In previous stages of awakening consciousness, we spent a lot of time and effort in our spiritual practices. We developed discipline. We began to meditate regularly and incorporated meditation into our life. We learned to focus our attention and witness our thoughts. We abandoned interests detrimental to our spiritual growth and picked up new interests and friends that encouraged it.
All this effort paid off. We experienced moments of great freedom, peace, love and bliss. They may not have lasted long, but we definitely experienced them. It was proof that we were making progress.
Now that we are in the fourth stage of awakening, it is time to draw your attention to something very important. Think very carefully about these questions. What was the cause of these transcendent experiences? How did they come about? Yes, all that effort and time spent meditating and doing self-inquiry and other practices helped. They were like plowing a field before planting your crops. But what was the actual cause? This is very important.
If you look carefully, you will see that the actual cause was nothing. It took no effort at all for these deep experiences to happen. In fact, it was the opposite of effort. It was the relaxation of all effort, of all doing, of all your thoughts and beliefs that allowed these experiences to naturally arise by themselves. Freedom, peace, love and bliss are all experiences of your natural True Nature. There is nothing you can do to attain them. They are already always here. It is the relaxation of your efforting and of your conditioned resistance to your Natural Self that allows your Natural Self to shine through. And this is wonderful.
First Make Effort to Realize No Effort
Because of all our conditioning, great effort may indeed be necessary in the beginning to reach this stage of no-effort. But now is the time when this can become clear. All the efforts you have done in the beginning are a subtle mind-set that is telling you you are not already here. You are not already your True Self. There is still something to gain, something to attain. That was necessary in the beginning to create the discipline, the focus, the concentration to realize what has always been here. If you heard this too early, you would simply lie on the couch, crack open a beer and watch television. You would completely waste your precious life. Now the fruits of all that effort have ripened. Now is the time to taste this precious fruit.
Do Not Struggle
Do not try to make these short moments of Awakened Mind longer than they are. Do not wish a previous moment of Open Awareness will return. These are just thoughts telling you that your True Self is not here right now no matter what you are experiencing. Whenever possible simply fall effortlessly into the great space of Awakened Mind. This happens as soon you relax your thoughts and let go of resistance. It is always here, so simply by relaxing your thoughts, which are the only things keeping you from experiencing what you are, brings you home. At first these short moments may only last for a few seconds. This is perfect. Don’t worry if thoughts immediately return and distract you. This is normal. Just relax again and repeat. The more you taste the unlimited expanse and freedom of your True Self, the more you will gladly return to it by simply relaxing your thoughts in these short moments.
Don’t make a big deal out of it. It’s not a big deal. Yes, it feels wonderful, but it’s simply what you are. The more you relax your thoughts and fall into this infinite spaciousness, the more you will realize this.
Short moments of Awakened Mind lead you to longer moments. And these longer moments lead you to continuous realization. It all happens naturally and effortlessly. Don’t push it. Don’t wish for longer moments. Simply accept what is in each moment. Welcome to effortless meditation. Isn’t it wonderful. It probably wouldn’t have happened, or at least not with this continuity or reliability, if you hadn’t put in all that effort to create a foundation for it. But you have. So now enjoy the fruits.
The Map of Awakening Consciousness
Stage 4 – True Love and Something More
This post on Effortless Meditation is truly resonating with me. I have noticed the periods of ‘being’ in peace and ease. These occur simply and naturally throughout the day and in retrospect have no thoughts associated with them. It is just happening. I do not seek these experiences and it seems to be happening more often and for a longer time (e.g. when I go for a walk; some days at work for a whole day,…).
The moments of bliss also occur as well (e.g. during meditations or in savasana in yoga class), and are literally just seconds long.
What usually ends both the calm mind and the bliss experiences is the thought/feeling/emotion that acknowledges the lack of subtle struggle, and contraction immediately returns. As if lack of subtle, background struggling is not good. I get it that the ego is territorial 🙂 I also understand experientially that thought/feeling/emotion are impermanent and not the truth and can not stand in place of infinite consciousness.
I am seeking your advise on how to best address deeper conditioning that I might not be aware as of yet; or simply your advice for the next step on my spiritual journey.
I remain grateful for all you teaching.
This is very good and I am happy to hear this. You notice how these experiences of peace and even bliss happen effortlessly. They just happen. How wonderful. This is true.
It is effortless. Awakening is effortless. It is the end of effort to return to what one already is. And yet the mind has been conditioned to believe in effort. How much effort did it take to get an MD? For most people a lot. The conditioned world encourage and rewards effort.
And yet this great peace and bliss and unconditional love happen with no effort at all. If we try to attain these states of consciousness we cannot. In fact the harder we try, the further away these experiences seem to be. Interesting, isn’t it?
We cannot attain truth because truth is always here. It is never absent, never missing. So when we completely stop trying to attain truth, we may notice that truth is here. It is not what we have been conditioned to do.
Notice that the mind completely believes in effort. It doesn’t want to acknowledge that somethings, even somethings we want most in life, are simply already here and take absolutely no effort at all. It is the giving up of all effort and simply being that reveals this.
It’s not something the mind can accept. So we all have this conditioning. And, from what you have written, you are certainly in the process of shedding this naturally and effortlessly. It is already falling away by itself simply because you have noticed it. How long this takes, I don’t know. But it has already begun.
Simply being aware of this is enough. “Oh, this happens. Then this happens. Interesting.”
So the next step is tp completely accept whatever is happening in each moment. Accept this need for subtle background struggle. Accept this desire for effort. Totally embrace it. Embrace whatever arises no matter what it is. Accept it as if you chose exactly this to happen.
“Bliss. Oh, wonderful. I like this.” “Contraction, I totally accept this too. I completely open to this.” Look on every experience as a good experience whether it’s bliss or fear, whether it’s freedom or contraction. Whatever arises accept this. In this way it will teach you. It will show you why it is here. It will show you its truth if it has any. And it will show you its lack of truth if it doesn’t. Either way accept all of it. This is a very good way.
Already you are aware. Already you see what is happening. Now open to it even more. Let go of any resistance to whatever arises. If resistance comes, open to that. That’s how you let go of resistance, you just totally accept the resistance too. Not resisting resistance is the end of resistance.
This fully accepting what is in each moment is a practice. You don’t have to work on accepting peace or bliss or love. You already do. That’s not the practice. You practice with the experiences you resist. You open fully to whatever experiences you previously resisted. And we all do this. If we’re meditating and have a very peaceful experience and suddenly a feeling of anxiety comes, we try to make the anxiety feeling go away so we can go back to the peaceful feeling. If we fail to do this, then we feel we are having a bad meditation experience. This is the opposite approach. If anxiety arises, we totally welcome anxiety as if that’s exactly what we were hoping for. It still feels uncomfortable at first. And we welcome the discomfort too. We welcome all of it. What happens when we do this is after a while a great feeling of peace, freedom, expansiveness, and oneness is revealed. All this comes from simply not resisting. But we don’t do this practice to get this great feeling of peace. We simply accept whatever arises exactly as it is without any expectations or desire for anything to be different. We accept what is simply because it is. This is also what awareness does. This is also what awakened consciousness does. So now we do this consciously as a practice. It is a practice of awakening. To simply accept what is exactly as it is.
By accept I don’t mean a kind of resignation. “Oh well. I might as well accept it. What else can I do?” And this is true. But we do this with full acceptance and embracing. Resignation has its own resistance. We welcome whatever arises as if we chose it simply because it arises.
I hope that helps. You are aware and your practice and awareness is permeating your life. This is very good. It is one thing to experience peace and bliss on the meditation cushion and then in the rest of your life not so much. The point of meditation is that it permeate all of your life. And this welcoming of whatever arises in each moment is a very good moment by moment practice in your daily life.
“Accept this desire for effort. Totally embrace it. Embrace whatever arises no matter what it is. Accept it as if you chose exactly this to happen.”
Thank you so much, Peter. Your words and encouragement are invaluable.
Thank you, Dusica. I am happy this helps. This is the best kind of healing. As we continue to do this with everything that arises, it heals our entire life.