Monday, June 25, 2012

What Is Transcendence?

The concept of transcendence is another widely misunderstood concept. As I always encourage you to do, reviewing and changing your definitions can be one of the most spiritually liberating things you can do in the realm of the mind. If your definitions are too small or skewed by your ego desires, fears, and so forth, then there's no space in your mind to appreciate the truth. Hence, I've got more than a couple of blogs offering my definitions to hopefully inspire you to re-create your own. Here are a couple before I dive into transcendence:

What Is a Spiritual Teacher?

What Is God?


What Is Intuition?

Becoming Better Than Everyone Else?
So, let's start with some of the false ideas and perceptions around transcendence. One idea is that you'll somehow be better than everyone else. This is an idea totally out of ego, which is always in a horse race to be ahead of someone even though it doesn't understand the horse it's riding or what the race is. No. You won't be better than anyone else. You will be just the same as you always were even when you thought you were better, smarter, stronger, richer, prettier, or something else.

Next up: You will never feel pain or face adversity again when you have achieve spiritual transcendence.

False.

God, I wish that one were true, but we're not here to avoid or ignore certain aspects of life. Now, there's no doubt that there's a lot of our own internal mental garbage that we can clean up and be free of, but life will still bring difficulty, sleet, and higher taxes. =) You can't get away from them. You can only chose your reaction to them.

Transcendence: Choosing Your Actions
I think the best way to define transcendence is as a conscious ability to choose how you respond to any situation. Many of you may already think that you are doing this, but I challenge you to really look at yourself and your feelings. Look at any ways where you react to something and then later you have to clean up a mess caused by that instant reaction. When I'm talking about reactions, they primarily are driven by fear, aggression, or some other response that is at heart self-protective. The space of transcendence doesn't think in this way. It doesn't exactly think. It's very intertwined with intuitive knowing that allows you to see a bigger picture, and from this greater awareness, you can choose your actions. From the ego state, you would choose something that you think would get you the best result or would get you away from uncomfortable feelings. From the place of transcendence, you have a sense of what is the right course of action, and this one may bring more discomfort or less. It just depends on the situation.

The Egos Tantrums May Continue or Subside
However, just because you've achieved some level of transcendence within you, it doesn't mean you are ego-free. Personally, I think this is another great myth that has grown up in spiritual circles. People think that they can get rid of their egos. But all an ego is is a set of preferences, a personality, and a point of view cultivated by your upbringing. There is no doubt that the spiritual path will change some of that, but still, you will have those things. And that's perfectly fine and natural once you understand yourself. Understanding yourself is part of awakening and transcendence.

In another way, transcendence is like going to a new floor in the building. Awakening is the elevator. But you still live in a building (the Earth), and you have certain rules to this world that you will have to abide by (living in a body, interacting with other people, and so forth). All these things make an ego a useful tool. But right now, it's set to autoplay, and it's being fed a lot of nonsensical rules (you should make lots of money; you need to be beautiful/handsome by cultural standards, etc.). So it's erratic and out of control. The space of transcendence allows you to see where you are out of alignment with love and kindness. From there, you can re-construct your ego just as you created it, but now you can do so consciously.

And Stuff Will Still Be Difficult
Life won't stop giving you hard times. If you don't have food, you will not feel good. The space of transcendence means you won't turn this into a story about how the world is tormenting you specifically. You won't blame the government, global warming, Republicans, Democrats, Terrorists, or anyone else. You will simply accept the reality of your situation and take steps to address it, i.e. get more food. You are very present-minded in this space, and transcendence is a space of love. In this space, a lot of the big spiritual words like Love, Truth, Beauty, God, and so forth all combine. It is a melting of boundaries, and it leads to feelings of interconnection. But being interconnected won't always feel good. Sometimes, you'll feel connected to some pretty crappy stuff. People who feel very connected to the Earth don't feel good at times because of how much bad stuff has been done to the planet. With this comes the reality that we also need to know how to be smart with our energy and not just plug into the many levels of pathos and pain out there. There is so much pain in the world in general, that you could cry constantly for the rest of your life to grieve  what has been done to so many.

Coming Into Stillness: The Path of Transcendence
As I write this, I realize that transcendence is just a different term for the awakening path. It's just not a term that I use often precisely because of the confusion around it. People think they can avoid or ignore stuff through spirituality, and that's what they consider transcendence to be. More than a few people join monasteries or becoming single and abstinent to be "transcendent," but they are only running from society and relationships. And in truth, they are really just trying to run away from themselves. Which is why your greatest teachers will often be the things and places that make you the most uncomfortable. Your relationship with your spouse can be an amazing teaching tool no matter how difficult because your partner undoubtedly will show you all the hot buttons/issues you still have. Because ultimately transcendence is about walking through the fire, not away from it. Where there is nothing left that can ignite within you, then the fire won't be a problem anyway more, will it? That, in a nutshell, is transcendence.

The picture for transcendence comes from my student, Jenn.
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