by Matthew Peters Sieradski
Knowledge of reality returns us to our natural disposition, prior to all dispositions. Without clinging to the sense of separate self, we are freed into the ever-existing substrate, the pure plenum, the complete fullness. This return unlocks our potential for experiencing the innate bliss that is the creative pulse of manifestation – for returning to the experience of our true Self, beyond all separation.
Identification with the phenomena of body and mind as separate from the ground of being locks us into a resistance mode, a contraction, which can be great or small, but is always unsatisfactory. One key to recognizing our delusion is the absence of innate bliss. This bliss comes from complete relaxation of all resistance to what is. When it is revealed, we feel content beyond threat of extinction or change. When it is hidden from us, we seek – subtly or not. The goal of life is stability in this innate bliss of Self.
While it is indescribable, the state of steady Self-abidance is intuited from within the dream state. The bliss of deep sleep and swoon point the way to the complete release that is experienced when the divine subtle energy manifests unobstructed, connecting our body's central channel with the infinite manifestation and the eternal ground. The shaft of light which is the center of the universe is our deepest and most intimate core – the center of our very essence. The way to return to full awareness of our core is to stop struggling completely. Then this deepest essence shines as everything we see and know. All boundaries dissolve forever; only their image remains.
This cessation of all struggle is also the release of all effort; it is complete surrender. We recognize that we are fundamentally impotent as a separate willful entity. We cannot make the world to be the way we want, and even more to the point, we are incapable of willing ourselves into bliss and happiness. Yet, from the moment we step onto the spiritual path we are concocting clever strategies for just this outcome. Actually, our strategies are the ancient creation dramas, forged in the time before memory, which began long before we were infants and stimulus-response conditioned our relationship to mama and world. But as spiritual seekers, our strategies must gradually reduce to watchful awareness – pure continuous mindfulness of all experience, full of curiosity but devoid of ploy. We leave strategy behind, and turn towards the mystery.
All practices – stretching, mantra, prayer, movement, meditation – ultimately lead to inquiry: Who or what the hell am I, anyway? The source of identity must be returned to, and the separate-sense must be destroyed by the full light of awareness, like a shadow that vanishes in the light of the sun. This inquiry is also deep devotion, as we are shaken by awe to our very core at the immensity, the beauty, and the ferocity of creation. As our hearts humble, we become overtaken by transcendental joy, love, and gratitude at this gift that is life in space and time. In this awesome love we melt and become one with the Beloved, which is our very Self.
If we cultivate the energy body, we are using awareness to harness our vitality in order to return it to its natural repose. The true import of vitality rests in its root, the pure unconditioned beingness that is our fundamental nature. Vitality, which is a fruit of good conduct, is not a mundane end, and if cultivation of health is our primary concern then there will be no opportunity for surrender of effort, as the health of the body is impermanent by design.
Spiritual practice is best done as play, not as work. In the beginning it feels like work because our conditioning is so strong that the effort required to wrench attention away from our egocentric delusion is extreme. Over time this effort produces many new conditioned patterns of behavior. They may even be entirely good habits, but they too prove to be a barrier during the process of disentanglement from the dream state. We eventually will find that attachment to our practices becomes a barrier to the innate bliss of being. These practices are the precious vehicles that have conveyed us along, far from our previous complete oblivion in the woes of cyclical existence. Yet they must become spontaneous play as we step upon the other shore, if we are to be freed from the bondage of willful action. We must leave our raft on the bank, and proceed stripped of all pride and accomplishment, in the blissful dance of joyful liberation.
Our very efforts are our bondage, yet this revelation cannot be an intellectual tool to avoid confronting our resistance to bliss. We must plunge headlong into the abyss of despair, of confusion, of bafflement. How is it that I cannot continue? We must ask ourselves. We cannot continue because the scaffolding of our sense of self rests upon the slippery foundation of self-will. We assume that the cosmos somehow is lacking in purpose or meaning and so we busy ourselves with its repair. In this egotistical process, we overlay our purpose and meaning onto what is fundamentally good and in no need of fixing. We then wonder how we never attain to our heart's desire. The more we continue this futile attempt at control, the more we suffer the absence of innate bliss.
We must continue relentlessly to plunge consciously into the mystery of our own non-existence – into the absolute vacuum that swallows us up nightly – as well as moment by moment. What is this experience coming from? Where does it go? If we are honest we must admit that we don't know. We can't know. Not with our mind. The thinking mind exists as a projection. It diffracts the light of the Self and then marvels at the display. Ignorant of the source of the light which is our very Self, we then comport ourselves throughout our own dream realm, shouting and cursing when we find it disturbing, or getting complacent and proud when it feels good. Eventually we will begin to realize that we are powerless to either prevent the bad or prolong the good. When we stop trying, that is freedom.
Freedom comes at the price of surrender – of all effort and all reward, of all fear and all hope. Yet in this bottomless void of free-falling failure is the redemption of all creation. What arises in this profound absence of personal will is the primal will of all being – the Love that is Bliss-Being-Self. Our own deepest calling has always been our true intention. Love loving love, returning for itself. Nothing need be done, as all has been well and right from the beginning. Nothing need be known, as true knowing is not-knowing, and all is won by this primordial capacity. Returning to before the beginning we witness the miracle of veiling and marvel at the simplicity of grace. Grace has been here all along, as the Love that we are, calling us to witness our Self in all its manifest glory.
Life is truly a gift we give ourselves, to revel in the loving awareness of our own radiant Being. We cannot escape it, and once we have tasted it fully, nothing need or can be done. We are sufficient, we are complete, we are whole in the perfect Knowledge which is identical with the ever-present innate Bliss of Self.
May all beings taste this divine nectar.
-Matt, Fall 2018