Why I Have a Spiritual Teacher Post Awakening


loribeachbali

I’ve been mostly silent for much of last year when it comes to these ‘dispatches from beyond the dream” I’ve been playing hard to get, giving Vast Stillness the slip by being so damn busy I’ve looked a lot like a human doing, running on the old achievement treadmill at a breakneck pace.

For, one, I have been chopping a lot of wood, carrying a whole lot of water in my every day life as an editor at the Good Men Project,  heading up a new section I created called Good for the Soul.

And in the early half of the 2013, a whole six months were spent in a failed launch of a magazine called Rebelle Sex, devoted to “reclaiming our inherent sexual innocence.” In that whirlwind, I was swept up in the healing of an ancestral line rife with the whole range of shadow material, from rampaging frigidity on my mother’s side to cover-ups of the homosexual, pedophilic elements a few generations up the patriarchal line.  In that family system script, I’d cast myself in the antiscript role of the one championing “freedom of sexy speech” just to balance it all out.

Even though the foot goes off the gas pedal of “me” the vehicle of our limited self identity still has momentum..

Looking back, I can see how the orchestra of my ancestral “karma” kept on playing even as the Titanic of the Personal Identity had already sunk. It reminds me of Adyashanti’s comment that post awakening, even though the foot goes off the gas pedal of “me” the vehicle of our limited self identity still has momentum.

And then, just when I began to wonder if I’d veered into a swamp of re-identification, just when the way was looking foggy at best, I bumped into a guide. It’s Hero’s Journey 101, that moment when a wizard/good witch/wise old man or woman shows up to re-orient our hero who is lost in the maze.

In this case, the guide looks like a teacher named Igor Kufayev, who I dreamed of in great detail in March of 2012, the day before I “discovered” that this dream figure was a real life person being interviewed by Rick Archer on his Buddha at the Gas Pump show. (The show was posted the day after my dream).

And isn’t it suffering that animates the seeker seeing relief? To me, a spiritual guide or teacher seemed redundant.

In the wake of this discovery, I email corresponded with Igor (whose spiritual name is Vamadeva, or “preserving aspect of Shiva in his peaceful, graceful and poetic form”) for almost a year, on and off. I considered him an ally on the awakening journey, but as my writing and editing began to take off, and I followed up less and less wth our connection, he gently suggested perhaps I was not really seeking guidance or was not ready to engage with a teacher.

He was right. I was so sure I had it all figured out. Because for me, at least, the magnitude of the awakening had decimated the seeker in me, and had (even as I was so darn busy doing) pretty well also ended the suffering self. And isn’t it suffering that animates the seeker seeing relief? To me, a spiritual guide or teacher seemed redundant.

And yet, this teacher kept appearing in my dreams (over the months without real life contact) with messages and more. Finally, through a Facebook message from Igor’s wife suggesting I attend a retreat, we met in California in December where he was leading a three day immersion. My decision to attend was sudden– and everything lined up effortlessly, including my usually hard to book airmiles plan.

It’s six months and two retreats later as I write this. I’ve been hosting Igor and his family in my home for the last month, having brought Igor to Vancouver to teach. Having your enlightened teacher live with you is a whole other order of experience. It’s like an intensive immersion the field of Grace while at the same time, so utterly and beautifully ordinary.

What I am seeing for me, is this: There is a momentum toward integration that happens post realization of true nature (which is a doorway, not a destination), and this movement can be stopped, slowed or accelerated depending on the circumstances. Ideally, post awakening, there probably should be a spiritual nursery for newly hatched beings, but Western contemporary non-duality makes no provisions for this tender time. (In fact, the non-duality crowd like to pretend there is no awakening, because there is no-one to awaken, but more on that another time).

Having a teacher who has travelled that path of integration, who is spiritually literate and this case, a vessel for grace, is a blessing. It’s like winning the spiritual lottery and this is one jackpot of crazy good fortune that fills me with overflowing gratitude.

I will be writing about more in the next few weeks from this chapter of my story, where I get to play the role of student, a role filled with discovery, devotion and gratitude.

Awareness is here, with a guide by her side….

Photo: Igor, his beloved wife Emma, and me.

mistovermountains

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The Awakened Beauty


moondancerThis Space emptied
of him, her, this and that,
deleted of doing and wiped
clean of what ifs and should haves,
this place of thundering
silence is refuge.

Here I fall freely
into the mystery,
surrendered to the velocity
of Truth.

You see, the dream of me
has lost its enchantment
and sober among the drunken
dreamers, I wait.

For us to dance
to music only God’s
ears hear, to tango
to the tempo of angel’s
wings in full flight
and to twirl to the spent
ardour of Her heart.

Are you dazzled yet
by the majesty of this dance,
this chorus of love?

By this solo performance
so beautifully disguised,
a mirage of many
spinning in place, worlds
born from each turn?

It’s timeless time to
take your superstar bows.

The audience of  You
has leaped from the seat,
cheering.

—-

copyright Lori Ann Lothian
July 5, 2014
Dedicated to my superstar teacher, Igor Kufayev-Vamadeva

—-

Illustration/Moon Dancer Energy, art by Julia Watkins

 

 

 

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God 101: Don’t Forget to Start and Stop.


girlwater

When you are so quiet you feel like you are deep underwater, deeply removed from the noisy world above, it can’t stay that way. Like a swimmer, you surface.

October, 2011 an awakening to true nature smashed the walls of the self I imagined myself to be, and with tidal wave force turned my reality into a quiet landscape I barely recognized.

Reactive and angsty personality traits I called Lori Ann were smashed to bits. What remained was a serenity that was truly the calm of a post-apocaylptic storm. Nothing could upset “me” but nor could anything “excite me.”

I thought this silence would last forever.

But this silent stillness was not sustainable. As if God itself, could not forever hold its breath….sigh.

Eventually (about two months after a profound empty quiet) sounds began to emerge. They sounded to me like muses, whispering ideas and poems and songs and creations.

These notes sounded like life, singing to itself.

I am sure, God sings. That even as there is the in-breath, there is always the ahhhhh of the outbreath. I am telling you this because I had a dream.

In the dream, a guru came to me. Well, it looked like a man, but he had a halo. I recognized his “awake-ness” and asked, “How long have you been awake?”

He said, “Ten years. But I want you to know this.”

And then he proceeded to draw a picture for me. It looked like an hour-glass, but more angular. Like two upside down triangles meeting in a narrow waistband of a juncture.

He said. “This is how it works. You are vast wakefulness. Then you condense into a point of embodiement. And then you expand again…and so on.”

I woke in my bed, and knew he meant that each awakening to the vast stillness of being, would be followed by a contraction to the busy localized self…and then, woosh, back out again. And I suppose, in again. The breath of life, in and out. Infinite and finite. Vast and condensed.

Life.

So…I am in the midst of vasting out again after condensing in. I feel it daily, in the awe and stillness, the absolute delight in simply being. It took going through a cataclysmic phase of re-identification, to come back home to the still point. But I know this:

God is moving. Still point is simply home base in the game of life. God loves to start as much as She loves to stop.

Let me know. Have you found the joys of both the stop and the start. The empty and the full? The End and the Beginning?

Awareness is here, Learning as She Goes.

Lori Ann

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My Sex Obsession & My Lust for God


vintage

When self-proclaimed teachers and students of enlightenment say to me,  “Why are you so obsessed with sexuality, you can’t be awake if that is the case,” I think: Really?

I think first off, why is a curious, playful, engaged stance toward sexuality an obsession? And why is it not inclusive of God and the light that we are?

nunsIt’s old school beyond old school (I am thinking Jesuits or radical Islam and female-body obscuring burkahs) to imagine that our intimate humanness,  our lovely genitalia and how they connect in love and lust, is somehow excluded from our Divinity. It’s all included.

Otherwise, separation is here. What we deem as not allowed, that which we judge as wrong, is a symptom of the mind. The truth of our nature, has no such discrimination. Our true nature allows. Our mind disallows.

Sometimes, I wish I had the pithy answer to those righteous and fearful ‘awake ones’ (or teachers of awakening) who want to know why sex is here for me, the Awakened Dreamer. And trust me: No one would bother to question why I do yoga (I do); why I work at a bank (which I don’t) or why I bother to volunteer as my daughter’s soccer team manager (which I do). Money, sports, health would be somehow exempt from scrutiny. Sex. Well. Watch out.

To those who say my professional interest in sexuality is somehow at odds with my lack of suffering (which I called awakening) I want to reply without quoting sexy Osho or some wise juicy sage of sexually liberated self realization.

I know that married and likely sexually active Ganga-gi, my teacher (pre-this-apparent-awakening) had no issues talking about sex and the truth of what we are. I know that many sages and poets through the ages have used sexual imagery to invoke the truth of our union with the beloved now.

bookYet still, I get emails and public Facebook messages that condemn or snidely (yes snide in the realms of enlightened folk commentary) remark that I should not be so into the sex theme, and even one public comment of late: “Observation over many months, you seem to be totally obsessed with sex and your own sexuality as an aging woman… get over yourself.”

But what if I am over myself?

What if in being over myself, I am now blessedly into whatever arises?

(Tip: when you are surrendered, you are co-opted to serve and you don’t always if ever get to choose how and where.)

It’s hard to explain to people that the very thing that is here, is here.

That sexuality is coming to me to write about, and create a magazine about, even as I am not in real life, really all that sexual. Just ask my husband. I am damn well menopausal…and nowhere is the thought that my sex will save me, awaken me, fulfill me or even ruin me. I am just playing in this realm of sexuality, like a curiosity driven alien who wants to know: WTF is with the sex thing?

Let’s investigate it with a smile of unknowing. And above all have fun. This is after all Lila. If you are serious, you just might have missed the Laughing Buddha part of waking up.

Thank you Sheryl for this post. Your comments have been a lovely catalyst.

Lori Ann

(Sort of sexy, kinda old, still here in awareness. Please check out my FB page Rebelle Sex and look for the launch of the magazine this June! )

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New Year’s Truth: Feeling What Is, Not Feeling Better


peace

Okay. I am not feeling better. I am just feeling.

A year and two months post an awakening shift of consciousness (in which suffering more or less collapsed into non-existence) I am reporting from the front lines less and less frequently.

Part of my sporadic reportage is there is nothing new to report. I can itemize my life as it unfolds in domestic, professional and creative areas—oh yeah, Huffington Post just added me as a regular blogger columnist, woo hoo or not.

But that is not the same as reporting this experience of abiding equanimity. That gets pretty boring….unless of course, the peace is somehow disturbed and thought-driven turbulence enters stage left.

Lately, the turbulence looks like logistics. Will I be able to pay the for a condo property I bought in pre-development two years ago, due to complete this June. Or will I (with my right now job-seeking husband) be able to secure a mortgage. Or will I be forfeiting my down payment, begging family members for a bridge loan, or just saying, WTF, I think I’ll live in India for awhile. (Okay, yeah, because the sub continent feels like a spiritually romantic way to embrace being poor.)

The thing is, I have been truly surprised to find myself waking up in the middle of the night lately (now and then) with this future concern rampaging through my mind. I watch it, like a rhino in a heated charge, and think: Wow, some part of me is not experiencing equanimity. Then I laugh. The part of me watching the part of me not being at peace, even, is not my real identity.

In the deliver me from the unreal to the real, I realize any concerns about how my mind is fretting or not, is a layer of the unreal. I remember coaching a woman a year ago through a mental angst period in her year-long abiding blissful awaking, reminding her that “Hey, the you that judges the suffering you, is not you.”

As Adyashanti has said, “In order to awaken, we must break out of the paradigm of always seeking to feel better.”

I’d add to that. In order to abide in our awakening, we might remember we are not any of the layers of mind, especially the layer that judges what is. As Krishnamurti is acclaimed to have confessed in his secret to inner peace: “I don’t mind what happens.” (Of course that begs the incessant non-duality question, who is the I that does not mind. Joel Birocco, this one is for you.)

It reminds me of the Russian dolls, nested in each other. Into infinite smallness, we can search for a real me. And finally realize we were far too large to fit in that doll all along because our infinity is spaciously so.

Paradox: It’s cramped in here. It’s vast.

Or something like that.

How are all my readers (whoever you are) doing on/in the Mayan New Year.

Yours, In Awareness

Lori Ann

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Politically Incorrect Enlightenment: Being a Human Being


Ever since this awakening point of view shift, and attendant blogging about it, I’ve been under the microscope and on the pedestal of other people’s lives. Not a lot, mind you. It’s not like I’m Madonna of the Non-Duality enlightenment crowd.

Yet, in the last while, I’ve gotten interesting comments and emails from readers of my Awakened Dreamer blog, all in a dither about my writings elsewhere on sexuality. For instance, Me Jane, You Tarzan: The Politics of Sexual Polarity now buzzing up the popular charts at Good Men Project online magazine, has prompted chastisements.

One commentator from the enlightenment crowd felt the need to post on my FB page, that I’d “travelled a long way from enlightenment” and that “You could lead people in that general direction. You could stay on the same continent. You could rise above reality T.V. “

Really? Why rise above anything? And since when is sexuality, separate from enlightenment?

I keep marvelling that in the awakening crowd, there is any distinction between what is and is not okay. As if real life and all its nuances, from birth, to death to sex to money to power, are not all a part of the One Big Jigsaw Puzzle of the explicate order, emerging from the implicate. In otherwords, we are both here and not here—we are eternal unborn unchanging, (yadda yadda) and we are mortal, human and full of lovely ordinary life.

So, to those of you out there who imagine enlightenment or states of awakening (abiding or not) mean you are suddenly removed from it all and pointing the way to sainthood, picture this:  Jesus in a police outfit, directing traffic to enlightenment central.

Wake up.

Smell the roses. They are here for a reason. You have a nose.

Lori Ann (here, and there, and aware).

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Everything Matters, Including Whisky, Fairy Pools and Waterfalls


I’m in Scotland now, trekking with my man through my ancestral homeland, playing with nature spirits and exploring the nuances of scotch whisky (ah, for the love of peat!).

It’s a trip in which an everything matters epiphany arrived while dipping my toes into an icy fresh highland river. But first, the back story.

The last two months I’ve been playing editor at elephant journal’s love section, where finding and cultivating new talent turns out to be as intrinsically rewarding as writing my own pieces. It’s odd to discover something new about my personality all these 50 years later–I am a team player and I love to help other artists succeed. For some reason I always imagined this personality to be a soloist. When you no longer really believe the “I” point of view, it seems (at least here) that personality is entirely mutable–but don’t tell an astrologer or Myers-Briggs psychologist that the constellation of traits we assume ourselves to be can rearrange itself into brand new formations. That would mean we are not who we think we are.

But back to the everything matters insight. I was walking up a gentle hill in Brittle Glen on the island of Skye, heading to the “fairy pools” when a download struck. You know, the sort of ah-ha moment that tries to condense after the fact, into words, just so you can vainly attempt to communicate to others an epiphany. Like this attempt.

So here goes. In the land of nothing matters. where an October awakening deposited me, there is a lush detachment that feels like relief. When clattering mind messages that used to bother with right and wrong—and most of all with me and mine—came to a screeching stop, freedom came rushing in. Freedom is the natural consequence of a worry-free, peace-filled quietude. It’s a soaring kind of beingness, one that takes in a birds-eye, if not spaceship view, of reality.

I called it the vastness. My consciousness had expanded into infinite nothingness and it was sort of like seeing the goings on of the people around me from outer space. All the fretting and upsets and concerns of my friends’ lives, the soap-opera drama of mortal existence, was remote–the way cars look like ants from an airplane, the contours of people’s lives were reduced to dot-sized movements in the vast view of a dispersed consciousness. (No wonder I thought at times I’d experienced a stroke–my brain was clearly operating from a different mix of neurotransmitters than usual).

An astute awakened writer friend of mine, Sam Watts, warned me months ago that after an awakening comes an integration. I would say it’s more like breathing than integrating, a diaphragmatic movement of expansion and contraction. If the alchemical maxim is true, as above so below, then all of life hints there is an ebb for every flow, a particle for every wave, an in for every out.

So, ten months later, the nothing matters has become everything matters. And yet, they are the same truth and lead to the same place. Because when nothing matters, there is no room for comparison and conflict, for right and wrong. The same is true of everything matters. But the qualitative experience is that the peace of nothing matters is a different flavor or texture from the peace of everything matters.

Now, I am immersed deeply and vibrantly in the world. I am not above it all, in spaceship vastness but rather inside it all, from a place of delightful intimate engagement. Here, it’s a warm, wet and sensual experience of beingness rather than the initial cool, dry, disembodied version post-awakening. It could be called transcendent versus immanent. But labels don’t tell the truth of it, and never will.

And while the transcendent and immanent are simply sides of the same coin, before awakening, in mystical experiences of the transcendent, I assumed I was the character that moved from the boundaries of my body to the vast still spaciousness. Or in happenings of profound embodiment, tantric sexual moments for instance, I mistakenly thought I was the person who felt the ecstasy. Back then, the illusion was still in place—it was I who suffered sometimes and was free from suffering at others, who was intermittently troubled or blissful.

Now it’s clear I am not the person, I am the movement—from infinite to finite, from vast to microscopic, from ebb to flow. I probably need a poem to capture this truth, a Rumi-style rant. Let me give an ad-lib try (no dress rehearsal here).

I am the animating
force, the wind
that rustles leaves
blows rain inland,
bends the grass and
churns the sea.

I am the breath
that breathes
You, and Everything
Into existence

I am that which moves
And yet, is eternally still.

Dancing in one place,
turning in all places
spinning out worlds
twirling in emptiness.

I am the still wind.

Awareness is here (sipping on peaty paradox, from the land of fairies and fine scotch).

Lori Ann

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