WHAT IS ENLIGHTENMENT?
Warning: Some Meaningful Brat Play Here (may not be for everyone :)
There is a recently published book out called: The Awakening West* in which authors John Lumiere-Wins and Lynn Marie Lumiere ask a series of questions to twenty contemporary teachers of the west including Eckhart Tolle, Francis Lucille, Gangaji, Rabbi Rami Shapiro and others.
Ronda was recently interviewed by a colleague using these great questions and we thank and acknowledge John and Lynn Marie for this intriguing format and their beautiful book.*
Below are the questions, followed by a transcript of the interview and Ronda’s responses. RONDA: “I’d like to suggest you pose these questions to yourself as well – you might be surprised what is seen…”
Questions adapted from those posed in the book: THE AWAKENING WEST*
What is enlightenment, realization, awakening?
How did this awakening occur for you?
Do you have any suggestions or recommendations for others who are experiencing a desire for awakening to the truth?
Does it seem that more and more people in the West are awakening to the truth of their being? And if so, what does it signify?
What do you see as the source of suffering in the world, and what if anything can or should be done about it?
Without operating out of a personal “I” how do you make decisions and get things done?
In the realization of who you really are, how do you experience relationship with others?
Does involvement in the various therapies and spiritual practices assist in awakening?
What is Enlightenment?”
…and other tough questions:
An Audio Interview Transcribed
Q: Who are you?
RONDA: Oh, I am a very very important person with very very important things to do …The world revolves around me and mine…. (Kind of where we’re at when there’s an “I” in the conversation – even for the seemingly unselfish person who is very centralized around his service or by those who struggle with low self-esteem. We’re very centralized around our ourselves. It’s just the nature of things as long as we remain identified primarily with this “self”.) …But you’re asking something else aren't’ you?
[More serious] I’ll have to use the word “I” just in terms of common understanding (often misunderstanding) but really there is just This: Consciousness delighting in the love affair of Creation – delighting in the separation into the many in order to hide, to seek, and to know Itself. I am a spectrum of consciousness with a unique constellation of separating identifications that I call “Ronda” – and yet I am also complete and whole in the awareness of This which is before.
Q: What is enlightenment, realization, awakening?
RONDA: It is nothing really. It is not additive or gained or “gotten.” It is simply seeing through the limitations of the mind and its endless antics to know, understand, control. The seeing through the mechanisms of identification blows the game (the hiding and seeking game) so to speak, and one quite naturally finds that he/she exists before any “he” or “she” was manufactured and identified with.
I prefer the words awakening, seeing, or remembering because they point toward the in-the-moment aliveness of it. Awakening is not a place or a state or a condition – it is a seeing or a re-membering of what Is. In a sense, I “Ronda” am not awakened. I “Ronda” is the mechanism that blocks the seeing. I “Ronda” can only ever try and own, conceptualize and control that which is seen outside of and before any manufactured sense of “I”. This is why it’s so difficult to talk about. The “I-mind” will forever try and grasp at and claim “the realization” as its own so that it does not have to suffer the realization (and terror) of its mortality. As long as “I” try and “get it”, enlightenment remains unrealized. As soon as “I” give up (or surrender the illusion of control and knowing), awakening is simply what remains as the ground that has always been and always is. It is a realization but not by “me”. It is realized within Itself. It’s very ordinary. Simply what is without the overlay of self-importance – and self-identification, which is the same thing.
Q: So you are no longer self-identified?
RONDA: Oh, I have my moments…
It seems that as long as we’re in physical form, we will slip into identification from time to time – or still exist within ever-subtler (and yet unrealized) levels of identification simply as inherent to form. Still there is a palpable difference I have noticed in my life. It’s hard to describe this interplay between realization and identification – and words are misleading. I can still become involved in say an argument with a friend, or in a project I wish to create, or a point I feel moved to make. You could say that this is self-identified. The difference is once the limitation of the “I-mind” has been seen through and one simply stands in the realization of One from which All arises, then the identification is never again able to fully dupe you — or certainly not for very long. There’s just letting identification arise however it does within a larger field of non-attachment. I can even argue quite passionately and still see and be grounded outside of that. It’s sort of like I imagine it would be to see the earth from orbit. You can return to ground and it appears again to be flat, but you are forever changed by the realization of its roundness. You might behave and move about as if on a flat ground – but you know the truth.
I see it [awakening] as part of an ongoing ceaseless evolution of Consciousness. Ongoing and ceaseless are key. If we ever completely come to rest in Oneness – as in fully enter a “state” of only Unity-Consciousness with absolutely no duality and no sense of separation – then we will have ended the game of Creation; we will have ended the love affair between the Lover and the Beloved by giving up the appearance of Two and returning to Oneness or No-thing. As I see it, Consciousness does not want full 100% Self-realization or the dynamic of the love affair (that which sparks Creation itself) would instantly dissolve into nothing. There’d be nothing at all… Can you see this?
Q: I’m not certain I do. Can you say more?
RONDA: The arising of One into the Many is how God, Source, Being sees Itself. Without something to reflect upon and enter relationship to, there could be no seeing – just a vast pool of undifferentiated intelligence existing as potential. To see, there has to become a seer and something to gaze upon. This seer and something to gaze upon is created out of each dynamic moment of relationship – That is Creation Consciousness in action. Now is the relationship of Creation – now is each big bang of coming into being to see and be seen. Incredible really! Totally marvelous and always moving like the breath, the breathing of God…
Q: How did this awakening occur for you?
RONDA: Oh boy. This is where methods and dogmas start! “Well, there’s only one way to true enlightenment. I call it “The Rondalalight Meditative Method” – just joking! But it is what happens.
I can talk about this concept of enlightenment in two different ways. If I re-enter the frame of reference of “I-Ronda” my response will be very different than if I speak from the realization. Both will be misleading and mis-understood by the mind. If I speak from “I Ronda” it can be perhaps better grasped by fellow “I-seekers” but it will then become a trap of the mind which tries to get something it can’t get. If I speak from the realization, it will sound very contradictory, illogical, and paradoxical to the “I-seeker” – which of course it is!
So how shall I say what is before words? I simply looked at life and I asked myself “What really matters anyway?” I asked this question very deeply and I followed the unraveling thread of that question as a living mantra. It lead me to see that there is only really a question of how one lives each moment – the rest (past and future and the worry they generate) doesn’t really exist except as a memory of fantasy of the mind. We can only ever experience right now. Amazing isn’t it? This led me to inquire into how fully one can live in the truth of each moment? Can one ever – really? And how does one reconcile the world of “I” reality with the domain of “Unity-Consciousness? Can one?
Rather than a mental exercise, these questions became a living quest, a kind of energetic momentum behind my living. I found and connected to my deepest yearning for truth, and followed it to the source. I looked very closely into listening – and at listening in completely unaccustomed ways: like attuning to a new and completely unfamiliar language. I looked very very closely at fear and at death. I mostly ignored the spiritual “experiences” that came along the way because I had come to see through the ego’s attachment to owning even spiritual awakening. The endless antics of the ego simply became so appallingly apparent and so very transparent to my listening that it was seen through. Not abolished — seen through. When it was seen through, the gig was up even though the ego still exists, as does a sense of “I” that arises within form. No big deal.
The funny thing about this thing called realization: it’s not additive. I simply “looked up” (metaphorically speaking) from whatever I was doing one day and realized I was no longer searching, that there was nothing to search for, never had been, that all already IS and always has been right here, right now. Eternity is in this moment.
What has been perhaps most startling and delightful to discover and realize over time, is that All is simply known out of a vast field of unknowing. I haven’t studied scriptures or great masters words of awakening, I haven’t practiced or sat with a guru – and yet as I find myself more and more encountering others with this realization, I constantly delight in how similar my own words and descriptions are to theirs. I have started to come upon old ancient texts as well as contemporary teachers – and our words, if not the same, are very very strikingly similar.
This perhaps shouldn’t be a surprise as there’s just Truth, but it comes so cleanly out of nothing, so unanticipated and from a space of “not knowing” that it’s a continual delight. I surprise myself in that regard – even just here responding to your questions. I literally do not know what will arise until it does. It comes in that way when one gives up the mental knowing.
It is difficult to understand this dynamic, but when truth emerges simply and freely out of the field of unknowing (rather than out of an I-mind process) then it’s always kind of a surprise to discover what is “seen” or “known” within this spectrum of consciousness – this form called “Ronda”. I think that’s the magic of teaching (though I don’t like that word) – There is a co-creative moment of discovery that spontaneously arises “where two or more are gathered.” – It is the very act of evolution in motion really!
Q: Do you have any suggestions or recommendations for others who are experiencing a desire for awakening to the truth?
RONDA: Yes, there’s a very important ancient secret practice just discovered and hidden for centuries in an ancient cave discovered (of all places!) just below my studio, and for $$$ I can.. (ha! I know, I’ve a bit of brat in me… Had you going though didn’t I?) I say that just because suggestions are so quickly turned into methods – and methods or practices are traps.
What I do say is to simply connect deeply into the desire for truth and follow it to its source. But beware! to really follow it to its source, the mind has to be given up as the dominating tool. I’ll use myself as example: I have always been quite intellectually oriented, so my way of following my desire for truth to its source was to observe the mind; to try and see how it works (which is kind of awkward to describe because you can’t use the mind to look at the mind!) More particularly I felt into my deepest desire for Truth and let it have greater energy and power to move me than my intellect.
Later in the process, I was led to look into the ego and how it works to hold together our sense of self-identity. If this can be really seen, its power is blown because to be seen, one has to already have stepped outside of its domain. Once the operating system of the ego is seen, it’s all over! As a seeker, you think you are the program called “Ronda.exe” looking for the key to the great reward, enlightenment and bliss ….until you somehow crash the program and find that you still exist outside of Ronda.exe at the helm of the mouse pad!
To get outside of the program, the mind has to be blown or otherwise release its need for controlling. In my experience the mind won’t give up control as long as there is unrecognized fear operating – which masquerades mostly as belief systems. In my experience, as long as one holds on to any beliefs at all, fear is unchecked.
One has to come to intuit (more than intellectually know) the difference between “belief” (which is I-dentified and fear and control-based) and “trust” (which is unconditional – completely unconditional.) Look at it for yourself. A belief is trying to “have” and hold something by and for the sake of some self-security. Trust on the other hand is not dependent on outcome whatsoever. It is free falling into life – it is dying to self so This which arises, can be experienced and realized.
The yearning is a portal. And yet it too has to eventually be given up. A person can (any many do) stay addicted to the drama of the search. It’s one of the inherent and insidious traps of “seeking.” Oh, it feels so exquisite to pine, to yearn, to search! Nothing tastier than unrequited love! So in secret you see, many don’t want to end the search – The search is the proof that the “I” still exists! It is sensational and it is mental and it is devotional – and it is “I”. See this?
Eventually one has to give up everything (even yearning) for truth. Everything has to be given up. Eventually one has to become able to with-stand no belief, no “special experiences”, no attachment, but to live within the most ordinary simpleness of life as it arises. When that readiness of humility is present (as Grace), Realization simply is — and it’s no big deal at all. Nothing ever again is a big deal because that which makes things a big deal has died into each true living moment of simply being with what Is. That’s it. It’s so simple and so uneventful and so already here, as to be continually missed or discounted. It’s missed or discounted until one gives up everything, literally. One must die to self before realizing the Kingdom of Heaven is always and already right here.
Q: Does it seem to you that more and more people in the West are awakening to the truth of their being? And if so, what does it signify?
RONDA: That’s one question I feel is dangerous to answer. Well, hell, they’re all dangerous to answer! We’ll forever misinterpret and misunderstand as long as we’re trying to own and control. I guess what I’m feeling about this question in particular right this moment is that it so easily lends itself to belief and projection – to something like stating: “Ah, yes, we’re all moving toward the great moment of enlightenment, world peace, and unity where only love shall reign.” (Imp again, I know. Excuse me.)
But I’m making a point albeit it impishly delivered. This supposed “realization of truth” that all of humanity is moving toward unity-consciousness is, to me, inherently dualistic. It projects a conditional value onto God with its directionality of moving toward our idea of “good”, toward seeing our Oneness, toward world peace as a driving objective of Source. I think these kinds of answers (if really investigated) arise out of what I call belief remnants (as I-based control mechanisms) and not out of an unconditional trust which is beyond this kind of need for knowing, or for “good,” or for “directionality” at all!
I can agree that it does seem that many people are sharing a certain level of conscious awareness and presence that sees the truth that resides within the present moment. Many also are not seeing this and don’t appear to be moving in that direction at all. The odd truth about Truth is it can’t be held to a particular station or place or outcome. When it is, it’s not fully truth, because it has become objectified and given a direction that makes the “I” more comfortable with things… Truth (God) is ever moving/evolving – and is completely still. It’s one of those paradoxes the Zen appreciate.
To my seeing, evolution by the very nature of Creation (the separation of the One into the many) is a ceaseless and dynamically moving flow arising out of nothingness. So what difference does it really make that more or less are sharing this level of awareness? Today’s spiritual “realization” called awakening to Truth, is (as soon as it is claimed or seen) already old — and a newer layer of awakening potential is already possible and starting to bubble up. I don’t think it ever ends. There is no resting place – that is part of the realization.
Q: What do you see as the source of suffering in the world, and what if anything can or should be done about it?
RONDA: The source of suffering in the world exists within each individual who is still only I-referenced. Identification with the ego-I, is fundamentally separating and therefore inculcated with fear and the instinctual need to self-protect, own, master, and control. (…Or at least to believe that it does!)
Nothing “should” be done about it. Should is the language of a personal self. It is future-oriented, value laden, and dualistic at it base (as in, it is driven by a sense of a “right” and a “wrong” and a directionality). At our current level of awakening there are no shoulds or coulds; there is only conscious attention given to that which arises. Perhaps in another billion years, Conscious evolution will experience a dimension of Truth in which could and should have some basis, but I don’t see it as possible within the Truth of this moment of awakening.
Suffering ends when self-identification is seen through. Nothing else changes. Pain still is. Disease still happens. Betrayal still occurs. But the complete identification with it ends the suffering while not the simpler experience of pain. For that, there is compassion and shared humanity.
Q: Will all sentient beings eventually see this and so end human suffering?
RONDA: Who knows? The Dali Lama perhaps. But It matters not. This is hard to swallow for most folk, but it matters not if humanity lives or self-destructs. Consciousness continues. Consciousness is already eternal here, now. We are already That. The human vehicle is just a very lovely and sometimes horrid vehicle for seeing That, which is.
Q: If Truth is love, doesn’t that imply a directionality? What do you mean it doesn’t matter? Surely you’re not saying that Truth can just as well express itself through mass murderers as through love?
RONDA: Truth, God, Love are all synonyms to me. They are interchangeable. And they are not an object, but a movement of Consciousness – a relationship of endless Creation happening now, and now, and again now. I don’t consider the word love to mean merely what we humans consider “good”. I understand love as a very unconditional acceptance and yielding in dynamic relationship with what Is. It is delight in the seeing. What Is, is all there is (ooooh – a pretty good tongue twister and mind-screw that!).
I do find as I said earlier, that if or as one is released from the structure of self-identification and thereby naturally knows his/her original nature, that this realization of Oneness most often translates into greater regard and treatment of all life in this time/space reality. Whether there is some driving agenda for humanity to live in peace and harmony I really couldn’t say – and wouldn’t project. As soon as that question is entertained we’re out of the Eternal moment and we’re set up with an insidious self-preoccupied desire to believe! We are Creation creating evolution right now. Creation is. Consciousness is. Speculating on what perhaps will become is outside of that awareness and that relationship.
Q: Awakening is said to be beyond a personal “I”. Without operating out of a personal “I” how do you make decisions and get things done?
RONDA: A whole lot better! Oh my, this is a great question! If I could only answer this question sufficient to opening doors of understanding, I’d feel this life was wholly served!
People hear these “words about” awakening and the need to surrender and give up the I and the ego and fear, and say with great awe and concern: “but how shall I continue to live and survive?” Right? Here’s the scoop: As long as “I” try and manage, project, plan, control and make my life happen, there is suffering, there is worry, there is struggle, there is fighting against the forces of life to get what I decide I must have or should accomplish or am called to serve. It’s bull shit (excuse me but it is!). Worse than bull shit, it is this very belief riding on a fear that comes from remaining self-referent, that keeps one from ever experiencing the freedom of living in the fullness of who we really are. Who we really are exists before and after any “I”.
Who we really are is the very relationship of Conscious Creation. We are the spontaneous action that arises as form within the dynamic relationship to this moment of Creation! That’s who we really are (What an acronym that could make… SATAFWDRTMC.. Ah well, too bad it didn’t spell something great like “What is, is all there is…”) We’re embedded in a sea of Creation. We are Creation. We’re a constant movement of relationship within a sea of what Is, which we snap shot into a sense of object and objective – into an “I” and an “I” with an objective, a plan, a purpose.
When the courage and humility to live life as an artist arises, then you’re free. When you can honestly face the fear of “what will happen to me if I stop manufacturing my future,” and truly let life lead your actions, then you have entered into your original birthright in freedom. The how’s and what if’s simply don’t arise any more.. or very very rarely and with no real power.
I don’t know one day to the next where my income will come from – or if it’ll be enough to sustain my current quality of life (which I of course like very much)! I haven’t known for years. I don’t know if my writing will ever be published, if people will ever wish to hear my words, if I’ll die tomorrow of cancer or some accident. None of us knows these things. We just think we do and that they’re under our control or the power of our beliefs. We’re afraid to see through this. We’re afraid to give up the illusion.
The freedom and joy that spontaneously exists in every moment when it is lived in harmony with what arises, is beyond what I can express. The intelligence of life, and my part as a co-creative relationship within This, is far more awesome than that of our mind-manufacturing potential. Instead of a planned (dead) and seemingly controlled path to manage and sustain, I am completely free to listen and respond to what arises as it arises. I may write one moment and run the next. I may conduct research for a client one day and sit in the hot tub the next. Nothing is planned any more. Nothing is deliberated. There is no effort, no trying, no making it happen. There is fully living now, not tomorrow or next year. The cost for such freedom? Giving up the illusion that you make anything happen. If you really (really) look into it (beyond the lens of a self-protective logic), you’ll see that you don’t and never have….
Life now for me? It is simply falling into the arms of Now and celebrating the dance of art making, love making and Creation! It is magnificent, easy, fully present, and endlessly more intelligent than any old “I” could have dreamed of making happen. I gave up what seemed like everything and yet was nothing, to live fully within the aliveness of all! It’s like the sipping of the very best wine – a spendor unfolding in freedom and surprise!
Q: In the realization of who you really are, how do you experience relationship with others?
RONDA: No differently. We’re all such unique constellations of consciousness. The miracle to me is that there can be so much unique diversity within a sea of wholeness. There are still people I feel greater and lesser connection to, more or less a natural affinity toward. There are still people who irritate me or frustrate me. It doesn’t matter. It isn’t matter, it’s movement. I see us more as energy configurations – some magnetize naturally toward each other and others naturally pull apart. I don’t fight any of it. Do I see us all as One? Yes and no. There is an ultimate sensing of that which is beyond the reference of mind. I see the multiplicity that arises from nothing or from God or Source as a wonder to behold, a great mystery, something I’m more inclined to savor than comment on.
Q: Westerners are very into self-improvement. Does involvement in the various therapies and spiritual practices assist in awakening?
RONDA: I could honestly say (as Tony Parsons might): “We are just an appearance arising from nothing. “There is no one here be awakened. There is only this, arising now.” But that doesn’t really respond to what I know you’re trying to ask.
For some, surely practices have helped open a doorway. For others (and seemingly many) it is just another trapping. A key I think is how much one is able and willing to give up for Truth. If the self won’t (or isn’t ready to) be seen through and given up, no practice or method or therapy or great teacher will make any difference.
I know there are a lot of contemporary teachers (like Tony, whom I like and appreciate very much – the impish soul!), who are expressing a level of truth that no one can do anything, it’s already here as the natural state of Being. This is true as heard from the level of realization, but misleading to one hearing from the level of “I”. There is nothing “I” can do to win enlightenment because as long as “I” am seeking it, it can’t be had. It is not “have-able”. It merely is what IS, when the “I” is seen through.
But can practices, methods, therapies etc. help one see through the programming of the “I”? Yes I am sure it is happening on a regular basis, as is realization from no practice, no therapy, no teacher. If one is genuinely connected to the desire for truth, if one is energetically attuned to listening into life, it simply comes to the foreground. It’s the true meaning of prayer. It is our co-creative power. That which we purely intend will arise to meet us because we are Creation evolution in action. Some of us just continue to miss hearing it when there is also still the overlay of fear and attachment to “I” that won’t allow for the free-fall into life. To all those who can free-fall into life within a pure intent for truth, it will arise and be seen. …And! this can’t be forced or “made” to happen. It simply already is so! How do you “do it?” By connecting to the purity of desire, and then completely letting go of the need for it to happen and for a “you” that controls anything at all… It’s a miracle truly. And it is as ordinary and simple as this very moment.
copyright ronda larue, 2001
what is enlightenment? non duality series