The choice to embrace every moment - however difficult or painful - offers you the opportunity to awaken out of the dream of separation. If you are willing to open to the totality of your experience, to be unwaveringly intimate with this moment and each moment as it unfolds, you will discover the radiant truth of wholeness that is at the core of everything.
The tendency is, of course, to turn away from what we don’t like, from what hurts, from what seems too dark or difficult to bear. And to turn towards what we do like, what is pleasurable and makes us feel good. This is ego’s self-protective mechanism and is a natural and necessary response to a physical threat. But when applied to a perceived psychological threat - such as facing an intense emotion or being challenged to go beyond your comfort zone - this mechanism creates suffering. It’s a habitual and unconscious mechanism that prevents you from recognizing that which is inherently alive and free in all circumstances. It also prevents you from knowing the truth of your essential nature as radiant being-ness. To see this egoic mechanism playing itself out, is the beginning of awakening.
It was the willingness to open my heart to everything – including the darkness of suffering – that allowed the radiant luminosity of being to reveal itself in my life. It was a radical awakening which changed everything from the inside out. In the beginning, it stripped me bare of any structures in my inner and outer world that did not serve this awakened consciousness. Psychological defenses were seen through and collapsed, relationships and friendships based on co-dependency dissolved, and mental distractions simply stopped. At the same time, a deeper purpose to the creative flow of my “work” in the world revealed itself, and any action not in alignment with this new purpose rapidly fell away. Later on, this radical awakening gave birth to my role as a spiritual teacher.
It all happened unexpectedly in the midst of my everyday life whilst living in the busy metropolis of London. I wasn’t looking for enlightenment or liberation or even happiness; the search had stopped a long time ago. But life had brought me to the edge of an inner barren landscape, an existential void that threatened to engulf me in its darkness. I recognized this as something that had haunted me as an adolescent and young adult but had invested a lot of energy in avoiding. This time, I seem to have had no choice but to stop running away and turn towards it. It happened in two parts (within a few weeks of each other, although I didn’t really connect the two experiences until much later). The first part came as a visionary experience that spoke to me personally and also gave me the keys to the transformation of humanity’s suffering.
Whilst this vision was profound and had enormous ramifications on the relationship to every aspect of my life (I describe this vision in detail in my book Radical Awakening), it wasn’t until the second part that the undeniable realization of awakeness was integrated into my cellular being. There was a moment as I was sitting on the couch in my small one-bedroom apartment – which I still remember so vividly today – when an incredible terror arose; it was as if I was absolutely alone in the whole of existence, like a microscopic pinprick of “something” hanging within the infinite vastness of “nothing”. For the briefest of moments, the belief that I had been abandoned by Life/God/the Creator flashed through my consciousness. And in the same moment, I saw with incredible clarity that this belief had always been with me as the “core wound of separation”. I saw how my mind created defenses, distractions and contortions in order to avoid facing the horror of this abandonment. But instead of turning away by getting up to make a cup of tea or reading a spiritual book (my two most common strategies), I somehow recognized that this time there was no denying the fact that the void of nothingness was right here in my experience of this moment. And so I chose to give myself to it totally.
The surrender was absolute: I surrendered all fear and all hope, I surrendered all imagination of how things should be and even the idea that my life as I had known it would continue in any way at all. I was 100 percent willing to be extinguished and absorbed into an eternity of unknown emptiness. And so, I fell into the dark abyss of being without a safety net. But to my surprise, this was not the end of it! Not only did “I” dissolve into emptiness but, simultaneously,
“I” merged with the totality of existence. And this was experienced as the fullness of love. It was a psychological death, a liberation of self from the knot of ego. From that moment on, there was no more story of separation and I was no longer a victim of life. In the torchlight of awake awareness, all that remained was the translucency of being, an unbounded spaciousness that allowed an ever-deepening unfoldment into inner silence.
Although there had been many years prior to awakening in which I immersed myself in therapy, bodywork, meditation practices and other psycho-spiritual tools in order to unravel my complex story and heal some of the traumas, there still remained some more subtle defensive layers of ego-protection. As the initial bud of awakening matured into the flower of awakeness over a period of several years, there was a purification of these mental and emotional contractions. Today, the silence of my true nature is experienced as a nondual awareness that embraces both the mystery and mess of the human experience. It is a radical awakening because it has included everything. Not one vestige of inner division can survive when 100 percent allegiance is given to the fire of truth. The ever-changing nature of life is fully lived and yet the unchanging radiance of being at the core of all that is experienced is deeply recognized. God is seen to be in everything.
My invitation is for you to also be willing to say a wholehearted yes to the unfoldment of each moment - in all its horror, agony or ecstasy - and to discover what is truly here beneath and beyond all appearances. In other words, to recognize the silence at the radiant core of everything and to come home to God.
When the first edition of my book was published in 2008, it was titled How to Find God in Everything. The title was inspired by a beautiful saying from the Indian mystic Rabindranath Tagore: “In order to find God, you must welcome everything”. And this simple statement contains the essence of my teaching. When this edition sold out of its print run a couple of years ago, it was a clear a new edition was required. In response to both the deepening of my own inner experience and to the evolution of the expression of my teaching over the years, this new edition has been retitled Radical Awakening and has a new Preface, Introduction and some minor changes to the text. In particular, I rarely use the word “God” these days, as it is burdened with cultural and religious conditioning and its deeper meaning is often missed by the Western mind. I now prefer to speak of being-ness, presence, or silence. I also refer to this primary state of consciousness as unconditioned or nondual awareness, or simply as awakeness. In the new edition, I use “God” interchangeably with these terms, so as to give more expression to that which is essentially inexpressible.
If you - like so many people today are searching for peace and true fulfillment - I invite you to read this book from the silence at the radiant core of your being. God is right here in the space between words … in the intimacy of this moment. Namaste.
This article was first published in WATKINS MIND BODY SPIRIT Magazine (Summer 2016)
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