and therefore no contrasting duality. It doesn't mean nothing is happening.
Everything is happening. It is the divine paradox!
Universal love has
no object. Outpouring divine love and service experienced as stillness in
action have no object.
The beauty of it is that it is not
philosophical. It is experiential. We certainly could never invent this in
mind and behavior. There are no rules of conduct that can create this
condition. It simply arises from practices and engaging in life.
Love has its own agenda, and it is for us to let go in
the divine flow. The world is being changed by this.
So many have
tried to catch it in a "mind bottle." That is not it. Meditation is it.
Abiding inner silence is it.
The guru is in you.
Related Lessons Topic Path
Discuss this Lesson in the AYP Plus Support Forum
Note: For detailed
discussion on the experience of duality dissolving into non-duality, see the
and the Liberation book.
For more on enlightenment experiences, and instructions for building a
self-directed routine of practices, see the
Eight Limbs of Yoga Book.