Here’s another installment in a series of emails that took place between Michael and one of his senior students beginning the Summer of 2009. May you find the exchange interesting and enriching.
November 22, 2010 (#48)
Student: It seems like the spiritual path evolves like this: first you follow the pointers, then there is direct experience, then there is only experience. From here it’s just life being lived. Is it really this simple?
Michael: Yep. As long as the life being lived is consciously nourished with practice. The practice is: 1) Don’t grasp, 2) Don’t avoid, and 3) Relax in the face of whatever arises as you practice steps 1 and 2.
Student: I think you’re saying don’t quit. But how could that possibly happen?!
Michael: If we’re not attentive, the clarity of awareness can become compromised. Quitting is easy once we revert back to a more limited awareness.
Student: And this happens when ego wrestles its way back into the drivers’ seat?
Michael: Exactly. And ego will always try to slip in through the back door of any situation and generate inertia through preferences. This insidiously assists in helping it to reclaim its position of authority. At some point in this process there’s a surprising “uh-oh” moment where the ego is caught in the act, so to speak. If we’re lucky, this happens early and the needed correction is small. If we’re blind to what’s happening, a big mess can be made. This applies to everyone on the path. Even teachers since mistakes are often made by even the most deeply realized individuals.
Student: The inquiry has changed from kind of a desperate yearning, to no big deal and kind of just fun and also a knowing that any ‘answer’ there will come on its own anyway (or not and who cares anyway?) whether questioned or not. It’s not lax as there is still curiosity. I thought that’s where the fire was before, but now I’m not so sure. What is the fire? Should there still be tension?
Michael: When we are fire, we can no longer feel the burn. When we no longer feel the burn of separation, we realize that there is no division. No division, no tension. No tension, no fear. No fear… only grace. It’s that simple.