Noticing is a profound spiritual practice in itself because it gets us in touch with what is noticing and experiencing life, with Consciousness, our true self. Consciousness notices; it is what witnesses and experiences life. It is who we are. Whenever we do what our being naturally does, we align with it. For instance, if we say something compassionate to ourselves or to someone else, we align with our true nature because our true nature is compassionate. Or if we accept ourselves or someone else, we align with our true nature because our true nature is accepting. Or if we notice our experience and fully experience it, we align with our true nature because our true nature is what is aware and experiencing life.
Buddhists call this practice of noticing, mindfulness. Being mindful means being aware of our present moment experience, including our thoughts, feelings, intuitions, internal experiences, bodily sensations, sounds, sights, and other sensory input. In any moment, a lot is going on, and it’s all in flux. So there’s always plenty to notice in our present moment experience. The present moment is alive with activity and experience.
What notices and discerns is the true self. The true self is the consciousness that makes it possible to experience life. This Consciousness is a great mystery because it can only be described by how it is experienced, since it isn’t a thing apart from everything else. The wisdom traditions say that this Consciousness is all-pervading and behind and within all creation, although it isn’t important that you believe that.
Watch a 90-minute interview of Gina speaking about the role of the heart in nondual teachings with Grace Bubeck, living-from-love.com (90 min.)
THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE MIND AND HEART IN AWAKENING
Here are some notes I made before the interview with Grace Bubeck regarding the role of the heart in nondual spiritual teachings:
One of the problems with talking about the heart is that we need to define what we mean by heart. It is so often thought to be feelings, or emotions. But “follow your heart” doesn’t mean follow your feelings, such as your anger, jealousy, hatred, guilt, or sadness. As everyone intuitively knows, following your heart means following the feelings that come from your deepest Self: feelings of joy, love, peace. And yet, we talk about a broken heart. However, the broken heart is not the spiritual heart but refers to the human heart and human feelings, for the spiritual heart is not affected by the events in life.
Opening the heart is opening the spiritual heart. When the spiritual heart opens, you feel joyful, relaxed, at peace, loving, content, at one with life. This happens to everyone, sometimes many times a day or, for some, only occasionally. After awakening, when that awakening includes the heart, then the heart is open much of the time. Instead of being an occasional experience, it is more of one’s ongoing experience. In short, when you awaken, your heart opens; and when your heart opens, you awaken (at least momentarily). Awakeness and the heart are the same thing. Devotional practices are a means of opening the heart before awakening and getting to know what that experience is like. After awakening, devotional practices are a natural celebration of an already open heart.
We are not alone. If there is only Oneness and we are an expression of it (and there is and we are), then everything we see is us. All of the different life forms were created to assist each other in their evolution. We need them and they need us. This is obvious enough in observing physical reality, where life forms are so intricately connected, but it’s no less true in nonphysical realities. When we graduate from the physical reality we exist in now, we will exist in a nonphysical reality, and our purpose will be to serve both physical and nonphysical realities with whatever skills we’ve acquired thus far.
Until recent history, humanity lived comfortably with the notion of spirit helpers, spirit guides, and angels. Humanity depicted them in art, passed on stories about them, prayed to them, spoke to them, and gave them a voice. There have always been those who were able to see, hear, and feel nonphysical beings. For these people, nonphysical beings are as real as anything physical. To those who can see nonphysical beings, many appear to have bodies made of light instead of flesh, so they are sometimes called beings of light. They will be referred to here as beings of light or simply as beings.
The existence of nonphysical beings defies rationality because they can’t be experienced with the usual five senses. Since science doesn’t recognize the existence of a sixth sense, it concludes that nonphysical beings don’t exist. This is understandable. If something isn’t in your experience, it’s logical, although inaccurate in this case, to conclude that it doesn’t exist. So it’s up to those who do experience nonphysical beings to describe them and their experiences with them to others.
The mind is useful in making distinctions between things, finding differences, and evaluating them. The ego loves to use that mental capacity to compare things and people. It loves numbers because numbers seem to give it a clear way of knowing where it, others, and other things stand—what or who is better. The ego loves the ten-scale for that reason, and it’s always seeking to be a ten or have someone or something that is a ten. The ego is just as happy to bask in reflected glory.
The mind uses comparisons to make wise, practical decisions: It chooses an apple that isn’t bruised over a bruised one. However, the egoic mind compares people in the same way the mind compares things. Comparing an apple to another apple is one thing, but comparing a person to another person is like comparing an apple to an orange. Such comparisons aren’t useful. They are false. When we compare ourselves to others, we always suffer, whether we come out on top or not.
Making comparisons is one of the ego’s favorite ways of causing suffering. The ego looks for ways we fall short so that we feel we have a problem, and then the ego offers a solution. In this way, the ego keeps us tied to thoughts about how to improve ourselves and our life. It keeps us very busy this way and involved with thoughts about ourselves. We are the ego’s project, and it takes this self-improvement project very seriously.