Facing Death: Embodying Nondual Practice

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We have been given in this moment the opportunity to move our nondual ‘practice’ into greater and greater engagements with what is. This can come during times of emotional upheaval, sickness, injury, extraordinary physical exertion, as well as during ceremony with the plant medicines. True and potent shadow work is possible, if supported by intention and willingness, and the grace of the attendant Madres orDoctores of the ingested plants.

Imagine that facing your approaching death could be just such an opportunity. The time to develop capacity to abide in unconditioned awareness, the result of all traditional practices, is right now. Peruvian shamanism provides a remarkably effective catalyst for the dissolution of the conditioned, resistant psychic self. This is the results level, embodying what is, this limitless awareness, the ultimate medicine.

Shamanism can provide us with unparalleled access to the most resistant blocks and deepest shadows. As the ceremony opens, luminosity itself clears the way for the reclamation of disowned aspects of our selves. Integration has always been the solution to releasing the conflict within our conditioning that is driven by the tyranny of subterranean core belief structures. Embrace the prodigal son or daughter as they return to you across the sea of luminous awareness!

Nondual practice offers us a direct path, where we discover how to access our unconditioned being now — in this moment. We give ourselves and each other permission to stay in the unknown, to learn to rest in the boundless space of awareness without putting labels on what we are experiencing. This is not a mindfulness practice, nor is it an attempt to reach some blissful state. This invitation is much more radical: to first expand and then dissolve the boundaries of our whole conditioned identity.

The foundation of the practice is learning how to rest in unconditional presence, to abide in a space where there is nowhere to go, nothing to know, and nobody to be. As we work with the practice and the practice works with us, can we allow ourselves to embrace presence in the space of not-knowing? Can we release the impulse to define or understand whatever arises, and just meet it directly, without the labels, without even needing to know what it is?

Core themes and inquiries for the nondual aspect of potential retreat arise from the foundational practice. These themes are completely transferable beyond the event and quite potent in grounding transformative results — they become the on-going work as the experiences of the retreat fade into the past and dissolve.

The flow of creative energy springs anew as we release the habitual sense of who we are, what we believe, and how life is supposed to be. The nature of this energy calls us far beyond the safety and security so dear to our ‘survival self.’ This energy asks us to live creatively right now, to discover what it means to fully participate in life, to let go of the structures that keep us separate and solid.

Welcoming everything is the nature of presence or awareness welcomes everything, just as it is, and allows it to be, just as it is. As we work with this personally and with each other during the ceremonies and after, we can begin to embody this way of being, moment to moment.

We work here and now when accessing unconditioned presence in this moment. This key facet of being together calls us back to this moment. Thoughts of the future arise now, memories from the past arise now, and we can meet them and work with them now, nowhere else. This direct, immediate and profoundly alive.

By investigating thought and belief in the limitless space of unconditioned awareness, it becomes clear that no thought, no story is true. There are many different skilful and subtle ways of supporting an ongoing inquiry into the thoughts that create so much suffering. As the process works within, this opportunity is amplified and illuminated.

Being intimate with what is, to experience something honestly is to be one with it, to experience it fully. Direct, unmediated experiencing is always transformative, healing the pain of separation. In this intimacy we find ourselves undivided, not separate, not two, a radical kind of intimacy in our relationships with self and other.

Freefalling into the vast openness of presence, there is nowhere to land, no final destination, position, point of view, or conclusion to hold on to. The medicine is such a great teacher when it comes to this. In fact, we can discover that the so-called “medicine journey” actually has no beginning, middle nor end. Can we invite ourselves and each other into the wild, alive, and completely unstructured nature of this – not just for a few moments or hours, but because we recognize this to be the true nature of reality?

Jonathan, March, 2015

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