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Vision, Philosophy & Practice

In this video from a talk given at Auroville, India, Peter speaks about the spiritual vision, philosophy and experience of The Awakened Life Project:

 

 

 

THE CONTEXT
 

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 and 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 “out there” or governmental organization that is coming to the rescue. No spiritual tradition or institution with its roots firmly planted in the past can fully embrace the multidimensional 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? Or are we experiencing life conditions that - painful and chaotic as they are - will catalyze a 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. Our present crisis cannot be explained or solved only in social, political or environmental terms. At heart we are facing a crisis of consciousness, a spiritual crisis, that demands a radical and integral response.

The Awakened Life Project is a bold, contemporary experiment in the evolution of consciousness and culture. 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. Since then 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.

 

THE AWAKENING
 

What do we mean by Awakening? In short, we mean waking up from the dream of our separate, limited existence as a psychophysical self to the utterly liberating mystery of who we really are as One Life and One Consciousness. This discovery signifies the ending of the story of separation that is the source of all human suffering, conflict and insanity 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 go deeper into our experience we find that the answers given by the mind to this question are incomplete or false. Then 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 am I and who are we really?

Through sincere meditation and contemplation we may be surprised to find that we cannot locate an enduring sense of “I” in the stuff of our psychological experience. Yet this moment is being experienced, sounds are being heard and form and movement are being seen. In the absence of any fixed entity to be found, what remains? An ungraspable mystery beyond all definition - Consciousness Itself.

Awakening to our True Nature as Consciousness we discover the “I” that is ever-present and without limits or location. We are not merely confined to the body-mind, rather the body-mind, appears in us. Resting in and as that “I” we discover that we are inherently at Peace. We discover that there is nothing missing and therefore we are inherently Happy. We discover that we are intimately one with all appearances and are therefore Love itself, in which there is no room for “otherness”, distance or separation. Awakening to our True Self we say a big "YES!" to Life, because our True Self is the dimensionless field of pure sensitivity, intelligence and receptivity that intimately welcomes every experience as a modification of its own Being.

Resting at the Heart of Reality, 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 appear, including our individuated body-mind and this abundant display of manifestation. It is always here and now as YOU waiting to be recognized in every moment. That is the ever-new miracle and the “good news” of Awakening.

 

THE PHILOSOPHY

Humanity has generally lived believing in either the reality of Consciousness or God and the illusoriness of Creation, as in the traditional spiritual culture of the East, or in the reality of Creation and the illusoriness of Consciousness or God, as in the modern West. But the reality of the human being is that we are both together, we are 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 poles are seen and experienced as of ONE Divine Non-Dual Reality.

The spiritual vision and philosophy of the Awakened Life Project reaches for the realization and fulfillment of our human potential as integral expressions of the Divine Reality. We like to use the word “Di-vine” to refer to the two “vines” or poles of Non-Dual Reality encompassing the Transcendent Eternal Present Moment of Being “vine” and the Immanent Creative Process or Becoming “vine”.

What does this mean in practice? It means that we know ourselves to be spiritual beings having a human experience, not merely human beings potentially having a “spiritual” experience. It means that, in the deepest dimension, we understand ourselves to be Eternal, Transcendent Consciousness or Being, radically free, untouched and unaffected by all that arises and passes away. And, at the same time, it also means that we understand ourselves to be unique embodied individuals awakening to a Creative Process. Embracing this totality reconciles the demands of matter, life, mind and spirit in an integral harmony.

Through endeavoring to realize and live this totality we can potentially transform our lives into radiant flames of Evolutionary Love. This is not merely an Unconditional Love that embraces and accepts everything as it is, it is also a Love that ever reaches for higher and deeper expressions of harmony and integration. This Love is a source of inexhaustible inspiration that calls us to the great task of bringing the spiritual truth of unity into manifestation. It is a Love capable of forging 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 - jnana, bhakti 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 are a manifestation of self-existent and conscious Being. 

 

THE COUNTERFORCE​
 

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 plague us and our relationships to all apparent others.

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.

As we gradually free ourselves from the habitual activity of identification that creates the illusion of the separate “I” then our true and 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 limits and 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”—is discovered and lived.

To awaken and manifest the fulfillment of our True Self we must break free of the walls and chains created by the ego. Only then can our individuality be founded on Truth, only then can we expand and inhabit 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 free ourselves from the self-contraction of ego, we live a life of unlimited potential, interconnectedness, wonder, wisdom, gratitude, happiness and freedom.
 

THE PRACTICE
 

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 for human beings 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 entails being 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 a spiritually awakened culture comes in.

To help to facilitate this emergence 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 prior unity and freedom. This context of profound trust and transparency that is the emanation of this shared discovery, 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 integral approach to spiritual awakening and evolution, sincere participants are transcending limiting psychological and cultural identities, patterns and motivations. The result is human beings coming together in a profound trust that transcends the fears and desires of the separate ego, and through that communion finding new ways to communicate and co-create a new culture.  This is occurring in spiritual community, in cities, in schools, in projects working within and outside of existing structures. As participants progressively 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.

About the project

The Awakened Life Project is situated in a beautiful and wild ecological reserve in the mountains Central Portugal. We offer volunteer programs, courses, events and retreats to support the liberation of the human spirit in a context of evolutionary emergence and communion with the ecological web of life.

Contacts

Quinta da Mizarela
3305-031 Benfeita
Portugal

info@awakenedlifeproject.org
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