(Or how "I" am waking up!)
Many people have asked that I share my personal experience of awakening, enlightenment, mystical union, ascension or whatever term you wish to use. I have not done so thus far, as I do not wish to deter from the teaching itself, from the pureness of the silence which is much more important for people to find than my story. But...based on some very sincere recent mails with just that request, I have decided to share a bit of my own transformation as a helpful reminder to everyone that each of us must find our own way, our own path to within and meet the silence ourselves.
One thing I have learned about life the past 45 years is that we all walk in the middle of amazing paradoxes and seeming complete opposites and contradictions. The secret seems to be the ability to maintain an even keel and a moderate approach through all the discrepancies as they arise (which is every moment to moment!). The greatest conundrum, which is this "awakening itself" is born of these contradictions themselves. For in the initial moment of awakening where there was the most intolerable confusion, pain, pressure and dismal sense of failure there is a transformation to the most immense sense of peace, liberty, gentleness and release. And that is the beginning of the process of integration which shall be your whole life - a life which is now aware that it is aware, alive and free. The "awakening" is continual and is born of the razors edge between death and life, sorrow and joy, light and dark and hate and love. The practicality of it is the simple ability "granted" to safely and sanely walk that marginal line between the opposites and in so doing unite the polarities into oneness which is the core of being itself. This is the very dance of the Kosmos itself as it reaches towards the Omega, the point of unity.
The particulars of my life story at the point of the eggshell cracking were: middle aged married father of two, successful businessman who was previously a rock and rock musician, Benedictine monk under the personal direction of John Main (who was a forerunner of the Christian Meditation community, a Contemplative movement), a song writer, fisherman and Don Juan want-to-be (that's a nice way of saying it!) Having had a plethora of life experiences I had always felt a motivation to go inwards after usually finding that any experiences in life whether pleasurable or pain-filled were always temporary. The only factors which had shown any longevity were initially a loving yet dysfunctional family, an interest in music, mysticism and meditation and later in life the steadfast genuine love of a magnificent lady. Perhaps the greatest guide was an unrelenting intent to find the truth! This I think I inherited from my mother who was an avid reader of a multitude of philosophies, thinkers and theories. Perhaps the combination of all the above made the soil fertile and ready to here the truth from a gentle Hindu sage called Ramana Maharshi. After meditating in silence for a few years, this brain finally stopped and saw itself through asking the question, who am I, the self inquiry proposed by Ramana.
I had a dream some time ago in which Sri Ramana Maharshi, the great Indian sage invited me to a ritzy country club in the U.S. to discuss my own enlightenment. It was in this dream where the clear steps to and through my own awakening were revealed. It was the most memorable dreams I ever had and one of the few in which a clear dialogue was presented that I remembered. I will share it with you now.
McCloskey meets Maharshi
RM: Mark, welcome here, welcome home!
MM: Hi, thanks...er...this is a country club, why are You here, I mean, why have you invited me here?
: Are you referring to the fact that this is a place where well to do folks gather?
: Yes...I mean I guess so, I mean I envision you in an ashram, in a loin cloth, not in a ritzy place like this.
: Here, there, anywhere, any state, any time, here, now, where you are is your home and your awakening is here and now too. You found the Self today didn't you, Mark? You found the pure silence! That's why you are here.
: Well, I found a certain ease today, a gentle relaxed state; I kind of looked into my own mind and nothing was there. I saw thoughts arise and fall and I was able to rest for a moment in the space between them all. It felt marvelous, as if some weight that I carried all my life had been lifted away. I feel so much lighter.
: This is marvelous Mark. I am so happy for you and this Divine discovery. Where did this happen to you; where were you?
: In my car, driving...actually driving to nowhere in particular. Most of my silent moments happen in my car. I keep the radio off and try to allow my mind to rest. I had been thinking of your words on effort and effortless, on coming home to the self, on ideas like permanence, the natural state, and on things that Jesus of Nazareth had said about the kingdom of heaven within, dying to rise again, etc. and I remember my mind was racing a billion miles an second. I was remembering so much of my life as well, that it was quite painful: people I had hurt, people who hurt me, all of these thoughts racing past. And then I recalled one particular teaching, I do not know who said it or where or when but it was something like "the only obstacle to your own realization, your own freedom is your own belief that you are not already free...something like that." I saw my thoughts simply as a hindrance to this freedom.
: And then what happened?
: Nothing....simply nothing...there was for the first time in my awareness no thought, and I or something was consciously aware of that fact. At that moment "I" was aware of pure awareness, pure silence. All of the tension eased. I became aware that the "I" am is a palette of silence, pure and simple. I rested in that space of no-thing-ness, of no thought and allowed my entire being to relax, there and then--and all there was was that moment and I was that moment and there was nothing needed or wanted and you could have taken everything away from me, everything--and it would have been ok--and you could have taken my life and it was ok. And in that which I guess was surrender there was both a gentle laugh at how stupidly I had been holding on to "something" called a self-image and also some tears of absolute peaceful joy at how marvelous I now felt. And from that moment life has rarely been the same.
: This is wonderful. I am so happy for you. Welcome home to that which you have always been. Tell me, how has life changed?
: This is the amazing part. Inside of me there is this never ending sense of freedom, of peace, of gentleness, which is always there through everything in life. It is there through all the catastrophes, through all the negatives which arise, (especially if you are the parent of teenagers!). Situations happen and then they depart but that sense which is "me" which is "I am" which is this gentle silent space is always remaining. It is very difficult to relate some of this. You see life around you goes on as it always did, I guess now there is no need to worry, fear or try to escape from anything any more, especially my self. Does that make sense? And the feeling is that there is nothing left to get or find or uncover. It's really cool.
: That is magnificent. You have found the true Self. You have found the divine and realized that the Divine is in you, and is what is the "isness" of you, your very heart. This is a great discovery Mark. Very few people find this and in the words of another friend named Jesus you have found "the pearl of great price." Now you must share this with everyone you can. This treasure is for all those suffering in this world. Do whatever you can. This is why you are here. And Mark, this is only the beginning of your awakening. Your work is to return to this state of freedom, or pure silence as much as you can. Simple abide in this Self every possible moment. Life will move around you and through you and you will integrate all the contradictions, all the paradoxes by simply being and being aware. It is just that simple. You will be one and in that oneness your light will shine to others.
Namaste and blessings to all beings.
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