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  • Sacred journey to peru, mystic travel agency peru, mystic travel
  • Sacred journey to peru, mystic travel agency peru, mystic travel
  • Sacred journey to peru, mystic travel agency peru, mystic travel
  • Sacred journey to peru, mystic travel agency peru, mystic travel

WHEN I TURNED TWENTY-ONE as a medical student in New Delhi I had my choice of two kinds of friends. The materialistic kind got out of bed at noon and went to all-night parties where everyone drank Coca-Cola and danced to Beatles records. They had discovered cigarettes and women, perhaps even bootleg liquor, which was much cheaper than imported Scotch. The spiritual kind got up at dawn to go to temple—about the time the materialists were staggering home with hangovers—and they ate rice out of a bowl and drank water or tea, usually out of the same bowl.
It didn’t seem strange at the time that all the materialists were Indians and all the spiritual types were Westerners. The Indians couldn’t wait to leave home and go someplace where Coca-Cola, good tobacco, and legal whiskey were cheap and plentiful. The Westerners kept asking where the real holy men were in India, the kind who could levitate and heal lepers by touching them. As it happened, I ran with the materialists, who were all around me in class. Nobody who was actually born in India ever saw himself the other way, as a seeker.
Today I wouldn’t have two types to choose from—everyone around me seems to be a seeker. In my mind,seeking is another word for chasing after something. My Indian classmates had the easier chase because it doesn’t take much to get money and material things, whereas the spiritual types from the West almost never found their holy men. I used to think that the problem was due to how rare holy men actually are; now I realize that what defeated their thirst for a higher life was tied up in the act of seeking itself. Tactics that will successfully get you whiskey and Beatles records fail miserably when you chase holiness.
The spiritual secret that applies here is this:What you seek, you already are. Your awareness has its source in unity. Instead of seeking outside yourself, go to the source and realize who you are.
Seekingis a word often applied to the spiritual path, and many people are proud to call themselves seekers. Often, they are the same people who once chased too hard after money, sex, alcohol, or work.
With the same addictive intensity they now hope to find God, the soul, the higher self. The problem is that seeking begins with a false assumption. I don’t mean the assumption that materialism is corrupt and spirituality is pure. Yes, materialism can become all-consuming, but that’s not the really important point.
Seeking is doomed because it is a chase that takes you outside yourself. Whether the object is God or money makes no real difference. Productive seeking requires that you throw out all assumptions that there is a prize to be won. This means acting without hope of rising to some ideal self, hope being a wish that you’ll get somewhere better than the place you started from. You are starting from yourself, and it’s the self that contains all the answers. So you have to give up on the idea that you must go from A to B.
There is no linear path when the goal isn’t somewhere else. You must also discard fixed judgments about high and low, good and evil, holy and profane. The one reality includes everything in its tangle of experiences, and what we are trying to find is the experiencer who is present no matter what experience you are having.
Looking at the people who race around trying to be models of goodness, someone coined the apt phrase “spiritual materialism,” the transfer of values that work in the material world over to the spiritual world.


  • Pitfalls of the Seeker
  • Knowing where you’re going.
  • Struggling to get there.
  • Using someone else’s map.
  • Working to improve yourself.
  • Setting a timetable.
  • Waiting for a miracle.
  • There’s no better way to be a genuine seeker than to avoid these pitfalls.
  1. Don’t know where you’re going.Spiritual growth is spontaneous. The big events come along unexpectedly, and so do the small ones. A single word can open your heart; a single glance can tell you who you really are. Awakening doesn’t happen according to the plan. It’s much more like putting together a jigsaw puzzle without knowing the finished picture in advance. The Buddhists have a saying, “If you meet the Buddha on the path, kill him,” which means if you’re following a spiritual script written in advance, bury it. All you can imagine in advance are images, and images are never the same as the goal.
  2. Don’t struggle to get there.If there were a spiritual payoff at the end of the trail, like a pot of gold or the key to heaven, everyone would work as hard as possible for the reward. Any struggle would be worth it. But does it help a two-year-old to struggle to become three? No, because the process of child development unfolds from within. You don’t get a paycheck; you turn into a new person. The same is true for spiritual unfolding. It happens just as naturally as childhood development, but on the plane of awareness rather than in the realm of physiology.
  3. Don’t follow someone else’s map.There was a time when I was certain that deep meditation usingone specific mantra for the rest of my life was the key to reaching enlightenment. I was following a map laid down thousands of years ago by venerable sages who belonged to India’s greatest spiritual tradition.
    But caution is always required: If you follow someone else’s map, you could be training yourself in a fixed way of thinking. Fixed ways, even those devoted to spirit, are not the same as being free. You should glean teachings from all directions, keeping true to those that bring progress yet remaining open to changes in yourself.
  4. Don’t make this a self-improvement project.Self-improvement is real. People get stuck in bad places that they can learn to get out of. Depression, loneliness, and insecurity are tangible experiences that can be improved. But if you seek to reach God or enlightenment because you want to stop being depressed or anxious, if you want greater self-esteem or less loneliness, your search may never end. This area of understanding isn’t cut-and-dried. Some people feel tremendously self-improved as their awareness expands; but it takes a strong sense of self to confront the many obstacles and challenges that lie on the path. If you feel weak or fragile, you may feel weaker and more fragile when you confront the shadow energies within. Expanded awareness comes at a price—you have to give up your limitations—and for anyone who feels victimized, that limitation is often so stubborn that spiritual progress becomes very slow. To the extent that you feel any deep conflict inside yourself, a large hurdle stands before you on the path. The wise thing is to seek help at the level where the problem exists.
  5. Don’t set yourself a timetable.I’ve met countless people who gave up on spirituality because they didn’t reach their goals fast enough. “I gave it ten years. What can I do? Life is only so long. I’m moving on.” More likely they devoted just one year or a month to being on the path, and then the weekend warriors fell away, discouraged by lack of results. The best way to avoid disappointment is not to set a deadline in the first place, although many people find this difficult to do without losing motivation. But motivation was never going to get them there in the first place. Discipline is involved, no doubt, in remembering to meditate regularly, to keep up Yoga class, to read inspiring texts, and to keep your vision before you. Getting into the spiritual habit requires a sense of dedication. But unless the vision is unfolding every day, you will inevitably get distracted. Rather than a timetable, give yourself support for spiritual growth. This can be in the form of a personal teacher, a discussion group, a partner who shares the path with you, regular retreats, and keeping a daily journal. You will be much less likely to fall prey to disappointment.
  6. Don’t wait for a miracle.It really doesn’t matter how you definemiracle— whether it is the sudden appearance of perfect love, a cure for a life-threatening disease, anointment from a great spiritual leader, or permanent and everlasting bliss. A miracle is letting God do all the work; it separates the supernatural world from this world, with the expectation that one day the supernatural world will notice you. Since there is only one reality, your task is to break through boundaries of division and separation. Watching and waiting for a miracle keeps the boundaries up. You are ever at a remove from God, connected to him by wishful thinking.

    If you can avoid these pitfalls of spiritual materialism, you will be much less tempted to chase after an impossible goal. The chase began because people came to believe that God, disapproving of what he sees in us, expects us to adopt a certain ideal. It seems impossible to imagine a God, however loving, who doesn’t get disappointed, angry, vengeful, or disgusted with us when we fall short. The most spiritual figures in history were not totally good, however, but totally human. They accepted and forgave; they lacked judgment. I think the highest forgiveness is to accept that creation is thoroughly tangled, with every possible quality given some outlet for expression. People need to accept once and for all that there is only one life and each of us is free to shape it through the choices we make. Seeking can’t get anyone out of the tangle becauseeverything is tangled up. The only thing that will ever be pure and pristine is your own awareness, once you sort it out.
    It’s much easier to keep up the fight between good and evil, holy and profane, us and them. But as awareness grows, these opposites begin to calm down in their clashes, and something else emerges—a world you feel at home in. The ego did you a terrible disservice by throwing you into a world of opposites. Opposites always conflict—that’s the only way they know—and who can feel at home in the middle of a fight? Awareness offers an alternative beyond the fray.
    Last night in bed, I was dreaming. The usual kinds of dream images were passing back and forth; I don’t remember much what they were. All at once I became aware of the sound of breathing in my dream.
    After a second I realized that it was my wife, who was moving in her sleep beside me. I knew that I was hearing her, and yet I also knew that I was dreaming at the same time. For a few seconds I was in both worlds, and then I woke up.
    Sitting up in bed, I had the strange sensation that it was no longer important that a dream isn’t real. Being awake is more real than a dream only because we have agreed that it is. Actually, the sound of my wife breathing is in my head, whether I am dreaming or not. How, then, could I tell one from the other?
    Someone else must be watching. An observer was aware without getting caught up in being awake, asleep, or dreaming. Most of the time I am so caught up in waking, sleeping, and dreaming that I have no other perspective. The silent observer is the simplest version of me, the one that just is.
    If you strip away all the distractions of life, something yet remains that is you. This version of yourself doesn’t have to think or dream; it doesn’t need sleep to feel rested. There is real joy in finding this version of yourself because it is already at home. It lives above the fray, totally untouched by the war of opposites. When people say that they are seeking, it’s this level of themselves that is calling to them in its silent, untroubled way. Seeking is really just a way of winning yourself back.
    But to win yourself back you have to get as close to zero as possible. At its very core, reality is pure existence. Meet yourself there and you will be able to create anything in existence. The “I am” contains all that is needed for making a world, even though by itself it consists of nothing but a silent witness.
    You’ve already undertaken the exercise of looking at a rose and breaking it down from the level of a physical object to the level of energy vibrating in empty space. The other side of that exercise consisted of seeing that your brain can also be understood the same way. So when you are seeing a rose, is nothing looking at nothing?
    So it would seem, but the real phenomenon is more amazing: You are looking at yourself. One part of your awareness, which you call yourself, is gazing upon itself in the form of a rose. There is no solid core to either the object or the observer. There is no person inside your head, only a swirl of water, salt, sugar, and a handful of other chemicals like potassium and sodium. This whirlpool of a brain is always flowing, and thus every experience is swept along in currents and eddies as swiftly as a mountain stream.
    So, where is the silent observer located if not in my brain? Neurologists have found locations for all kinds of mental states. No matter what a person is experiencing—depression, elation, creativity, hallucination, amnesia, paralysis, sexual longing, or anything else—the brain displays a signature pattern of activity scattered across various locations. Yet there is no location or pattern for the person having these experiences. The person could be nowhere, at least nowhere that science will ever spot.
    This is a cause for incredible excitement because, if the real you isn’t inside your head, you have been set free, like awareness itself. This freedom is limitless. You can create anything because you are in every atom of creation. Wherever your awareness wants to go, matter must follow. Youdo come first after all and the universe second.
    I can hear the cries of outrage from those who claim that today’s worshippers think they are larger than God, that instead of obeying his laws they arrogantly want to define life any way they choose. There is several months and who suddenly finds that there’s a new mode of travel called walking. Everyone has watched a toddler find his legs—the baby’s face shows a combination of unsteadiness and determination, insecurity and joy. “Can I do this?” “Should I fall back down and crawl, the way I know how to do?”
    What you’re reading in a baby’s face is exactly the same tangled experience of anyone caught at a spiritual crossroads. In both cases, everything is on the move in a new way. The brain is motivating the body; the body is bringing new information to the brain; unexpected actions begin to emerge from nowhere; and even though the whole mixture feels scary, a certain exhilaration drives us forward. “I don’t know where I’m going, but I have to get there.”
    All experience takes place within the bubbling cauldron of creation. Every moment of life sweeps the body along in an uncertain balance of mind, emotions, perceptions, behavior, and outside events. Your attention gets pulled here and there. In a moment of awakening, the brain is just as confused, joyful, insecure, uneasy, and astonished as a baby finding his legs. But at the level of the witness, this confused mix is utterly clear:It’s all one thing. Look at the baby again. As he lurches across the floor, the whole world totters with him. There’s no steady place to stand, no way of saying, “I am in control. This is going to turn out the way I want it to.” The baby has no choice but to plunge his whole being into a world that is bursting into new dimensions.
    Can anyone live this way, plunging into new dimensions, all the time? No, stability must be found. Since childhood, all of us have found a stable point through the ego. We imagine a fixed “I” who is in control, at least as much as possible. But there is another, far more stable point of stability: the witness.


    How to Seek Within

    1. Follow the flow of awareness.
    2. Don’t resist what’s happening inside.
    3. Open yourself to the unknown.
    4. Don’t censor or deny what you feel.
    5. Reach beyond yourself.
    6. Be genuine, speak your truth.
    7. Let the center be your home.

    Follow the flow: The phrase “follow your bliss” has become a maxim for many people. The principle behind the maxim is that whatever brings a person deepest joy is a reliable guide to follow into the future.
    An even more reliable guide is to follow your awareness as it grows. Sometimes awareness doesn’t equate with joy or bliss. You may be aware of a hidden need to feel grief or a nagging sense of unease or discontent with the limitations of your present life. Most people don’t follow these signs. They search for outside sources of happiness, and they think their bliss comes from them. If you follow your awareness, however, you will find that it cuts a path through time and space. Awareness cannot unfold without also unfolding outside events that mirror it. Thus, desire and purpose are linked—if you follow your desire, the purpose reveals itself. There is a flow that links disconnected events, andyou are this flow. When you were a child, the flow took you from one stage of development to the next; as an adult, it can do the same. No one can predict your next step of unfoldment, including yourself. But if you are willing to follow the flow, the path will certainly lead you closer to the silent witness, who resides at the source of all your desires.
    Don’t resist what’s happening: It’s impossible to be new and old at the same time, yet we all wish we could stay the way we are while changing in ways we desire. This is a perfect formula for getting stuck.
    To seek who you are, you have to let go of old images about yourself. Whether you like yourself or not is irrelevant. Someone with high self-esteem and proud accomplishments is still caught up in the battle of opposites—in fact, such people usually think they are winning the battle for the “good” side. The part of yourself that has found peace from all battles is the witness. If you ask to meet the witness, be prepared.
    Long-held habits centered on winning and losing, being accepted or rejected, feeling in control or scattered, will begin to change. Don’t resist this change—you are shedding the trappings of ego and moving to a new sense of self.
    Open yourself to the unknown: This whole book, being about the mystery of life, returns to the unknown many times. Who you think you are is not real but a concoction of past events, desires, and memories. This concoction has a life of its own—it motors forward through time and space experiencing only those things that it knows. A new experience isn’t really new; it’s just a slight twist on very familiar sensations. To open yourself to the unknown means cutting the ground out from under your familiar reactions and habits. Notice how often the same words come out of your mouth, the same likes and dislikes dictate what you do with your time, the same people fill your life with routine. All of this familiarity is like a shell. The unknown is outside the shell, and to encounter it, you have to be willing to welcome it in.
    Don’t censor or deny what you feel: On the surface, everyday life has become much more comfortable than ever before. Yet people still lead lives of quiet desperation. The source of this desperation is repression, a sense that you cannot be what you want to be, cannot feel what you want to feel, cannot do what you want to do. A creator should never be trapped in this way. No authority looms over you to enforce repression; it is entirely self-enforced. Any part of yourself that you cannot face puts a barrier between you and reality. Yet emotions are entirely private. Only you know how you feel, and
    when you stop censoring your emotions, the effect goes far beyond feeling better. Your aim is not to experience only positive emotions. The road to freedom is not through feeling good; it is through feeling true to yourself. We all owe emotional debts to the past, in the form of feelings we couldn’t allow ourselves to express. The past isn’t over as long as these debts go unpaid. You don’t have to return to the person who made you angry or afraid, with the intention of revising how the past turned out. For that person, the impact can never be the same as it is for you. The purpose of getting rid of emotional debt is to find your place in the present.

    The ego has a repertoire of rationalizations for not being emotionally free:

    • I’m not the kind of person who feels like that.
    • I should be over it.
    • No one wants to hear about these feelings.
    • I don’t have a right to feel hurt; it isn’t fair to everyone else.
    • I’ll only open old wounds.

    The past is the past.
    If you find yourself saying such things as a deflection from facing painful feelings, you may succeed in keeping them repressed. But every hidden, blocked feeling is like a chunk of frozen consciousness. Until it thaws, you are saying “I am this hurt” even as you refuse to look at it; it has you in its grip. This is another obstacle between you and the silent witness that must be dissolved. Time and attention have to be paid, sitting with your feelings and letting them say what they have to say.
    Reach beyond yourself: When you are inhabiting a self that is fixed and set in place, you may think that you have attained something positive. As people say, “Now I know who I am.” What they really know is an imitation of a real self, a collection of habits, labels, and preferences that is entirely historical. You have to reach beyond this self-created identity to find the source of new energy. The silent witness is not a second self. It doesn’t resemble a new suit hanging in the closet that you can reach for and put on to replace the shabby suit you’ve worn out.
    The witness is a sense of self that lies beyond boundaries. There’s a haunting poem by the great Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore in which he imagines what it will be like to die. He has a deep intuition that it will be like a stone melting in his heart:

    • The stone will melt in tears
    • Because I can’t remain closed to you forever.
    • I can’t escape without being conquered.
    • From the blue sky an eye will gaze down
    • To summon me in silence.
    • I will receive death utterly at your feet.

    To me, this is a perfect description of reaching beyond yourself. Having lived with a hard place in the heart, you still can’t avoid your real self. It is the silent eye looking down. (Instead of saying, “I will receive death,” the poet could have said, “I will receive freedom” or “I will receive joy.”) To reach beyond yourself means realizing, with real determination, that your fixed identity is false. Then, when the ego demands that you see the world from the perspective of “what’s in it for me,” you can free yourself by saying in return, “that me isn’t in charge anymore.”
    Be genuine: Why is it said that the truth will set you free? People are punished and ostracized all the time for telling the truth. Lies often succeed. A polite agreement to go along and make no waves has brought money and power to many people. But “The truth shall set you free” wasn’t meant as practical advice. There’s a spiritual intent behind the words, saying in essence, “You cannot set yourself free, but truth can.” In other words, truth has the power to set aside what is false, and doing so can set us free.
    The ego’s agenda is to keep itself going. At crucial moments, however, the truth speaks to us; it tells us how things really are, not forever or for all people but right at this moment for us alone. This impulse must be honored if you wish to break free. When I think of what a flash of truth is like, some examples come to mind:
  • Knowing that you can’t be what someone else wants you to be, no matter how much you love the other person.
  • Knowing that you love, even when it’s scary to say so.
  • Knowing that someone else’s fight isn’t yours.
  • Knowing that you are better than what you appear to be.
  • Knowing that you will survive.
  • Knowing that you have to go your own way, no matter what the cost.

Each sentence begins with the wordknowing because the silent witness is that level where you know yourself, without regard for what others think they know. To speak your truth isn’t the same as bursting out with all the unpleasant things you’ve been too afraid or too polite to say. Such outbursts always have a feeling of pressure and tension behind them; they are grounded in frustration; they carry anger and hurt.
The kind of truth that comes from the knower is calm; it doesn’t refer to how anyone else is behaving; it brings clarity to who you are. Value these flashes. You can’t make them appear, but you can encourage them by being genuine and not letting yourself fall into a persona created just to make you feel safe and accepted.
Let the center be your home:
To be centered is considered desirable; when they feel distracted or scattered, people often say, “I lost my center.” But if there is no person inside your head, if the ego’s sense of I, me, mine is illusory, where’s the center?
Paradoxically, the center is everywhere. It is the open space that has no boundaries. Instead of thinking of your center as a defined spot—the way people point to their hearts as the seat of the soul—be at the center of experience. Experience isn’t a place; it’s a focus of attention. You can live there, at the still point around which everything revolves. To be off center is to lose focus, to look away from experience or block it out. To be centered is like saying “I want to find my home in creation.” You relax into the rhythm of your own life, which sets the stage for meeting yourself at a deeper level. You can’t summon the silent witness, but you can place yourself close to it by refusing to get lost in your own creation. When I find myself being overshadowed by anything, I can fall back on a few simple steps:

  • I say to myself, “This situation may be shaking me, but I am more than any situation.”
  • I take a deep breath and focus my attention on whatever my body is feeling.
  • I step back and see myself as another person would see me (preferably the person whom I am resisting or reacting to).
  • I realize that my emotions are not reliable guides to what is permanent and real. They are momentary reactions, and most likely they are born of habit.
  • If I am about to burst out with uncontrollable reactions, I walk away.

As you can see, I don’t try to feel better, to be more positive, to come from love, or to change the state I’m in. We are all framed by personalities and driven by egos. Ego personalities are trained by habit and by the past; they run along like self-propelled engines. If you can observe the mechanism at work without getting wrapped up in it, you will find that you possess a second perspective, one that is always calm, alert, detached, tuned in but not overshadowed. That second place is your center. It isn’t a place at all but a close encounter with the silent witness.


This fourth secret is about meeting your real self. Words can say a great deal about the real self, but it takes an actual meeting to realize what it is. Your real self has qualities you are already experiencing every day: Intelligence, alertness, being tuned in, knowingness—whenever any of these qualities comes into play, you are living closer to your real self. On the other hand, when you feel distracted, lost, confused, fearful, scattered, or trapped inside ego boundaries, you are not.
Experience seesaws between these two poles; therefore, one way to meet your real self is to push away from the opposite pole whenever you notice that you are there. Try to catch yourself in such a moment and pull away from it. Pick a strongly negative experience of the following kind (if possible, choose a repetitive one that has cropped up several times):

  • Road rage
  • Arguing with your spouse
  • Resenting authority at work
  • Losing control over your children
  • Feeling cheated in a deal or transaction
  • Feeling betrayed by a close friend

Put yourself back in the situation and feel what you felt then. You might want to close your eyes and visualize the car that cut you off in traffic or the plumber who handed you the outrageous bill. Do what it takes to make the situation vivid in your mind.
When you feel that stab of anger, hurt, mistrust, suspicion, or betrayal, say to yourself, “That’s how my ego feels. I can see why. I’m very used to it. I will go along as long as it lasts.” Now let the feeling run.
Get as worked up as your ego wants; envision fantasies of revenge or self-pity, or whatever your ego thinks is appropriate. Imagine that you are swelling up with your feeling; it spreads out from you like the shock wave from a slow-motion explosion.
Follow this wave as far as it wants to go, watching it grow fainter and fainter as it spreads to infinity,
filling the whole universe if it wants to. Take deep breaths if you need to in order to get the wave of feeling to depart from you and travel outward. Don’t time yourself. The feeling may be strong enough to take a while before it wants to expand.
Now, just as you see the wave disappearing into infinity, look at yourself and see if any of the following feelings are present:

  • A giggle, the desire to laugh at it all
  • A shrug, as if the whole thing is no big deal
  • A sense of calmness or peace
  • Looking at yourself as if at another person
  • A deep sigh of relief or exhaustion
  • A feeling of release or letting go
  • A sudden realization that the other person may be right

These are the telltale feelings that arise in us when we are crossing the invisible boundary between ego and the real self. If you follow any emotion far enough, it will end in silence. But it’s asking a lot to get that far every time. Your aim is to get to the frontier at least, the line where the ego’s needs begin to lose their grip.

  • When you laugh, you are losing the need to take yourself so seriously.
  • When you shrug, you lose the need to blow things out of proportion.
  • When you feel calm, you lose the need to feel agitated or to have drama.
  • When you can look at yourself as if you are another person, you lose the need to be the only one who counts.
  • When you feel relief or fatigue coming out, you lose the need to hold on to stress. (This is also a sign of reconnecting with your body instead of living in your head.)
  • When you have the feeling of letting go, you lose the need to be vindicated—the possibility of forgiveness is in sight.
  • When you suddenly realize that the other person may be right, you lose the need to judge.

There are other telltale signs of leaving ego behind. If you fall into the pattern of being easily offended, feeling either superior or inferior, wanting what is coming to you and begrudging what others get, or imagining that people are talking behind your back, each of these can be dealt with just as you did in the above instances. Relive the feeling, let your ego take it as far as it wants, and watch the feeling expand until it fades away at the edge of infinity.
This exercise won’t miraculously dispel every negative feeling. Its purpose is to give you a close encounter with your real self. If you try it in that spirit, you will be surprised how much easier it becomes in the future to escape the grip of emotions that have been in control for years.



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