The Magic of Consciousness

I’ve gone back and forth with how much I want to use the word “spiritual” on this blog. In many ways, it feels contaminated. It gets used to further agendas and to fall into (less mainstream but no less delusional) delusion. It gets turned into whacked out belief systems that really have nothing to do with the path.

But, I’ve decided to employ it at least some of the time, and here’s why: I haven’t stopped drinking water just because a lot of people think it’s bland, or even because like 90% of it is literally contaminated. I drink water because I need to, because it’s the best thing for me to drink, and because there really isn’t any other choice.

The post I’m working on now is about a pretty juicy topic: The death of the ego. It’s exciting to feel like I can confidently write about these things. By my own (highly vigilant) criteria, I’m actually “qualified” to speak about the spiritual path. This is not to say I’ve got anything all-figured-out. That would be a crazy thing to say. No, I’m still learning how to ride out the waves of my most intense emotions. I’m still sitting in meditation and sobbing as I continually heal my heart.

Today I wanted to post something short about the real-life magic that is consciousness. I still won’t attempt to define “consciousness” in any rigid way. The closest I’ll get is to say that “it’s basically everything.” Of course, consciousness is also “nothing.” Nothing and everything are the same thing, “nothingness” doesn’t feel like you think it might, and “nothing” isn’t even real because whenever you try to imagine it, you invariably think of something.

This silly little paradox is one of many that forces us to hush up and go inward. Consciousness really can’t be intellectualized, much to the chagrin of the Western mentality. It’s probably my Western conditioning that has me trying to “explain” it at all, so here goes: Nothingness is the backdrop for all that we can perceive. Pure consciousness is that nothingness; it is the canvas upon which all of life is painted, including each and every one of us. Beneath the ego masks, the thought-stream, and the enormous memory bank, there is this thing and we are all it.

As touched on in this post: The further we go into this awareness, the more we tend to connect with others about awareness. Whenever I go deep into one of these conversations, I’m always in awe of the awake, meditative, sometimes-tingly, sometimes-shroomy feeling I naturally get. It’s like consciousness knows we’re talking about it, and of course it does. It’s amazing and makes me feel like I could sit blissfully in one place forever.

I also end up discussing the path with strangers on a pretty regular basis now. Usually they have some similar heart-stuff going on and/or common interests. It’s not that we’re actively seeking each other out. We aren’t meeting at conventions for spiritual writers with backgrounds in mental health. We aren’t even meeting in yoga classes or ashrams (there aren’t even ashrams in Mt. Vernon, WA) or anything like that.

Quite simply, we’re brought together by the magic of the conscious universe. A skeptic may call our connections coincidences, and that’s cool. Your very existence is also “just” a coincidence; the word is as big or as small as you make it. Perhaps all of life is haphazard and chaotic and accidental, or perhaps it is ordered and beautiful and perfectly mathematically sound. Neither view is right or wrong to hold, but the latter keeps the magic alive. It makes me remember that I’m already home wherever I am. It makes everything burst with sameness and unique essence. It makes me laugh like a lunatic for “no reason” other than that it’s all so obscenely glorious.

My goal isn’t—and never will be—to convince anyone to “get into” spirituality, or even to bring up consciousness unless I’m asked about it. Doing so would be another way of fighting the flow of the universe, of trying to force an egoic agenda regarding where others “should” be on the path. That doesn’t work, and actually, it just creates more division.

But I’m proud to admit that nothing compares to the feeling of being in alignment with the Truth. The work of getting here can be dirty and horrendous and painful and I won’t sugarcoat it one bit. It sucks. Sometimes it’s humiliating (although I like to remember that the the word humiliate is really just the verb humble with a negative spin). Sometimes it feels like you’ve made it one inch forward only to fall back 30 feet. It’s confusing and disorienting and at some point you’ll be hit with the stark reality that no one can help you because your whole life and every single lesson comes from within.

Still, it’s worth it. If anything is worth it, it is this.

I’d like to cap off this little post with one of my favorite quotes from East of Eden, which I finished last week. The whole novel is full of wise gems, but this one I think sums it up just right:

“It isn’t simple at all,” said Lee. “It’s desperately complicated. But at the end there’s light.”

One of my all-time favorite pictures, which portrays the enormous power of love/nothingness/consciousness/God. It was drawn by Gustave Doré and inspired by the Divine Comedy.

– Lish

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