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Imogen Sita
Attempting to put words to my experience | Certified RASA Giver | Global Nomad
Attempting to put words to my experience | Certified RASA Giver | Global Nomad

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We tend put value judgements on what we want any given moment to look like, and so when the present moment doesn’t look like how we want then we seek to change it; we seek for the ‘good’ to stay and the ‘bad’ to go. This futile seeking to change the here and now causes immense suffering because life can look like anything.

And yet in reality good or bad it doesn’t matter, it all comes, it all goes, nothing stays around for very long. NOTHING. If we can sink into the reality of that for a moment we can see the futility of trying to hold on to anything; then the peace and sense of freedom that opens up in its wake is quite glorious. The physical feeling of tension and heaviness is lifted, the space of being right here right now is felt. Nothing to change, nothing to do, nothing to be.

“There is nothing else other than THIS” – feel the gravity of that statement. Drop any seeking, drop any ideas of what you haven’t found, and doubts about what you haven’t ‘got’ or understood, drop any sense of clinging or holding on to anything. Be in this moment, be in the feeling of existence, notice that you ARE, recognise that you are aware, aware of existing, aware of being. No descriptions and no ideas of what this moment ‘should’ look like. Just this. Just what-is.

We are so scared to drop our ideas and descriptions of who we are; to drop our concepts, knowledge and identity of a person ‘being’ someone/something. We are scared to be nothing, to be no-one. But who/what are you without any descriptions? This is not a question to be answered with words, this is a question to prompt a looking. A clear and honest looking without hiding, without being scared of the consequences of what you’ll find. Look with an open heart, look with the childlike wonder of no answers, just the question – who am I?

No assumptions, no answers, no guessing – just the question.
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Look at the world as if you know nothing,
don’t draw any conclusions
about what you experience,
or who you are.

Innocently move through life
experiencing what is
without the burdens of ideas,
judgements and conclusions.

Take each moment a fresh,
knowing that this moment will never be again.

Lovingly embrace each experience of life,
how lucky we are to have the play of life
grace us with its beauty and light.

Embrace all, reject nothing –
see that you are the master of none but the father/mother of all.
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There’s an assumption that when I say “you are awareness/consciousness” that I’m talking of I-personal/ego/individual I/you. Firstly I want to clarify that when I speak of I/me/you in conjunction with awareness I’m talking of the non-personal ‘I’ that is consciousness. That is awareness. The you (big Self, I-I) that IS awareness-consciousness.

It seems to be common that when someone realizes that who they took themselves to be (the mind-body ‘I’) is untrue, it’s seen that at the heart of experiencing there is nothingness/emptiness/awareness. This is true. But I urge you to not stop there, look/inquire deeper into this recognition.

Even in this absence of a phenomenal ‘you’ there is an ‘I’ in this empty nothingness of awareness. In not recognizing the ‘I’ in awareness there’s a subtle objectifying of consciousness, meaning that what is being missed is that ‘you’ are the one, the I, that knows itself to be awareness. Somehow there’s a lack of connecting between awareness with the ‘me’ – The Self.

You’re not a body-mind experiencing non-conceptual awareness, with emptiness at its core; You ARE non-conceptual awareness experiencing a body-mind.

When the Self is realised, yes the sense of individual mind/body is seen to be false, but the ‘I’ I speak of and from is the I even before thought ‘I am’, even before the sense I am. Self-existence is a fundamental quality of consciousness – it’s the essential subjectivity to which and in which all of phenomenal life is known. Even when phenomena is not around, this ‘I’ still exists in its self-knowing state. It’s the very basis of that from which all phenomena arises – phenomena is not separate to this I and yet this I is prior to phenomena – there is no separation, only one without another – no duality. After all who do you suppose knows this absence of you?

With self-realization the I is recognized to originate as that awareness, and is fundamental to that awareness – it’s the Self after all! When the Self has been realized there’s no problem with using ‘I’ because it’s known that what is being referred to is awareness, is consciousness, is isness, is you (I/me). The I-I of awareness from which all else unfolds from. The I of consciousness knowing itself.

Always speaking in the passive voice subtly objectifies awareness as other than you. It’s useful to break down the concepts of mind-body, but at some point it has to be acknowledged that ‘I am consciousness’ – to own your experience as awareness. There’s only one I, the knower by which all is known, prior to the notions of seer and seen. It’s not separate from awareness, it is awareness itself (‘awareness’ itself is just a concept, a useful descriptor). In this it’s recognized that the ‘I’ was never personal – it was falsely attributed to be personal, but it was never actually personal. When all else is ‘seen through’ the I remains. So yes, the ego may claim any or all of this… but that’s part and parcel of the leela (play) of life.

And so if it is said that empty awareness is at the heart of experiencing/existence then who/what knows this awareness? Are you (the I-I) other than awareness? Are there two things: you and awareness? Do you not see that there is the I/me as awareness at the center of your experiencing? I urge you to look for yourself and see if what I speak of is true in your experience. Don’t take my word for it – Is there an I, even in this emptiness that you’re experiencing?

Ramana Maharshi talks about this when he talks on the I-I.

“After the rise of the ‘I-thought’ there is the false identification of the ‘I’ with the body, the senses, the mind, etc. ‘I’ is wrongly associated with them and the true ‘I’ is lost sight of. In order to shift the pure ‘I’ from the contaminated ‘I’ this discarding is mentioned [of the sheaths mentioned in the sastras]. But it does not mean exactly discarding of the nonself, but it means the finding of the real Self. The real Self is the Infinite ‘I-I’, i.e., ‘I’ is perfection. It is eternal. It has no origin and no end. The other ‘I’ is born and also dies. It is impermanent. See to whom are the changing thoughts. They will be found to arise after the ‘I-thought’. Hold the ‘I-thought’. They subside. Trace back the source of the ‘I-thought’. The Self alone will remain.”
– Extract from Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi. Volume II.
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Wow I feel like a lion has been unleashed. This brutal honesty in service of truth that cuts with the precision of a well known blade is quite a surprise to me. This sharp intellect that can spar and duel with words unknown to me, spilling out like nobodies business.

There’s still a tendency that’s been around all my life – that when confronted with an assertion by someone, to shy away, to back down without even looking, to assume that they must be right… “who am I after all? I know nothing.”

But I’m finding this tendency more and more untenable. There’s a nauseating energy, I guess we would call it adrenaline, that surges in me and so this hiding, this backing down from looking to my own experience doesn’t last. It’s like I cannot NOT look to see if what is being said is true – no matter how much the tendency to hide from that looking still shows up.

And so I find myself, for the first time in my life, facing full-faced to what life is showing me. Responding to the assertions of others, looking at the fabric of what they are saying. And… well then the lion roars.

It’s been quite a surprise to find that roar, at first (and still now if I’m honest) it didn’t feel like ‘my’ roar, it feels alien and new. But none-the-less there it is, and now I see that it does come from me-consciousness. In this roar I can be uncompromising and unsettling (well to the ego at least). It doesn’t win me any friends! And yet, somehow to me it seems like the most loving, compassionate action of “but how can I leave this untruth be in the light of what is seen.”

It’s like this lion in me is called to stand up to the truth of what is known. Was this lion always here, disguised as a kitten?
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I stand in truth.

Can I accept that I may be judged,
I may be questioned,
I may be ridiculed?

Can I accept that,
can I be brave?

Can I stand in my own truth,
without qualification and explanation?

Can I stand sure,
knowing that it’s the right thing,
it’s the only thing?

Can I stand in truth,
unashamedly without reason,
and with no excuse?

Can I stand up for mySelf,
stand tall for the realisation of my very being?

Can I stand up for the truth of my own reality
that I know so well,
so intimately?

Can I live my life without the influence of shoulds and should nots?

Can I say to hell with it all and be as I am?

Can I stand in all my glory,
warts and all,
honest and vulnerable?

Can I accept all of it,
every aspect of me,
every aspect of life,
can I embrace it into my heart without exception?

So I stand in my truth
and in turn encourage others to stand in theirs.

For it’s the most loving thing I can do for myself and others.

Drop all the games,
all the masks,
all the pretences,
all the false concepts and notions,
drop it all.

Stand naked and open,
don’t hide your light.

Let reality, truth and honesty be the guiding movement of life.

Let the truth of your being shine through.
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Life has become about living; living not in past regrets or future worries but life lived in this moment… None of the second guessing, the questioning, the “is the right thing?”, or shoulds and should nots. The age old – before awakening, chop-wood-carry-water and after awakening, chop-wood-carry-water is so so true it’s laughable. Being a seeker you imagine some different ‘state’ where everything will be beautiful and blissful – life will be perfect. Well… life is perfect, but not in that way, perfect in that it IS. It’s happening exactly as it is, nothing to do, nothing to change, nothing to be; even in amongst every imaginable phenomenal occurrence. That’s where the miracle of life is to be found, in the very ordinariness of existence.

You are, and always have been exactly what you seek. You are the freedom that was/is always here, it’s only a matter of seeing through the trees of ‘personhood’ to see that the ‘person’ that you take yourself to be is such an incredibly limited and narrow view of you. We take ourselves to be the body; the body that has changed, morphed and grown since birth, the body that will die. We take ourselves to be thoughts; the thoughts that tell us one thing today and something completely different tomorrow. We take ourselves to be the emotions and energies – sometimes blissful, sometimes not. You get my point…. In all of these we are, but we are more than this, we are prior to this, we are the one that sees all of this. We put so much emphasis and importance on everything that can be perceived, everything that can be experienced, yet we put almost no attention on who is perceiving and experiencing life. What is the nature of this one, what are the quality & attributes of this one, how can this one be described.

That One never goes, never changes – that one is YOU!
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The image of relationships and enlightenment don’t normally go hand in hand. The stereotyped image of the ‘enlightened monk’, shunning the material householder life is something that’s been around in spiritual traditions for a long time. So out of this there comes the common misconception that you can’t be in a relationship and be successful on the ‘spiritual path’. But being in a relationship doesn’t necessarily mean that awakening can’t be there too. The relationship doesn’t have to go, only the attachment to the relationship has to go. Don’t get me wrong, the result of that dropped attachment may actually be that the relationship ends. Ultimately that’s what was meant to happen, and all attachments do eventually fall away – what’s left is what’s left, maybe the relationship will be there, maybe not.

My own relationship has taught me that relationships in themselves aren’t some obstructive thing that stops you from realizing your own nature. Having said that, I lived through the often painful dropping of the attachment to my relationship with my husband Martyn. We found ourselves at an impasse after he had a spiritual awakening that in the wake of he felt he could no longer be at the ashram where we were living, and I felt I couldn’t be anywhere else. He couldn’t be there, and I couldn’t NOT be there; this resulted in us parting ways with no end to our separation in sight. When we said our goodbyes they were potentially permanent goodbyes, we didn’t have any idea if we would ever see each other again. There was immense love for one another, but our situation in life was physically parting us and it was torture.

I cried myself to sleep for the days and weeks that followed. I spent my days on the verge of crying, feeling like my insides had been ripped out. And yet there was nothing I could do other than endure it. Connection to the internet for both of us was incredibly patchy so we would maybe speak once a week, and because of the turmoil that both of us were feeling it would invariable end up in an argument – often over how to resolve the situation, or ending with an angry and frustrated, “well it’s over then!?!”.

I felt torn, I wanted to be with him, but I felt I needed to be where I was. My life appeared to be crumbling before my eyes, such strong seemingly overwhelming feelings were right at the forefront of my experience. I was suffering and I felt so alone.

The suffering that I was experiencing all came from the expectation of how I imagined or conceived the relationship ‘should be’ rather than how it actually is/was. This ‘should’ was now not being met, and the attachment to this ‘should’ was a strong one. In relationships we may not even notice that there’s attachment there, (especially if for the most part it’s been a smooth sailing healthy relationship like mine was) but there’s always a subtle fear of loss, and from this, suffering can arise. In this attachment we are either always holding on to something we have with a feeling of fear or loss, or trying to get something that we feel we lack.

It’s funny because in the wake of this or rather the flip side, I also felt a sense of strength in my new found independence. We had been together since I was 18 so it was a completely new experience to not have to worry or think about anyone else, to make decisions without referring to anyone else was a liberating feeling. So even with this turmoil there I also experienced the growth and discovery of strength that I didn’t know I had. I experienced who I was away from who I took myself to be within our relationship; who I was living prior to any labels and ideas of being a ‘someone’ to ‘somebody else’.

At the pinnacle of that torturous two months I began having ‘panic attacks’. I couldn’t deal with these strong emotions, they got the the point where it wasn’t even strong emotions, it was just intense energy coursing through my veins. I spoke to both Martyn and the spiritual teacher at the ashram about this and both gave me pretty much the same pointing:

“Don’t give so much importance to this energy, trying to understand and work it out, just feel it. Let it pass through you. See that you are aware of all of this happening.”

I felt like I was talked down from the ledge a few times by them. But eventually the innocent observation of these strong energies led me to be able to let go of the attachment I had about being physically together. An ease came about in accepting what was (is). This was among one of the most difficult times of my life thus far, but with it came an openness and an acceptance of what was showing up in my life. I let go of any ideas of how the relationship ‘should’ be – good or bad, it didn’t matter – everything had to go.

Throughout all this upheaval I intuitively knew that what was happening was somehow inevitable; to have the attachment of the relationship torn from me. I had to accept the separation and along with it the attachment to Martyn and our wonderful relationship, for it was the non-acceptance that was causing immeasurable suffering.

It’s funny, once this attachment had given way to acceptance everything immediately shifted, and a few weeks later an opportunity for Martyn and I live in a house in the nearby village came up. And so to our complete surprise, we found ourselves once again in physical proximity when only weeks before that possibility looked lost forever. The attachment to the relationship and the shoulds and should-nots have never returned. I know that both individually and in our relationship we continue to evolve, and whatever happens – whether we stay together or not – it doesn’t hold the same neediness of attachment.

I see now what a gift it was to have this strong and intensely embedded attachment brought so clearly (and painfully) to the surface. For it was in this hard lesson of letting go that I was able to clearly recognise my essential nature, prior to all attachments, all concepts of ‘shoulds’, and all suffering.
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I feel your pain, your suffering.
If I could, I’d tell you that this will pass,
just as the clouds pass in the sky,
just as the ripples of the dropped stone disappear,
just as the passing wind that rustles the tree leaves,
just as the forgotten pain of yesterdays cut finger,
just as the heartbreak of first loves breakup,
just as the treasured childhood wellington’s long outgrown,
just as the wishes of birthday candles past.
Don’t hold on, for this too shall pass.
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I’m pretty much an open book these days, but I’m not some kind of spiritual google that people can ask any amount of questions and I give them the answers. Someone on twitter recently asked me “…does that mean people have no individual purpose?” A perfectly normal and unassuming question as questions go, but all of these questions, do they need to be answered? If you have the answer will it stop all questions, or will it just satisfy that particular question for a second then another one will fill it’s place? Is there a question that will end all questions? Is there an answer that will end all questions and answers? Will this cycle of questions and answers ever stop? Is there something in you that is nothing to do with questions and answers? (Wow, see how many questions I just asked there!!!) Throw out all questions, throw out all answers. They are just more of the same stuff, empty and meaningless. Keep quiet and see if any questions or answers come in this quietness of being.

The answer that you seek is not an answer at all, what you seek is the recognition or a realization of your own essential beingness. This beingness has no lack, there’s no unmet need that will be fulfilled when your questions are answered. It’s like someone asking to describe what a strawberry tastes like, but in their hand they hold a strawberry, and yet they’re still asking what does it taste like? Take a bite and find out for yourself! Go look, inquire, explore & experience that which you are asking for me to describe.

Sure, I can describe, I can point, but any description, any pointing is just that — words. It’s not the actual strawberry. I can point out that you have the strawberry right there in your hand, but I can’t taste it for you. All that I speak comes down to the same empty words, it is for you to taste the strawberry.

Once you taste that delicious strawberry of your very being you will see that no amount of questions and answers will come close to the direct experiencing of your very own nature, right here where it’s always been… at the heart of you.
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The utter humanness of existence cradles in it every possible emotion, sensation, feeling & thought. We can’t run from that, we can’t hide from that, we can’t avoid or resist that, and nor should we want to.

It’s our human experiencing that reveals the ever-changing world of perception that we live in – our ‘world’ is constantly being born and reborn in every moment. Embrace this change, embrace it as the play and display of awareness-consciousness (you). This play is set on the stage of pure open, unconditioned and ineffable awareness-consciousness.

So enjoy. Even enjoy the judgments and commentary of the mind, don’t take them so seriously, notice them for what they are… more of the same play on the stage of life. Don’t be afraid to experience the expressions of life, they can not overwhelm and swallow you up, good or bad they will not, they cannot stay forever.

Being free, being liberated is not some sort of ‘Spiritual Prozac’ where by ‘you’ aren’t touched by the experiences of life. To be free, liberated, enlightened (whatever you want to call it) is to fully experience all the shades of humanness in its rawness, to be free is to realize that you ARE; even when there’s fear, even when there’s a holding on or a pushing away of what’s here, you are – prior to any of the characters showing up on your stage.

Laugh to your heart’s content, sob to the deepest depths of sorrow, scream in the fire of anger, lie in the despair of apathy – all the while know that you (awareness-you) are experiencing all of this.
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