Unhooked

Michael McAlister Blog, Book: Awake in This Life Leave a Comment

Choosing to become intimate with Awareness requires a constancy of both attention and intention. Neither the attention, nor the intention, is a fixed entity, and yet they can easily become attachments if we aren’t careful. On the other hand, if we don’t get hooked by them, they can be seen as manifestations of surrender supported by the ever-present Awareness of Spirit. This practice of being unhooked is exactly what keeps our vows from becoming rules that generate fundamentalist blindness. Allowing this free-flowing dance of ever-present Awareness to guide our choices radically diminishes the strength of ego’s grip on our responses to life.

Someone who lives in the world unhooked by any of its challenges embodies the flow of Spirit. Each of us can practice unhooking ourselves whenever we are feeling ensnared by something. Say, for example, that the clerk in the hardware store is taking an excessive amount of time with one of the customers in front of you. You find it frustrating, unprofessional, and rude that they should engage in all of this happy talk when there are so many sprinklers to fix. This situation is a gift because you can, with just a little bit of witnessing, see that you are hooked by the circumstance that you face. You’ve even judged and labeled the people involved in holding up your sprinkler repair duties. All that is necessary for you do, and this might be difficult at first, is recognize the hook fully and become intimate with every aspect of its sting. Do not, however, indulge the feelings of negativity. Simply get curious about them. What exactly do they feel like? Where are they most intensely felt? Let your reaction, whatever it is, become the subject of an intense, non-judgmental scrutiny. Then identify your feelings—not with internal descriptions but instead with the single, silent observational “Wow.” This process forces us to watch, wonder, and wow at our experience. Doing so lets us off of the hook and into a conscious dance with precisely what hooked us.

Good spiritual teachers are great at showing us what hooks us and what we use to hook others. Straightening out the barbs, so to speak, by inviting these hooks to dance with us always points us in the direction of Truth. “Whose Truth?” hooked egos love to ask. But it’s the Truth that doesn’t belong to anyone. No one wrote it in a book, nor has anyone ever codified it in a methodology. It neither depends on any religious tradition nor on anything else because this Truth is the very “thingness” of all things. It goes past everything and yet gives birth to everything. Always. It is beyond time, body, and mind, and therefore can’t be identified with any of the senses. We can give it names, but these just point to it. When the discovery of this Truth arises, there is an authentication that resonates, thereby allowing for the formless, forever unhooked Big Self to smile in the world consciously through every bit of our participation in this life.

From the perspective of the Big Self, there are no distinctions, no boundaries, no resistances, no hooks, and nothing to hook. There is only the release of everything. Even the Path itself is released since it is ultimately a concept of the mind. Where the Path leads, on the other hand, is not illusory; in fact, it is the only “thing” that is real because, paradoxically, it is precisely no-thing at all—and all things at once. It is the totally effulgent Divinity that shows up in the most remarkable and most mundane ways—something teachers can point to, but not anything that any of us can conceive.

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