I ponder the world as illusion. While channeling Jeanne’s message on Monday, I reached a personal moment of enlightenment when I grasped the idea that the inner world and the outer world are the same, that both are real and both are illusion. Carl Jung once noted that the inner world was as real or perhaps more real than the outer world. This has always been my experience, more of an inner world person than an outer world person. What I experienced in that moment of enlightenment on Monday was, from a shamanic point of view, a shift in the assemblage point, a shift in perception. This is when the world, as we know it, suddenly falls away and everything is seen and perceived differently. When this happens we are in another reality, “seeing” the world as it truly is, in shamanic terms, seeing the world as energy. So with that in mind, holding onto the idea that both worlds are real and illusory at the same time, I went into my week.
On Tuesday, I sat down to meditate in my favorite spot, looking out over the trees in the back yard. It was early morning; the sun was beginning to rise, battling the clouds for prominence. I wondered what the day would be like, rain or sun? I meditate with my eyes open. I softened my gaze as I did my breathing exercises, holding onto the out-breath ever so slightly in an attempt to linger a moment in emptiness and detach from thinking. Eventually, by focusing on slowly breathing in and out, I reached an in-between stage, where the outside world dissolved into a blurred picture and the inner world went quiet. This is a moment of shift in the assemblage point.
Sometimes I can stay suspended in this in-between space for a few seconds, sometimes longer. It’s as if my awareness is a thin sheet of glass, suspended between these two normal states of reality. I say thin, because invariably something will interfere to bring me back and then both the inner world of thought and the outer world of everyday reality come snapping back into sharp focus again. On Tuesday it was a flock of crows flying into the backyard that broke through the thin veneer of glass.
“Oh, here come the shamans, come to distract,” I thought. “Don’t attach.” And the glass immediately shattered as I watched the crows land in the trees right at eye level.
“Don’t attach,” I said again, softening my gaze. As I did so, I noticed that the crows literally dissolved as the glass pulled up between the two worlds again, which obviously was enough to pull me right back to thinking, to trying to grasp what I was experiencing. Of course, I wanted to check out if the crows were indeed still in the trees. So I looked directly at the treetops and yes, there were the crows sitting right where they had been.
“Okay,” I thought. “The crows are like these thoughts, flying into my mind and I must learn to let them go. I must learn to detach.” Again, I softened my gaze; focused on breathing, telling myself to let them fly past, just like the thoughts that were interfering.
“Even if those thoughts are attempting to grasp at this awakening experience I am having, it does not matter, let them go,” I said as I pushed everything away: thoughts, crows, trees, the inner and outer world.
“Just let it all go,” I whispered and, as the scenario played out, the thoughts flew away, the crows dissolved, and the thin sheet of shift, the glass, reappeared. I hung again in a moment of shift of the assemblage point, in inner silence, as the shamans call it, in nothingness, ever so briefly.
So, what did I learn during this experience? First of all, I experienced a volitional shift of the assemblage point, changing my perception of reality using a tried and true method: by meditation. Secondly, I saw the crows of thought and illusion dissolve into energy. If the crows are thoughts and thoughts belong to my inner world, I was able to underscore the moment of enlightenment I’d reached on Monday that the inner world and the outer world are both real and both illusion.
As I pondered this idea further, I thought about how thoughts are present only in the mind. In fact, they do not exist except in the mind, but they have the chance to become real when given form. In creative endeavors, as we paint, sculpt, dance, put them down in words and musical notes, as we write what we think, imagine, and discover, they manifest in this world of reality, no longer illusion but real. But until that manifestation they are illusion. These thoughts I now transcribe, though they existed in my mind, remained illusion until expressed in this form. They flew around in my head like those crows outside the window, seemingly real but not necessarily so, until this moment of landing, assembling into a long string of words that, hopefully, make sense.
I understand, in one sense, that my inner world, as real and important as it is to me, does not exist. And yet, I admit that it is extremely necessary, offering me the means to evolve, so I accept that my inner reality does exist. Even those very real crows existed one moment, but in the next dissolved, as I shifted my assemblage point so that the world of normal perception, reality, ceased to exist. At the same time, however, both the inner world and the outer world do exist; they are notches on the assemblage point. They are equally real, but equally illusion. But the thing to note is that our true awareness lies somewhere between or beyond those worlds, in the silence of that veneer of glass that is so hard to stay in. Does this make sense?
What I am getting at is that we all have these experiences. Our thoughts are simply thoughts, non-existent, present as energy inside us. If we can view them as such, we may be able to understand the idea of everything as illusion, but also as energy. When we hone that energy into something else, our thoughts become something different. They become tangible, expressed in forms that others can grasp, our personal experiences of illusion, of inner energy manifested.
Can we see the outside world in similar terms? The shamans say that our conjuring minds are responsible for the world of reality. We are taught from birth to see the world in a fixed position, and yet we all have had experiences of shifts in reality at some time or other in our lives, as Jeanne asked us to note in her message the other day. If thoughts are illusion, conjured by our mind, made manifest in the outer world, is not then the world of reality, conjured by this same universal mind, illusion as well? If everything we experience as reality at one time existed as thought, it stands that it can also dissolve back into its original energy form of thought, and thus, illusion.
As I sat and played with this idea the other day, dissolving the crows out of the trees one minute and placing them back in the trees the next I got it again, just how illusory the world is. My thoughts are nothing, the crows are nothing, I am nothing, but we are all energy. If we can hang just a little bit longer in that thin slip of world between the two illusions we may experience this sense of self as energy.
And why would we do this? As we shift our assemblage point, as we see differently, as our worlds dissolve, as we hold onto our awareness, we begin to train ourselves for the moment of death. This is what the Buddhists do, what the shamans do; they train their awareness for the moment of death. They learn how to hold onto awareness, how to stay connected to awareness of the self as energy so that, at the moment of death, they do not get caught in the illusions. They seek to hone the skills of awareness, so that they do not get caught in grasping, needing, desiring, in sadness or yearning for this world, which they have learned is but illusion.
According to these ancient disciplines, of Buddhism and shamanism, this is what we are here to learn. We are here to free ourselves from the endless cycles of being caught in the illusion that this is all there is. We are offered, with each new life, the opportunity to experience the moments of awakening to our true nature as energetic beings. This is what Jeanne was describing and asking us to note in her message.
Take note of the moments when the illusions of reality disappear, those aha moments when we experience life differently. These are the moments to keep striving for, to string together, until we fully grasp their significance and can volitionally return to them again and again. We must seek the space of thin veneer between worlds and thicken it so that we can stay in it longer. We must seek our true awareness and set it free in that in-between place; because that is what we will need to recall and hold onto at the moment of death.
The cool thing is that we are offered plenty of those moments of enlightenment now, in our present lives, in our present worlds. Try it. It’s fun!
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