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Journeys (Three)

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

Excerpts about Journeys (Three)

Being Aware of Life's Teaching

We have said that the things that appear in our experience at the early stages of the journey are the same as in the later stages when reality reveals itself directly. In those beginning stages, veils are in the way, keeping us from seeing things directly, preventing us from seeing them completely and accurately. Instead we see our experience through all our reifications. But each form that appears at any stage of the journey is True Nature manifesting something to us in order to reveal itself—even veils and obscurations, barriers and obstacles. Every experience is here to teach us.
So the issue is: How good a student of experience are we at each moment? And what does it mean to be a good student? To practice, to learn, means to perceive the teaching that is coming through each moment of our life—not just during a meditation retreat or while reading this book or doing the practice exercises or pursuing our inquiry, but in each moment of our life. There needs to be no differentiation or separation of these activities from the rest of our life.

Being Pulled Toward the Secret (the Guest)

Yet even this is still not the true objective perception of the situation. We do not move toward the Secret because we love it. That's how we see it at some point, that’s how our mind formulates it, but that’s not the truth. When the heart moves toward the Secret, when you move toward the Guest, it is because you are pulled. You are attracted, as if by a magnet, the most powerful magnet there is. From within the heart itself, from the depths of the heart, from the innermost chamber of the heart, the pull originates. It is not that you feel, "I want to go there,” and through your work and devotion you move nearer. That might be how you feel it sometimes but that is only the mind feeding you more stories. In reality, there is an inner attraction, something is pulling you from deep within, and you cannot help but experience that as your devotion and love. The mind does not know about this inner attraction.

Changing Identity

In the first journey, your identity is on the ego level, which is the familiar sense of self-recognition. This identity is a reflection of the particular ego structure that defines you in relation to your experiential field. In the second journey, the identity is the Point, the point of light and existence, the Essential Identity. In the third journey, the identity is the mystery of Being itself, the Absolute.

Journey to Presence

The first journey I call the journey to presence. Our inquiry is primarily in our familiar conventional reality, exploring the beliefs and barriers that keep us from resting in the immediacy of our present experience. In this journey, the functioning of the essential aspects, the various qualities of our beingness, serve to motivate our inquiry.

Journey with Presence

The second journey begins as we learn to recognize Essence, the dimension of essential manifestations of Being …this second journey is a journey with presence, meaning that the dimension of the essential manifestations of Being is available to all experience as a matter of course, whereas in the first journey those manifestations are tasted only occasionally and serve mostly as incentives to continue the journey of discovering Being. So, on the second journey, as new dimensions begin to arise, one after another, we need a nonconceptual openness to drive our inquiry. ...developing this capacity for immediate and direct contact with one’s experience and the understanding of how this contact is available at any time becomes an ever present ground for the open not-knowing that characterizes the second journey.

Journeying in Presence

The third journey is a way of referring to journeying in presence, in nondual reality ...in other words, in the third journey, the traveling is an immediate and continually spontaneous manifestation of realization ...perception at this level is nothing but the illumination of the Absolute essence of Being. There is the perception of this mysterious depth, and its glimmerings are the manifestations of the various dimensions, the various star systems. Whereas in the second journey, the manifestations of Being continually shift from one to the next in the dynamic movement of the soul’s unfolding experience, in the third journey the unfolding is no longer a movement through time but a constant arising of all experience from the absolute source in the now. There is no spatial travel, no sense of process taking us to another dimension. The dimensions manifest spontaneously and instantly, as the continual emanations from the mysterious essence of reality.

Journeys of Ascent and Descent

In the journey of ascent, the individual soul penetrates the various dimensions of creation and manifestation, which are garments in which the absolute was hidden. The journey of descent, however, is conscious donning of these garments by the absolute. The ascent is like a movement inward, while the descent is a movement outward; in the first the absolute gains its conscious awareness, and in the second it retains this awareness within manifestation. Hence, the descent is into manifestation, but not into exile and alienation. Therefore, just as the journey of ascent is that of shedding and separation leading to the simplicity of singlehood, the journey of descent is that of integration and union leading to the richness of wholeness.

Patterns in the Three Journeys

During the first journey, in the initial phases of the practice of inquiry, the fabric of experience is our thoughts, feelings, emotions, sensations, actions, and all of our life situations. Later, in the second journey, the fabric becomes more continuously colored by presence itself. By the third journey, there’s nothing but the fabric of presence. Then all experience is presence, with the various discriminations in it. So the immediacy and intimacy with experience is complete only in the third journey. During the first journey, we only see isolated parts of the fabric—a pattern here, a pattern there, but with gaps in between. In the second journey, we recognize that there is presence as well. This presence is inherent consciousness that is part of these patterns and
moves through them as the most meaningful thread. In the third journey, we recognize that presence pervades all the patterns. In fact, we recognize that the patterns are nothing but patterns in the presence itself. Then the immediacy is complete. Then we are the understanding of our experience at each moment.

Stages of the Inner Journey

On the journey, first we find out that we don’t know. Then we begin to know. We come to know more and more until we pass through all the knowledge and beyond it. When we stay with our inquiry until everything—all the details—have been revealed, then we arrive at the source from which all the knowledge springs: the pure awareness, the pure light of our Being, where the mind is dissolved in wonder.

The Inner Journey Transcends Life and Death

When I say that our orientation is to follow truth all the way to the ultimate truth, I mean that the inner journey transcends life and death. When we talk about the ultimate or absolute truth, we don't mean some kind of mysterious thing someplace. In the beginning it might appear that the truth is some kind of distant, mysterious, unknowable thing, maybe at the depth of your heart or at the center of the universe. But the truth is everywhere and is everything. When you realize the absolute truth, you realize everything is the truth. You cannot see that until you realize the Absolute, its reality and its purity. Then you realize there is nothing else. You forget about spiritual experience. You are not spiritual anymore. You become thisworldly instead of otherworldly. You realize that the world is the Absolute. Everything you see is the spirit, the Absolute. There is nothing else.

The Simplicity of Just Being Ourselves

The spiritual journey is not about having experiences, interesting insights, or unusual perceptions, although those will often arise as part of it. I am not saying they don’t have their place and value, but they are not the point of the inner journey. Inner practice is basically a matter of settling and quieting. It is about settling into the simplicity of just being ourselves and feeling our realness—being in reality instead of in the echoes of reality.

Unfoldment of the Journey

In the second journey, the distinguishing characteristic of your personal thread is the essential presence, something that is not available in the first journey. Because of this, we can’t clearly talk about unfoldment – the direct impact of the dynamism of Being in the soul – in the first journey, even though there is the current of experience. We can speak about unfoldment quite precisely in the second journey because the center, which is the essential presence, is arising as one quality after another. Inquiry in the second journey means inquiring in order to know where you are – finding out where you happen to be on your journey. I don’t mean just your location in the field of the mandala – the manifestations of your life such as your emotions, thoughts, or actions. I mean where you are at the center, the place that is touched by Being. This means finding your place, recognizing your location in the essential space.

Working with Our Soul

Whenever we do any work on ourselves, or engage in any way in the inner journey, we are invariably working with our soul. There is nothing else to work on. When we can recognize the soul explicitly, our work becomes more exact and to the point. Understanding the soul clarifies what needs to be done and how it can be done.

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