HopeDance Interview with Lindsey Vona

 

Lindsey Vona : 8/ 9 / 11

1. So Lindsey, when on the ninth day of your two week darkness retreat, you said that your head “had opened and flooded with light.” Can you explain a bit about this? Did it happen spontaneously or were you in a meditative posture when this happened, or lying down? And from your explanation it appears that you felt yourself both as vibration and still as yourself? Is this still true?

During this passage of my retreat I don’t remember if I stayed in any particular posture or place or for how long. With no light hitting the body what I became aware of was that I only recognized myself as existing inside of a time continuum, when my mind was projecting thoughts about the past or future or “self” or my “environment” during which times there was the illusion of “something out there” besides just me being. But when my awareness woke up and realized it was all just black void forever and ever and ever, it was a relief, and a constant stepping into unknown with just mindful attentive breath and awareness, until I got distracted by a concept again…Then at some point my memory of Lindsey as a physical entity with a past and future moving around, also dissolved for periods, and during these periods I experienced myself either in the celebration of pure awareness and essence or vibration…or dissolved into light. As I think I described in my testimonial, imagine or try shape-shifting into a deity in a Tanka painting. That is the closest way of describing it. Or imagine that you are made of the same non-physical but somewhat tangible fabric as a rainbow, and that from that is emitting a joy and peace that is effulgent and not in the slightest agitated by thought processes. It is an experience of Self in a state of perfection and unity, psychic and vibrational harmony with all, as a natural state of being. Very different than the friction bound density of physical matter that is my normal waking and sleeping state.

 

When I described that my head opened and flooded with light, that’s somewhat inaccurate. I used that to give a reference point. There was no longer a reference point like “ head.” I recognized that I am made of effulgent radiant light, causeless and unable to be tainted or extinguished. Imagine that the very fabric of everything that you think and experience here on the Earth and in your life is just a very sophisticated projection from your own mind, which is innocent and limitless as it’s very nature. That substance, of nothing, also is blissful at its core. So rather than Lindsey having an experience, it was more as though the conceptual structure or projection of “Lindsey” into a “world” disappeared for a while in my larger mind / imagination of light, and there I was again, in perfect remembrance and gladness.

 

I revisited Jack Kerouac’s poem “Scripture of the Golden Eternity” after my retreat and return to ego and essence identified worldly life, and found it very comforting and warming. Everything in that poem makes perfect sweet sense from the perspective of supreme consciousness. The poem, and many poems that are in that direction, are like umbilical chords pointing to the ladder of consciousness that ultimate leads you there.

2. You used the word “home,” please explain? What does home mean to you, specifically or in general terms?

I’m allowing the word home to be an exploration, not something I’m pinning down in definite terms. In other words, although I’ve actually found it quite difficult,I haven’t allowed myself to become an absolutist. Anytime that my heart and mind feel free from mental or emotional bondage; I feel I am “home.” It is a friendly, awake sort of recognition that doesn’t need a particular set of outer circumstances to exist. Generally I feel at home, unless I am experiencing separation.

And anytime the animal that is also me feels comforted and tucked into my life or my relationships in a way that feels whole and balanced, I also experience “home.” But what’s interesting, that I also notice, is that no matter the travails that my life as Lindsey seems to undergo, there is a part of my “awareness” that is looking, that I am looking from, that remains unscathed by any of my life’s turns or circumstances, and ultimately, whether this awareness is looking at “my life” and experiencing what it is to be a 31year old woman with a lot going on, or experiencing my self as perfect bliss consciousness, it’s not so much, which of the shifting truths, but that I am at home when I am aware of awareness as such, when I become conscious of the one who is looking, in other words.

3. You state in your testimonial that you realized yourself to be a “total illusion, not even worth defining.” Since you’ve been away from the experience, can you describe the illusion, is it like being on a movie screen? Or would you or could you say that you are basically dreaming your body into some sense of “reality”?

It really depends. For all practical purposes for right now, for as long as that is, I appear to be living my life as Lindsey. That’s the outer reflection of things, in the world of appearances experience that we are all either having or not having.

To me the way that I am choosing to orient and understand it is primarily through the lens of Buddhism. I don’t consider myself a Buddhist in certain regards, however it’s an indispensible map, I’ve discovered, in understanding the nature of the “mind” in relation to sense phenomenon. What I can say is that I am here in this body and generally experiencing existence from what I would call an “ordinary state” because I am still clinging on various levels to self-delusion or desire, or clinging to conceptions. I do quite a bit of self-inquiry. I love the work of Byron Katie, and recently took my first Tantric Initiation with the Dalai Lama. So here and there amidst meditation or inquiry, expanded states of consciousness and liberation from suffering happen. It’s also true that I took Bodhisattva vows recently for the first time so I’m actually quite happy to be here learning to retrain myself out of habituated self-important thinking, and more in the direction of service and cultivating Bodhichitta.

It’s always, for as long as I can remember my birth and lifetime, very much seemed like being on a movie screen. My friend who also did the retreat with me jokes about it and calls it the Earth Movie. What I’ve come to understand is that the density of this world is in direct proportion to the density of my thinking. What’s also true is that I’m working on embodied self-realization. That means integrating all of this from a certain part of the brain, down into and filling out the body. That’s what somatic presencing practices are for. To keep us grounded here. This has been a difficult task for me because I have spent so much of the last ten years seeking transcendental union. So now I am learning to fill out and into my life, relationships, work, etc, in a way that feels satisfying. And honestly to me that is what requires the most vigilant attention, to find the balance, or what in Buddhism is called the Middle Way.

4. You mentioned that you were “emanating perfect compassion”. Was it like love as energy shooting from your physicality that didn’t seem real, yet real? Of course these questions seem to be an attempt at clarifying words to help myself as well as readers to gain more clarity even though your testimonial was very crisp. It’s almost as if I’m finding myself asking questions just so that I can hang out with you. Or that the notion of different words and similar conversations can somehow sooth the possible outrageous challenging transition that some of us are feeling and experiencing.

As far as radiating perfect compassion. I’ve come to understand compassion and both what is called the wishing State of Bodhichitta and actual state of Bodhichitta as the natural state when I am not embroiled in attachments or seeking to fulfill a personal sense bound desire Whenever I feel genuinely present and focused on the happiness of others or being in service or absorbed in musical or mystical rapture, it does feel like compassion has a radiance, but more that it’s radiating through me as pure life force from the heart and through all of my cells, rather than something shooting out of my physicality or something I am “doing.” I notice for myself whenever I am struggling to experience compassion, for whatever reason, the best antidote I have found is to remember that every sentient being has a birth and a death, just like me, and that all beings no matter how estranged from their inner source, are hungering and struggling with levels of self-forgetting, and experience or have experienced great suffering in their journey “home.” My experience is that it’s more a process of compassion revealing itself to me as the hidden gem that naturally shines when the decay of old disturbing conceptions and feelings, beliefs, attachments, projections, etc, is removed, and that is done through inquiry and meditation, or when life really breaks us open by whatever means it uses. Compassion and self-realization are natural. The Dalai Lama spoke at length about compassion during the Kalachakra in Washington D.C. I’m reading “Way of a Bodhisattava” right now by Shantideva, so that is influencing a lot of my answers.

It seems to me that no matter the difficulty or seeming disastrous circumstances I find myself in or when I look out at the world and the globally challenging transitions we are in, I feel that compassion and awareness are the most important foundational tools to embrace these times with, because without them we so easily become immobilized.

Because of deep love, we are courageous. – Lao Tzu

5. In one passage you referred to “self remembering” can you tell us what you are remembering? Are you remembering your purpose, destiny, nothing, remembering yourself as to being causeless? Here we have another word trying to grasp at a mental explanation.

Sure, all of it to a greater or lesser extent. Depending on whether I am experiencing self as my human identity either conditioned or unconditioned or as being causeless, or aspects of the essential, etc.

I’m not sure about the question of destiny right now in relation to self-remembering. I feel I am guiding my destiny by way of my choices, how I respond, etc. and co-create with the divine play. If destiny and purpose is real, and unique for each of us, then that would explain the meaning inside of synchronicity and the guidance that is revealed through uncertainty. However, I feel responsible for my mind and for my actions, and my level of awareness or lack of it, at any given time, seems to dictate how things unfold. I’ve developed a relationship with the I Ching these last years, and much of the wisdom of the book of changes comes from recognizing and acknowledging how our attitudes either limit or expand our reality. I do think it is how I use and respond to the signposts. If all is ultimately “Self” then the higher-self mind that is orchestrating this is certainly giving me a lot of opportunities for growth and self-realization, which I’m very glad about, being that the part of me that is writing this, is obviously still enjoying or karmically bound within the journey.

Perhaps astrology really has relevance when it comes to personal destiny, but I’m not quite sure. When I’m in a conditioned state of mind, it makes perfect sense, when I’m not, it has little to no relevance to me, so I consider all of it useful depending on my state of mind. Outcomes seem to be more determined by what I do with my life and time and karma rather than determined by an unseen hand, although the willingness to recognize the spark of the divine in all things and circumstances, as a possibility, allows me to experience life’s unfolding as something with an element of magic and mystery in it that seems to allow the highs and lows to eventually unfold a more expansive meaning. Perhaps that ability for the mind to eventually reflect back on events or experience them from the birds eye view of perfect unfolding, is a way of imbibing a sense of destiny or purpose from a seemingly endless karmic interplay of forces that at some points seem to be filled with meaning, and at other times, devoid of meaning and completely chaotic.

6. You talk about that “we are just forgotten and rightfully so” do you think that all of this is just a game to test us to see if we can return to oneness? The Gnostic tradition explains this as if we had made some kind of contract in consciousness to enter into this plane as a game or as a test to see if we could actually remember, if we could find those signposts, find those certain people, listen to those intimations so that we could win the game somehow and as we were winning the game or getting closer to this realization or self-realization we could possibly hear clapping and applause from high above as our real friends were rooting for us? What do you think of that?

Honestly I like the sound of it. It sounds really fun. My friends and I definitely clap and applaud each other on the psychic level because so many of us are actively engaged in spiritual development. I’m aware though, that I’m coming from a privileged perspective within that context. I believe you do need the willingness and the capacity.

There are so many suffering on this Earth that are without basic daily sustenance on the most fundamental levels, and whose bodies are ravaged day and and day out with traumas, illness, toxicity, profound loss, who are just trying to survive. We all know that. Do they get to experience it as a divine play? To me that comes down to a question of whether or not your brain and body are both willing and capable to reach towards that. It wasn’t until I landed at my teachers Sanctuary in Hawai’i, that I felt I could dedicate a certain amount of life energy to my spiritual development. It’s difficult for me to know how it is for others. I was raised in a country with a high population of spiritual orphans. From the research I’ve done, and from what friends and teachers have told me, and from the little interaction I’ve had with other cultures, spiritually rich cultures are fighting for survival on this planet, across the globe. Not everyone I meet is so much interested in engaging in it as a test or game to see if they can remember. So I don’t know if we are all here for that or not, but I know that the seed for actualizing higher consciousness must exist in all humanity. There were periods in my life where it was dormant in me, and then would wake back up, go back to sleep, etc, so perhaps it is like that for most, and if you do follow the signs maybe you are just led to the right resources and people. I’m not sure but I very much like to believe, anyway, that any being with a sincere desire to awaken will be given enough of those signposts to make it out of their circumstances that limit their identity. Really I don’t know what is right for other beings though.

I like to think that when my relations pass on it will be an immediate “ Oh, Duh ! “ for them, and that all of their suffering will forever be extinguished. I like to think it’s a game that consciousness is playing that everyone is a part of, but I’m not sure. It does seem to on some level come down to karmic purification. In Buddhist terms it’s said that to acquire a human body is a great achievement because with it you have self-reflective capacity and can practice.

I doubt that I would’ve had the level of openings into higher consciousness without putting in some serious time and effort into practice, and I am still reverting back into a limited identity amidst this all, though obviously some part of me does not feel or experience being bound in it, per say. But everyone’s path of awakening is so unique.

I think we all can experience ourselves through different means and that there are as many paths home as there are beings. I am trying not to ascribe any belief system, really, other than using various resources and tools as exploratory devices in my own laboratory of consciousness, to see what works and what doesn’t for my own particular design.

I can say that for me, life tugged on me over and over again to dive full out into exploring the path of awakening, in a very deliberate way, but without becoming a nun or practitioner at this point, and I feel that I was led and guided by synchronicity and still am, along that path. I also feel and have experienced that the earth herself, or the governing consciousness of the celestial body or bodies, are very much supportive of beings who have an ardent passion to wake up or heal or live in alignment or remember or whatever you want to call it. Ultimately from the most natural and basic to the supreme level, It’s a choice that benefits all beings and all life, since it is a mirroring system, and yet humanity as a consensus whole (at least the conditioned over-culture) doesn’t seem that supportive of the process of self-realization, per say, which perhaps is just a part of the game, but I am not sure. Honestly I think we have a very real choice here as individuated aspects of unity consciousness. I have seen it during journeys with Ayahuasca like this: As though there is a great vast black Voidness, and out of that void is arising everything and everyone, and all sentient beings can rubber band or project and stretch themselves out as far as they possibly can for as long as they possibly want, to experience that individuation, no matter how much suffering or separation is experienced, but because we all arise out of the same source, the ultimate Self, in other words, ultimately everything returns to that source. Mother Kali eats herself back. (Jack Kerouac)

7. Have you ever taken entheogens and if you have was this similar at all to the experiences in the darkness?

Yes, I have sat fairly regularly in Ayahuasca healing ceremonies over the last several years. In my early 20’s I experimented with Mushrooms and although those journeys were very expansive and illuminating, I found them very hard to integrate, and felt very sick afterwards. Inner work processes that have not involved any medicine or substance entering me, seem to integrate more readily into daily life. Meditation I feel is the key to mental stability, whether it’s through sitting meditation or some other deliberate practice. It’s the integrative factor, the intermediary between states of consciousness, and a way for the mind to rest amidst the brain and psychology trying to put it all back together. Just this ordinary awareness following the breath, so simple and yet so difficult to maintain, for me is the key. I consider playing music, dancing, yoga, also as ways of practicing. However with Ayahuasca I feel that the governing consciousness of this medicine interacting with my brain / mind / cells, actually does allow me to integrate my lessons and insights, sometimes in a practical and immediate way, and sometimes over time and as I unfold, as long as I commit to following the guidance I receive. I don’t do it just to commune with the divine, although that is good enough reason for anyone, especially I feel, during difficult times where healing and insight is needed. Ayahuasca is an unbelievably profound teacher and can benefit ones life on pretty much any level, I feel, as long as it is approached and used in a responsible and reverent way. I find that I’m given incredibly useful insights and guidance, as well as do a lot of deep purification, and it has over time, really improved and helped to clarify many questions and aspects of “reality” for me. The difference I experience with Ayahuasca is that throughout the meditations, I literally experience it as a very intense death, and a cracking open of my head out of this illusion and into God realization and all of that amidst having many revelations about my ordinary life. For a while I had my doubts about whether it would have practical relevance for me, but I have found that I can ask practical questions through meditating with Ayahuasca and find it very helpful with that now with very occasional use. Somehow it extinguishes the conceptual thinking mind very efficiently and goes through the super-unconscious and to the superconcsious very rapidly, if I’m adequately prepared for that level of journeying.

I love native healing songs or “Icaros” in that they invoke the feeling of gratitude for this medicine that I feel in lines such as “ because she is my mother, in this world of illusion.”

Ayahuasca releases DMT which as many readers of this probably know, is the same chemical released at the time of death.

If that is what happens to every being at the moment of death then that is very beautiful news in my eyes, because it means that regardless of karma, everyone and everything truly returns to “God” in the most literally sense, out of this world of illusion, and back into perfect supreme loving consciousness, gladness and unification with the ALL. With Ayahuasca I experience God not so much as radiant light amidst void, but much more wildly in all kinds of dynamic ways that are outside of the scope of language. IT’s also allowed me to enter into what I experience as the Kingdom of Heaven, inside of the Heart. Have you ever seen the painting of Hanuman holding open his chest and inside is the King and Queen sitting together ? With Ayahuasca I’ve been taken into that realm of eternity into that Kingdom and it is exquisite. Knowing that this vibration of heaven exists within every sentient being has profoundly deepened my reverence for life. One night I distinctly remember praying with a group of friends who have known each other many years. After a few hours into the night, the whole consciousness of the room seemed to unify, and although everyone was sitting upright, eyes closed, meditating, seemingly “inside” of ourselves, we all began to giggle, and psychically communicate across the room to each other. I experienced us all as little balls of different colored neon light dancing around in a black void, in love and union but also with various personifications or qualities that were distinct. It was a very beautiful night, and everyone awoke the next morning very melted in heart-centered consciousness together. I didn’t so much experience that heart melting after the darkness retreat. It was more of a mental liberation and seeing through the veils onto the screen of the world.

 

 

8. Can you talk about this “no fear of death” that you experienced? The Sufis talk about dying before we die. Rumi often writes about this. Can you explain what that fear of death is all about? It is like in Jan Frazier’s book Whe Fear Falls Away she writes that it still is gone. She’s amazed every morning thinking that it may appear again. But she is delighted that it just might be permanent. Does this lack of fear of death imply that you know without a doubt that you will return to this grander consciousness when your body dies, that you explored and defined as “emanating full compassion”?

I don’t have a doubt as to whether or not I will return to this grander consciousness when my body apparently dies. I do have various worldy fears that come up from time to time, as part of this conditioned causal realm for as long as that lasts but I am by no means afraid of “death” in the literal sense. Actually I am more concerned with the karmic purification process at this time and with gaining the skills necessary to exit in a good way that allows me to navigate whatever mental realms I might need to navigate, with awareness and confidence. I’m also interested in really truly enjoying it here more and more. I’m very glad that I am a guitar player in this lifetime. I’m so stoked I have hands and a musical imagination. It actually makes it very beautiful to have music in my veins.

I feel very blessed to have a healthy body and to have been born into the realm and circumstances that I have, and along with that I have a deeply felt wish to be of benefit to all beings in any way that I can.

9. Not many people would understand the possible coarseness interpretation when you described that you didn’t even “suffer over the suffering of others” and thought the experience as “a laughable possibility.” Can you explain?

We came to understand that the pineal gland gets calcified over a lifetime, and that gets sloughed off during extended periods of darkness. That’s what outside research told us but we haven’t been experimented on per say, though one scientist we came into contact with is interested in that if more retreats happen. So just imagine that you are playing with a baby, and that baby is smiling and laughing and completely bright eyed, following your every move with delight and wonder and curiosity. That is how I was when I came out except that I still had command of my body and language and adult identify. I couldn’t relate to suffering because I wasn’t merged with the world of concept again yet. I was in the delight and innocence of experiencing light and life with eyes that were completely reborn and at that time, unconditioned by sense impressions. It must be the way Zen monks laugh when a Koan pops them out of conceptual duality. At this time, as I’ve matured and progressed along my “path” in different ways, this is where compassion has become an integral part of my human experience. At this time being touched by the suffering of others, and feeling myself broken open with compassion for my own suffering at times, is now seen and experienced as a gift and something I can easily relate to.

10. In the end of your testimonial you say “You are Me,” is that still true? You say that “life is not at all what it seems”. Can you explore that a bit more for our readers?

I think I’ve explained it maybe quite in detail above. As far as the “you are me “ part…

Yes, let’s face it, that is a lot. The hugeness of it, really… is almost more than a limited human identity can bare. It requires something of us to open to the size of the positive energy and love that we actually have inside of us, as our birthright. It’s a big power. I still grapple with the ego, the part that is addicted to suffering. I love this quote, I think it sums it up quite well. If you knew how important you are — you would fragment into a billion pieces and just be light. Byron Katie Honestly I fantasize about asking President Obama and other world leaders to really remember their true nature and Self. I can’t really know that they haven’t, but I have my suspicions.

I fantasize about our World Leaders waking up and just…untying their hands. I know that he is an aspect of me, and yet he is governed of his own volition, but I think if enough of humanity chose to stand up and take on remembering and living this grander truth, actually proclaiming it, the way great Saints and Sages have in the past, then I think we would immediately see a different world. I also see that in part as a projection, so I am attempting to find ways to live the turnaround and untie my own hands, and find out what I am really capable of. It’s just that we’ve become so accustomed to living out Samsara rather than Nirvana, as a species. It’s become what we do here on this Earth, and perhaps there is a larger plan in that, I’m not really sure.

But then I think of how there is documented evidence saying that places like the Kingdom of Shambala existed, and I think of Indigenous tribes drinking Ayahuasca and similar brews that help guide them to live in alignment with oneness and the natural world. So for me, going into very magnificent expanded states of consciousness, and then coming back to the world and seeing so much suffering, is very perplexing. Some branches of psychology would say that you actually need a healthily developed ego / individuated “self” in order to begin that unwinding process. You need to have that fully developed self-reflective capacity in order to have the contrast necessary to ignite the impulse that wishes to see and remember oneness, or not.

It is true as far as I know, though that our core SELF is forever connected to and arising from the same source, however we manifest in these different forms, personalities, circumstances, or you could go as far as to say “souls” but on many occasions during mystical union, during my retreat in Hawai’I at times, etc, and including the darkness retreat, I saw very clearly that we are all the same self, arising out of emptiness. When I arrive at perceiving emptiness, it is such a relief, over and over again, and it inspires a laughter in me that comes from a deep seated peace. I like to think that everyone knows on some level that life is not at all what it seems, but I’m not really sure how dense the veils can get because I’m not living out anyone elses experience of it right now but “ mine” whatever that means….

11. Since you feel this compassion as an energetic thrust (my interpretation) do you have an interest in aiding others to get to this space of realization?

Yes, I’m very open to that. I am a musician, and I write songs sometimes that are stories about the journey of awakening, for that very reason. I love the idea of inspiring people to take that journey, and to have a creative outlet to document my own, and my imaginations interpretation of it has become my passion. If an opportunity to be in a structured environment to support others in darkness retreats happens, I would love to support that and be of service to them as well. I’m also interested in volunteering at a children’s program in Oakland teaching meditation.

12. Do you think that it would come to them if they were in the dark for two weeks?

Not necessarily but possibly. It all depends on where a person is at in their journey.

My experience was that it took a very committed level of meditative discipline, pretty much all of the psycho-spiritual tools I’d acquired, and a real passion for exploring my inner terrain. I heard afterwards that some people went through the darkness retreat there and did nothing but whine most of the time about the food or start to miss family and friends or sense pleasures too much. You are not going on vacation in a retreat like this. You have to really have a desire for some kind of breakthrough or quieting of the mind to endure that kind of time in a small room. Imagine how wonderful and challenging it can be to meditate alone for several hours with no distractions. Now imagine that for a whole day… and so on. Also there is and should be a screening process for anyone seriously considering 2 weeks at a retreat center because you’ve got to be of sound mind and body to do it. If a person has a history of mental or serious emotional problems or unresolved trauma it has to be noted that it can really amplify any of those processes, and you will be attempting to integrate a very profound experience into your daily life afterwards, so I would recommend that only committed practitioners or dedicated seekers with a lot of meditation experience attempt to do the full two weeks. You can start with shorter times, 2 or 3 days, or 5 or 10 and still receive great benefits. However I also know people who actually did retreats like this in caves, with very little comforts, food and water, who had experiences related to bliss consciousness and an amplification of psychic phenomenon as well. However the people I know that did it this way come from a lot of experience with meditative discipline.

13. Or is it all laughable? And are you “glad” that “you” went through this endarkening retreat?

I would like to do 3 or 4 weeks at some point in my life. I am very glad I went through the retreat. It was easily one of the most profoundly transformative and “enlightening” haha experiences of my life. It is very priceless to be in the womb for that long and so well cared for by everyone. I feel very blessed and grateful to everyone that participated to make that happen for me and for all of the other participants. It was really a very beautiful retreat center. It did close however. The owner was not able to obtain certain local zoning ordinances in time, however I’ve heard rumors that at some point she will build a much larger and more dynamic center in the future.

14. Do you find yourself working on yourself now? It is still lingering? Or is it completely gone?

Yes. I’ve come to understand the process of awakening as a process, for as long as it is. I do self-inquiry as needed, and meditate fairly regularly. I’m wishing to establish a very regimented daily meditation practice within the context of a Sangha or with a Buddhist teacher. The desire to work on myself is not completely gone. All this time later “ I” am still integrating from my retreat and from over a decade of orienting to life in this way of making spiritual development a top priority. When I read books like “Way of a Bodhisattva” what it is doing is skillfully pointing out the nature of the habitual, clinging mind, which is what most of us are working with here in conditioned reality. So right now working on the level of uprooting habituated responses that perpetuate suffering.

I love learning and growing, as a human being. For as long as I am identified in conditioned existence I see myself wishing to grow and develop in new ways.

15. You write about “perfecting human love” as a form of play as if you are saying “what else can you do down here since you’re so full of love and compassion so why not attempt to perfect human love”? It sounds almost as if it’s an afterthought. Can you give us some examples? And by giving examples doesn’t that imply that you are still actually “working on yourself”?

I’m working on the part of myself that feels malleable and that causes karmic ripples here in this “human lifetime.” My opening into light was a result in part by my working on myself. It happened because I maintained meditative concentration long enough to be liberated from attachment to this worldly identity that works towards spiritual and worldly goals. It is a paradox. In the sense that to whatever degree I am still bound in concept, I am still working on myself. And in a sense I am working on having a productive life as a human being that is attempting to integrate profound spiritual openings. But really it’s only true from this human perspective. I’m still experimenting with how to language all of this. Really is the other way around if you know what I mean. This human thing is the experiment for consciousness. As far as perfecting human love…I’m reminded of a hexagram in the I Ching called “ Youthful Folly.” That’s how I experience Lindsey for the most part. However many times I have opened into enlightened moments of my ultimate self-reality, living a human life feels altogether very new and I feel like a kid learning to ride a bike for the first time. I see everything and everyone as my teacher.

I’ve come to see relationships and the exchange that happens in them as a very precious part of the container of self-realization. Especially when my heart really opens to someone, then I get to see the whole unwinding of what is called the super-ego.

Whatever is left of the internalized oppression and conceptual proliferation of the contracted identity part shows itself to my conscious mind… Relationships to me, also open aspects of my essential nature that are dormant when I’m exploring my inner world alone. Good friendships and relationships spark new life, invite each other to open in new ways, and invite new worlds and perspectives. I see this all as a love story unfolding. Even the difficult parts, confusion and separation when they occur, are part of the story of this whole tapestry coming to remember and re meeting itself. I get to see where I’m stuck, as well as get to explore how to develop true care and respect for others whose inner worlds are vast and unique, and yet contain the seed of the same source as my own. That to me is fascinating. For many years I worked with a teacher whose passion for diving into her students and clients inner worlds allowed her to be one of the most gifted facilitators that I have ever encountered. Seeing her genuine wonder and curiosity at the uniqueness and vastness and brilliance of the Dao, as well as the inner world of each individual, opened my eyes to how limitless relationship can be if it’s embraced in the spirit of inquiry. To me this is what it means to love. To meet someone with eyes open rather than preconceived notions. Isn’t that how we all wish to be met by each other? I think all beings, underneath the conditioned personality, wish to be mirrored and seen in a fresh light, so that something new can get born in that space of presence. And love really is the great equalizer. It’s our common ground that we share amidst so many seeming differences and it dissolves the mind-made boundaries that we think we need to keep us safe in our individual pursuits of happiness and individuation. Ultimately I don’t think that events like what we just saw in Egypt could’ve happened if they weren’t motivated by great love. Great love for each other, for freedom and truth to have a chance to really be the governing forces of our co-habitation here in this temporary gravity bound body experience and planetary existence.

I mean I am very much living an ordinary existence chock full of human folly and some part of my mind stream is utterly perplexed at the whole thing. The fact that I have legs, arms, a past, a future, a life and such… How is it we are anything but just light is the real mystery to me, though I am faced with ordinary mysteries in day to day living, the fact that any of this is even here, is the greatest mystery to me. It’s just so unbelievably sophisticated. The universe, the body, the drama of the lifetime, the projection, whatever terms you want to put it in, and the historical context that it appears to grow out of.

But there is a restful knowing in the back of my mind and heart that I can’t quite put words to that knows that even my wonder and questions are all part of the dream of living. I hope everyone has this inside of their mortal mind stream that is in some way, even as a glimmer, accessible to them even if this lifetime hasn’t yet provided the fuel or opening it into full awareness. I hope it does because it’s what you really are even amidst all of this happening. Many wisdom teachers impart that suffering and separation on their most deepest levels come from believing that separation exists and stem from the fear of dying alone. “ I am somehow trapped in a confusing universe in which I can be obliterated. I am at the mercy of something over which I have no control, and death is a final end in and of itself.” That is a common conception in the consensus mind stream right? How terrifying, to spend an entire lifetime unconsciously driven by fear base concepts about what death is. It would be a miracle, if you believe that thought, to not spend your entire life at war inside or outside in some way, or in an ever expanding intricate and complex system of strategies to gain power and influence over the “world.”

I don’t like to use transcendental descriptions as a way to escape, but to me it’s more than a comfort and it does expand my capacity to take risks and stay open to the moment in a way that is very different than what I could’ve conceived of, say, fifteen years ago.

I really firmly feel that the more human beings are offered the resources and tools to awaken, the less war and suffering and problems we will see here.

For one human being to love another; that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks, the ultimate, the last test and proof, the work for which all other work is but preparation. – Rainer Maria Rilke (German lyric poet, 1875-1926)

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Interview conducted by Bob Banner, Publisher. He was inspired after reading this excerpt from a testimonial she wrote for the darkness retreat center. The excerpt comes from a new book by James Fadiman called The Psychedelic Explorers: http://hopedance.org/home/awakenings/2051-lindsey-vona