Q: How does one make the leap, from a witness still anchored in the body to not being confined to the body, where you are everywhere and feel and listen globally? I realize, have experienced and understand that there is only perceiving, there is no perceiver or perceived, but still this perceiving…this silent witnessing….with no mental constructs or formulations or commentary of any kind still seems to happen predominantly from and within the body, although from no specific point.
Is it grace that takes one to the next level…this sense of universal presence. How does one orient or shift to this?
A: This is a very good question and is one that I receive some form of often. My experience is that at every point of the spiritual journey, there is no formula for how to shift to another level or depth that works for everyone. We are all unique and so is our journey.
In fact, my good friend, Jeffery Martin, who is a neuroscientist, has researched this extensively and his findings suggest that all of the well known spiritual paths and practices only really work for about five percent of the people who engage with them. But it is not the same five percent on all of the different paths. So his suggestion is to try different spiritual practices until you find the one that does work for you. And as you progress on the path, that may also shift. The practice that opens and expands you at one point may no longer work after a time, while another practice may then be very effective.
That being said, one way you could specifically start experimenting with shifting the location of your perception is to read part one of my free ebook, Living from the Heart, which is available here: http://endless-satsang.com/free-ebooks-free-spiritual-books61.htm The exercises in the book are meant to develop more flexibility in where you are looking/sensing from, and eventually there are exercises that work with shifting the source of awareness to space itself.
I will also add that from my perspective, there is no one ideal state of consciousness or location for perception. My sense is that the ideal actually is a total flexibility of consciousness where you can freely and easily move from one state and one location to another. No particular state is functional all of the time, and all states or forms of perception have their purposes. The biggest freedom and the greatest functional effectiveness in life comes from this total flexibility and is not attained through reaching a particular state of being and then getting stuck there.
However, this flexibility is only achieved by having direct experiences of all of the different capacities of your own consciousness, so there is still a place for what is generally called spiritual seeking or spiritual practice. Again, the key is to find a practice that actually works for you now as a unique individual at this unique place and time.
Along the way, you may find that pursuing spiritual practices is often a two edged sword. When we read about or have glimpses of different spiritual experiences and states, we may then end up desiring them and thereby suffer from the struggle and effort to reach some ideal experience or spiritual attainment. It is ironic and paradoxical that our efforts to end our suffering often create some of the most intense suffering we can experience in life.
So along with our seeking and pursuit of spiritual attainment, it is important to develop a capacity to simply let go of seeking and striving. As you have suggested, it is mostly up to Grace or the universal intelligence how quickly or easily our spirituality unfolds. Our essence or Being seems to love all the many dimensions of existence and may not be in as much of a hurry to become enlightened as we are!
These two approaches are not contradictory, but rather complimentary. It is worthwhile to seek and effort toward the goal, and it is equally important to hold the whole process lightly and simply be curious about what you are already experiencing, even when there does not seem to be any progress or even when you seem to be going backwards. I said that the ideal may be a total flexibility of consciousness, and by that standard, every experience throughout our entire existence is an expression of our already inherent flexibility as consciousness. This moment is a rich and unique facet of the diamond of our potential as consciousness. So even as you seek and strive for new and different experiences, take some time to stop and savor the ones that you are already having.
Should you seek spiritual attainment or should you let go of seeking? Yes!!!
I hope this helps.