Reclaiming Your Holy Trinity as Spirit, Humanity, and Universal Consciousness
The Nyxall Minute Countdown
Steven J. Shupe
Steven J. Shupe
Shakespir Edition, License Note
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Note to Reader: Three Minutes to Self Awareness is the second of four volumes in the Nyxall Minutes Countdown. Four Minutes to Freedom was published in June 2016, while Two Minutes to Annihilation and A Final Minute for Reflection are scheduled for August publication.
“When you know yourself as the witness beyond the personal ego, you gain the freedom of having nothing left to defend, with no stake in an outcome. Pure experience, pure acceptance, pure being.”
In this season of bombastic primary conventions and noisy outpourings from advocates of various parties, religions, and races, it is difficult to imagine an individual truly having nothing left to defend. Being utterly detached from one’s personality, possessions, and positions—as well as to have no stake in the outcome of what others do or say—is a rare spiritual state that few people would even consider desirable. Most folks prefer to fight for their worthy causes while judging others as wrong or evil who are fighting for their equally self-justified objectives and values. This creates a cycle of madness though human history, punctuated now by bombs, fear, and random deaths for those caught in this endless crossfire where every action foments an equal and opposite reaction.
Such is the nature of the beast—of earthly duality teamed with human desire—that provides our watching consciousness with a difficult but enriching world of experience. Yet a time arrives when Consciousness grows weary of this clashing cycle and attempts to bring it to a close. An initial response to such an urge is typically a well-meaning but futile attempt to tame the beast of earthly conflict and improve the world through love, Light, and worthy deeds—until realizing that such actions simply fuel the fires of duality embodied in a world where equal doses of love and hate, pleasure and pain, war and peace, creation and destruction, and other interdependent polarities constantly play off one another.
As sages throughout history have espoused, the only escape from this cycle is to journey within and transcend the duality of one’s human self-identity. Some advise that a useful first step is to understand that:
“You have mistakenly identified with a swirl of memories, desires, and habits, calling them a ‘self’ then mindlessly serving this false, needy taskmaster.”
This false sense of self, this human ego is a tough nut to crack, once we have become addicted early in life to its dramas and desires. In India, where the first photo of this Minute was taken amidst Himalayan heights, numerous modern gurus and ancient spiritual traditions are available to assist in transcending a limited self-image. Likewise in Thailand with its rich Buddhist heritage (and its many symbols and statues as pictured above), one can receive assistance to lift the veils to expose a more harmonious reality and sense of self. Therefore we shift this Minute to Asian setting where, in The Nyxall Chronicles, a popular nutcracker swaddled in orange robes urges his flock of Western seekers to disassemble their grasping egos:
“So, my befuddled colleague, let’s take a closer look at your beloved self-image in order to dismantle it.” Shri Shri Cy Bubha smiles like a cat at a canary. “What’s your first name, Mr. Jameson?”
“Ah, a fine American name bestowed on the innocent babe by your parents along with their expectations, dreams, and values that gestated in their minds as a ‘Tom’ identity.” The guru continues, “This fabricated construct of the hoped-for persona next was implanted into the wobbling toddler where it took on a life of its own—as you swallowed that Tom self-image whole and defended it right up through adulthood. True, Mr. Jameson?”
The young man half-heartedly nods from his cushion on the monastery floor, wondering where this set-up is leading.
“If it please the court,” the orange-clad swami states with a mischievous wink at his spiritual audience, “I would like to offer a hypothetical scenario to demonstrate the case of fraud confronting the bench today.”
Cy Bubha rises from the dais and starts pacing the front of the room like a lawyer interrogating a reluctant witness. “So, Mr. Jameson, what would have happened to your unshakable sense of self had you, as a newborn, been kidnapped by gypsies and adopted into their camp?”
Tom just shrugs, eliciting a glare from his questioner who asserts,” Your name would be something like Alonso Tejónes. You’d be a famous torero and great dancer, probably off seducing beautiful women instead of listening to some little Indian guy from the States haranguing you at a Tibetan monastery. Is that not so, Tom?” the guru demands as he points squarely at Jameson. “Or should I say, Señor Tejónes?”
A laughing Hispanic woman in the front row shouts out, “I object. Counsel is badgering the witness.”
Cy Bubha bows contritely and responds, “More bull than badger, but objection sustained, Ms. Ricardos.” He takes a step backwards and continues, “Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, is it not evident that one’s human self-identity—be it a Tom, Dick, or Maria—is simply an arbitrary and capricious construct, a confining costume fashioned by our parents and society to mask what lies in the heart of our being?”
He looks with mock sympathy at Jameson while adding, “And does this fraud not constitute cruel and unusual punishment wherein Alonso must remain prisoner of the false Tom persona for the rest of his mortal days, never to know the joys of flamenco—or, more importantly, never to know the freedom of living from his true nature as the silent witness of pure consciousness?” Bubha gazes out upon the twenty-some attendees and abruptly concludes, “I rest my case.”
Several folks applaud while Jameson shrugs good-naturedly and states to the theatrical guru, “Guilty as charged, your honor.”
“We all are guilty of harboring a false self-identity that desperately hangs for control,” comments Maria Ricardos from the front. She continues by addressing the guru as he returns to the dais, “When I came to understand awhile back that I was held prisoner by my ego, I had to admit that I was also the prison warden who fiercely guarded my ego’s self-identity from the truths that could set me free. And that my human self-image was the prison itself.”
Cy Bubha queries as he smoothes the wrinkles from his robe and folds his legs into lotus position, “So, Ms. Ricardos, what was the key to ultimately unlocking the grip of your Maria-self’s unholy trinity as prison, prisoner, and prison guard?”
“In short, awareness. Coming to realize that the true, never-changing aspect of myself that awoke each morning was my awareness, my power of perception. My Maria body, mind, life, and personality changed some each day, but never my underlying awareness that gave form to them. That awareness, or consciousness, is my true self.”
“And voilá, the prison of your false Maria ego vanished into the ethers as you drifted blissfully into nirvana, no doubt,” Bubha posits facetiously.
“To a degree. But the uncivil war between the grasping human self-identity and my eternal consciousness continues to flare periodically, complete with drama, sweat, and tears.”
The guru nods then addresses his attentive flock, “So what do you make of Ms. Ricardos’ notion that we should each identify with our watching awareness rather than with the human bean we watch?”
“Doesn’t that take the joy, the passion out of living if you’re sitting there as a detached witness watching your life like it’s just a movie or something?” a gentleman in back remarks.
“Au contraire, my fellow zombie,” Cy Bubha quickly counters. “As needy human egos, we already are the living-dead wandering the earthscape vainly trying to fill our insatiable desires. Upon discarding this false sense of self, however, one can fully embrace the human experience and aliveness to its fullest—”
“Without my ego’s fears, judgments and endless desires darkening the picture,” a woman with maroon robe and shaved head interrupts to finish the guru’s sentence. “Moreover, my watching consciousness embraces each moment of aliveness in the here and now; while my false human self-identity would spend a majority of its time reflecting on the dead past or planning for the unborn future.”
“Well spoken, Sister Iris.” Then to Jameson, he asks, “Comprende, Alonso?”
Tom gives a quick shake of his head. “I don’t know. It’s just really hard to believe that dying to one’s human identity brings more aliveness to the moment.”
“I’m sure you aren’t alone in that confusion,” Cy Bubha responds kindly to the young man. He reaches for his half-full water glass by the dais while optimistically addressing the entire group, “This little demonstration should help make these nebulous concepts more concrete.”
The master of ceremony next takes a metal pen from his robe pocket and begins to strike the crystalline glass every few seconds, sending out a clear, high tone in steady rhythm. “An old swami in Mumbai used this low-tech method to explain high-flown notions about one’s awareness and aliveness. He’d ask his devotees what was the difference between the last tone heard and the one being struck at this very instant.” The glass rings out with a note as Bubha continues, “Or what is the difference between a future tone and this one…now?” Ping.
Sister Iris volunteers, “The past and future notes are just concepts that we can only imagine hearing, but the tone in the present moment has a quality of aliveness, a tangible and vibrant nature to it.”
“Again, well expressed,” the guru states to the bald Buddhist nun while continuing his rhythmic strikes. “But what actually is responsible for giving the current tone this quality of aliveness?”
The room is silent except for the steady crystalline pings as Bubha looks around at the group. Without opening her eyes or moving from formal meditation posture, Maria Ricardos answers, “My presence, my awareness is responsible for the aliveness. The current tone makes a sound because my power of perception is here to give it form. Not the note that rang ten seconds ago or the chime going off now in London or the tone in the future—because I am not there. My awareness breathes life into the moment of existence, my perceptions give form to the current universe, my presence is creation itself.”
She suddenly opens her eyes and laughs while stretching out her leg. “And my foot is falling asleep.”
“But not your inner wisdom,” Bubha comments approvingly. He then summarizes to the group, “So our awareness dwells in—yea verily, creates—the current moment of aliveness of earthly existence. While our human ego frets over the past, makes plans to fulfill future desires, and generally misses out on the current crystal tones of life. Does that, Mr. Jameson, help you get a handle as to why our dying to the false self-identity and being reborn into pure awareness brings more aliveness to existence?”
“A bit,” he answers. “But instead of there being no self as you profess as rule number one of this workshop, haven’t you just shifted our self-identity from human form to something you call pure awareness or the silent witness?”
“An astute observation in your own defense, young sir. And how might one counter your bold charge of malpractice against me?” Cy Bubha looks at the faces around the room until he picks an involuntary respondent. “Mr. Lee, would you kindly come to the defense of this Doctor of Paradox and give us an explanation to justify my resurrecting the false self-identity, cloaking it in the guise of an intangible silent witness called Awareness?”
The middle-aged fellow takes a minute for reflection, then answers, “Perhaps it’s much like the philosophy of Alcoholics Anonymous wherein one is encouraged to transcend a destructive addiction by substituting a more beneficial obsession, such as devotion to God. You seem to be suggesting we trade in our self-concept of a human ego for a new self-identity as pure consciousness—until maybe we are ready to go cold-turkey and give up the self altogether.”
“Double A-plus for that answer, Mr. Lee,” Bubha declares while applauding the man. “A perfect analogy for us cosmic beings staggering around in our stupor of forgetfulness on earth and addicted to the passions, dramas, and desires of our faulty self-identity.”
He places left hand on heart while raising his right to the group. “So take the pledge, you ego junkies, and give up the false human persona for your new and improved self as divine awareness watching silently, serenely in the Cineplex of your mind. Popcorn, Gummy Bears, and full enlightenment optional.” [Reprinted from The Nyxall Chronicles, Beyond Illusion, Round One.]
FOR THOSE ADDICTS who courageously drop the ego, what is left as a self-identity and of a world that supports it? The possible answers are varied and at times paradoxical—including the following definition of the self which emerged in a later discourse at Cy Bubha’s workshop.
“You are an infinitesimally small point of perception in which an infinitely large universe takes form”
The monastery workshop discussion begins with a look at the subjective nature of reality:
Cy Bubha addresses his flock with the question, “So what have we learned from the zen teaching about subjective reality?”
From the back row of cushions, Mr. Lee proposes, “That we each hear and see the external world in our own way—such as how we individually interpreted your Wookie sound—thus creating a personal, subjective reality.”
“Fine, but let’s take subjectivity a step further, beyond your idea of the external world,” Bubha suggests. “What makes you think there is actually an objective external world out there, Mr. Lee?”
Lee wrinkles his brow, looking around at the solid walls, people, and ceiling while expressing the obvious, “Well, duh.”
“But aren’t you fooled every night by dream worlds that you think are solid, real, and populated by folks, similar to what you see here at the monastery?”
“I suppose, but the nocturnal dreamscapes take form solely in my mind, from flashing neurons perceived in my mind.”
“From flashing neurons perceived in your mind,” Bubha repeats then asserts emphatically while sweeping his arm to indicate the room, “exactly the same as how this so-called external world takes form right now.” He then stands and strolls towards the window. “Let’s assume for the moment that this is all just your dream, Mr. Lee. So how far would you say that I walked from the dais to get to the window?”
The man answers, “I was going to say about twenty-five feet, but if this is a dream, you didn’t cover any actual distance.”
“Good answer. In the mind’s dreamscape, there is no real distance or space, only one’s illusory perception of it. Another question, sir, assuming this to be a dream,” Cy Bubha states while pointing at Maria in the front row. “How old is that woman, Ms. Ricardos—around thirty perhaps?”
“No,” Lee replies catching on, “I guess you could say she’s timeless, or just a few seconds old, from the perspective of my dreaming mind that created her.”
“And is she made of matter, of molecules and such?”
“Of course not, as my dream character she and the whole dreamscape are made up of my firing brain cells or perceptions, I suppose,” he concludes while again gazing around the room.
Cy Bubha returns to the dais while professing, “So we are in agreement that the mind can create the fictions of time, space, and matter in order to make sense of its world of perceptions. Our beliefs might differ, however, as to whether or not you are actually awake now, Mr. Lee. Perhaps your drifting consciousness is simply imagining, dreaming a nebulous earth world into form at this very moment.”
Bubha folds his legs then adds with a grin, “But hey, I’m just a bunch of firing neurons in your brain, so what the hell do I know anyway?” The swami then turns his attention to Maria to ask, “Ms. Ricardos, do you resent being reduced to a minor, perhaps illusory, character in the drowsy mind of Mr. Lee?”
“Heavens no. That’s all the Maria person can be in the worlds of other people—a subjective, fleeting character they perceive internally in their minds. Fool, sage, friend, enemy, teacher, whatever. I can’t argue with how anyone perceives me in their world, because that’s their reality,” Ms. Ricardos concludes.
“And the Maria in your own universe?” queries Bubha.
“There is no Maria persona in my world to either define or defend. This human body-mind simply provides a continuing experience of earth life to enrich and entertain my watching consciousness.”
Mr. Jameson asks his friend, “So where does a you exist in all this, Maria?”
She shrugs. “Eye am an infinitesimally small point of perception in which an infinitely large universe takes form. And you, young man,” Ricardos concludes while reaching out to gently touch Tom’s hand, “are one of two dozen characters who are brightening my universe with your sparkling presence at this very moment.” [Reprinted from The Nyxall Chronicles, Beyond Illusion, Round One.]
SOME SAGES WOULD take her final comment a step further and profess that:
“Each person on the earthly stage is as much yourself as is the character with whom you grew to identity.”
To feel a genuine sense of oneness with the inhabitants of the universe who take form within your mind can be a liberating and enriching experience—particularly, as above, when perceiving the Dalai Lama’s temple in northern India filled with the joy of dancing Tibetan couples making the best of their life in exile. As a further reminder of one’s unity with All, on the nearby walls of the temple are painted both benevolent deities and wrathful demons, aspects of the mind that must be equally embraced for wholeness of self, according to the local lamas.
In knowing oneself as the All, however, one must also face the paradoxical other side of the coin—the notion of being Nothing:
…The alpha and the omega. The All and the Nothing. More inadequate phrases used in vain attempt by consciousness to think beyond itself, to speculate about the nothingness that fills the void beyond the mind’s ability to perceive, to reason. To enter that void is the mystic’s dream, a liberation from the false, a return to oneness. Yet, to experience that nothingness can be a personal nightmare, a glimpse of the awful truth, a taste of identity’s annihilation.
I have had a handful of friends who, without preparation or warning, suddenly plunged into that void to experience a moment of complete nothingness beyond the realm of mind and consciousness. Each emerged in distress and fear. One staggered into my room saying she had just lost her soul. Another, a lifetime agnostic, turned immediately to televised evangelists to save him from the hellish annihilation that had enveloped him like a bottomless pit.
And I have sat in silence for days with scores of people yearning to experience that sense of the void, to bring the mind to complete stillness. No perception of sight or sound, no perception of thought or memory. Simply a moment of complete emptiness into which the universe and self vanish—and in that instant to know thyself as the Nothingness. Then to open the eyes, to rekindle the mind and its perceptions to see a world take form within you, as you, and you as it. No separation, just the intimacy of knowing thyself as indistinguishable from the universe perceived. All and nothing wrapped into a single moment of clarity. [Reprinted from The Nyxall Chronicles, The ‘I’ of the Storm, Chapter 11.]
“The emptiness whispers, ‘I am nothing.’ The heart celebrates, ‘I am all!’ And the universe gently laughs as a noisome ‘I AM’ still distorts the silent, eternal truth.”
continue to the next Nyxall Minute for further Self Awareness
“No individual self exists, only the Universal reflecting upon itself in an earthly house of mirrors.”
Rather puzzling, paradoxical even, to proclaim in a journey towards self-awareness, that no separate self exists. But these Nyxall Minutes are written and read from within a dream realm, from the illusory earthscape in which we ephemeral characters are fooled into believing we and our world are solid, individual, real. Or maybe you have already awoken to the fact you are the Universal, the creative mind in which this author and seven billion other fleeting characters are taking shape in your dream to serve the cause of enriching your consciousness.
If so, there is little value for you in reading further. No, these Nyxall Minutes are designed for those of us still clinging to remnants of our false sense as an individual self and the limited conditioning we have been fed for a lifetime to support it. Yet some of us at least know enough to recognize our inbred falseness and to yearn to break free from earthly lies, to reach into the unknown with hopes that the Light of truth will burn away the layers that veil our deep and total existence.
A tough task, admittedly, particularly for those raised in American values where self-reliance and liberty sprang from our country’s idealistic roots and landed upon the silver screens and impressionable minds of baby-boomers basking in the glow of post-war prosperity. Days of abundance, optimism, and simplicity for the young and naïve.
If you sense a tad of nostalgia in these words, you are correct that this emotional tendril at times arises from the longings of my ego’s remnants. As recently expressed:
…Where are those childhood role models of yesteryear, stalwart pedestals for ten-gallon headgear and unflagging advocates for individual rights and freedom? The Magnificent Seven riding south to liberate downtrodden peasants from marauders (hmm, by training them to both kill and die for their scanty corn crop); or Davy Crockett atop adobe wall raining down expletives and musket balls for independence, (upon those who had built the Alamo mission in the first place?); or pre-princess Grace Kelly as beautiful Quaker bride triggering a salvo into the back of the bad-guy to save Gary Cooper from high-noon death (while forsaking her sacred vows of pacifism!).
My gracious, within a world of duality even the stalwart Hollywood platforms of youth grow shaky and ambiguous in hindsight as good and evil swirl together in lively two-step. Moreover, the foundational truth of my Midwestern upbringing—that the rugged individualism of American freedom was vastly superior to the communal life of those red-tainted Ruskies—has gotten distorted in the adult house of mirrors.
This former little flag-waver pledging allegiance to individual rights is now advocating to know thyself as the universal, as One in the collective consciousness— instead of remaining slave to a false identity that clings desperately to its human materialism and supersized portions of apple pie. No longer an imperialist Yankee dog, I now bang my shoe on the podium while threatening to bury your measly little egos beneath the enormity of the collective combine of spirit and universal mind. No hammers and sickles required to reap the harvest of freedom; just the willingness to die to the capital ‘I’ in your false, earthly self-Identity. [Reprinted from, The Nyxall Chronicles, Beyond Illusion, Centarium One.]
GOOD. THAT REFRESHING, if wordsome, breeze swept the cobwebs of nostalgia from my mind’s path to truth and also serves as a reminder of the falseness of the human self-image we see in the mirror and defend as oneself. So if that familiar visage staring back at you in reflection is not your true self, then what is? One possible answer is embodied in the following perspective:
You are, from my vantage point, a wonderfully-crafted vessel of perception giving form to a unique, diverse, and dynamic universe. That universe springs into existence before your very eyes upon awakening each morning, expanding and evolving while a plethora of daily scenes and sensations flood your awareness and take form in your mind. Filtered through your individual history, emotions, and location, your perceived world is unique in detail—although it is but one of many such parallel universes observed through seven billion personal points of reference on Earth. And in the minds of others, you are a secondary character at best, part of the supporting cast occasionally taking form in their perceptions.
But in the known universe that forms each dawn with your opening of eyes, you are the overseeing awareness, the creative force itself. And the human character which you perceive daily acting out through your body-mind is the star of this world, the one actor who is always there on the earthly stage that you watch, the one giving your awareness, your consciousness, direct experiences of life on this spinning planet. A fascinating production, is it not?
What makes it even more interesting is that in the infancy of this personal play, your consciousness began to identify with the leading actor as itself, as your human self-identity. Hence the proverbial Fall from paradise occurred when you, as pure awareness, tumbled from your heavenly perch by mistaking yourself for the toddler being perceived. Then the real tragicomedy took center stage as you started identifying with a bawling mass of flesh and bone, taking personally its associated thoughts, emotions, desires, fears, and survivalist tendencies. And this convoluted self-identity, this hungry ghost, now plays out an adult human role—with the bitter, bland, and sweet all being part of a lifelong banquet giving your consciousness various tastes of earthly duality. Multiply this experience by seven billion taste buds, and it’s one hell of a smorgasbord for our collective experience. [Reprinted from, The Nyxall Chronicles, The ‘I’ of the Storm, Chapter One.]
AND ONE HELL OF A pitched battle persists between ego and consciousness fighting for control over the feast. Yet most folks are understandably oblivious to this inner conflict since earthly survival and comfort are usually more immediate concerns—plus, of course, we humans tend to blame some external cause for our turmoil rather than do the inner homework to find true harmony.
But for those of us fortunate enough to have the time and inclination to journey inward for solutions, modern India is an excellent teacher for both bringing turmoil to the fore as well as offering rich spiritual traditions and lovely natural settings in which to explore alternatives for liberation. The Himalayan vista pictured in the opening photo of this Minute #6 (from Deodar Manor in the village of Khajjiar) is one such peaceful setting that coaxed my consciousness to the fore while quieting my noisy ego with a plethora of nature’s beauty. A Tibetan monastery a few hours eastward also offered an abode and inspiration for my journey to freedom from old conditioning and false self-image. This latter site provided, as well, the setting for a workshop chronicled in Beyond Illusion at which the battle between ego and consciousness was brought to the fore:
A bell chimes signaling commencement of the main bout. A rustle of anticipation fills the monastery hall as Ego squares off to face Consciousness in their age-old battle for earthly dominance. Here in India, as in the rest of the world, the burly human ego—though bloody and battered—clearly holds the advantage over its more ethereal opponent.
The robed gentleman sitting by the bell gazes outward to begin the round. His intense brown eyes blink against smoke that wafts from incense sticks in nearby corners. He scans the spectators whose eyes stare back with the anticipation of seekers yearning for wisdom from their guru of choice. Is he sage? Charlatan? A madman swaddled in orange cloth ready to carry his flock to freedom; or perhaps to toss the bunch into an infernal abyss?
Likely the bearded fellow is all of the above in this world of duality where humanity is constantly pummeled between opposing poles while entangled in threads of contradiction. The current setting is itself a paradoxical web glistening with global hue. A predominantly North American group sits in Tibetan monastery on the outskirts of Indian village named after a Scotsman of the conquering Raj. McLeodganj—the current home-in-exile for His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama and a refuge for worldwide pilgrims with hopes of finding meaning in the madness, a respite from earthly contradictions among Himalayan foothills. Yet even now incongruity raises its voice as the orange-clad Indian guru, one Cyrus ‘Bubha’ Rajnish, begins speaking with strong Texas drawl.
“Y’all are lost in space, plane and simple,” Shri Shri Cy Bubha announces to his attentive listeners. “You’re flat-out fooled by time, too. Matter, gravity, and other scientific fictions we were force-fed as youths likewise blind and bind us to this narrow world,” he propounds while pointing his finger toward the forested window view.
“A waste of a good universe, if you ask me, particularly since over a century ago Einstein’s mind rode a beam of light to uncover new dimensions free from absolute notions of time and space. Then even before the Roaring Twenties had quieted, Niels Bohr and other quantum physicists exposed matter as a fleeting dance of energy and probabilities that transcend human logic.
“Yet we babes who boomed after World War II were still handed textbooks that treated us like a Dick,” he declares to the startled audience, “or a Jane or some such solid citizen merrily marching to linear time through a three-dimensional world of stars, stripes, and straight-arrows on the silver screen.”
The unorthodox guru takes a moment to scrutinize his audience. “Or if you were born later and educated curbside on Sesame Street, you were given different role models who were more obvious puppets of the cultural mainstream. The astute among you might even have exposed the great delusion, ultimately concluding that you, like a Cookie Monster or Miss Piggy, are merely a mass of inert material coming to life via your creator’s guiding hand gyrating up your backside. Yes?”
Cy Bubha smiles at his flock while adjusting his posture on the dais cushion. “Your adult life has likely reinforced this discomforting discovery of your physical place in the cosmos. Fear not, however, for I shall endeavor to screw only with your mind today, twisting your limited 3-D reality to adapt more comfortably to space-time curvature through which you have mindlessly spiraled for a lifetime or more.
“Before entering this voyage, kindly drop all limited notions of your self-identity along with any excess baggage filled with your faulty beliefs about time, space, and matter. And we shall be free to sail the infinite ocean of wisdom that laps at our feet upon ancient Himalayan shore.”
“Make it so!” a voice calls out supportively.
The guru acknowledges the command with a half-salute, then continues at full impulse, “So let us begin today’s self-help seminar by recalling the first rule in this cosmic Fight Club where our ego and spirit duke it out to determine what is our true nature. That first rule of self-help being…?” the guru queries while cupping a hand to his ear.
“There is no self!” the group answers as one voice to this daily litany.
“Excellent. A wise yet vexing conclusion,” the guru acknowledges, “that can throw a wet blanket on the spiritual fire of even the most ardent seeker. But keep the faith, folks, for my job is to ensure that getting there—to your self-annihilation—is half the fun. And presto change-o, you become the universal.”
The leader notices a frowning participant in the middle of the group and adds, “Mr. Jameson, you don’t look as if you’re having fun yet.”
The young man replies while shaking his head. “I just don’t get how we can honestly say to ourselves that there is no self. It still doesn’t make sense.”
“Welcome to the land of paradox, pal. A world where the mind expands until it realizes there is no mind. Where one comes to know thyself so deeply that the self disappears. Where the universe that holds your consciousness dwells within your consciousness.”
Cy Bubha gives the group a serious look then breaks into a grin. “But hey, we’re only in day four of the workshop. Sages and yogis usually take at least a week to transcend the paradox of their earthly illusions and grasp the punch line to the ultimate cosmic joke.”
“That punch line being what?” asks the young man.
“That your spiritual path eventually leads not to the liberation of Mr. Jameson, but to the liberation from Mr. Jameson.” The guru looks at the confused fellow and adds, “But to get the joke on yourself, you sort of have to be there. So let’s go ahead and play this lila—that’s Sanskrit for this ‘divine sport’ of earthly humanity—and pretend that there is a you out there and a me up here talking nonsense. Are you game?” he asks the workshop attendees.
A round of affirmative gestures and sounds fills the room. “Just don’t make the mistake of taking yourself or what you hear too seriously. The wondrous movie called life quickly becomes tedious, even a horror flick, if you forget that you are the watcher, the awareness giving the show form. And that your human self is little more than a black-and-white character playing on the screen of your perceptions.” [Reprinted from, The Nyxall Chronicles, Beyond Illusion, Round One.]
A MERE FLICKERING SHADOW in the movie of our minds is just the latest dubious descriptor that our human self-image has been saddled with in the Nyxall Minutes. A grasping ego, a fleeting character in the earthly dreamscape, and a human bundle of insatiable desire have also been used to describe one’s false, if treasured, self-identity that has taken a beating in these pages.
Cy Bubha also delivered a powerful left hook to the ego in his insightful statement to Jameson that liberation is ultimately from, not of, the person seeking it. This punch line to the cosmic joke certainly landed forcefully on my ego’s glass jaw while my human self-identity traveled the globe as a spiritual journeyer hoping to achieve liberation. As the joke implies, my known universe was ultimately freed from my seeking self, instead of my human persona being liberated into some higher spiritual state. In short, not only did my old ego have to go, but my new-and-improved spiritual self-image needed to die for the cause of freedom as well.
Losing the human sense of self was quite a shock to the system and to my earthly self-importance. But the tradeoff—to know thyself as the watching consciousness at one with the Universal—is certainly worth the blow.
The next Nyxall Minute provides a bit more punch in delivering that blow, exposing the impoverished nature of one’s typical earthly self-identity. Beware thy hungry ghost.
continue to the next Nyxall Minute
“Forgetting our true spirit, we arise as hungry ghosts from the fog of desire, hope, and fear to roam the earthscape in vain attempt to fill our insatiable emptiness.”
Beware thy hungry ghost. A warning but also an invitation, an opening on the path to self-awareness. To be fully aware of knowing thyself, one must first expose the falseness which creates the personal prison of a limited self-identity. In this Nyxall Minute we endeavor to do so, beginning with a Kathmandu rubbish heap and with the notion of our faulty identities as hungry ghosts picking through earthly scraps to fulfill endless desires.
In the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, the Land of Hungry Ghosts is a hellish realm in a dimension denser than the human earth world. Yet an experience of growing up in the USA and traveling across the globe in subsequent decades indicates that hungry ghosts have taken over Earth as well. Mass consumption and perpetual human desire create…
…a mad dash to duality where the modern god of Demand and the new goddess of Supply reign supreme from their plastic thrones. Shop ‘til we drop is our royal mantra; consume or be consumed is the law of this neon jungle in a god-eat-god world of dyslexic disorder. Mounting bulls and bears, we race to outpace what lies hidden within our fractured souls as we grasp for stock answers, ever clawing for higher interest rates confounded daily. Give me more, sell me more, love me more, hate me more—I don’t care, just make it more, more, more… [Excerpt from, The Nyxall Chronicles, The Now or Never.]
SO WHO IS THIS hungry ghost that sends us racing off in circles to fill the emptiness? What possesses humanity to engage in endless sprees and quests, ever shopping for more external fulfillment that never proves to be enough? One perspective on this issue is found in the following scene from the Andes reflecting a Christian-based perspective:
Close to forty Peruvian women sit in the large room on hard wooden chairs. Each of their faces reflects varying degrees of interest in the words echoing off plaster walls and concrete floor, spoken in a strange Spanish dialect learned by the lecturer three decades ago in Texas. The message, too, sounds foreign, imported from another world of ideas far removed from the sermons these Andean women are used to hearing from conservative local priests.
“Before we proceed further in this seminar,” the speaker announces, “I feel the need to make a confession to you ladies. For much of my life I was possessed,” Maria Ricardos admits to her startled Catholic audience. “Yes, a destructive entity possessed and controlled me for many years.
“This demon slipped quietly into my body and mind without my even knowing it. Thus I became its unwitting slave, serving its constant desire for power, for sustenance, for sex and other diversions that sent me through hell at times. Plus every day this entity would need more feeding of its endless appetites and for sustaining its hold over my life.
“Yet even when I finally recognized its foreign presence in me, it was a tough devil to exorcise. No priest or therapist or shaman I knew could help, since they too were duped and possessed by a similar demon in themselves. But a book helped expose the trickery of this insatiable hungry ghost, of this enslaving human ego that controlled me and fooled me into making it my false self-image,” Ricardos announces while lifting a copy of the Bible. “The help arrived in the very first verses of our Holy Scriptures.
“Genesis tells us, in the beginning, of the Spirit of God who arises out of the deep to create Earth and all its life. Then as a wondrous finale on day six, God created man in his own image,” Maria reads from Genesis, “…male and female created He them. Direct offspring of God. No clay, no dust, no ribs, no garden; just we as pure consciousness given the gift of life, of awareness in the image of the ultimate creative-consciousness Himself.”
“God is said to have rested the next day. Then later, after noting there was not a man to till the ground, He created the human race through Adam: And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. The garden, the rib, Eve, and the Fall from paradise quickly followed, along with fratricide, migrations, conflagrations, wars, and an ever-expanding lineage of sons and daughters of Man to fuel the desires that burn bright in a world of human duality—of love and hate, friend and foe, feast and famine.
“So I confess to you that my watching consciousness, this divine piece of God, had its own Fall as I lost myself in these seductive earthly fruits by identifying with the Maria ego as my false self, possessed by her endless quest for gratification, service, and relationships. Perhaps that is the greatest sin—to squander the gift of our true self forged in the image of God in exchange for false promises of earthly fulfillment made by the tricky little devil of the human ego. For then we, like Abraham’s people and others throughout history, blaspheme the divine by creating a petty God in our own image—complete with ‘His’ laws that justify our desires for vengeance, crusades, love, power, service, genocide, patriarchy, or whatever human values have been ascribed to the Almighty’s will.
“Gratefully, a special being walked the Earth who was born a son of Man in our Judeo-Christian lineage, but who remembered his rightful heritage as God’s divine offspring. Jesus courageously showed us the life, the truth, and the way to reclaim our own place at the fount of pure consciousness—in short, to die to our false self-identity as a child of Man, and be reborn in water and spirit.
“Of course, Christ’s message has had two thousand years of layers piled atop it, generally promoted by sons of Man who wish not to die to their known self but rather to build religious structures, hierarchies, and doctrines to enrich, even save their false self-image. But this month in the seminar, if you choose to participate, we will reach together as best we can to Christ’s example in order to follow the mystical path that He walked to death and resurrection. Are your hearts open to such a path?”
Maria waits in silence as several uninterested women rise from their chairs and exit the room. One, however, walks to the front and stands beneath a large crucifix to stare at the twisted body crowned with thorns. She asks Maria, “Is this what you’re saying will be our fate as well?”
Ricardos replies, “Exorcising one’s false self-identity can take many forms and be depicted in various imagery, crucifixion included. I like best when Jesus suggested that we simply become again as little children to enter the kingdom of heaven. In my experience, this means to return to the state of awareness that we each knew—or better yet, to the state of pure consciousness that we each are—before our false human identity took hold around age two and veiled our true essence.”
“But even that’s a lot easier said than done,” a voice calls from the group. “Wouldn’t a return to a pure, selfless state involve releasing all we have created, loved, and held onto as adults?”
“A good point, and one that I think Christ would agree with wholeheartedly,” Ricardos replies while opening her Bible to the Book of Luke. After finding the correct verse, she reads, “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.
“Those words may sound harsh, but it’s just an acknowledgment of what sages throughout history have said—that until we lose our attachments to the earthly, we are not ready to take the leap of faith beyond our limited human self-identity. Plus it’s a good reminder that discipleship is about actually following the difficult path forged by the Master, not just walking around in sandals preaching to others about it.”
She looks down to read the next line in Luke, “And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. I don’t think that means just wearing a symbol,” she states while tugging the cross on her necklace, “and whispering a few hail Mary’s in passing—no offense intended.”
“Frankly, Madam, I’ve been offended by much of what you say,” an older woman in front states in clear voice. “You read from the holy scriptures that God blew the breath of life into Adam and gave man a human soul, yet you dismiss this God-given aspect of our humanity as only a demon or tricky little ego to be exorcised.”
“Point taken,” Maria concedes, “and my apologies if my zeal for liberation has swayed me from honoring the humanity that does play an integral and difficult role in God’s creation. Our divine consciousness is enriched and enlivened by observing the human condition play out in all its glory and suffering each day. So the human soul, or ego even, is a wonderful servant to God and to our watching spirit. I’m suggesting, however—as do many folks wiser than I—to not allow your ego to remain the master of your life and over your relationship with the Divine.” [Reprinted from, The Nyxall Chronicles: Beyond Illusion, Round 2.]
MS. RICARDOS CERTAINLY IS not alone in having been possessed by a false sense of self. As toddlers, most everyone takes the Fall from our perch as pure consciousness to start identifying with the human body and mind as ourselves, forgetting our spiritual heritage and becoming slave to the endless desires of our ego, to our inner hungry ghost.
But great, for that is precisely the name of this earthly game, the purpose why we incarnated into Earth life—at least as seen from my vantage point as the watching consciousness. Our crazy little world of conflict and suffering is a wondrous training ground for our spirit, our consciousness, to taste the bitter flavors of duality and then return to Oneness with a deeper understanding and appreciation for existence itself.
Unfortunately, however, most folks seem to have lost the bigger picture, even forgetting to undertake our return trip to spiritual freedom. Thus we got stuck in our false self-image as a hungry ghost struggling for comfort, purpose, and survival in a world where the only certainty is death—a struggle symbolized in the opening photo at the Kathmandu garbage dump where Tibetan refugees and local Nepali’s at the bottom rung of the caste system daily sift for sustenance.
An escape from this maddening cycle is promoted by the ancient Hindu Vedas, Buddhism, mystical Christianity, and other esoteric traditions which wisely suggest pursuing one’s ego death prior to our earthly demise and thus returning to oneness of spirit while still in human embodiment. A truly liberating experience, but one that the hungry ghost fights tooth and nail in order to perpetuate its existence and control over its human host.
So how to break free from the ego’s thorny grasp? Some would say that Buddha or Jesus or other holy teachers provided the blueprint for transcending one’s earthly identity. But as the following Chronicle excerpt suggests, the hungry ghost can prove a formidable opponent even against heavenly powers working to bring us home to oneness:
“So how does it feel to be living once again in heavenly unity?” the Seraph of Desire asks the bearded visitor entering his opulent penthouse office overlooking all creation.
Jesus Christ returns the smile. “Breaking free from the bonds of human duality and coming home to heaven was quite a relief, particularly after that harrowing crucifixion. It was a lot harder to give up the ghost on Earth than I thought it would be.”
The Seraph asks, “What exactly is this ‘ghost’ you speak of?”
Christ explains from first-hand experience, “The ghost, or earthly ego, arises from the swirl of needs, instincts, and fears of the physical body, and it convinces its human host that they are one in the same. So people mistake their identity as being a needy ego in a human body, which creates a tough hurdle to overcome when trying to remember one’s true heritage as spirit and to be reborn into pure consciousness.”
The Archangel of Duality chimes in, “Particularly since this hungry ghost, in order to sustain its false existence, manipulates its human host with promises of glory in fighting against enemies, or by amassing more money, or finding ultimate happiness with a lover, or whatever people’s biggest desires are that keep them distracted from remembering their spirit.”
“Small wonder that 93% of people are failing to give up the ghost, thus their consciousness remains lost in duality on Earth,” remarks the Seraph of Desire as he hands out data sheets to his colleagues.
“Wow, the return rate back to heavenly Oneness is now down to only seven percent,” marvels the archangel.
Christ’s mood sobers as he studies the graph. “But I thought that my demonstrating the way to transcend earthly ego and to ascend back to oneness would open the floodgates to consciousness following in my wake.”
“That was the plan,” the Seraph observes, “but it seems to have backfired.” He points to the steady decline in the return rate of spirit since Jesus’ crucifixion. “Word has spread that instead of having to follow your painful path of dying to the human ego in order to return to wholeness of spirit, people only have to congratulate you for dying and resurrecting, and they too will be magically saved.”
“That’s unbelievable!” Christ laments. After thinking for a moment, however, he nods his head in understanding. “Those tricky hungry ghosts have figured out a way to keep their egos alive and in control—so long as their human hosts are duped by such a concept and thus forego being reborn to their own spirit.”
The Seraph looks at his briefing paper and notes, “Actually, the born-again notion has caught on, but rebirth ostensibly occurs simply by ‘believing’ in Jesus and praising your holy name, whatever that means.”
Christ shakes his head incredulously and thinks aloud, “How can anybody expect to be reborn without first experiencing a death?”
The Seraph of Desire hesitates to further upset his guest, but decides to give the answer. “Your devotees are saying that you died for them.”
Christ groans as he drops his head to the table. “Of course I died for their benefit, but not for them, not in lieu of their own ego death.”
The archangel puts a consoling arm on Jesus’ shoulder. “I understand, dear heart, but these nuances get so cloudy in earthly thinking.” [Reprinted from, The Nyxall Chronicles: A Mindgame to Remembrance, Chapter Three.]
PERHAPS YOUR THINKING is less cloudy and your path to liberation more straightforward than mine, guided by an enlightened guru or loving Messiah who has kindly done all the work for you. But my twenty-five year (or millennium?) process has involved an inner journey and various mindgames that, by grace, required me to face my false conditioning and limited self-identity.
After discovering my enslavement to the desires of a controlling inner hungry ghost, I diligently worked to discipline my mind, actions, and ego into spiritual submission to exorcise my dubious, insatiable master. But as you might guess (or know from your own experience), my trying to force an ego into spiritual correctness only strengthened the inner civil war between body, mind, and spirit, until a truce was eventually called.
Soon thereafter, the key to transcending the hungry ghost emerged through understanding that the human ego needed to be embraced, not fought; and honored for a job well done. Then liberation arrived simply by ceasing to identify with my human persona as myself. Next, as the watching consciousness, I began observing my humanity go about its daily business with detachment and acceptance, no longer hooked into ego’s priorities, dramas, and abstract desires. What remains is appreciation for the hungry ghost’s essential role in this earthly training ground that ultimately led consciousness back to universal freedom. And from this equanimous vantage point:
“A hungry ghost becomes the holy ghost when baptized in the fount of unconditional acceptance.”
And the holy trinity is complete, as one’s consciousness, humanity, and the Universal integrate harmoniously within your world of creation. All in perfection, all in awareness, all for the enrichment of existence.
For further book information or to view the author’s bio, link to
Books of The Nyxall Chronicles:
The Now or Never (2001)
A Mindgame to Remembrance (2004)
The ‘I’ of the Storm (2010)
Beyond Illusion (2016)
Volumes in The Nyxall Minute Countdown:
Four Minutes to Freedom (June 2016)
Three Minutes to Self Awareness (July 2016)
Two Minutes to Annihilation (pending)
A Final Minute for Reflection (pending)
‘Three Minutes to Self Awareness’ is a trio of spiritual essays in the Nyxall Minute Countdown to Liberation. They comprise a series of thought-provoking discourses—at times challenging, at times humorous—designed for those bravely exploring both one’s spiritual truth and falseness garnered over a lifetime on this convoluting planet. Themes include knowing yourself as universal consciousness instead of as a hungry ghost of ego; escaping the prison of earthly illusions; and expanding one’s spiritual truth to transcend mainstream limitations and conflict. Each of the three discourses begins with a stimulating quote overlain on a photo taken by the author during his decades-long spiritual path, primarily in Asia and Peru. The quotes were written during moments of insight along the way, often then incorporated into his series of books, The Nyxall Chronicles, composed from 2000 to 2016. Excerpts from the Chronicles appear frequently in the essays to enhance the discourse and provide direction on where to look for further stimulation and entertainment with the topics at hand. 'Three Minutes to Self Awareness' is the second of four volumes in the Nyxall Minute Countdown that will contain a total of ten spiritual essays. Volume One, 'Four Minutes to Freedom', is also currently available for download, while 'Two Minutes to Annihilation' and 'A Final Minute for Reflection' are scheduled for publication in August 2016. The Nyxall Minute Countdown is designed to help launch the reader to liberation by providing entertaining food for thought while you chart your path to spiritual freedom.