Confidence. It’s not something most would consider important in spiritual growth–but I’ve found it can have a profound effect on clearing your mind. At the Adyashanti satsang last week, I talked to a few different people about just this subject…
In the West, few, if any, enlightenment teachers (Advaita Vedanta, Non-Dualism, etc.) provide a practical way to cross the Void–the gulf between Ego Consciousness and Enlightened Awareness.
This is no fault of theirs. The teachers listed above can only teach what they know–what they have experienced. Since most of today’s enlightened teachers “stumbled” upon enlightenment, they have little, if anything, to say about a way across the chasm separating them from their students.
But there is a practical and teachable way to cross the expanse, and–though I mostly found it by accident–the path follows traditional and ancient teachings…
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The former seeker–having negotiated the Lands of the Instinctual Body, of the Noisy Thoughts, of the Divine Soul, and the Serene Witness–can now travel freely. At once One and Separate, at once Whole and Empty, he is no longer anchored–no longer bound to any one land. At once Divine and Human, he is now free to wander wherever the Light and the Wind lead him.
There’s nothing special about him–anyone can cross the Bridge.
With determination and patience, any spiritual seeker can transverse the Void and find the absolute freedom of their True Nature.
As the spiritual seeker stumbles further across the Bridge of Light, his footing gradually steadies as the last of his ego burns away in the power of the Divine Flame.
Resting easily now, standing midway across the vast expanse of the Bridge, the seeker looks down into the Pit and is surprised that what was once seen as an impenetrable and forbidding darkness is now seen as a glowing, radiant Light. Flowing upward from the Light is a warm, Divine Wind–the Wind of Passion, Love, and Wisdom.
Immersed in the Wind and Light, the seeker steadily makes his way across the Bridge. As he approaches the Plateau on the far side, he notices a shift in the Wind–a radical change in its direction. From behind, the Wind now blows through him.
In a moment of clarity, he realizes that his former, solid self, is now nothing more than a mere outline, a subtle archway, an open portal from which the Light and Wind flow through.
Hidden deep within the forest of religion, myth, and conjecture–along a forgotten and overgrown trail at the very edge of the Land of Joy and Sorrow–lies a magnificent, ancient bridge. This bridge, often considered a legend–a fairy tale told to children at bedtime–humbles any spiritual seeker who is fortunate enough to stumble upon it.
Radiating an ethereal Light, the bridge offers a direct route over the Pit. As the spiritual traveler takes his first, tentative steps across, he is brought to his knees in awe and humility as his entire being is suffused with Divine Light.
His ego, a stubborn collection of thoughts born in the Land of Joy and Sorrow–powerful thoughts which have cruelly bewitched him–is violently shaken. The Divine Spark–the God within each of us–flickers, flames and ignites the kindling of his False Self.
Unbeknownst to most, on the far side of the Pit of Doom, lies the Plateau of the Serene Witness. Most will only arrive here after their body has expired, the Darkness engulfs them, and the Light – a soothing and beckoning Presence – guides them to the other side.
Some though, a very rare few, will find their way here during this lifetime. From the Plateau, all the illusions of the Mind are seen through – evaporating like morning mist in the sunlight of day.
Having bodies, physical Pleasure and Pain are still felt, but having seen through the mental, artificial images of the mind, the roller-coaster of Joy and Sorrow gently comes to a halt.
For the residents of the Plateau – both the Living and the Dead – Bliss and Happiness prevail.
In each life, an ominous Specter looms, ready to toss us into the Dark Unknown. To the religious, this may appear as the Darkness that follows Death and precedes eternal judgment. To the atheist – eternal nothingness. To the spiritual seeker, the Void – the final release from the death-throes of the Ego. But to all, the Darkness is total and the outcome Uncertain.
When one casts their eyes into the terrible blackness of the Pit, a deep and primal fear arises. We imagine cold, rushing winds ripping at our bodies as we tumble helplessly into the impenetrable and endless darkness.
And yet, no matter how stubbornly we avert our eyes, for each of us, the Pit awaits.
Soon, Thoughts and Ego form. With a mental self firmly embedded in our psyche and the new ability to imagine a future, our lives become further removed from the foundation of Reality and the Eternal Present Moment.
Joyfully we imagine a future with a happy family and rewarding career.
Anxiously we imagine failing health, financial difficulties, and loss of love and life.
Insults and Compliments and Hopes and Fears send our imagined selves on a life-long roller-coaster of Joy and Sorrow.
And yet Reality – the pure, physical reality of the moment – is overlooked and discounted as meaningless.