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We live in a tipping point time of great peril and great potential that is unprecedented in the history of humanity, More and more of us are becoming aware that we are living in a period of immense upheaval and transition on all levels. With converging crises of ecological destruction, economic collapse, the breakdown of traditional paradigms; old structures are crumbling in every dimension of our existence.
Many of us are also waking up to the fact that there is no external God (separate from ourselves) or government “out there” that is coming to the rescue. It is our understanding and experience that no spiritual tradition or institution with its roots firmly planted in the past can fully embrace the multi-dimensional challenges of our time. As Einstein famously said, “Our problems cannot be solved from the same level of consciousness that created them”
So what are we to do? Will we collapse in despair and victimization or rise up to something we could never have imagined? Will we break down or breakthrough? Are we ready to take responsibility for Life, evolve together and create the New? Are we facing the inevitable end of everything as some say? Or are we experiencing an entirely new set of life conditions that—painful and chaotic as they are—will catalyze a saner, more enlightened and loving future?
For those of us with the eyes to see and the ears to hear we stand at the head of a new age of development which must lead to a new and larger synthesis. Our present crisis cannot be explained or solved only in social, political, economic or environmental terms; it is an evolutionary crisis, and therefore at heart it is a spiritual crisis and hence requires a radical response.
The Awakened Life Project is a bold contemporary creative response to this great challenge of our times. The visionary seed was planted at the abandoned mountain farm of Quinta da Mizarela in Central Portugal by co-founders Peter & Cynthia Bampton in 2007. The Project has since flowered into a growing network of co-creators and communities dedicated to an evolving vision of manifesting the spiritual truth of unity in this world.
What do we mean by Awakening? In short, we mean waking up from the dream of our separate, limited existence as a mortal psychophysical self to the utterly liberating mystery of who we really are as One Life and One Consciousness. This radical discovery signifies the end of the story of separation that is the source of all suffering, conflict and insanity in this world and the beginning of a Great Adventure—the adventure of Consciousness, knowing and creating itself anew as our very own Awakened Life, in real time within real relationships.
We use the terms “I” and “mine” and “me” and we talk about “my” body, “my” mind, “my” family and “my” life. We think we know what the body is, we think we know what a thought is, but do we know who claims to own these things? Every time we ask the question, “Who am I?” the mind brings up an answer, “I am a man or a woman, I am rich or poor, I am educated or a simple person…” But if we are not satisfied with these answers and we go deeper into our experience we find that the answers given by the mind to this question are not true. If we look for the thinker of these thoughts, we cannot find one. Any insistence that “I am the thinker!” is just another thought arising. So who is this I?
Through sincere meditation and contemplation we may be surprised to find that we cannot locate an enduring sense of “me.” It simply is not there. Yet this moment is being experienced, sounds are being heard and form and movement are being seen. In the absence of any fixed entity or sense of ‘me’ to be found, what remains? The ungraspable mystery of who we are, beyond all definition—Consciousness Itself.
Awakening to our True Nature as Consciousness we discover that we are ever-present and without limits or location. We discover that we cannot be disturbed and are therefore inherently at Peace. We discover that there is nothing missing and therefore we are inherently Happy. We discover that we are utterly intimately one with all appearances and are therefore Love itself, in which there is no room for ‘otherness,’ distance or separation. Nothing can come into existence without Consciousness giving itself utterly, intimately and entirely to that particular appearance. Therefore, when we awaken to our True Self we say, “YES!” to the totality of Life. Then whatever appears in our awareness appears in and as our True Self. Our True Self is the dimensionless field of pure sensitivity and receptivity intimately tasting every experience as a modification of our own Being, our True Self.
Deeply resting at the heart of all experience, free to take the shape of all experience and yet independent of all experience, we recognize that the deepest Truth of who we really are is always already here and now. Consciousness, Spirit, God, the Divine Reality—whatever name we want to give the unnamable wonder of existence—simply IS. It is the Great Context in which all contents, including our individuated “body minds” and this abundant display of manifestation, appear. It is always here and now as YOU waiting to be re-cognized or known again in every moment. That is the ever-new miracle and the “good news” of Awakening. This understanding is at the heart of the Awakened Life Project.
Humanity has generally lived believing in either the reality of Consciousness and the illusoriness of Creation, or the reality of Creation and the illusoriness of Consciousness, Spirit or God. But the reality of the human being is that we are both together, a tremendous harmony between Consciousness and Creation. Creation is the outer or exterior face of Consciousness and Consciousness is the inner or interiority of Creation. In the most profound and comprehensive vision these two faces are seen and experienced as of ONE Divine Reality.
The spiritual vision and philosophy of the Awakened Life Project encompasses nothing less than the realization and fulfillment of our human potential as integral expressions of the Divine. The word “Di-vine” refers to the two “vines” or poles of the One Ultimate Reality encompassing the Transcendent Consciousness or Being “vine” and the Immanent Consciousness or Becoming “vine”.
2 FACES HERE
We are both Eternal, Transcendent Being; radically free, untouched and unaffected by all that arises and passes away and, at the same time, we manifest as unique embodied individuals awakening to a Creative Process. Embracing our totality, which reconciles the demands of matter, life, mind and spirit in integral harmony, we can potentially transform our lives into radiant flames of Evolutionary Love. That Love ever reaches for higher and deeper expressions of harmony and integration. That Love is a source of inexhaustible inspiration that calls us to the great task of creating the world that we know in our hearts is possible. It is a Love that forges an idealism that is realistic and a realism that is idealistic. It is this Love that the Awakened Life Project is dedicated to catalyzing and releasing.
The spiritual vision and philosophy of the Awakened Life Project embraces the best of perennial wisdom as a foundation for this open-ended adventure. The traditional Indian “yogas” of self-knowledge, love and devotion and selfless service—bhakti, jnana and karma yoga—are embraced, as is the tantric insight into the divinity of energy and matter. As we climb from peak to peak new fields of knowledge open before us fostering a non-dogmatic attitude toward fresh experience and experimentation.
In this synthetic vision the creative force that generates the world is seen and experienced as being born out of Consciousness and as inseparable from it. The manifest universe is Conscious Reality throwing itself out into form as you and me and everything that we can perceive. The world therefore is not an illusion or a figment of conception in the universal mind, as traditional spirituality has often envisioned, but is a conscious birth of that Mystery which is beyond mind into infinite forms of Itself. Our world and universe are not therefore a meaningless unreality but an evolving manifestation of self-existent and conscious Being.
Realizing our Divinity and releasing that Evolutionary Love demands everything from us. It demands that we purify and free ourselves from the agenda of the ego—the counterforce that blinds us to the glory of who we really are—not only for our own sake but also for the sake of Life as a whole.
“Ego” in this context does not refer to our experience of individuality, but to the powerful illusion of independent self-existence. This illusion is created by our deeply ingrained need to identify with our separateness as standing outside of and independent from all “others” and all of manifest reality “out there”.
What is ego? Ego is the “I” that feels limited, the “I” that feels habitually alienated and unhappy. It is the “I” that always has a problem to overcome, the “I” that is convinced that there is “something wrong”. It is the “I” that needs to be in constant control of “my” life, the “I” that is devoid of genuine spontaneity, compassion and love. It is the “I” that is constantly checking inwardly, “What’s in it for me?” Ego is at the root of all the suffering, projections and division that plagues us and our relationships to all apparent others, be it our partner, children, co-workers, friends, animals or plants.
But the good news of Awakening is that the ego is not truly you or I or anyone else and never has been. For in truth who we are is not a static, wounded, deficient, unhappy entity that goes by a particular name and is defined by a particular personal history. The apparent solidity and continuity of the ego “I” is nothing more than a deeply conditioned activity of identification with a complex web of psychological and cultural patterns that bind us to an illusory sense of independent self-existence. It is nothing more than a case of mistaken identity.
Ego is by its nature a smallness of being that is ignorant of its inherence in a far greater Being. Imagine a whirlpool appearing in the ocean automatically sucking water into itself. Then imagine that the whirlpool presumes itself to be a “something” that is other than the ocean, other than water. The powerful illusion that the ego “I” creates is like that whirlpool. It is a psychophysical whirl or repeating pattern of consciousness that presumes itself to be other than, and independent from, the wider ocean of Being in which it inheres. That is why when we look deeper into our experience and try to look for the ego “I” we cannot actually locate it. All we can find is water, or Consciousness or a Mystery that we can’t explain.
SELF-CONTRACTION OF EGO MODEL
When see through and free ourselves from the negative emotions and fixed ideas of the ego then our unique self-expression shines. Our felt sense of individuality that thinks, feels and acts is experienced as something fresh, fluid and inherently creative. Mind-transcending trust dissolves all boundaries and we learn what it means to live in the Unknown. Then we potentially find out who we are anew in each and every moment. Then the true meaning of the word “individual”— meaning “indivisible” or “undivided”—can be discovered and lived. To the degree that we free ourselves from ego our individuality is founded on Unity and Truth rather than division and illusion.
To awaken, recover and manifest the fulfillment of our True Self we must break free of the walls and chains created by the self-contraction of ego. Only then can our sense of individuality be founded on Truth, only then can we expand and fuse into a wider cosmic “I”— an Awakened or Enlightened “I”—that perpetually transcends and includes the psychophysical dimensions of body, sensation, emotion and mind. Then, in proportion to the degree that we can deliver ourselves from the self-contraction of ego, we live a life of unlimited potential, interconnectedness, wonder, wisdom, gratitude, happiness and freedom.
What would it mean to be more interested in what is real and true than in how we feel from day to day? What would it be like for our energy and attention to be freed from fear, self-infatuation, selfishness and psychological suffering? Is it possible to live together in a context of absolute trust, honesty and love in which all difficulties are faced and resolved with maturity? Can we imagine living in a context in which others are only interested in supporting the emergence of our own highest potential? Can we imagine discovering together a shared sense of purpose that far transcends the personal dimension of our lives and hence unifies all in a seamless Whole?
Contemplating such questions within ourselves and with others opens us to infinite possibilities for human development, but bringing the potential for a new consciousness and culture into manifestation does not simply happen spontaneously as a result of spiritual insight and experience. Meeting the challenge of Transformation means that we want to be fundamentally converted from seeking Truth to surrendering to Truth. It means that we want be liberated not only for our own sake, but also for the sake of the evolution of the human race. It is means that we want to take responsibility for Life and become living, breathing expressions of actualizing a new possibility on planet earth. This is where commitment to ongoing spiritual practice and the creation of an evolutionary culture comes in.
To help to facilitate this all Awakened Life Project participants are committed to a regular practice of meditation and ongoing group inquiry in the form of men’s, women’s and mixed groups, both in person and online. These groups provide a forum for the exploration and integration of the Awakening Process in all areas of life and are under the guidance of co-founders and teachers Cynthia and Peter Bampton.
Through these practices and others, Project participants ground themselves ever more deeply in the liberating discovery of their essential Unity and Freedom. This context of profound trust and transparency that emerges within us and between us provides a container for the challenging ordeal of ego-transcendence and the release of higher creative potentials both individually and collectively.
Through the Awakened Life Project’s progressive, practical and post-traditional approach to spiritual evolution, sincere participants are transcending limiting psychological and cultural identities, patterns and motivations. The result is human beings coming together in a prior unity that transcends the fears and desires of the separate ego, finding new ways to communicate, to create and to bring into everyday existence a higher level of Love, Trust and Unity. This is occurring in spiritual community, in cities, in schools, in creative projects working within and outside of existing structures. As participants gradually align their lives with the energy and intelligence of the One Consciousness and Life then their individual and collective evolutionary unfolding has the soil and sustenance to flower in its innate Truth, Goodness, Freedom and Creativity.