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ocean of spirit, waves of being

Updated: Sep 12, 2023

"You are something the whole universe is doing in the same way that a wave is something the whole ocean is doing."

Alan Watts

ocean of spirit, waves of being
ocean of spirit, waves of being

We are waves rising and passing away on the ocean of spirit.

While in wave form, that's all we seem to be - this wave, apart from the rest.

In truth, each wave is always the ocean. It's the ocean assuming a temporary form, the ocean playing a wave game. When our wave crashes and passes away, we do not end. We remember what we've always been - ocean - and we abide there, until our next wave forms, and we play the game again.

* * *

We play the wave game to express & experience ourselves.

Without waves, the ocean is a mirror of what's above and a window to what's below. In this pristine state, the ocean simply reveals what is.

Playing the wave game, the ocean creates. The ocean rises above its own surface, providing a temporary vantage for experiencing itself, and providing a temporary body for expressing itself.

The ocean is pure individuality - it is One.

The wave is generated individuality - it is one.

* * *

Unconscious beings continuously act out the dynamic energies of their wave form. They are a series of reactions.

Conscious beings realize they are waves. They look across the sea and recognize fellow waves rising and falling among them.

Awakened beings remember they are always ocean, too. They experience the wisdom of death in life.

Individuals are rarely just one type of being or another. (Buddha, Christ, and their bretheren being perhaps the rare exceptions, although even they seem prone to reactivity at times.) We alternate between unconscious being, conscious being, and awakened being, sometimes rapidly, over the course of our days and our lives.

In the grand scope, we are always moving toward awakening.

Moment to moment, we ascend & descend the ladder of wakefulness.

* * *

When we identify only as the wave & its foaming, we fear. We feel small & threatened. We dread loss, suffering, oblivion. We worry & speculate. We engage in compulsive mental & physical activity to ward off problems, or to simply distract ourselves from the noise of our own fearing.

When we remember the truth - waves & foam are always ocean - we recognize fear as artificially constricted thinking, as a chafing harness we no longer want, and we take its speculation & demands less seriously.

When we embody the truth - when we believe ourselves to be fully ocean, fully wave, & fully foaming - we recognize fear as a bubble among bubbles on the surface of our being, and we let it be.

When we surrender completely - letting even conceptuality go - fear lets go of us, and we flow as expression & experience.

Before surrender, we cling to reactivity: we always have a least a slight grip on our urges & agendas.

Surrender is a wave letting its personal urges & agendas go so that it can express & experience the will of the sea.

* * *

Surrender is a daunting prospect. How can we know that we & what we love will be safe? How can we know we're not being tricked into something worse?

As we prepare for surrender, we find assurances in the teachings of the awakened. The awakened teach that all is love, that surrender liberates, and that it is only from the perspective of the unsurrendered that surrender seems dangerous or tricky. We take encouragement & comfort in their enlightened guidance.

Ultimately, surrender is an act of faith. True surrender occurs before any thinking about it. We just do it. It just happens. It's a choice we experience more than we make.

We practice surrender each time we let go of compulsive activity & return to the real, to the unfolding here & now. We feel our hearts, we sense our breath, we inhabit our bodies, we behold our world. We stop trying to force particular things to happen & we flow with what's already happening: life.

* * *

Karma is the force within us that pulls us back into unsurrender, back into the scarcity games of the mind.

Karma is a remnant of abuse. Abuse inflicted upon us. Abuse we've inflicted. Physical abuse yes, but also subtler forms of abuse - e.g. disregard, judgment, harshness, condescension. Karma embeds in us like sharpnel, grows in us like scar tissue. It is the past hiding like a stowaway in the ship of the present moment.

Unforgiven & unhealed, abuse locks us into agonizing karmic cycles, which we experience as addiction. (The core addiction is to negative thinking. All behavioral addictions blossom from that vine.)

As we forgive ourselves & others for abusing, and as we open ourselves to healing, we begin to break the painful cycle. Breaking addiction sometimes proves even more agonizing than the addiction itself; we are now simultaneously grappling with both the addiction and the withdrawals & other temptations constantly clawing at our stability & peace.

If we endure this trying passage - the dark night of the soul - we emerge on the other side with freedom & clarity beyond what we could've ever imagined. The awakening process is a series of these cycles: addiction, healing, newfound freedom; addiction, healing, newfound freedom. We progress toward full awakening - oceanic consciousness - in baby steps that gradually shed our attachments to negativity.

As we awaken, we realize negativity & karma are not bad or evil. They're more like a skeleton key for experience. Turn the key toward fear, and we cling to negativity & generate karma, which engrosses us in the dramas of self-absorption. Turn the key toward love, and we release negativity & heal karma, which reawakens us to the truth of our oceanic origin, our oceanic destiny, & our eternal oceanic beingness.

* * *

No matter how deeply we lose ourselves to waviness, we never stop being ocean. There is no height or degree of violence at which a wave ceases to be sea. There's just expression & experience, forgetting & remembering, losing ourselves to a dream of wave & reawakening to an oceanic truth.

In our fear, we want to hurry the process, to get to the end already. We want to dictate the terms & timing of our unconditional surrender.

In our wisdom, we surrender our insistence & channel our passion for freedom into the discipline of practice. We practice surrendering to the present moment. We practice surrendering compulsive doing for mindful being. We practice surrendering selfishness for virtue - compassion, gratitude, contrition, forgiveness. We practice surrendering our urge to fight our fear, deny our fear, or act our fear out. We practice surrendering our idealism for acceptance of what is - ourselves included.

Do these practices place us on the path of surrender? Do they expedite our journey?

Or are they simply signs we're already on the path? Are they merely gentle foreshadowings of the true surrender destined to come?

At the deepest levels of our being, is there a difference?

I don't believe it matters. The practice of surrender is its own gift. We see benefits in real time. More inner peace. More openness. More integrity. Less self-absorption. Richer interactions. A greater sense of possibility & wonder.

These gifts come & go. We have nice days & rough days, nice moments & rough moments. We can do some things to promote niceness - a full night's sleep, healthy diet, applying our energy wisely, etc. Beyond that, we're at the mercy of the ebbs & flows of the awakening process.

To the mind addicted to stability & predictability, this semi-controllable, semi-predictable process is torture.

To the mind seeking freedom from addiction, this process is an opportunity - to practice the dynamic surrender of controlling what we can control while letting the rest go, in the spirit of the prayer of serenity.

To the heart that embraces the mind in all its forms, this process is a gift - a constantly recurring invitation to practice compassion. To honor & embrace the agonies of addiction. To honor & embrace the trials of surrender. To honor & embrace the physical body undergoing this trying process. To honor & embrace the spirit fueling the process from beyond our knowing.

* * *

Buddha spoke of Three Jewels: Buddha, Dharma, Sangha. Being, wisdom, community. Buddha spoke of these as places of refuge for the awakening mind.

How can we take refuge in being? Meditation. Presence. Mindful awareness.

How do we take refuge in wisdom? Experiencing. Contemplating. Respectfully inquiring.

How do we take refuge in community? Joining. Interacting. Sharing & receiving.

In our fear, we tend to treat life as a series of risks & opportunities. Like a game we must play, a test we must pass, a trial we must endure.

In our awakening, we recognize life as the gift it is, fear as the ruthless teacher it is, and the Three Jewels as the Three Friends that we - God - have blessed ourselves with.

Awakening is an inner process. It can be lonely.

All forms being waves on the One ocean of spirit - how is anything ever alone?

The Three Friends remind us of the impossibility of aloneness. They comfort us in the difficulties of addiction & awakening. And they come to us as inns, lessons, & fellow travelers on the journey of life.

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