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Inner Journey

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

Excerpts about Inner Journey

Arranging the Circumstances of Your Life for Support

At the beginning of the journey, your own inner support is limited or nonexistent, so you need external supports to sustain you. A school, a group, or a teacher can keep challenging and confronting you, keep inspiring you so that you continue inquiring. But little by little, as the inquiry deepens and expands your experience, you will get more in touch with your own inner resources, your own support. One thing this means is that it will be necessary for you to become more conscious and responsible about arranging the circumstances of your life so they can support your inner journey. Inner support implies that we need to be in touch with our experience. Inquiry is not a mental exercise, disconnected from ordinary reality. We have to be rooted in our everyday personal experience and in touch with our own thoughts, feelings, body, and behavior. Inquiry does not require us to leave our body or try to reach unusual transcended heights of perception—and we will not feel our inner support by doing so. Instead, we need to become more concrete, more down to earth, by delving into our own everyday experience. It is the embodied soul that is the entry to all the treasures of Being.

Becoming Attuned to the Actual Field of the Soul

As our inner journey progresses and our soul unfolds, this way of understanding life begins to prevail. We become so attuned to the actual field of the soul, so present as the conscious presence of the soul, that this field of presence becomes the center of life, the actual substance of life. It is then the current that fills and impregnates all the external situations that we conventionally call our life. We then are present in our contexts; we are the embodiment of life. It is because we are the conscious current that streams in and through our external contexts that we tend to call such contexts our life. These contexts become more our life the more we fill them, the more that the current of life, which is the soul, impregnates them. In other words, as the knowledge and freedom of the soul grows, we have more life not because of how various or how rich is our external context, but because of how present we are in it. The external context does not give us life; we give life to it. We are the life that we live, and the deeper we realize this, the more we have life.

Cognizing Soul and Essence as Two Aspects of the Same Thing

In reality, soul and essence are two aspects of the same thing, just as the body and protoplasm are two aspects of the same thing. For us, for our experience, which is all we have, they are nondual, they are our nonduality. Because they are nondual it is not possible to differentiate them completely. More accurately, we can differentiate them but we cannot dissociate them, we cannot make them two separate and independent realities. How we see their relationship is bound to be somewhat arbitrary, depending on how we differentiate them in thought or experience. We can see essence as a potential of the soul, as its most primordial potential; but we can also see the soul as one of the aspects of essence, as the aspect of life. We can see essence as the ground of the soul, but we can also see the soul as the wholeness whose very fabric is essence. Both possibilities arise in direct experience and in advanced stages of the inner journey the difference between the two gradually dissolves. At this point we experience an essential soul, or a dynamic essence, indicating a complete and total coemergence of essence and soul, reflecting the primordial nonduality of Reality.

Endless Journey

The view I am presenting here is that this journey has no end. The moment we see that the journey has no end, everything changes. The whole idea of progression, of the journey of ascent and descent, appears differently. That sense of progression is one way in which we can understand reality, but reality doesn’t have to be understood only in that way. It is precisely because the teaching has proceeded in a gradual and progressive way that we can now see reality in novel and unexpected ways. What I’ve noticed in my experience is that it is always the case that when we are working with the manifestation of true nature, learning about something means transcending it. In other words, learning about reality—realizing it and understanding it in a particular, awakened way—always means going beyond that reality. We learn about states and dimensions of being because that is one possibility, but we don’t need to stick with that one possibility. Reality has a lot more up its sleeve! That is how we learn in the Diamond Approach. It’s a hard way, in the sense that we get established in particular dimensions or conditions and then reality naturally moves us elsewhere. For example, as we teach the boundless dimensions of reality, we become established and realized in the boundlessness and nonduality of reality for some time; and we focus a great deal on how to integrate and stabilize that particular condition. But then, as that happens, there is always a relaxation and, without our expecting it, the realization moves to a different dimension, to a different mode of experience. In this way, we learn about all kinds of realizations.

Experience of Flow During the Inner Journey

Our experience of flow can go deeper, which can help us understand the previous levels of flow within a more comprehensive and fundamental view. We can feel the flow as combining the previous two kinds of experience, but integrated into one gestalt. We can experience flow as the stream of experiences, without these experiences being disconnected. At the same time the flow is not a displacement of medium from one location to another. The whole field feels flowing, but not spatially, not horizontally. We feel the flow of experiences as a fountain or a bubbling spring, instead of a river or a stream. This is a more subtle perception than the stream image, and is more accurate regarding the source of the impression of flow. There is neither destination nor source, but merely the flow outward of the arising of experience as a continuous flowing fountain of conscious presence. The fountain effect is a sensation, a feeling, an impression of flowing. The streaming fountain is a bubbling stream of experiences, where the bubbles and eddies are the forms experience is taking. It is like creation out of nothing, like a water fountain that does not have a source. The water emerges from nowhere; an experience was not there, and now it is there, while the flow is always present. This is a wonderful way of experiencing our soul: ever fresh, ever new, a source that is also the destination. This type of experience of flow occurs when our inner journey is well underway. It indicates that we are free from the constraints and limitations that keep our experience bound to certain forms, to limited dimensions of possibility. Our potential is literally flowing out, and our consciousness is a fountain of impressions, perceptions, insights, and realizations. We not only have occasional deep experiences of our spiritual depth and nature, but our experience of our soul is a continuous outflow of many new and fresh realizations and perceptions.

Fully Engaging Spiritual Practice

If we want reality to shine its truth, we need to be more open and open-ended in our practice. If we want reality to become luminous, we need to put our all into the practice. To engage with reality completely, so it reveals who we are and what it is, we need to invest the totality of our being in our practice. By practicing with all that we’ve got, it is possible to find out that we are the totality practicing. Being fully engaged with reality does not mean seeking any particular aspect of reality. Fully engaging reality is a process, a ceaseless journey without destination.

Inner Work for its Own Sake

On the other hand, you already appreciate being real if you genuinely want to do inner work for its own sake. Being real means being the way you are when you are by yourself and quiet: “I know this is me and I know what that is like and I am comfortable being it. I have no conflict about it. And when I am interacting with someone, it is that reality of who I am that is interacting.” People don’t generally make the effort to do inner work if they don’t want to be real, if they don’t feel that being real is something good, something they want, something they appreciate. There is something precious about being real in an interaction, something that cannot be analyzed. Being real has nothing to do with getting something or giving something, being seen or making the other feel seen—none of that. It is just me, as what I am, actually being the one who is doing or saying something.

Limitations in Our Perception

At the beginning of the inner journey, we usually experience Essence in one of three ways: as a presence that arises inside us, or that appears outside us, or that comes into us from the outside. These forms of experience, though real, are due to limitations in our perception, and can become veils if taken to be final. These experiences can be seen as an intermediate stage between normal experience and the objective experience of reality. When we experience true nature objectively, without veils, we recognize that it is neither inside nor outside. It’s everywhere—outside, inside, and in between. The field of awareness has no boundaries. This presence is an infinite field of awareness, which means that true nature is not the true nature of the human soul only, but the true nature of everything. True nature is nothing but presence, which is at the same time awareness, oneness, and knowingness. The moment you recognize that true nature is not bounded by your skin, that it is pervasive not only in the body but in everything else, you recognize that intrinsic knowingness is not the experience of one part of reality recognizing another part. The intrinsic knowingness is the fact that the inherent mirror-like awareness, which is everywhere and everything, has a discriminating quality. It can discriminate the variations that exist within itself.

Little by Little

You may have noticed that we are taking one little step at a time. To take even one step in our personal journey usually requires a lot of work and understanding. Much growing, maturing, and learning is involved, for instance, in going from seeing where you are to not meddling with where you are.

Multiple Facets of the Inner Journey

The inner journey is many things. It is a journey of adventure and discovery; a journey of maturation and completeness; a journey of truth and authenticity; a journey of love, devotion, passion, and union; a journey of compassion, giving, and service. It is a journey of realization of the nature of soul and reality; a journey of insight and learning; a journey of fulfillment of life and human potential; a journey of liberation from suffering and limitation; and a journey of inner freedom. Yet, all these reflect one thing, and only one thing. For the journey is essentially a journey home, to our original primordial ground and source. To be at home is to be whole, contented, and at peace, for no reason but that we are abiding in our true nature. There is no need then, no restlessness, no stirring of dissatisfaction, no ambition for anything at all. Abiding at home, we can live any life that fits our circumstances, and it will be a life redeemed, where one's fulfillment is identical with serving others. Such connection can take as through the vicissitudes of life and its unavoidable adversities, with grace, dignity, and maturity.

Passionate Inquiry Into Our Own Soul

The inner journey is a passionate inquiry into our own soul, our own personal field of experience. It’s not enough to be passionately involved in a subject or pursuit that we are interested in learning more about; we have to be passionately involved in our own process. We need to inquire into and study our own state, our own soul; our inquiry has to be about what is relevant to us personally.

The End of the Search

When the soul arrives at her absolute home, recognizes her true beloved, and realizes it as her ipseity, many insights, realizations, and feelings spontaneously arise. One’s life begins to show its overall pattern, seen from the perspective of the inner journey home. This culminates in the
personalization of the absolute ipseity, where we learn to be a human being, a person, and to still abide in the absolute. This is an unusual and rarely known realization, where the vastness of the mystery, without ceasing to be the mystery, finds itself walking with two legs, touching with human hands, speaking with a mouth, and so on. (For the details of this process of personalization, see The Pearl Beyond Price, chapter 38.) At this point the soul is surprised by new feelings and realizations that occur spontaneously, as if brought home by the power of the self-realization. What spontaneously arises, without self-reflection or reasoning, is the feeling that the soul is at the end of a certain phase of life and work. She feels she has accomplished the task she had set for herself, or is in the last stages of finishing it. She recognizes her worldly accomplishments and her realization of her true nature. But the feeling is more general than the specific accomplishments. It is a sense of finishing something. There is a feeling of space or room left, open for new possibilities. She begins to feel completely relaxed and settled. Upon inquiry she feels she has reached her destination, even though she did not know it was the absolute that she was looking for. There results a sense of having lots of time, energy, and space to spare. She may feel willing and happy to give her time and energy to others. She feels at home now; her search is ended. It is as if she has been on a journey, searching for her beloved and her true home, but she did not know it consciously, at least she did not think of it in these terms. She does not have to decide to stop the search; the seeking ceases on its own, for the drive for seeking is spent.

The Exhilarating Journey of Discovery

When we begin to experience consciousness directly, a whole new world opens up. Rather than the normal sense that we are seeing the world as an external object, we begin to perceive the universe from within. The inner journey becomes a journey of discovery that opens us to magnificent, exhilarating inner experiences and perceptions, but also brings our knowledge of the world and of existence into a sharp, clear focus. Inner explorers travel to a world much more exciting and thrilling, much more beautiful and meaningful, much more satisfying and fulfilling, much more amazing and magnificent than any outer explorer will ever behold. Many religious perspectives tend to turn the inner journey into a heavy sanctity, a dull morality, a perverse holiness. Given this tendency, it is no wonder that so many people are no longer interested in religion. But when we explore the soul, rather than leaving it in a static relationship with an external divinity, we penetrate to the ground of the self, to the conscious field of the soul, and begin to know consciousness directly. Then the inner reality becomes a delight and a wonder, and we approach more and more closely a lived understanding of the relationship of our soul to what has been thought of as the divine; thus we approach an appreciation of the source of all discovery and creativity.

The Inner Journey is Difficult

The inner journey is difficult because we have to deal with issues that we'd rather not deal with, issues that we’ve avoided for a long time. To be real, to live a truthful life, we have to be ruthlessly honest with ourselves. We can't say, “I want to be real,” and keep running away from ourselves and from our lives. Being real is the result of confronting ourselves, the result of being honest about who and what we are.

The Obsession with Being Something

Total Being is a recognition that freedom means there is no need to be something. When I say “something,” I don’t mean a specific thing; I don’t mean an object; I don’t mean form. I mean any experience. Because we are obsessed with being something, we are always trying to find out what is the exact something that is truly what we are. And that is precisely what the inner journey is about, what realization or enlightenment is about—finding out what we are or what reality is. And, as you know, we find out many things as we go along. We find out everything—from being a body, being a self, being an individual, to being presence, being awareness, being nonduality, being totality, being the absolute, being the macrocosm. And it is necessary for all of these experiences to happen. They need to happen not because one of them is the final answer, but because their happening is the expression of the freedom of Total Being. Every experience is always an expression of Total Being.

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