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What is the greatest ever-new miracle? Isn’t it Life itself? The amazing fact that, as an individuated human expression of Life, we are conscious that we are conscious? That we simply ARE and everything IS?
When our attachment to mind and history is relinquished, when the seeming solidity of our skin-encapsulated ego is punctured, even if momentarily, the translucent immediacy of Life breaks in and the Heart brims with wordless gratitude at the re-cognition of this absolute simplicity. I AM and Everything IS. No separation. No doubt. No problem. Only this. Radiant ineffable limitless Being.
If we genuinely want to awaken (and stay awake!) then regular re-cognition of, and immersion in, this mysterious Ground of Being is the door to spiritual freedom. So how do we open that door (and keep it open!)? The most direct way is very simple: sit down, be quiet and do nothing. Just BE. Or in other words, meditate!
This is why, especially when I saw the openness and receptivity in so many Portuguese who were attracted the ideals of the Awakened Life Project, I started offering weekend meditation retreats and, more recently, 1 week meditation retreats. And now, three years and hundreds of participants later, it continues to be one of my greatest joys and privileges to guide open hearts and minds into the discovery of Pure Being in a way that is direct, accessible and free from cultural and religious baggage.
True meditation is all about letting go. But in my retreats it is not about letting go of this and that. It is about letting go of everything! This sounds daunting, but if one’s aspiration for spiritual liberation and passion to venture into unknown territory is sincere, then anything is possible.
Who will we be when we let go of the weight of memory and the tension of expectation? When we release our compulsive fascination with the personal drama of our mind and emotions? When we allow ourselves to fall into the innocence and radiance of the Pure Being that we already are? When we experience that the deepest happiness mysteriously descends upon us when we want absolutely nothing at all? When we realize that, despite cruelty, injustice and all the pain and insanity of the burning world, Life is Good and I am Life?
Who will we be? I don’t know. But we don’t have to know in the sense of knowing it as an object. The mysterious paradox is that we find an answer in not knowing. We realize that Being or Consciousness (which I AM) is not an object, but rather that it is the unknowable (by the mind) Absolute Subject within which everything appears... from the trees and stars to thought and feeling. Stay in that not knowing long enough and eventually the duality of inner and outer collapses and we experience our prior unity with all that is.
But even these words cannot really capture it because non-duality is realized when the "I" disappears, hence we cannot really say that "we" experience "it". When the "I" sense dissolves then there is only experience, or, as I like to say, Awakened Life, because in the surrender of our separation we awaken to our identity with Life as a Whole. It is like being reborn anew over and over again! For in dying to the past in every moment we come alive every moment, and it is in this openness, trust, receptivity and pure curiosity that is the ground from which true transformation can arise.
The ever-new discovery of this simple miracle of Being changes everything. It unlocks our heart and minds from the chains of separation and pierces the hard shell of cynicism. It expands our identity to embrace the entire display of manifestation. It bursts the illusory bubble of “my life” and merges us with the Great Stream of Life itself. We discover the incredible truth that what religions call “the vision of God” is found by giving up any belief in the idea of God. And we find ourselves plunged into the “mystery of the universe” only when we are convinced that we know nothing about it at all!
So what is the "Radiance" of Being? What emanates from human beings when they come together in silence with a sincere intention to let go? It is the most beautiful and sacred quality. It is pristine purity, it is a peace that passes all understanding, and it is innocence. It is the fountainhead of Love welling up from Nothing untainted by time and the veil of the personal self.
It is this Radiance that breaks open in full flower at the end of the retreats, and also during the dialogue sessions of the one-week retreats, when people begin to speak after being immersed in mediation together. It begins as a delicate, gentle ripple of transparent communication as people gradually speak into the silence, and then gradually it surges into an ecstatic explosion of love, joy and intimacy. It is the most beautiful thing to behold as people who do not know each other personally share the remarkable discovery of a unity that transcends time and history. The light shining in their eyes and the soft radiance emanating from their faces speaks of the miracle of non-duality emerging as a reality in and between them, not only in the silence of Being, but also in their conscious communication as unique individuated expressions of the One.
Experiencing transcendental unity, peace and evolutionary love in the collective context of a retreat like this has the potential to reorient our entire life. The discovery of our inherent freedom as Pure Being gives us access to a new reference point in relationship to all experience. Now we know, that in the deepest place, who we really are is always already free from thought and emotion and the illusion of separation, even if it so often seems not to be the case! From that precious knowing, if we are able to trust it with all the concentrated energies of our spiritual aspiration and nurture it through continual meditation and contemplation, we can begin to see and disentangle ourselves from the binding fears, desires and beliefs of the psychological ego.
Then the call of an Awakened Life beckons us forward, not as some distant ideal, but as a vibrant living potential here and now as we give ourselves to the great task of surrendering our self-serving motives and inner division to the transmuting power of the Radiance of Being.
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