I get BIG

Last weekend I had a remarkable non-dual experience riding my bike in the woods. This experience is difficult to describe because language is organized around objects and duality but bear with me.

I was nearly alone on a longer ride on a narrowish paved path that meandered through beautiful forest. Sitting upright to stretch at one point my gaze down the path suddenly softened (no fixation on particular objects) and became so broad as to feel unlimited in scope. I lost any sense of a physical body riding a bike and became this unlimited expanse of awareness. In fact, the trees and light and earth and path and birds and all that was in the visual field moved through me. Bodymind awareness became simply Awareness. I, Awareness, was no longer ‘in’ the body or limited to thoughts or the edges of my skin. Rather, I, Awareness,  had expanded to become everything seen, felt, heard. As one practitioner I know once said, ‘I got BIG’.

All of the expanse of forest flowed through me, Awareness. There was the sense that not only did I have knowledge of all that flowed by, I was also being fed by all that was flowing by. It was nurturing me. It BECAME me. There was nothing to want. I was complete, I was fulfilled. The whole experience moved me to tears and then I, Awareness, gradually contracted back to being a body on a bike on a path in a forest.

We all get BIG

Non-duality refers in part to the understanding that at the deepest level of experience there is no subject-object split, only activity. So, instead of ‘I love you’  or ‘I ride bike’ there is only loving or riding (or seeing, or feeling, etc.) An activity is expressed but there is no separate ‘I’ or ‘you’ doing it. In Buddhism this is known as Emptiness.

This understanding resonated for me when I started meditating and studying Buddhism (35+ years..yikes!) Now I do in a more direct study and practice of non-duality with the spiritual teacher, Rupert Spira. His exercises help me move from a purely mental understanding of non-duality to the ability to feel it more regularly as an ever-present more complete experience of Reality.

When everything feels like it IS me there is no conflict to be had. In this state, all thoughts and actions are naturally for the benefit of all of me, or everyone. Whichever way you say it it’s all the same. Imagine what the world would be like if all 7 billion of us humans felt this way?

Feeling small

Now you might be thinking, ‘Right, that kind of awareness is easy to have out in the beauty of nature or on a beach vacation. But what about when I have road rage or I had a fight with my partner or my boss yelled at me AGAIN!?” My reply is ‘Yes, when difficult thoughts and emotions are triggered we contract around them quickly into a knot. As a knot, we fall easily into feeling separate, isolated and sometimes attacked by other knotted ones.’

However, this points to one of the meanings of the term beautifully broken…at a deep level we are already whole, peaceful, expansive, fulfilled but we lose contact with this deeper reality. That primary break from our Essential Nature is the first brokenness we experience. Then, that break from the whole into a knotted separate self becomes a habit. With time it becomes a lifestyle which feels broken on the surface but which is in fact Being, Awareness, Beauty and Love at its Source. Once we know this deeper Reality, our surface life activity can include returning to the Source that is our Essential Nature.