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Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Practice of Spiritual Awakening

"Be quick to see where religious people are right. Make use of what they offer."
Alcoholics Anonymous, page 87.

WARNING: This blog entry (and the attached video by Rev. Ted Nottingham) may be somewhat confusing to those readers who may not have completed the Twelve Steps, or those among us who do not seriously seek, or have let up on our efforts, to "improve our conscious contact with God." 

Please remember: "Keep an Open Mind."

"Do not conform any longer to the world," St. Paul advised, "but be transformed by the renewal of your mind." (Rom. 12:2) And what is "renewal" if it is not "recovery" - a "recovery" which is at the heart of A.A's program of action and, indeed, which is at the heart of all the world's great religious and wisdom traditions?

"Religion," notes Rev. Nottingham  (real 'inner religious' transformation, as opposed to the too-often insignificant and superficial trappings and practices of a mere 'outer religion'), "means to relink or reconnect with Spirit." In the following video, in which he introduces "a perennial teaching, timeless and universal, of spiritual transformation," Nottingham surveys a number of little known spiritual teachings and teachers - everything from Orthodox Christianity to Zen Buddhism - with an emphasis on "The Fourth Way" teachings of G.I. Gurdjieff and P.D. Ouspensky.

These teachings may prove invaluable to those of us in recovery who are constantly trying to expand and deepen our spiritual recovery - even though, perhaps, there are few enough amongst us who wish or are willing to go to the deeper depths which may be available through outside traditions. But, "keep an open mind", as there are hidden, esoteric depths to every tradition, and with each new depth we experience, a new and further depth awaits just beyond.

As Ouspensky observed:
"The evolution of human consciousness is a question of personal efforts and is therefore a rare exception amongst human beings. . . . Most people simply do not want to awaken. To become a different being we must want it greatly, and over many years. Without the necessary efforts we will not evolve. Moreover, we must acquire qualities we may believe we already possess, but in fact do not."
"The attainment of higher levels of consciousness," says Nottingham, "is closely related to certain religious practices which we find in all cultures, such as meditation and contemplation. Yet," he notes, "(t)hese are difficult paths to tread because our attention is always being caught by the ceaseless chattering going on in our heads." Nonetheless, he points out, "(i)t is possible to become receptive to a state of pure consciousness without thought, where truth is revealed to us directly without words."

"Awakening from the sleep of a carnal life, an externally-driven life, does not happen automatically," Nottingham observes, "it requires directed attention and sincere, repeated efforts. . . . You will not (however) make the effort to awaken," he notes, "if you do not know you are asleep. We have to realize our captivity before it can occur to us to escape from it."

Further helpful videos are available on Ted Nottingham's Youtube channel, and his books (as well as those of his wife, Rebecca Nottingham, and certain of their valuable translations) are available online. Rev. Nottingham also publishes a free weekly podcast available on
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At the end of the above video, Rev. Nottingham recommends the following practices as tools for attaining spiritual awakening and deepening our spiritual experience:

Tools and Practices for Spiritual Development
  • Recognize the sleep of unawareness. These things keep us asleep:
    • Being unaware that we are asleep.
    • Being unaware that we can choose to be awake.
    • Not choosing it.
    • Presuming that we are already fully aware.
    • Believing that we are already good.
    • Negative emotions and our attachment to them.
    • Justifying our negative emotions.
    • Automatic habits.
    • Constant inner talking.
    • Fear of change.
    • Spiritual laziness.
    • Allowing ourselves to be swept up in the current of our responses to life.
    • Fearful emotions:
      • insecurity,
      • embarrassment,
      • impatience,
      • self-pity,
      • dread, anxiety, worry, nervousness,
      • criticizing,
      • hopelessness,
      • depression, despair, and jealousy.
  • Discipline your mind to be aware.
  • Stop and silence negative thoughts and negative emotions.
  • Silence justifications. Never accept your justifications for your negative emotions.
  • Don't believe fear. Fear opposes faith.
  • Don't consent to anger. Angry emotions have violence in them.
  • Remember why you are choosing to overcome your anger. 
    • It is unhealthy physically, mentally and spiritually.
    • It wastes your energy and life force.
    • It never produces goodness.
    • To not allow yourself to be under the dominion of changing circumstances.
    • To choose to act, not just react to life.
    • To become more than only the result of what has done to you.
  • Practice not criticizing, not objecting, not exerting or expressing your opinions and attitudes.
  • Silence negative inner talking.
  • Think of scale and relativity, your universal significance and what is really important.
  • For a moment, stand outside of the stream of events and your responses.
    • Sense your real self above them and outside them.
    • Become aware of your unique individuality and become aware of your relative insignificance.
    • Become aware of your connectedness with all things.
  • Quiet your mind by thinking about what is good and worthy and beautiful.
  • Stop thinking about yourself and how you feel, and what you like and what you don't like, and  whether you approve or not of every person and event.
  • Consciously give your attention and time to whatever good things inspire you.
  • Realize and accept that you alone are responsible for all of your actions and their consequences in the world.
  • Accept not being understood.
  • Accept injustice, judgment, condemnation, slander, gossip, and your insufficiency . . . and return good for evil, forgiveness for offense.
  • Stop complaining. It is noisy and there is no "Thy will be done" in it.
  • Stop taking offense. Humility is not offendable.
  • Release your requirements that other people be how you think they should be.
  • Release your expectations of life and circumstances and your need to be satisfied by them.
  •  Live the fruits of the spirit whether you are satisfied or not.
  • Stop thinking that you deserve better. No one deserves anything.
  •  Give up having to have the last word.
  • Don't worry about the impression you make on others.
  • Sacrifice your need to be right.
  • Don't speak negatively about any other person.
  • Refuse to listen to, believe, or participate in gossip.
  • Give up being impatient. It is the vanity of wanting your will now over God's timing.
  • Stop thinking about what other people are thinking about you.
  • Refuse to accept your justifications for acting badly.
  •  Practice being scrupulously honest with yourself and other people.
  • Whatever you do, do it to please God. Who else do you have to impress?
  • Strive for purity of heart. 
    • In purity you will find peace and humility. 
    • In humility you will find freedom, authenticity, and serenity.
Process for Spiritual Development
  • Aim: Loving God, goodness, purity, servanthood.
  • Acquire knowledge to know what you must do to live out your aim.
    • Know thyself and know what to do about thyself.
  • Direct your attention to  become aware of what is going on inside you, in your thoughts and emotions.
  • Observe yourself with:
    • scathing honesty,
    • perseverance,
    • integrity and patience.
  • Use discernment to recognize how and when  you are outside God's will which is always good.
  • Practice STOP toward your negative thoughts and feelings.
    • Practice silence toward them one at a time.
  • Create a separation between your authentic self and your automatic habits of thoughts, feelings, attitudes and opinions.
  •  Choose what you consent to think, feel and do.
  • Choose goodness before gratification -- what you know to be good rather than what feels good.
  • Sacrifice, give up, your negative emotions. Don't condemn yourself for them. Change them.
  • Do not allow yourself to express negative emotions out loud.
  • Make yourself passive to your automatic reactions.
  • Make your internal responses quiet so that you can act with intentionality.
  • Release your requirements of life, people and circumstances.
  • Release your desire for satisfaction.
  • Willingly bear your necessary suffering, including all the efforts you must make to develop spiritual maturity and obedience.
Remember that God's nature is one thing and that is perfect Goodness.

1 comment:

  1. ..A deeply profound of your best,and very much appreciated...Nottingham speaks from a place of authority and with such clarity(much as you do rabbi)..its such an affirmation of my journey with Christ..Thank you Bhuddini!..