Freedom from the Search
I have been involved in spiritual life for over four decades. During that time I lived for many years in ashrams and committed spiritual communities in India, the U.K and America. I have studied with both Western and Eastern teachers and completed thousands of hours of spiritual practice and enquiry. I was no closer to finding what I was looking for however until 2004, when utterly disillusioned with spiritual life I struck out on my own and in the midst of an ongoing crisis and the intense period of self-enquiry that ensued, finally discovered the truth of my own Self beyond the personal identity.
There is a great deal I wish I had known and understood during my long search, information which could have saved me much time and effort. I offer this information freely here as a resource in the hope that it may be of help to others.
I live and work in Sydney, Australia with my partner Dr Jesse Shore. Together we have created Sweet+Shore, our art/science collaboration. The images on these pages are Sweet+Shore artworks. I am also an exhibiting solo artist under the name of Anne Penman Sweet and I am represented by Rebecca Hossack Gallery, London. I am not a spiritual teacher but I am happy to be a spiritual friend or advisor.
I am a member of the Association for Spiritual Integrity
I am not affiliated with any teacher, organisation or belief system, and do not receive any benefit,
financial or otherwise from presenting their work here. If you have recommendations or suggestions for inclusions to the site and you would like me to consider them, please get in touch via the Contact Page. My spiritual life and understanding have been greatly enhanced from exposure to the teachers, methods and traditions featured here, but I urge everyone to do their own research and investigation.
Teachers and organisations can evolve or devolve over time and it is up to each of us to always be responsible for ourselves.
A brief, sporadic diary of an awakening
Journal notes 2004 - 2009
Early in 2004 exhausted and defeated I left my teacher and spiritual community. I was in a most terrible state. I had very little money and nowhere to live. Far worse though than these practical concerns was the inner turmoil I was in. I felt a huge schism within at having turned my back on my teacher and I could not reconcile the terrible division I was experiencing. I had no-one to turn to and could feel the ground beneath me opening up. I was gravely concerned about my mental state.
I found a place to live and started to meditate in earnest and found relief and freedom from the crisis there. However as soon as I got up my tortured mind and emotions would kick in again.
Weeks passed but the intensity of my predicament did not. The meditations which I clung to like a life raft, deepened and began to reliably deliver me to exactly the same place of peace and wholeness each time. It began to occur to me that I was living in two completely different worlds: one an agony of pain and confusion, and the other calm, expansive and wanting for nothing. I knew they could not both be true. I knew I could not be both completely lost and desperate, and simultaneously free and fulfilled. I had always interpreted the bliss of meditation as an experience that I, the personal self was having, but now it was dawning on me that perhaps this unchanging, ever reliable, always available 'state' may be more true than the constantly fluctuating and unreliable movements of my mind and emotions. I started to spend more and more time immersed in timelessness both in and out of meditation.
At a certain point I knew I had to make a choice. My situation was desperate and my sanity at stake. Which was true? Who was I? The identification with the limited painful self was deep, central and entrenched but I knew I had to take a risk, the biggest of my life and jump to save myself. I chose limitless wholeness as the truth - it was the only solid thing I had, and I held fast to it in the bumpy days and months that followed. These diary entries describe what happened next.
This is vitally, vitally important, and the easiest thing in the world to forget. Everything depends on remembering this.
The emergence of the True Self in meditation (you must meditate everyday - this entry will explain why), is when all else falls away (thoughts, feelings, past, future) and you simply are. Complete, present, full, at-one-with-god/life/all that is. Still, at peace, love, bliss, consciousness. This MUST be treasured above all else. But now the task is: that which is discovered in meditation must begin to be lived as oneself (as it is oneself) outside meditation. This is very exciting but very delicate and so easily forgotten.
SAMASATI - SELF-REMEMBERING. Return, remember, over and over again every day.
Excerpt from a letter to my ex-teacher:
If I may, I would like to share my experience with you of these last few months.
Having made the decision to leave and being on my own I felt the absolute necessity to find a place of stability in myself that I could trust. I meditated regularly and purposefully and each day I began to experience the emergence of something Real. As if my own Self was emerging every morning. This was always accompanied by peace, spaciousness and a sense of sacredness.
In spite of the momentum of unconsciousness I recognised this to be the most important event of the day and began to pay more and more attention to it, and also to seek out this place of peace and unity throughout the day. Soon it became more "real" than the usual habitual state of anxiety.
Over time the basis of my experience has become wholeness, peace and oneness; a vast unity in which experience (thought, feeling and sensation) happens. So no matter what those experiences are, pleasant or otherwise, they always exist in a field or context of wholeness and perfection. Along with this goes great love for the entire Creation.
Even though I'm aware of how different this way of experiencing life is to what I've always known, it feels almost non-eventful and unremarkable, just a simple and joyful return to Normality.
What is the experience? Energetic joy. Having no idea about anything. Wild freedom. Bliss. Doubtlessness. Absolute trust. Unmovingness. Uncaused happiness. Fearlessness. Helplessness. Total insecurity and total safety together. Peace. Peace. Peace.
Embedded in an arc of ecstacy reaching across infinity.
Mind melting down like an avalanche in slow motion.
Even in the midst of confusion and difficulty, wholeness is one's natural state.
Don't postpone wholeness until you have resolved the problem. Rest in wholeness and deal with the problem from there.
There's never any reason for wholeness to be interrupted.
Don't think you won't have to fight for Freedom!
Always remain true to Timeless Wholeness and never let ANYTHING pull you out (many things will try to).
Focusing on consciousness is the strengthening of consciousness. Have your attention on consciousness itself.
I'm quite drunk on wine.
Looking back on this past year, the very most extraordinary and deeply happy and fulfilling year of my life. A TOTAL departure from what came before. Uncaused happiness. Freedom. Union. Life as god. The Living Presence. Deep profound gratitude. Peace. Joy. Bliss. Love.
This is really great. I never have to become a student again. I can remain outside of all structures and grow through my own understanding without having to deal with the group stuff which I can't stand.
The task now as I see it is to REMAIN FREE. There are countless ways to fall but NOTHING must be allowed to interfere with freedom. The current business at hand is not to get caught in ANYTHING. To remain outside the prison of 'relationship' (friends, spiritual groups, all of it), but still fully ENGAGE, be fully present and vulnerable but stay out of the need to CONFORM, FIT IN, AUTOMATICALLY FOLLOW. Be alert.
Hold on to nothing. And make sure nothing holds on to you.
Something very significant is making its presence felt and will change everything. This last eighteen months or so I am aware of to a greater or lesser (or not at all) extent, the presence of god or the Guest or the Beloved. Aware of companionship with god on a very intimate and personal level. This next understanding which is TOO BRIGHT yet to look at directly but is as I said making its presence felt, is the realisation that I am not different or other than that Presence. I'm not in relation to it. I am IT. I can't quite let that in because it will shatter me. I can't fully face that yet but I know it's true. How could it not be?
Felt the 'Presence' very closely in these last days. The Divine Presence. But not only outside me as 'Presence' but as my living cells. As that which is within and without. The 'Presence' is what I am.
When the going gets tough - as it has the last weeks. Depression, anger, futility. I have discovered my 'skills' are not quite up to scratch. Essentially identifying with the content and losing sight of the context (Presence, consciousness). In the shitty states it's essential to allow them to be (not try to change them or want for them to pass) and be aware of the context they're occurring in. Both simultaneously. Keeps the context alive in the tough times.
It feels like demolition, deconstruction work on a 'physical' level. A dismantling of the structure that keeps 'me' and everything else apart. It's like consciousness is trying to get in and 'my' consciousness is trying to get out, so they can be one and the same thing. The membrane is being dissolved. There's a lot of bliss and serenity. Sometimes I seek out god but at the moment it feels like god is seeking me or rather my consciousness. I do feel surrounded and enveloped by something. It feels like a powerful time. Personally I feel more and more helpless and not in control.
Three and a half years later. Have just re-discovered this journal. Very interesting to read the entries. Some of what I wrote early on (being grounded in wholeness, or rather striving to be) is now my usual state of being. It is who I am. The states of bliss are definitely not as much a part of my experience. Everything has just settled into this. I am content. I don't seem to need or want much from the life experience except to be. I feel quite transparent. I don't really have a clue about anything and yet I seem to be able to manage the stuff of life, at least in a basic way. The burning fire and desire for god or liberation has gone. I don't feel separate from god and I don't feel god-like. I feel painfully, mortally human. I'm at rest. I'm at peace.