The Way of Awakening
In the context of awakening, the only thing that matters is whether you are present or whether you are lost in your mind. If you are truly present in this moment, then you are an awakened being, at least for this moment. If you are in the mind, you are entering a world of past memory and future imagining. You are entering a world of idea, concept, opinion and belief. You are entering a world of illusion and separation. If you believe in your thoughts, ideas, opinions and beliefs as somehow being true, you will become absorbed into the world of the mind and disconnected from Presence.
The more rigid your beliefs, the more you will find yourself imprisoned within the mind.
This is what has happened to humanity. Almost the whole of humanity is imprisoned within the world of the mind and now we are living with the consequences of that.
Just Memory and Imagination
In truth, there is no life outside of this moment. This moment is the only life really available to us. Everything outside of this moment is a kind of dream. It is not real. It is just memory and imagination. It is a world of endless thought, and each thought takes us into the remembered past or imagined future. Most people cannot stop the thoughts, and so we find ourselves endlessly lost in illusion, but we do not realize it. It is not until we become present that we realize that we have been lost in a dream.
To awaken out of the dream means to awaken fully into the moment of now. It means you are here, in this moment, and you are nowhere else. You feel whole and complete. There is nothing missing. All the pain and limitations of the past have disappeared. You are free of anxiety about the future. You have transcended judgment of yourself and others. In moments of perfect Presence you are an awakened being. And if you become fundamentally established in the present moment, then you are fundamentally awake. You are grounded in the truth and reality of this moment, and even when you venture into the world of the mind, you know that you are entering a world of illusion and so you don’t go so far into the mind that you get lost there. You think whenever it is appropriate, but you don’t get lost in thought. You maintain your sense of Presence even as you use your mind and play in the world of the time. You live in the world of NOW – this is your home. You use your mind whenever it is appropriate but then you just naturally and spontaneously come back to the present moment.
The Illusion of Separation Dissolves
To awaken into Presence is a blessing beyond imagining. The present moment reveals the truth of life and the profound mystery of our existence. As you become more present, you open into love, acceptance and compassion. You begin to sense the Oneness as the illusion of separation dissolves. At the deeper levels of Presence, you begin to experience the presence of God in all things present. At the deepest level of Presence, Heaven on Earth is revealed.
So of course the question arises, how do we accomplish that? How do we free ourselves from the world of the mind that never stops thinking? How do we overcome the resistance of the ego and become fundamentally awake? Humans have been on the path of awakening for thousands of years and yet very few have managed to awaken. But now that must change because we cannot continue living unconsciously upon this planet. We are desperately in need of a simple and direct way of awakening.
Steps to Awakening: Be Present
The first step is to learn how to be present. There is a simple key that allows you to come out of the past and future into the present. Just bring yourself present with something that is here in the moment with you. If you can see it, hear it, feel it, taste it, or touch it, you can be present with it. The moment you are present, thoughts will stop. Your mind will fall silent. Now you are present. Gradually you will deepen into Presence. Gradually you will become grounded in the present moment so that Presence becomes the foundation of your life, even as you play in the world of the mind.
Steps to Awakening: Determine the Obstacles that Prevent You From Living in the Present
The second step involves bringing conscious awareness to all the ways you are involuntarily pulled out of Presence. What are the obstacles to you becoming present? This is a process that occurs over time and it will lead to mastery of the mind and ego, which is essential for true awakening. Here are some obstacles you may face:
Get to Know Your Ego
The primary obstacle to awakening is the resistance of the ego. If you are to awaken, you will have to get to know your own ego. What is the ego? How does it function? What is its role in your life? Why does it resist presence, and how can you overcome its resistance? If you are to awaken, you will have to come into right relationship with the ego.
Bring It All to Consciousness
You cannot awaken from an unconscious dream. You will have to go through a process where you begin to recognize the nature of your dream and bring it all to consciousness. Where are you caught in the dream? What is unhealed? Who have you become in the dream? What is the theme of your dream? This will involve owning, acknowledging, confessing and revealing all those aspects of yourself that you have been judging, denying, hiding, or trying to fix. It is a process that occurs over time and it must be done without judgment and with love, acceptance and compassion towards every aspect of your self.
Take Responsibility for Repressed Feelings
Most of us are living with strong feelings repressed within us. Most of these repressed feelings originate in childhood. The primary feelings are anger, sadness, unfulfilled need, and fear. If you are to awaken, you will have to liberate these feelings so that they are no longer repressed within you. Otherwise there will always be someone who will trigger these repressed feelings and then the past will project onto the present, distorting your experience of the present moment. To awaken, you will have to take full responsibility for the feelings repressed within you. You will have to come into right relationship with these feelings.
We are living with limiting beliefs that also originate in childhood. I am alone. I am abandoned. There is no one here. I am not loved. I am not good enough. I can’t do it. I have to please others. It is not OK to be myself. I have to repress my feelings. I can’t have what I want. This is just a small sample of the limiting beliefs that we live with. This can lead to a life long quest for love, acceptance or approval from others. In this way, we tend to lose ourselves in others. If we are energetically mixed upon or entangled in others, how can we discover who we really are? If we are to awaken, we will have to bring these things to conscious awareness and release ourselves from them.
Freedom From Judgment
Finally, we will have to free ourselves from judgment, whether it is judgment of our selves, others, or some event that occurs in our lives. The energy of judgment will keep us forever imprisoned in separation and illusion. In Presence, there is no judgment.
As you deepen into Presence, and arise in mastery of your mind and ego, your life and relationships will be transformed. You will feel more peaceful and more loving. You will no longer look to others for love and acceptance. You will no longer judge yourself or others, nor will you fear the judgment of others. You will feel more empowered to be yourself and express yourself fully and freely. You will think more clearly, and you will no longer be afflicted with that constant stream of unconscious and unintended thoughts. Your mind will be fundamentally silent, and at the deeper levels of Presence, you will begin to experience what the great mystics and masters have been speaking about for centuries.
Paramhansa Yogananda: A Mahayogi Comes West
Millions actively practice yoga and meditation with the ultimate goal of achieving self-realization, but few are aware of one of the most influential people who brought these Eastern teachings to the West. Paramahansa Yogananda, an Indian yogi and guru who lived from 1893 to 1952, experienced his own rendition of the famed Hero’s Journey. Yogananda’s legacy lives on, and his seminal work, Autobiography of a Yogi, is still considered among the “100 Best Spiritual Books of the 20th Century,” continuing to grace the bookshelves of philosophers and the spiritually inquisitive.
Born to a devout, upper-class family in Gorakhpur, India, Yogananda’s spiritual fate was foretold in his infancy. His parents’ guru, Lahiri Mahasaya, blessed the child and told his mother, “Little mother, thy son will be a yogi. As a spiritual engine, he will carry many souls to God’s kingdom.” The prophecy did not take long to begin its manifestation, and at an early age, Yogananda experienced the first signs of spiritual awakening.
When he was eleven years old, Yogananda’s mother was in Calcutta — he had a dream that she was dying. A telegram arrived soon after, confirming this tragedy. From this point onward, Yogananda’s spiritual life escalated, and he began an earnest search for the guru he had seen thousands of times in his dreams. When he was 17-years old, he finally found Swami Yuktweswar Giri, a revered teacher who met him with open arms, and declared that he had been waiting for Yogananda.
It was at their first meeting that Yuktweswar taught Yogananda the meaning of unconditional love. In his autobiography, Yogananda recalls his master’s words, “‘Ordinary love is selfish, darkly rooted in desires and satisfactions. Divine love is without condition, without boundary, without change. The flux of the human heart is gone forever at the transfixing touch of pure love.’” It was also during this first meeting that Yuktweswar told Yogananda that he was destined to teach Kriya Yoga in the United States and throughout the world.