Leonard Jacobson teaches that the fully awakened state of consciousness is available now. It is not something that occurs in the future. It is not something that we can arrive at through spiritual practice. It is already here, waiting to be revealed. As you awaken into the present moment, your thoughts will stop, your mind will fall silent, and you will awaken to an inner silence and peace that is beyond understanding. You will begin to encounter what the mystics and masters have been speaking of for centuries.
One of the most significant aspects of Leonard’s teaching is his unique insight into the nature of the mind and ego. Leonard teaches us how to come into right relationship with the ego in a way that helps the ego to relax, and he teaches us how to integrate awakened consciousness into everyday life and relationships. He is the author of four books, Words from Silence, Embracing the Present, Bridging Heaven & Earth and his latest book, Journey into Now.
Leonard, a native of Australia, arrived in America 14 years ago, and he’s lived his life responding to invitations. The latest came from a group of Minnesotans anxious to learn as much as they can from him about mastering the art of spiritual awakening. Thus, he is relocating from Santa Cruz, CA, where he has been rooted for the past nine years, and settling in to the Twin Cities. He will base his teachings from Lake Harriet Spiritual Community in South Minneapolis.
â€œWe had a wonderful invitation from the Lake Harriet Spiritual Community,â€ he said, â€œoffering us the opportunity to base ourselves in their premises and present my teachings there. There seems to be a genuine hunger not only for a very clear teaching on awakening, but also for a conscious community where people on a path of awakening can come together.”
In Part One of this interview, Leonard Jacobson spoke with The Edge about his plans for teaching in the Twin Cities. He concludes his interview by speaking more specifically about the awakening process.
What are the most common misconceptions about this journey?
The most common misconception is that you can meditate and just bypass whatever is repressed within you from your past. For some people, that might be the case, but my experience is that for the majority of people, the past has them too firmly in its grip. And so a more comprehensive approach to awakening is necessary. Another significant obstacle to awakening is the resistance of the ego. The ego is very skilled at keeping us in the past and future world of the mind, where it is in control, and it is very unwilling to release us. I explain why this is so in my teachings, and I also reveal a very effective way to free ourselves from the ego’s dominance.
The process that you teach seems especially vital now. Many people in the holistic movement have read so much about awakening and spirituality that it has become an intellectual exercise. What you are teaching seems to take them beyond intellectual understanding into the direct experience of the awakened state.
That’s true. There are also many people reading about Presence, but that too can become a concept which the mind embraces and the ego desires. It is so important to have a direct experience of the awakened state. Even though it is a valuable first step, intellectual understanding will not lead to awakening. It is very important that we take the next step and move beyond the past and future world of the mind and intellectual understanding into the actual experience of being present. The step that follows that is to become fundamentally established in Presence. It is essential if we are to survive as a species.
Do you get a sense that you are part of a movement that is helping to move us away from the brink of disaster?
There is absolutely no question about that, but just as there is a movement towards more consciousness, there is an equal and opposite movement towards more unconsciousness, and these two forces are at play within each one of us. This is also manifesting at the collective level. It is important that the movement towards higher consciousness prevails.
Because of the extraordinary advances in technology, our capacity for destruction is much greater now than it was a hundred years ago. There needs to be an awakening in consciousness to match the advancement in technology and move us beyond the destructive ways of the ego. Otherwise we will take ourselves to the brink of disaster. Our best hope is that enough of us awaken to the point that it impacts at the collective level, and more and more people find it easier to awaken. It has been referred to as the hundredth monkey syndrome.
Are children naturally more present, and will there come a time when they will not leave that state as they mature into adulthood?
Yes, but only if their state of Presence is affirmed by the people around them, and it can only be affirmed by those who are present. If they come into a world where no one is present, it is very difficult for them to remain present. Sooner or later they will have to leave the present moment and become absorbed into the past and future world of the mind like everyone else. Otherwise, the pain of isolation is too great.
In a strange way, we enter the world of the mind, hoping to find someone there, but it doesn’t work. The only way to overcome feelings of isolation and separation as an adult is to find your way back to the present moment. And then you will be able to affirm your children in Presence when they come into this world.
In this day and age, it seems like there are a number of teachers, different programs, retreats. How do you determine what is an authentic teaching and who is an authentic teacher?
I’ve met many people who have been with gurus or teachers who have turned out to be manipulative, exploitive and ego driven. It leads to great disappointment and disillusionment. But sometimes, we have to go down the wrong path to find our way to a more authentic path and a more authentic teacher.
An authentic teacher is someone who has actually experienced what he or she is teaching. An authentic teacher does not allow projections onto the teacher. Most people are all too willing to elevate the teacher to a level beyond themselves which then places awakening beyond their reach. This is a very common mistake. It’s an old paradigm.
An authentic teacher will say, “If you love me, it is because you are love. If you see me as awakened, you can only see that from the awakened dimension within you. If you experience God in my Presence, it is because God is with you.” An authentic teacher will affirm your own divinity rather than encourage the projection of divinity onto him or her. If you are to awaken, you will have to stop projecting onto the teacher.
The catch is that you can’t reclaim only the positive projections. You have to reclaim all projections, including those negative traits that we tend to project onto others. Most people are reluctant to do that. The final thing I would say about an authentic teaching is that it delivers. It is not authentic unless it delivers you into a greater degree of Presence and a greater degree of mastery of the mind and ego. This, in turn, leads to more love, peace, and freedom in your life.
This question relates just to semantics. What is the difference between awakening and enlightenment? I think the common belief is that if you are enlightened, then somehow you know everything. You don’t make mistakes, and you no longer live a normal life. Would you say that is a misperception of what the awakening journey is all about?
Essentially, enlightenment and awakening mean the same thing. But people are much more likely to turn enlightenment into a concept which they have heard of or read about.
The ego is very involved in the pursuit of enlightenment. It sees enlightenment either as the ultimate escape or the ultimate accomplishment. Awakening is much more concrete. We can all relate to the word, awakening. We all know what it means to wake up in the morning. We all know what it means to be asleep and dreaming and we all know what it feels like to awaken out of the dream. Just because we open our eyes in the morning does not mean that we are fully awake. If we are lost in thought, or lost in the past or future, or lost in the mind, then without realizing it, we are still dreaming. We are not yet fully awake.
My teaching is to bring you so fully and fundamentally present that you awaken out of the dream. Only then can you experience all that life has to offer you. It is only when you awaken that you realize that you have been asleep, dreaming that you are awake.
As to whether you can live a normal life with awakening, I can only say that you will live a healthy, balanced, empowered life. Your relationships will improve. Your mind will be silent, unless you are consciously choosing to think. You will experience more love, gratitude and abundance. What we regard as a normal life is for the most part a highly dysfunctional life, but because we are all living that way, it seems normal.
Does awakening lead to total awareness of self?
It just means that you are a fully present and conscious Being. You are no longer limited by the past or anxious about the future. There is nothing unresolved with you. You are in right relationship with your feelings and your ego. You are no longer defined by your past. You are no longer judgmental of yourself or others. You have opened up at the center of your Being, and there, at the very center of your Being, is infinite knowing, infinite power, and infinite love.
For a schedule of Leonard Jacobsonâ€™s upcoming events, including ongoing courses, one-day intensives and longer retreats, call 612.920.3730 or visit www.leonardjacobson.com