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Experiencing Bliss: A Matter of Perspective

by Sara Chetkin


 Your mind is playing tricks on you. Or even better, your ego is playing tricks on you. So many teachers, philosophers and religious icons have said it: we are dreaming, and we must wake up. The process of waking up is often described as "going within." But this can be misleading. Think of a dream. When you are dreaming would you tell your dream persona to look inside to realize it is dreaming? The thing itself is a product of the dream. Is there truth within it? Everywhere it looks it sees the projection of the dreamer’s mind: the whims and fantasies, the unearthed fears and desires. And when it looks to itself it experiences the reactions to these projections: the psychoses that arise when we search for truth in the chaotic, unconscious pondering of the dreamer. The mental struggle to bring order and meaning to this chaos occurs within the realm of the ego, and it hasn’t brought me any closer to lasting peace or understanding. How about you? I am beginning to understand that if we do not transcend the need to find order within the chaos, we will only circle round and round our true nature, never truly blossoming.

In The Healing Curve, I discuss at length the importance of understanding our emotional reactions to life. We all have triggers, and these triggers have an origin. It is helpful to discover that origin and heal it. This is true, but I have come to realize that after a certain point even this process hinders our progress. Once we understand how the system works – experiences create memories, memories create programs, and programs create uncon-scious behavior – we must move on. We can dig and dig and dig. We will never come to the end of it because seeking understanding within the dream state only leads us into deeper dreams. Instead, we must awaken the dreamer. But how? Who is the dreamer? In Sadhana, The Path to Enlightenment, Swami Rama describes the "center of consciousness" that is sleeping within the city of life. We are this center, and this center knows well its true source. Yet, we are separated from this knowledge through our faith in the ego. The ego – or the mental self – acts like a wall, shielding from view the light of the divine. Thus, in our dream state (where ego reigns) we are unaware that this light is always upon us. Black Elk, a Sioux medicine man, understood this. He said "peace will come when we realize that the Great Spirit dwells at the center of the universe. That center is every where, it is within each of us." If we want to experience the divine, we need only shift our attention away from the mental trappings of the ego. More often than not, when we begin a spiritual life, our first thought is to destroy the ego in order to liberate our true nature. This is folly. The ego is a tool, not a warden. The divine cannot be imprisoned. The divine is omnipotent. So we need not destroy the ego, but we must educate ourselves. We must surrender the power of the ego before the true master, the center of conscious-ness, the higher self.

This is a matter of discipline, and we can begin by a simple process of observation. If we begin to pay attention to our thoughts, we will soon notice their inconsistent nature. Our minds create an ever-changing landscape where some days we are up and some days we are down. Some things look good and some bad. Our identification with this evaluative process traps us in an endless maze. The truth is there is no good, and there is no bad. The Upanishads state that diversity is an illusion. All of life is one infinite expanse known as Brahman. Everything we see is a product of divine intelligence. We do not experience it this way because we are entranced by the ego’s dualistic perspective. We have become addicted to categories and hierarchies. We are attached to the thrill of achievement and failure, but we have deceived ourselves because these ups and downs do not bring lasting contentment. They bring anything but that! Yet even as I write these words, I feel the fear that takes hold when I consider another way. For too long I have trained myself to believe that if I am not "better than" then I am nothing. When someone has "proven me wrong" it feels like a small death because that part of myself is now "worthless." Does this sound familiar? So, imagine what it feels like to have your entire approach to life "proven wrong." That’s a huge death! No one is eager to experience that, but this is how we perceive enlightenment when we are entranced by the ego. It sounds very nice in theory – bliss, eternal peace – but what about words like merge and dissolve? Where does that leave "me?" This is one of humankind’s greatest fears: the unknown. What happens to my identity when I merge with the divine? Fear not. In Sadhana, The Path to Enlightenment Swami Rama has this to say: When "the drop of water meets the ocean, it becomes the ocean." We do not disappear; we unfold into boundlessness. This is true freedom. So, do not fear the loss of individuality. The individual we call self is an illusion: a conglomeration of thoughts, feelings and memories. The true self is far greater with unlimited potential, and we need only shift our attention to experience it. Henry David Thoreau says "the truest life is when we are in our dreams awake." So let us awaken from this trance! "Turn your face to the sun, and the shadows fall behind you." This Maori proverb states it perfectly. The ego – our shadows – will always be there. Will we continue to wander in darkness through its endless mazes or will we look to the light and find our way home? The choice is yours.

Sara Chetkin was born in Key West, Fl in 1979. When she was 15 she was diagnosed with severe scoliosis, and spent much of the next 15 years traveling around the world seeking healing and spiritual insight. These travels and explorations are the basis for her first book, The Healing Curve. She graduated from Skidmore College in 2001 with a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology. After graduation she moved to Somerville, MA and worked in various cafes and restaurants, while pursuing an education in herbal medicine as well as in spiritual studies at Delphi University in McCaysville, GA. In 2004 she began a master’s program at the New England School of Acupuncture, and in 2007 earned a Master of Science in Acupuncture and Oriental medicine. She is a Ro-hun therapist and an Ordained Minister with the Church of Wisdom, Delphi University. She lives in New York State with her husband, Brecht, and their son, Adrian.

The Healing Curve: A Catalyst to Consciousness, published by Rainbow Ridge Books, ISBN 978-1-937907-8, is available on Amazon.com, BN.com, and bookstores everywhere.


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