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Balancing The Material And The Spiritual

A man participating in a cooking contest was asked, “What did you do to prepare for this?” He answered, “I did Buddhist chanting for 3 hours a day.”

What he did not say was, “I practiced cooking.” And, in fact, he did not win the competition.

To be fair, that may or may not have anything to do with his method of preparation and its outcome. But for the sake of argument, let’s say that it does, because it illuminates an important issue.

The issue is the confusion about the relationship of spirituality and materiality, and what it means to find balance between the two.

The idea that many people have about balancing spirituality and materiality is to take care of one by taking care of the other.

But the ultimate of spirituality is changeless being and the ultimate of materiality is dynamic action.

Ultimately, then, you are trying to mix changelessness with dynamism. In a literal sense, that is impossible.

That is why it is somewhat misguided to try to balance these two opposing qualities by aiming to blend them or to alternate them in various proportions to one another.

The best way to balance them is to send both to their opposite extremes and leave them there.

When you render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s, being and action don’t mingle. They are completely separate totalities.

Enlightenment, which is identification with changeless being, accomplishes this separation.

And it does not make you into a space case who can’t function in the material world.

Instead, enlightenment improves your functioning because it takes your identity out of the action that you are performing. The action is no longer about you.

At the one extreme, action becomes more simple, clear, pure, effective, powerful, and spontaneously appropriate to the needs of the surrounding environment at the moment.

At the other extreme, as action is performed, the enlightened experience is that you never stop praying.

Answers From Silence says, “My each breath in and each breath out are chanting the thousand names of God, all day long and all night long.”


Oneness—And Beyond

Oneness, sometimes expressed as “I am one with everything”, is often spoken of as the state of a person who is experiencing spiritual enlightenment.

There is a flaw in the mathematics of this.

Answers From Silence says, “It’s not oneness, because that’s a number and it implies a distinct unit. It’s more of a zero-ness. No, more of a -ness.”

One is a number that delineates a thing.

But the enlightened experience includes the experience of boundlessness.

When there is boundlessness, there are no boundaries.

When there are no boundaries, there is no delineation of things.

When there is no delineation of things, there is only being, in its infinite potential.

Being is the “-ness”.

Enlightenment is identification with being.

Being is the aspect that every thing in existence shares with all other things. The being that is in one place is the same as the being that is in all other places.

The real deal is that it’s not Oneness, it’s Sameness. “Being is the same everywhere” would be a better phrase than “I am one with everything”.

The sameness throughout the diversity of all that exists is the sameness of being, not the sameness of things.

You can count the things that exist.

Being can’t be counted.


(Read more about Being here.)

Having A Higher Purpose—And Beyond

Sometimes people discover a higher purpose to live for.

When this realization arrives, it’s a turning point. It provides the answer to formerly perplexing questions. It brings direction to your life, and guidance for choosing action, and a sense of deeper satisfaction.

Having a higher purpose means that you feel that you are part of something greater than yourself. When you have a higher purpose, you are willing to subordinate your personal concerns, and your life doesn’t orbit around your own wishes and preferences.

This is like, and yet unlike, the enlightened experience.

Enlightenment also creates the effect of shedding personal concerns and of being moved by something higher. But the mechanics of this are subtly different from those of having a higher purpose.

When you enlist yourself in service to something greater than yourself, the distinction between you and the greater something remains.

In enlightenment, you actually just stop being yourself. And then the greater something becomes you and lives through you.

How the stopping happens is that identity shifts to eternal Being. You aren’t “you”—your life story, your personal concerns, your wishes, your preferences—any more. Instead, eternal Being.

At that point, shedding personal concerns and being moved by greater forces are just by-products of the identity shift. They are not the main event. The identity shift is the main event.

And then a higher purpose has you.


Answers From Silence: An Interview

Answers From Silence was published in the Czech language by the Eugenika publishing house in the Slovak Republic last week (August 24, 2012). If you know someone would enjoy reading this translation, please find it at this link:

In connection with this release, the publisher asked me to answer some interview questions. Here is a selection of them:

EUGENIKA: According to your opinion, why don´t some people desire spiritual growth, enlightenment, wisdom, etc. at all?

JEFFREY CHAPPELL: Answers From Silence says, “Everyone is on their path of enlightenment, and everything that happens in a person’s life is their path of enlightenment. The only difference between some people and others is that they know this.”

If some people don’t desire enlightenment, they are at a stage in their growth of consciousness where it is their path of enlightenment to focus on other matters. But even if they don’t realize it, those people are also on their path of enlightenment.

E: Do you think that even people who have existential problems can attain a mystical level of understanding?

JC: Yes, this level of understanding is available at all levels of experience. Because spiritual growth is the reason for everything, existential problems would exist for the purpose of spiritual growth.

These questions share a theme. The theme is the obstacles to enlightenment. In Question 1, people aren’t interested in it. In Question 2, people can’t rise above existential problems to find it. But the only real obstacle to enlightenment is an unreadiness to give up the old identity, bound by time and space, for the new identity, which is eternal. People will find reasons not to yield to enlightenment even when they are on the brink of enlightenment.

E: You are a musician. How is this fact—and music as such—connected to your sensitivity toward the spiritual dimension of life?

JC: I am not sure that being a musician automatically makes a person more spiritual. But it is true that music is an invisible force. It is the sound of feelings. It puts the soul in order. And it reflects the state of mind of the musician. Because of these intangible but real attributes, you can say that music is very spiritual.

E: Can you imagine being a homeless person, instead of a well-received musician, and still think the way you do? Or, if you would lose everything right now and become homeless, would that influence your beliefs and enlightened attitudes?

JC: Enlightenment isn’t a way of thinking, or beliefs, or attitudes. It is knowledge of who you are. This identity is invulnerable to circumstances. If I lost everything right now and became homeless, it wouldn’t change my changeless identity. Only the circumstances would change.

E: What do you think about entheogens (special chemicals altering consciousness)?

JC: Many states of consciousness are possible. An altered state induced by an entheogen would be one possible state of consciousness. But beyond all states of consciousness there is the unaltered state of consciousness, which is pure consciousness. This is the parent of all the other states of consciousness. It is changeless while they are temporary. The ultimate would be to experience this.

E: What do you think about the origin of life and the universe, even the origin of the Creator/Creative force itself? Do you think we might get to know this “secret of creation” in the afterlife perhaps?

JC: What you know depends on your state of consciousness. Through interaction with your own Enlightened Self, your consciousness can grow into cosmic awareness. Then you can get to know life, the universe, and the Creator/Creative force from that viewpoint.

E: An enlightened person accepts everything and craves nothing. But what if someone wishes to be enlightened and at the same time still has some concrete, human desire which is still not being fulfilled, and he/she just can’t stop desiring it (e.g., desire for a beautiful love relationship, or whatever)?

JC: Each desire you fulfill clears the way for your next desire. The final desire is for enlightenment. Therefore, ultimately every desire leads you to the desire for enlightenment. Because of that, there is no conflict between the desire for a beautiful love relationship and the desire for enlightenment. To believe that finding enlightenment requires renouncing earthly love is a mistake.

E: What do you think is the best contribution to the world these days?

JC: The best contribution these days is to accelerate the growth of your own consciousness and to teach others what you know.


Having A Spiritual Experience—And Beyond

If you are someone who is evolving spiritually, you might feel that you are a human being who is having a spiritual experience.

And then there is a step beyond that.

There is a bit of wisdom circulating these days. It is a reversal. It says that we aren’t human beings having a spiritual experience. Instead, we are spiritual beings having a human experience.

And then there is a step beyond that.

Before I tell you what that step is, consider the following.

While working as a healer, my friend Rose Rosetree experiences her work as “a blissful surrender to co-creating with God”. Outside of that special situation, she reverts to experiencing her “human ego-centered identity”.

Rose told me that she enjoys the dramatic game of being human. She has challenged me to change her mind about continuing to play that game and instead to just go for enlightenment 100% of the time.

I would respond that the part about “co-creating with God” is a case of mistaken identity. Another reversal will clarify what the true identity is.

It’s not that you co-create with God. It’s that God co-creates with you.

And then there is a step beyond that.

It’s not that God co-creates with you. It’s that God creates you.

And then there is a step beyond that.

It’s not that God creates you. It’s that God is the only one who is really there, and the only one who has really been there the whole time.

And then there is a step beyond that.

It’s not that God is the only one who is really there. It’s that God is the only one who is really here.

By “here”, I mean inside of you, looking out at the ever-changing vista of creation.

In the ultimate reversal, the ever-changing vista of creation includes a person who has your name.

So the step that is beyond “I am a spiritual being who is having a human experience,” is to give a name to that spiritual being and to give a name to that human being.

Answers From Silence says, “Anyone could complete the following phrase with their own name: ‘I am God having the experience of being __________.’ ”

Fill in the blank.


Success and Happiness—And Beyond

What is life about? Is it about success? About happiness? About getting what you want?

Well, yes, of course, it is about all of those things. From a certain standpoint. And I sincerely wish you the best with that.

But then there is a mystery to it. What is life about when you are unsuccessful, when you are unhappy, and when you don’t get what you want?

Answers From Silence says, “It’s not whether you have a good time. It’s whether you become aware.”

So, it’s about awareness. No matter what is happening. Even failure, unhappiness, and frustration are part of your path of enlightenment.

Just when you think you are being diverted from your desired destiny, it turns out that you are exactly where you need to be. Becoming aware is the prize.

However, this is not the popular idea of “it’s the journey that counts.” (Read about that here.)

Instead, this is to say that when you are distracted by the common measures of success, happiness, and getting what you want, and when you reject the other very real pieces of your life, then you miss an opportunity to grow in awareness.

There is just such a golden opportunity in every moment that passes. Especially the moments that seem difficult or incomprehensible.

When those arrive, try this phrase: “This is my path of enlightenment.”

And then you can experience what it is like to allow wholeness to happen.

You can also ask your Enlightened Self what it is that you are supposed to become aware of. Answers From Silence includes a how-to for this.

And remember, even when you have less success than someone else, even when you haven’t yet achieved the happiness you dream of, even when you didn’t get what you wanted, one thing remains true.

You are in first place on your path.