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Question #7
I had a spiritual awakening when I was 17....For one half hour, I was in an altered state of consciousness. My perception actually shifted, and everything seemed less distinct and hard-edged....everything, everything was indescribably beautiful.

After that half hour, I've never experienced more than a taste
of this. But, I spent the next 30 years wondering how to re-experience it.

I am convinced that when we have such experiences of opening or "awakening," they provide us with a deeper insight into the Whole of things, exactly as they are. It is almost as if, for a brief moment, a veil is pulled back (perhaps the veil of the thinking, judging mind?) and we are provided with a marvelous revelation of Reality, and an opportunity to experience existence, in its fullness, with less interference and obstruction. Moreover, I believe the key to "re-experiencing" and perpetuating such a profound appreciation of life lies in recognizing that in the insight of "awakening" nothing new is added to our experience.

In the Vajracchedika, the Buddha is reputed to have said:     
	"When I attained Absolute Perfect Enlightenment,
	I attained absolutely nothing. That is why it is 
	called Absolute Perfect Enlightenment."

With this Recognition, we relax and open up into an appreciation of what already is, as it is. This is why the process of searching can, in the end, be so self-defeating: it takes us away from the very "thing" for which we are looking and which is, of course, already present, here and now.

This is also why focusing upon the immediacy of our own intimate Awareness within the present moment can be so helpful, since it is through this Awareness that such moments of insight occur, and it is within this timeless Awareness that we can begin to rediscover who/what we really are....

I want to add one thing, after reading your reply: That is, the only thing we have to work at is letting go. I believe my experience occurred because, for an hour, I let go of the habitual way I had learned to see reality, and was able to experience it a little (only a little) closer to the way it actually is.

Indeed! Many of us experience the basic challenge as one of needing to "let go." However, an interesting irony develops when we begin to "work at letting go." Obviously, this effort can, in and of itself, become yet another subtle strategy for continuing to hold on.....Since Reality is, and will continue to be, exactly as it is regardless of whether we are letting go or holding on, ultimately there is no need to modify, correct or release any of our "holding.

This recognition is echoed in the magnificent insight of
	"If you understand, things are such as they are.
	If you do not understand, things are such as they are."
In his essay "Sitting Quietly, Doing Nothing," Alan Watts
also addresses this issue in his discussion of "blocking" 
[which, in this context, would correspond to the experience
of "holding on"]:
	"The simplest cure is to feel free to block
	[or hold on], so that one does not block at 
	blocking.  When one feels free to block, 
	the blocking [holding on] automatically
	eliminates itself....The principle here is, 
	of course, the same as getting out of the 
	contradiction of 'trying to be spontaneous' 
	through accepting the 'trying' as 'spontaneous'
	[in and of itself]...."
			The Way of Zen, 
			pp. 150-151

1997-1998, Metta Zetty
All Rights Reserved.

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