In my multi-year plan to transform lifestyle and focus, 2019 is the year designated for returning to the work place, an effort I’m now coming back to after a summer spent helping friends and family move to the area. Before diving back in, I thought I’d share some of the teachings that have been running through my mind as I peruse the job market. After stepping away for a few years from a lengthy career in healthcare project/program management, I now confront the tricky question that comes to many after awakening; how to reconnect to the working world from a very different state of mind.
"If you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Follow your bliss and don't be afraid, and doors will open where you didn't know they were going to be....People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances with our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive."
"Successfully bringing your gifts into the world has been called self-actualization by psychologist Abraham Maslow, who also emphasized the importance of self-transcendence...All intelligent and reasonably sane people, as long as they have their basic needs met, have the desire to achieve both self-actualization and self-transcendence. To do both is to pursue your calling...pursuing your calling is not logical—it's experimental. As a scientist, I see it as deeply scientific."
"Many, many years ago, many incarnations back when I was a professor at Harvard, I used to run a course called “Career Decision Making.” It was interesting to start to lead with your wish list of how you would like to live, how you would like to serve, and then start to tune very, very slowly. If you have that option, you’ve got to be ready to fall on your face and make mistakes. That’s a very important part of this game of hearing your uniqueness. Because what you listen to until your mind is really clear is always colored by all these kinds of attitudes, prejudices, cultural preferences and so on."
"If you come into alignment with the present moment….there is an added dimension of aliveness that comes in….And it is often then that change comes into your life, when you align with the present moment instead of trying to get away from it….. You are so aligned that actually Power begins to flow through; that's why I call it the Power of Now. It is the Power of Life itself. And gradually the Universe, or Life, notices that you are in a different state of consciousness. And often it is then that change comes into your life, either through a chance event or chance encounter or sudden idea or realization…to fulfill your purpose on this planet and in this form which is to be a vehicle for consciousness to come into this world."
"What would you like to do if money were no object? How would you really enjoy spending your life?...If you say that getting the money is the most important thing, you will spend your life completely wasting your time. You'll be doing things you don't like doing in order to go on living - that is, to go on doing things you don't like doing. Which is stupid!...And after all, if you do really like what you're doing… you can eventually become a master of it - it's the only way to become a master of something, is to be really 'with it'… But it's absolutely stupid to spend your time doing things you don't like, in order to go on spending on things you don’t like, doing things you don't like…it's all retch and no vomit, it never gets there."
"It's natural ... to want to use the body-mind in the service of this love and understanding. For so long, the body-mind has been used in the service of the ego, trying to fulfill its impossible demands and fears. Now the ego is no longer in place, or at least is largely diminished and in its place - love, peace and understanding is in charge, is wanting to be expressed. And your body-mind is what you have been given to express that love and understanding, to share it, to bring it out into the world. So use your body-mind for that purpose. In relationships, in activities, in employment…"
What happens to our sense of ‘me’ after death? Does our consciousness reincarnate in another form to live another life? How should we prepare for our death – and what does that even mean? Insights of the type shared by these six teachers in this video gallery helped me discover a new perspective from which to grapple with such questions about the transformation that is death.
In this 8-min excerpt from one of his many lectures, Alan invites us to embrace the other half of the natural rhythm that is death.
"You can only die well if you understand this system of waves… that you are just as much the dark space beyond death as you are the light interval called life. These are just two sides of you because 'you' is the total wave. See, you can't have half a wave. Nobody ever saw waves which just had crests and no troughs. So you can't have half a human being who is born but doesn't die; half a thing. That would only be half a thing."
Though the video quality is less than ideal, Shakti Maggi's concepts on death and 'reincarnation' (my term, not hers) come through with the loving clarity that is her hallmark in this short 4-min. video.
"The body, it is simply a movement of energy arising from the stillness of your being …[during death, this movement] will be simply receding back into stillness."
In this 5-min. video, Adyashanti describes how the process of aging can lead to the wisdom and freedom of letting go.
"But certainly, enlightenment is absolutely intrinsically linked with death. There is no deep lasting liberation without death, without dying before you die, without the psychological self giving way. They're intimately linked; you don't get one without the other. They're absolutely linked together."
Rupert explains why we experience different states of awareness and offers a description of 'reincarnation' (my term, not his).
"Remember, the body is an appearance in the mind. So when the body dies, just a particular localization of consciousness disperses… Consciousness doesn’t dissolve."
A 6-min lecture snippet in which Terence comments on the origins of the body and exploring the after-death space with psychedelics.
"So I think what biology is, is the intrusion into 3-dimensional space and time of hyper-dimensional objects. And the other clue to that, that seems an argument for it, is that we do have this thing called 'the mind' but we can't find it anywhere. It doesn't seem to be anywhere… [at death] I think probably these objects retract back into hyperspace - higher space ... we clothe ourselves in matter but we are not matter and so to actually complete a human cycle of existence, you have to go into death. It's where you came from..."
In this short excerpt from an audience Q&A session, Eckhart talks about the transformation consciousness will face after the body's end.
"Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal ultimately exists….. Beyond the appearance on the level of form, which is the only level where death exists, it is a transition from one form into another form or from one form into formlessness. That is what death is, no more than that. Nothing real dies…. It's a transmutation of form."
Alan Watts was a British-born philosopher, author and speaker. Though he gravitated towards teachings from Zen Buddhism, Alan was deeply knowledgeable about several spiritual traditions, even completing seminary school at age 30 and spending five years as an ordained Episcopal priest. Feeling the need to choose between the Christian and Eastern traditions, Alan later elected to leave the ministry and moved to San Francisco in 1951 to join the faculty of the American Academy of Asian Studies. He remained with the academy for only a few years before leaving to try his hand as a freelance writer and radio show host in the mid-1950s. The local popularity of his weekly radio show, Way Beyond the West, during which Alan shared his interpretations of Eastern philosophies with his Western audience, brought him national attention and by the time the counter-culture movement of the '60s was in full swing, Alan was in the perfect position to emerge as the spokesman he became. Alan went on to publish a number of books and essays on Zen Buddhism and continued to speak and write until his death in 1973.
“Jesus Christ knew he was God. So wake up and find out eventually who you really are. In our culture, of course, they’ll say you’re crazy and you’re blasphemous, and they’ll either put you in jail or in a nut house (which is pretty much the same thing). However if you wake up in India and tell your friends and relations, ‘My goodness, I’ve just discovered that I’m God,’ they’ll laugh and say, ‘Oh, congratulations! At last you found out!” --Alan Watts
What's been helpful: I tend to think of Alan Watts as 'The Richard Burton of the Non-dual Teachers Club'; he has a voice you at once imagine coming from some Shakespearean stage. I came upon a video of Alan while surfing the net for 'consciousness' content and the first thing that struck me was his voice; it is the epitome of whiskey-and-cigar-soaked. Then he laughs and you can hear it - the man is full of whiskey and cigar smoke. A whiskey-drinking, cigar-smoking non-dual spiritual teacher who sounds like a Shakespearean actor and can knowledgeably cite various theological texts at length? ... Sign. Me. Up.
In the first few months after awakening, I was still confusing 'religion' with 'spirituality' and so was immediately drawn to (and relieved by) Alan's frank and amusing approach to spirituality. But soon after this initial contact, I moved on to focus on other teachers, I think largely because Alan refers to such a wide range of theological concepts that I was getting distracted by the details. Now that I've spent time developing my own understanding of the nondual view, I've come back to find I'm really enjoying Alan's more flamboyant - but always educational - lectures and books. And the amount of esoteric information running around in this man's head is not just a wonder to behold, it also adds a richness to his stories that is uniquely Alan Watts.