Book Excerpt

331. Alternative BOOK EXCERPT: Emptiness Dancing by Adyashanti

Reprinted from Emptiness Dancing by Adyashanti

Being Born Again

You have experienced moments in your life, whether or not you are aware of them, when you momentarily forgot the “I” with which you have been identified. It can happen spontaneously at a beautiful sight, or it can occur from egoic forgetfulness. People usually discount these moments. After experiencing the “nice moment,” you then reconstitute your familiar sense of identity. But actually these opportunities are like little peepholes through which the truth is experienced. If you start to watch for them, you will notice them. All of a sudden the mind will stop thinking of its story. You might notice that your separate identity or sense of a me just took a break, and whatever you truly are didn’t disappear. Then ask yourself, “What is the real me? If my identity can take a break and I don’t disappear, what am I then?” or rather, “What am I when I do disappear?”

Usually the mind gets activated in response to the question, “What am I?” It starts thinking about it until true intelligence breaks in again and says, “Now wait a minute—that’s just more thought.” Then there can be a gap of quietness between thoughts, and if you are very present in that gap, you stop acting out your familiar identity. As soon as identity jumps into the gap, you don’t feel present anymore. Being nobody is usually so baffling to the mind that it starts filling that gap very quickly. “How can I be nobody?” But to fill it up with a somebody is meaningless. If you really want to know what you are, just experience the gap, experience the openness, and let it bloom inside. There is no better way to find out what you are.

This is when spirituality becomes not only real, but adventurous and fun. You ask, “This openness, this presence”—call it what you will—“this is what I am?” You start to feel or sense that you’re on to something that’s not a creation of thought, belief, or faith. And when you start to take it in, just this awakeness that’s free of all identity, it’s mind-boggling. In Zen we call it the uncreated; it’s the only thing around that your mind is not creating.

There is a wonderful parable from the Bible that says it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into heaven. Trying to hold on to your identities, even if they are the most spiritual, most holy of identities, is like trying to shove a camel through the eye of a needle. They are too coarse, too big, too untrue, too fabricated to get into the truth. But there’s one thing that can get through the eye of the smallest possible needle. Space, your own nothingness, can get right through into heaven. None of us can take one shred of a self- centered identity with us.

Heaven is the experience when we’ve passed into our own nothingness. We realize our own pure awakeness and see that what we are is pure spirit with no form. We recognize that formless spirit is the essence, the animating presence of everything. This is being in heaven because, in each step, spirit and essence are occupying our body. That’s the true meaning of being born again. Being born again is not just a great emotional religious conversion experience. That can be nice, but it’s only like changing your clothes. Being born again is actually being born again, not getting a new spiritual garment. More accurately, it is being unborn when we realize that eternal nothingness is actually living this life called “my life.”

But just because you realize the truth and awaken spiritually doesn’t mean that your life is going to be an unending ascent of good fortune. That would not be the peace that surpasses all understanding. As long as our lives feel good, it is easy to have peace. But life does what it does, like an ocean moving. Whether the waves are high or low, it is just as sacred, and, as nobody, you are not harmed by it. Within this awakeness is the peace that surpasses understanding, and your life doesn’t need to be doing better. It can just do what life does; it just flows. You don’t care.

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