Last of a two-part series
Leonard Jacobson has been guiding people on the path of awakening for more than 20 years through three previous books [Words from Silence, Embracing the Present, and Bridging Heaven & Earth] and workshops in the U.S., Europe and his native Australia. In 2007, he brought to us the book Journey Into Now – Clear Guidance on the Path of Spiritual Awakening (Conscious Living Publications) in which he shares the details of his six remarkable awakenings, or peak experiences, and guides the reader out of the mind and into the present moment.
In the conclusion of this interview, Jacobson speaks with us about duality, the role of religion in the process of awakening, and about belief in God.
How would you describe the current state of human consciousness in terms of its level of awakening? Is it easier to awaken now than in the past? Are more people awakening?
LJ: Absolutely! I’ve been doing this work for 25 years, since my first awakening. In those early days of teaching, I would have to work with people for a year or so, for them to really open into Presence and Oneness, but now that process is rapidly accelerating. In just one day or a weekend, people can have a very deep and lasting experience of the awakened state. People are much more interested in being present today than they were 25 years ago.
The problem is that as more and more of us truly awaken in consciousness, it is met with a corresponding movement into unconsciousness. It’s as if the forces of consciousness and unconsciousness are battling it out within a dual realm. Of course when you awaken, you transcend duality and open into Oneness. In Oneness, there is no opposition. There is no resistance. There is no opposing force.Â We just need enough of us to awaken individually to impact the collective level, and it will become easier and easier and easier. That’s really our only hope, and I’m fairly optimistic.
And yet, when you’re in the awakened state you still have some concern for the state of duality?
LJ: Even those who are fully awake are aware of time, are aware of what is happening in the world as a result of human unconsciousness. You can’t help but observe what is going on. That does not mean that you enter into judgment. It does not mean that you disconnect from Presence because of your concern for the state of the world. Ultimately, everything is accepted for what it is, and that includes human extinction if that is the destiny that we create for ourselves. But it doesn’t have to be that way. It is a natural response of Presence to express the truth when encountering illusion, even in the face of great resistance. History is full of such examples, from Jesus to Gandhi to Martin Luther King. When you awaken, you are much more aware of the beauty of the natural world and you recognize your role as a caretaker. And so you do your best to act consciously upon the earth, and encourage others to act consciously, rather than unconsciously and destructively. Essentially, it is an empowered response from Presence. I’m doing what I can by writing books and teaching and sharing a way of awakening with those who a ready to respond. And as each of awakens, it impacts at the collective level.
So you must feel pretty satisfied that there are other people who are also speaking about the present moment now, like Eckhart Tolle. I have received some of that from my experiences in person with people like Thich Nhat Hanh, with the walking meditation, being present in the moment on the ground, on the earth.
LJ: Yes, there’s no question about it. Being present is the key to awakening, and that seems to be emerging as the current and prominent teaching. The present moment reveals the eternal now. The present moment reveals Oneness. The present moment opens us up to the living presence of God, and ultimately reveals Heaven on Earth. We just have to realize that being present is not a practice or a meditation. It is our natural state.
What role has religion played in the process of awakening?
LJ: More than anything, religion has distracted us from the truth. What I would say is, “Don’t be a Buddhist, be a Buddha. Don’t be a Christian, be a Christ.” And Buddha and Jesus would support those statements unconditionally. That was the whole point of their teaching. They were not seeking to create a religion. Their Presence gave rise to the possibility not of millions ofÂ Buddhists and millions of Christians, but millions of Buddhas and millions of Christs. That is our true destiny, but it is impossible to know the true meaning of their words other than from within the awakened state of consciousness and then the meaning of their words is clear.
They put their messages out, but the people who were not awake misinterpreted what they were saying.
LJ: That’s absolutely true. It’s inevitable that that would occur, because you can’t know the truth of Christ or the truth of Buddha from within the mind. Jesus and Buddha were speaking from a dimension of truth transcendent of the mind, so the mind is always going to misunderstand and misinterpret. The ego is always going to misunderstand and misinterpret, and worse than that, the ego is going to misuse the truth toward it’s own ends.
Why do you write that belief in God is an obstacle to knowing God?
LJ: Because belief is a function of the mind and God is unknowable with the mind. To believe in God is to create God in man’s image and it doesn’t work. You can only know God through direct experience which arises out of the deepest levels of Presence. Did Jesus believe in God, or did he know God?Â For those who don’t know God through direct experience, all that’s really available is belief in God and belief in God has nothing to do with knowing God. God is unknowable with the mind, and yet we can experience God directly by coming to where God is. For me, God is the silent presence at the very heart of all things present. God is real. God is here, now, but we are not. We are lost in the past and future world of thought. We are lost in concepts, including spiritual and religious concepts and beliefs.Â If we want to experience the living presence of God, we willÂ have to come to where God is, which is here, now. Then we will begin to experience God as the silent Presence at the very heart of all things present. That’s what omnipresence really means! For believers it’s a comforting concept. For mystics who are awake in the truth of life, it’s a living reality.
And that’s where we experience true happiness.
LJ: True awakening is beyond happiness, because happiness is in duality with sadness. Of course, when you are present, happiness will arise. But it will pass.Â Bliss will arise, but it will pass. If you identify with these feelings as they arise, you will take yourself into duality. You will invite unhappiness and despair into your life, because that is the nature of duality. All experience will pass but what remains constant is the one experiencing. True awakening is not about bliss or happiness. It is not about what you get out of it. It is just about being here, because when you are present, you are in the truth of life and you choose to be in the truth of life, rather than lost in a world of illusion.
So, the experience of knowing God through direct experience is ultimately where we’re moving toward through the process of awakening?
LJ: Yes, it’s our ultimate destiny. It’s every human’s ultimate destiny, but we’ve been dramatically sidetracked into the world of the mind, into the world of separation and illusion, where the ego reigns supreme. The ego is the custodian of the separation, and its role is to keep us imprisoned within the separation.
How does reincarnation work with the awakening process?
LJ: Well, it’s as if we’re reincarnating lifetime after lifetime until we get it right. The soul is on a journey from Oneness into separation, ultimately to return to Oneness. We are that part of the soul incarnating into this lifetime to advance the soul towards it’s ultimate destiny. In that sense, we are the champions of our own soul. We’re here to learn certain lessons that will advance the soul towards its immortality and restore the soul to Oneness. The are several key lessons that we are here to learn. What is the true nature of love? Because we’re all lost in a false notion of love. What is the true nature of power? Because we’re all painfully lost in false power. What is the true nature of acceptance? Because we are all lost in judgment. And what is the true nature of compassion? Because we have all disconnected from the pain of separation. These are fundamental lessons that will advance the soul towards redemption.
However, there is a master lesson that the soul itself is not aware of: Through the doorway of the present moment, Oneness is redeemed and the eternal is revealed. The soul believes that by perfecting itself over many lifetimes, it will eventually be restored to Oneness. It sees its destiny as somewhere in its future. And that is the soul’s mistake. I speak about it in my book, Journey into Now. There can be no deliverance in the future, because there is only now. The future that we believe in is an illusion. That is the master lesson that we can discover upon behalf of the soul. We cannot awaken in the future. We can only awaken now! And so we respond by becoming more and more present, until we are fundamentally established in Presence and the realization of Oneness. We have arisen in mastery of the mind and ego, so that we are no longer imprisoned within the past and future. And then, miraculously, we will come to realize that not only have we awakened in this lifetime, but through our awakening, we have delivered the soul into its own immortality.
Because then you’re not moving toward any future goal, you’re now.
LJ: That’s it. You’re here now. You relax, you settle, you enjoy, that’s it.
And we really haven’t had enough people do that to really share with everybody what lies beyond that.
LJ: That’s true. But there are a few who have awakened to a level where they can describe what life is like when we awaken. Most of humanity is lost in illusion. We’re so governed by the ego. We’re so caught in separation, through judgment. There are very powerful forces of resistance to awakening. That’s why we need a very, very, clear revealing of the way of awakening if we’re going to awaken at a collective level, and it has to be simple. It has to be clear. It has to be free of dogma and concept. It has to be free of the projection onto the guru.
The process of awakening, in one sense, seems as if it were something that would be simple to do. But, on the other hand, to truly come into awakening and to experience God directly, does that involve a lot of work in terms of, as you say, owning all the parts of who we are and moving through that whole process?
LJ: That’s a really good question. To be awake is as simple as being fully present in the moment of now. If you’re fully present with something that’s actually here in the moment with you, your mind will fall silent, thoughts will stop, and you’ll be awake in the truth of life. You’ll be fully here, now. And that is always instant and immediate. There’s no practice, there’s no delay, there’s no gap.
However, it is not so easy to remain present as we live our lives. It is not so easy to become fundamentally established in Presence and you are not truly awake until you’re fundamentally established in presence. The way of awakening that I teach involves two steps.
Step one involves learning the art of being present. Just bring yourself present with something that is here in the moment with you, and you will come out of the mind. Thoughts will stop. You will be a present and awakened being for as long as you remain present. Bring yourself present many times each day. Choose to be present whenever there is no need to be thinking. When you’re washing the dishes or having a shower, there is no need to be thinking. The more you choose to be present, rather than lost in the mind, the easier it will become.
Step two is essential for true awakening. It leads to mastery of the mind and ego. We have to go through a process of bringing consciousness to all the ways that we’re pulled out of presence. I’ve identified four aspects to step two. The first is the ego’s seduction and temptation. The ego is extremely skilled at pulling us out of the present moment into the past and future. We have to bring the ego’s subtle strategies of resistance to Presence to consciousness, and we have to come into right relationship with the ego.Â The second is denial of who we’ve become. We are deeply addicted to judging and denying certain aspects of ourselves which we are ashamed of. We have to go through a process of owning, acknowledging and confessing who we have become, if we are to open into the truth of who we are and we have to do so without judgment. We have to own and acknowledge all those aspects of ourselves that we have been judging, or hiding. This will lead to a deep relaxation as we go beyond all judgment of ourselves and others. The third is repression of emotions. We have to allow onto conscious experience and expression all those emotions repressed within us from our past. Otherwise those repressed emotions will constantly be triggered and projected onto the present. In a sense, those repressed emotions keep us imprisoned in a painful past. The fourth is entanglement in others. We have to bring to consciousness all the ways we lose ourselves in others. I explain all of this in detail in Journey into Now.Are you working on any other projects right now.
Are you working on any other projects right now.
LJ: Well, I’m working on a number of projects. I’m working on a children’s book, In search of the Light, which will be out in 2010. I’ve also written a play which I performed in Los Angeles for six weeks called “Liberating Jesus,â€ which is now available as a DVD. I am also planning to release it as a book. There are several other books which I am planning but haven’t started yet.
Leonard Jacobson’s next book, Liberating Jesus, will be released in 2010. It is based on profound revelations about Jesus that Leonard had in his second awakening experience. He also will release a book for children, In Search of the Light. For more information on Leonard Jacobson and his work, please visit www.leonardjacobson.com