Like a Fish Drowning to Swim
Living in the post-postmodern era you have seen religion give way to science and psychology, have studied the traditions and disciplines that integrate all three, and now have had a profound realization. After all this time you now know what you have been telling yourself all along, that one is not simply a human being in a physical universe, but that you are a spirit living in the world, a soul. You have been imperceptibly changing your desires and actions as you have studied and practiced spiritual truths, and now you recognize the greater sweetness and discernment with which you interact with the world and others in it. While competently living this life you have been influenced by, and drawn to something much bigger than your individual self. In doing so you have steadily relinquished things that once were so important to you. Now you more easily surrender to circumstances, intuitively knowing what to do, trusting the Source from which your direction is given. And while it can seem irrational, you now understand there is absolutely nothing more important for you to do than to keep your focus on this Source. A true renunciation, but not rejection, of the world has begun to take hold. You experience the universal truth that you simultaneously are, and belong to Spirit. There has been an awakening into a new identity signaled by improved periods of grace and virtue that persist outside of formal practice. Your love for God now penetrates every aspect of your life. However, even as you experience these exalted moments, a fear persists that you will suffer from the sacrifices necessary to continue to go forward.
Even as you trust you are becoming your true essence inner conflict arises from not knowing who you will be. Though you feel eternity at your side you know something is dying, that you will be forever and irreversibly changed, with much of what you have valued forsaken. There is a nagging feeling that perhaps you are fooling yourself, that your renunciation of worldly materialism is a denial or avoidance of sorts. Requiring that you further summon your courage, previous experience tells you the course ahead will not be governed by conventional logic, but rather absurdity and paradox. Excitement and self-doubt exist side by side. There is a feeling of being pulled into a whirlpool that will give life as never before, a drowning you hope results in resurrection. This is at once both a celebration and a challenge as you undergo further refinement of your spiritual transformation. You want more of this awakened state, and you want the confusion and discomfort to lessen. Though you consider settling for things as they are, you are reminded daily that navigating this turbulence successfully can put you on the saintly side of love, justice, and forgiveness, enabling not only your own, but others’ liberation. The stronger tendency to do something about your situation prevails, but what is it you can expect to happen, and what if anything should you do?
When the awakened soul cries out for and cleaves to God the body’s needs relax. And as long as the soul has God’s attention this balance is maintained, body and spirit are one; lover and Beloved are betrothed. If you were able to retain this awareness your disciplined efforts at relinquishing your individual identity and renouncing ways of the world would be said to have left you liberated, ensconced in a saintly transpersonal self that identifies with and loves all. However no seeker is as powerful or as wise as to be able to directly secure this prize. Instead, one’s natural inclinations, encouraged and strengthened by society around you, cause you to lose your way. The lovers are separated and the body’s needs claim dominance again, sometimes for moments, sometimes for days. You find that your love for God can weaken, and concomitantly so can your love of the world. What was becoming a familiar feeling of numinous expansiveness and unity with all around you disappears. There are aspects of what you have read about as the “dark night of the soul” yet they seem like ordinary sadness and loneliness, but perhaps irrational or unwarranted because you have friends and family, and you’re busy and feeling fulfilled. This distress is in sharp contrast to those times when you are living in beatific peace and strongly identifying with God. You are in love experiencing the Beauty in the world like never before, the radiance of reality shining through, the Divine sharing with you Its Truth and Goodness. Mindful presence is strong; as is contentment from living as the spiritual person you’ve always wished yourself to be. Blessings occur, and your needs seem to be met without effort, you feel more secure in the world. But again and again there are those periods of exacerbated grief from the times the Lover seems to have deserted you.
Hide and seek with the Lover can be a roller coaster of emotions and widely fluctuating moral behavior in which you are in a daily struggle for your true identity. There is the recurring preoccupation with the mundane tasks of everyday living, from appointments to be kept, to money matters, to health concerns. Maladaptive habits return and new virtues weaken, self-interest returning with a near sinful ferocity. And each time these have precedence over the sacred you slowly and almost imperceptibly increase the gap between God and yourself. As this separation grows you become more and more the individual self, but now also one that feels the loss of the Divine; awakening has regressed to samsaric mundanity. Previously lessening, attachment to outcomes becomes strong again. Defense mechanisms reactivate, material satisfactions dictate selfish behavior, and scarcity dominates abundance and shows as win-lose competition. Pride pursues personal success in attainment of goals monetary, sexual, and social with one’s shadow once again projected onto others. Temptations appear offering relief from your pain, even seeming like blessings for your disciplined efforts of sacrifice and service. You consider compromising the greater virtue you are beginning to live but your spiritual wisdom reminds you that worldly desires will no longer satisfy.
Mindful of these lapses the seeker frequently becomes dismayed, the hope of realizing God’s vision for oneself and humanity seems a fantasy. Practicing loving kindness, wanting freedom and justice for the world something only the irrational idealist would pursue. Feeling this separation from God, one is now at great risk for settling for less than noble virtues and right action. Christ consciousness, though a divine promise to all, now seems out of your reach. What is a little sin anyway, we’re all human and no one is perfect; one cannot always be free of irritability and resentment, always patient and kind. Permission to be selfish, even exploitive, can be granted to oneself by feelings of omniscience and/or omnipotence hijacked by an inflated ego, which convinces one of special abilities empowering one to do what others cannot do. During these trying times of vacillation between spiritual strength and lapse you learn that only total and complete surrender of all you have and all you are will suffice; and experience now gives you insight into the enormity of this task. You balk even though you know the schism between head and heart, the conflict between intellectual understanding and subjective knowing, is part of the inherent variability of the experience at this stage and is the precursor to lasting union with the Source. You gradually concede there is no reasoning one’s way around the truth of this sacrifice. You are being confronted by the Divine Romance, with its demand of archetypal surrender to the Lover of lovers. You’re participating in the journey that embraces all nature of sentient experience, keeps one attuned to the world’s Truth, Goodness, and Beauty, and blesses one with love and joy. Mercifully with time and effort, it becomes more natural to live what is required for the letting go that leads to liberation. You grasp the adage that one does not choose a life with God, but that God decides who will be saints, and you find assurance remembering God has been, and will continue, endorsing you. Chosen, you resolve to waive your personal interests and plans for your life.
It is now that one most needs to access wisdom and guidance from beyond oneself and this requires a dependence on, and devotion to God. You again recognize that only the Beloved’s will and purpose matter, not ones own. Whether God is near or far, beneficent or mean, one worships and trusts that God is working to fulfill the inspired vision. Striving and seeking become less important, while adoring and surrendering to God become paramount. Right action from regularly and consistently being mindful of your spiritual commitments and intentions is required. Commandments echo intellectually in your head. Remain alert to, and resist old maladaptive coping strategies of excess that may have lessened but you now find yourself tempted to employ because of your grief. Exercise caution regarding worldly pleasures lest you revert back to attachment and dependency on them. Be careful not to regress on your new standard of virtue. Remember the bar has been raised; some of what is socially acceptable for others is no longer permitted for you. Wiser, you choose not to tempt fate in this way but avoid risks you would have taken in the past. Now, you refuse a romantic involvement solely for fun and excitement, or the business venture that gives you a huge gain at another’s expense. And you realize willpower alone will only lead to failure in this righteous effort. Focus on the Source, your god, is all that will lead to success; nothing short of a devotion in which all else is secondary will suffice. Only in this manner will you be fully engaged in this ego to saint experiment, allowing the Source to have its way with you, guiding, strengthening, fulfilling, and transforming you.
This renewed diligent focus on the Divine results in the fuller embodied richness of “being” that is promised by renunciation. By reducing your mental and emotional focus on undesired thoughts, actions, and temptations the mind becomes free to devote itself to your relationship with the Source or God. The emphasis is on feeling Divine Presence. This involves willfully ignoring ones desires and needs in any given situation, refusing to dwell on your and others’ stories whether positive or negative. You unconditionally accept the world as it is, letting go of what you want and your plans, your ideas about the way things should be. An effort is made not to worry. Outside times of formal practice you may find yourself reciting aphorisms, mantras and prayers to secure the stillness, concentration, and wisdom that bring about the empty and clear mind you associate with the sacredness, witnessing, and love of the Divine. Using mindfulness you engage in strategic thought stopping in which you turn your distracted and wasteful thoughts to those of worship. These actions reverse moments of irritability and generate acceptance of others, circumstances, and events. In doing so your actions are more consistently characterized by greater warmth and loving kindness toward others; and it is extended to oneself as well. You’re more joyful in disposition, mentally less critical, and more patient with others. Even minor spiritual arrogance is loosening and falling away. And, there is an increase in you easily wishing others well even if they slight you. In spite of continued fluctuation in your experience you more consistently feel closer to the Divine Source. You experience the freedom from suffering and enjoy the feeling of spiritual immortality that comes from identifying with God. The world becomes a different place, its inhabitants and ones relationship with them changed; saintly virtue more resilient to life’s mundane insults and routine challenges. Not only do you feel better living in the world, there seems to have been cleared a way for more righteous action on your part. Your behavior is more often prompted by spiritual principles received as higher intuition or direct knowing. Through divine guidance you are more cognizant of natural desires while less lustful, lessening their power to tempt you into wrongful thought or action. Prevailing in this way you reestablish the saintly work of going beyond spiritually experiencing archetypal Beauty in the world to bring the universally hoped for archetypal Goodness into the world. Knowing and living archetypal Truth in this manner enables you to once again be both the change you want in the world and to inspire others to do the same.
With ones faith built on a strong trust in God’s karmic will one understands that ones hopes are being refined so they may be more attuned to the God given spiritual vision. God’s promises will be kept and desired gifts granted but most likely in a way one has not envisioned. In this turmoil in which you are drowning in both the sweetness of grace and pain of suffering opposing forces are actually working in concert. There is recognition of the universal logic of Truth as the paradoxical juxtaposition and reconciliation of incongruity and contradictions. This is illustrated in the personal freedom sought that requires disciplined surrender and submission to something more than your personal self. Relinquishing your self-interest in ways of the world results in identification with the Source, granting you the freedom desired. Restraining and training one’s mind has provided it access to greater openness, wisdom, and latitude in action than was available prior awakening. Additionally, identification with and reliance on the Source or God to deal with all concerns epitomizes the awakened awareness of “striving without striving”. It is the enactment of “being” in which one does not focus directly on one’s or another’s wellbeing or spiritual development but on the Source from which all originates. Aligned with God as pure consciousness, you remain in the eternal present, unconcerned with the past or future. Now it is unnecessary to employ willful effort to experience transpersonal states of mind, to address concerns in one’s life, and to accomplish personal goals. Remaining attentive to God is all that is required, because now what you seek is present before you, and merely involves loving the world as you love yourself. Like a fish drowning to swim, you have died to your essence, renouncing the world to become it. You are more enabled to love God, to think and act as God does, and to love as God loves. Maintaining this divine perspective on reality, faith is stronger and life characterized by an ease and freedom with which to accept and address life’s variability.
Because your mind is no longer your own the paradox of your experience does not end here. Accepting you are no longer an individual self in a permanent world you are granted freedom from separation and sin. You now embody the loving Christ consciousness living in a heavenly present with its more refined virtue. And unlike what you may have willfully attempted in the past, this virtue comes naturally and is enacted with ease. You find your conscience is stronger, nobler, because the Source or God is guiding you. It is God’s creativity in the moment manifesting according to God’s purposes, working through you bringing Light into the world to benefit others. And this accords you a freedom from self-conscious monitoring and restraint formerly required to behave properly and beneficently. You have discovered and now live from a liberated conscience. A conscience not based solely on one’s thoughts and beliefs, societally or culturally conditioned principles, or mythological truths but one that while incorporating these elements, is predicated on the information and direction given by God. In the context of the present moment you experience it as the discernment of a spiritual situational ethics showing what you need to know, and instructing you what to do. Something you could not have reasoned or imagined on your own, it is divine intervention according to God’s logic and standards. You are now living as an awakened soul in the world, identifying with the world, gracefully loving the world.
Your spiritual journey is radically maturing in ways described by various traditions, but nonetheless experientially novel for you. With your awakening you’re learning to live an ongoing grace and renewal, a faith consciousness in which God is trusted to provide, and in which one selflessly shares the gifts one receives. This further commits you to spiritual practice and worship but in ways that are markedly different from those previously required for your spiritual emergence. Now with greater patience for its unfolding there is improved resilience to worldly experience and temptations. You have let go of your self and your lifelong beliefs and habits about living in the world, trusting God to creatively handle the details. Granted freedom, your spiritual journey is an enlivened adventure experienced moment by moment without expectation, guided by the greater virtue of a liberated conscience. A saint is being born.
Out of Body, Out of Mind
On the spiritual path, especially if a novice or receiving no guidance, one can sometimes confuse true transpersonal experiences with those of a poorly formed or weakened ego condition, a phenomenon called the pre-trans fallacy (Wilber, 2000). Two of the most common ones occur when one concludes one has had an out-of-body experience (OOBE) when one has actually experienced a psychological symptom of anxiety called depersonalization or derealization. In both cases one feels oneself to be in a different reality and divorced from one’s body. Another form occurs when cognitive awareness is altered but one does not distinguish between focused mind and non-focused mind, rationality and irrationality, and distorted versus objective reality. Rather than the transcendence it is believed to be it is actually only a misrepresentation of everyday identity and reality.
That one’s worldview is not as severely challenged with depersonalization as it is with the OOBE is one factor that distinguishes the two. Depersonalization often occurs in a stressful situation. Like an OOBE it feels surreal, but unlike the OOBE it is accompanied by significant discomfort or nervousness prior to, during, and after the experience. Also, depersonalization can usually be linked to previous long-standing anxiety complaints and symptoms. There is frequently anxiety after the OOBE but it tends to be associated with difficulty comprehending an experience that is counter to one’s understanding of reality, or an uneasiness associated with realizing you no longer know the world as you once did or the way others do. Whether or not one sees one’s body and/or moves about in a different landscape are two more significant factors in distinguishing between the two phenomena. Depersonalization does not involve actually observing one’s body, but is only an “as if” experience occurring in the mind as vivid imagination, while the true OOBE involves observing one’s body and/or finding oneself in another landscape different from the one just prior to the event. And this may even involve control of the experience, similar to lucid dreaming and astral travel in which one explores and interacts with the environment in which one finds oneself. In contrast, the interaction with, and change in one’s surroundings in depersonalization are limited to efforts to cope with familiar consensus reality
Spiritual practice across traditions emphasizes alteration of conscious awareness in which one’s cognition, sense of self, and reality is altered. In one’s eagerness to achieve this state of mind one can misidentify poor concentration with its long succession of associations, that usually generate confusion and minor separation from logic or one’s surroundings, as raised awareness. In actuality this is what is commonly referred to as being spaced out. This occurrence of losing continuity of one’s experience because of poor concentration, and then perceiving reality in an altered fashion, is misconstrued as positive while in actuality it is only a distortion of reality, e.g. a play on words that may be novel but does not reveal spiritual truth, misheard and misunderstood auditory stimuli, altered visual perceptions due to unusual light and shadow. One can be said to be out of one’s mind, irrational and out of touch, rather than in a focused transcendent mental state or expanded mind. The true experience of raised awareness, whether transpersonal or nondual, is one of presence with concentration on, and receptivity to, immediate experience. Cognition ranges from quiet stillness to non-thinking to direct knowing of truth in a given circumstance, and is experienced without conscious intent. Additionally, one experiences an alteration in mind in which one feels one has been moved more deeply into reality, that is, into archetypal and/or superconscious awareness. In sharp contrast to the spaced out condition there is an emergent wisdom in which all objects and phenomena are relationally integrated. Worldly phenomena and objects are understood as empty of inherent meaning and are formed by, and arising in reality due to Ultimate Consciousness, the Source, of which one now recognizes one is a part. Experiencing this subjective expansive feeling of one’s individual self transcendently merging with the “other” as union, or as fully experiencing nondual being the Source, is a second distinguishing factor in validating true spiritual self and reality change. Mundane understanding and rationality is maintained while simultaneously experiencing the world through the dominant raised awareness of the a-rationality of the nondual cosmology as noted above. And rather than willful action or reflection on this, one simply abides in this process of expanded identity and manifestation, commonly referred to as being in the now, or Being. Now truly altered, reality is markedly different, revealing nondual mind-matter memory and creation.
As one considers these distinctions between pre-ego and transpersonal/nondual events an important caveat cannot be ignored. It is that there are times when one’s experience is characterized by elements of both conditions, e.g. an OOBE can be preceded by an anxiety attack . Integrating the experience then requires addressing one’s psychological character and functioning and also one’s spiritual experiences, knowledge, and development so one may correctly understand and follow-up on the experience in the most beneficial manner. This also stands as an argument for the integration of psychology and spirituality, and for the advocacy of psychological wellbeing as part of any spiritual practice.
Spiritual Path as Transformation of Conditioned Reality
Regardless of one’s tradition, using a framework of wanting, giving (which together comprise doing), and being to assess and monitor one’s spiritual development can serve to guide one toward one’s spiritual goals. These concepts work well with behaviorally observable operations of thinking, feeling, and acting making it relatively easy for one to evaluate one’s individual personality, one’s spirituality lived through soul, and one’s spirit as God living in the world.
The spiritual journey is a transition from the conditioned individual self from which one detaches, to the embodied transpersonal collective self. The path may be considered one of dis-identification from our original individual self that wants for itself, to temporarily embracing a self that gives to others (as it continues actively doing), until it identifies with mental, emotional, and subjective being, from which it then acts. Essential skills are acquired through each stage of this progression, mandating that none of them be disregarded or passed over lest there be negative consequences, e.g. spiritual bypassing or materialism (see “Ten Common Pitfalls of Spiritual Practice”).
The ego, believing itself a separate entity in the world, usually knows what it wants, and having exercised sufficient thought it pursues the objects, experiences, and relationships it desires. Its logic is believed to be of its own design, and it is oblivious to the social and cultural conditioning that has determined its values, wants, and subsequent actions.
The feelings associated with ego’s wants and needs are conditioned as well. And they are more confounding than ego mental information because they are of two easily confused types. The first type is emotions like sadness, joy, anger, and delight. The second type is subjective feelings defined as oneself feeling like oneself; meaning is ascribed to the totality of the self’s embodied experience. Subjectivity includes feelings such as vulnerable, strong, confident, and hurt. It also includes a felt sense of holding oneself within a boundary ego has created between itself and others. Useful in understanding the ego’s characteristics and functioning, distinguishing these two types of feelings becomes a necessity in defining self as it expands through transpersonal experience.
As life events move one away from the aforementioned conditioning, the wantingmind begins to think differently, becoming more personally intimate with itself. And it begins to experience a greater range of feelings, both negative and positive, the former associated with life’s hardships, the latter with an expanded perspective on the world and humanity. Social-cultural conditioning begins to weaken, and one moves closer to one’s true and unique self, based on one’s own distinct character, values, and goals. Existential questions begin to be answered, a personal mythology emerges, and one’s self-actualization begins (see “Ten Aspects of One’s Personal Mythology”). Though wanting continues to prevail, now giving begins to emerge.
With the addition of transpersonal experiences one begins the part of the spiritual journey where one genuinely and selflessly gives to others consistently. This results from experiences of transcendence that move one beyond individual agency. There is an expansion of one’s usual subjective contraction and an extension of personal boundary that now includes other. This unitive awareness includes a sense of deepening, that one’s being has simultaneously descended into the depths of reality as it has simultaneously expanded. At these times one no longer feels one is an individual separate from others. One begins to identify with this expanded definition of self, and because one experiences it only occasionally now actively seeks more transcendence.
Spurred on by more spiritual moments one contemplates the world and expands one’s worldview to include interconnectivity of all and the caring emotions it engenders, e.g. love. This results in more benevolent and charitable actions, a more consistent loving-kindness for and compassion toward others, and more service for humanity. This greater dis-identification from the original self (i.e. ego) moves one solidly into identifying with a spiritual self primarily concerned with giving, the soul. This is lived both informally and formally, e.g. in daily contact with strangers as one goes about one’s daily routine and as service to others in a teaching or healing capacity, respectively.
The expansion of one’s mental, emotional, and subjective experience that has resulted in a new identity (i.e. soul) with its giving actions provides the opportunity to evolve into the stage of spiritual development in which doing, exhibited first as wanting and then as giving, transforms into being. And like the previous identities there will be changes in mental, emotional, subjective, and behavioral aspects of ones personality. As being increases the individual functions more and more as a transpersonal entity operating from the singularity or nonduality of reality, first as the witness and then as an enlightened self.
The witness mind combines the formlessness and nothingness of the mysterious creative source with the world’s material, mental, emotional, and subjective aspects. The result is another dis-identification, this time from the soul, and identification with the Source or God. Less often using discursive or integral thought processes, one thinks as God, mentally directly knowing. Emotionsare experienced as belonging to the singular collective of the immediate moment, not to oneself or another. And one subjectively feels oneself as being, with being experienced as a complete fearlessness, boundary-less merging with all other, while resting in a vast spaciousness of which one and all else is a part. This beingis eternally timeless while repeatedly rising from moment to moment. One isa profound unconditional love and peace while not feeling oneself to be other than what is. All the while there is Spirit, presenting as a witnessing awareness, monitoring being. Especially noteworthy is the fact that one’s awareness does not remain in this state of being, individuality and volitional mind return. With right practice the characteristics of witness’ beingsimultaneously lead to, and are incorporated into the enlightened mind.
Though similar to the witness, the enlightened state of being is a more thorough and enduring presence of Self characterized by awareness without object. One’s subjectivity is being experienced as Oneself as Consciousness that is the origin of, as well as, all that presently exists. This being perceives all as perfection, lives in beauty, and is the aliveness in and radiance of all. Spiritual principles of truth are more deeply and wisely held, extrasensory perception is activated, and one’s actions are regularly and seamlessly guided without thinking. Direct knowing prevails and action may be described as “action without action”, with behavior presenting itself moment to moment as being, without volition or goal. “Emotions are without emotion”, their unique character nullified because they belong to the infinite and all encompassing field. And also because one’s being is comprised of feelings of delight, peace, and bliss. Additionally, because subjectivity is nondual, not-two agency of world and Self, with mind and matter as one, there is the capacity to manipulate physical reality, e.g. siddhis. One lives as timelessness and eternity with an absence of suffering. Being, having now included and transcended the doing of wanting and giving, has emerged as the leading edge conditioned Self of enlightenment.
Subjectivity, Union, and Being
The following is a philosophical musing offered for the purpose of clarifying concepts and experiences associated with nondual and direct experience spiritual practices. These emphasize an awakened witnessing of reality in which one is encouraged to be mindfully present in the moment or “now”. In attempting this people frequently confuse the observing ego with the Witness, and unitive awareness with Pure Consciousness. Hopefully what follows provides a language that is useful in discerning one’s awakening to, and living as witness awareness (Zen satori or kensho), eventually leading to enlightenment.
Regardless of one’s spiritual tradition earnest practice eventually leads to change in one’s identity. While recognizing cognitive aspects of identity it is important to note the felt-sensing aspect, or subjectivity. Drawing from object relations the agency one feels viscerally and kinesthetically is the subject that one refers to as oneself. This is the “I” or “me” that interacts with everything else separate from it, i.e. the other objects in the world. This subjectivity is a felt-meaning experienced and conceptualized as the existence of oneself, and is accompanied by the classically egoic cognitions, emotions, and actions. One feels a self, and one thinks one a self; and one is also able to recognize the feelings and thoughts associated with these aspects of self. This self-awareness along with the capability to partition one’s awareness, e.g. as in mindfulness or hypnotic trance, is an observing ego. Having this experience in any given moment is not being in the “now”. It is common awareness of bodily sensations with reflection, reason, and imagination.
Through spiritual practice this separated individual subjectivity gives way to oneself having experiences of union with other objects. Transpersonal psychology frequently describes this as unitive awareness, a form of transcendence. It may be conceptualized as awareness without object because (often through powerful concentration) one has merged with the object of one’s attention while one’s individual subjectivity prevails, dominating the experience. This is experienced as greater closeness and attachment to the object, providing the impression one knows the object in an intimate manner heretofore unavailable to one. Boundaries weaken and one feels a subjective expansiveness of one’s self or identity. However, in this feeling of communion with the object there is a subtle duality of two separate objects being joined because there is no witnessing to the event of union. One is subjectively absorbed in the experience of it, preserving the impression one is having an experience; one is doing something and there is a pleasant result. Subject-object relations remain, and it is frequently recounted as the self having experienced union or oneness, having had a spiritual moment.
Comparatively, awakening may be described as a subjective experience in which Pure Consciousness (Source, Buddhist emptiness, Christian Godhead, Nondual non-conceptualization) witnesses to the union or oneness described. Pure Consciousness recognizes Itself as the only permanent object, and as the overarching Subject observes the subject-object phenomena of union. Most importantly, this experience is characterized by a gnostic certainty (knowing beyond normal belief) that reveals that both the egoic object observed (i.e. myself) and the object of unitive awareness experienced (i.e. myself in union with an other) paradoxically are not separate from Oneself (Subject, Pure Consciousness). Having identified with this Subject one is residing in/as witnessing awareness. While in this awakened state there is a direct knowing which is an informative wisdom of a non-discursive integral nature. It arises suddenly in awareness without forethought, and for this reason may be referred to as “thinking without thinking”. Arising similarly there is “feeling without feeling”, emotion and felt-sensing characterized by equanimity and nonattachment. Not only are cognition and feeling altered in this manner but also action is experienced as “action without action”. This is spontaneous action without willfulness, the action prompted by both the direct knowing and the “feeling without feeling”. In these conceptualizations of thought, action, and feeling, “without” is used to also connote the paradoxical existence of both a self and no self, and also of both participation and no participation in the experience. This characterizes the genuine living in the “now”, the nondual realization subjectively experienced as Being. One is receptive to, while naturally and unconditionally accepting reality with complete lack of (commonplace or existential) fear experienced as deep and blissful resilient peace. There is also perpetual awe with feelings of freshness and renewal, cognizance of a vast reality that is boundless and limitless, all co-occurring with feelings of timelessness and eternity. Subjectively, one feels one is the world and the world is oneself. Body, mind, spirit, and world are not separate, but are the One. Pure Consciousness, embodied as the Witness, (directly) knows it is the substance from which all objects are made and (Subjectively) recognizes all objects as forms of Itself. With no other, identification is always with Oneself. Simultaneously aware of Itself as both Source and object true Presence radiates forth. There is no striving or getting, nor even a giving, but rather participation in the arising of the events and experience that emanate from Pure Consciousness. Experienced as Being, there is (unconditional) divine love and happiness perpetually arising regardless of circumstance or relations. One is awakened to the true nature of reality, directly perceiving and living in and as the Now.