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Seriously Light/Lightly Serious

Dear Integral Meditators,

The article below is an encouragement not to forget to to be playful, no matter how serious it gets!

Yours in the spirit of the deep and the light,


Seriously Light/Lightly Serious

It is very easy to mistake taking something seriously for taking something ‘heavily’.
It is very easy to use false humour and lightness as a way of avoiding things that we should be taking seriously, or not giving the amount of focused attention that an issue deserves.

Is it possible to take something seriously and yet keep the quality of our mind light and flexible? I think it is. For example:

  • I can recognize a shortage of money or resources without getting heavy or depressed about it, whilst thinking seriously about how I can go about making up the shortfall
  • I can listen to someone talking of their pain and loss seriously and with compassion, honoring it, whilst at the same time consciously not letting my mind become heavy with the burden of what I am listening to
  • I can recognize that I have made a mistake and pay attention to correcting it without giving myself a complete mental hammering for having made that mistake
  • I can have a huge ‘to do’ list without it causing me to get tense, and negatively serious about everything I haven’t done
  • I have a choice when faced with serious changes and uncertainties in my life, the temptation due to the fear can be to get tense and over-serious, but there is always the option of being serious but light!
  • I can be physically tired, but the strain on my body does not mean I have to take the experience without humour and goodwill (but get a good night’s sleep as soon as I can!)
  • I can feel vulnerable and insecure about something, and I can mindfully take care of that insecurity within myself with compassion, whilst at the same time seeing the humour in my paranoia

If you like over the next few days, experiment mindfully with this idea of serious lightness. It’s possible to be deep without being heavy, and it is possible to be light without being superficial or foolish.

Related article: Connecting to your spiritual fool in the mirror world

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What Lies Beyond Stillness? – Meditation and heightened creativity

 Dear Integral Meditators,

What happens when you have learned to still the mind in meditation? That is the question I explore below in this weeks article.

Yours in the spirit of deeper creativity,


What Lies Beyond Stillness? – Meditation and heightened creativity

For many of the people who do coaching with me or attend a workshop, the #1 goal often seems to be to be able to access a place of calm and stillness within themselves through meditation practice.
The achievement of resting in inner stillness consistently and at will, in the face of the varied circumstances of daily life takes persistent training in mindfulness and meditation, and is a notable achievement. But what lies beyond the achievement of stillness in meditation once you have attained it?
The inner silence (or space or stillness) that we find in meditation is a living space with nothing in it (no-thing). The flip side of this empty space is that it is also a space of all-possibilities. This means to say that because there is nothing there, in that space anything could appear or be created; it is unlimited.
So a space of stillness within our mind is a place where we have temporarily dropped all the constraints of our conventional everyday mind, for whom some things are possible, and others are definitely not. It is not altogether surprising then that, after we have entered a space of stillness in meditation, quite often we start to get flashes of creative inspiration, great ideas about a project at work, new insights into our personal life, great ideas for a work of art, a previously undreamed of solution to a personal problem.
These types of highly creative flashes of inspiration come from a level of our consciousness beyond the everyday mind, and are different from the ‘distractions’ that we have when we are trying to still out mind. It is the beginnings of experiencing the higher or trans-rational levels of our consciousness, within which there is an infinite source of creative ideas and creative power.
However, the challenge in our actual meditation can be that we find ourselves departing from the stillness that we have been focusing upon, and find our mind getting distracted by all the inspiration.

As a solution to this it can be useful to set aside a little time at the end of your meditation session to focus upon this deeper level of creative experience. So, for example if you have a 20minute session:

  • The first five minutes might be spent on stilling the mind
  • The next ten minutes could be spent moving more deeply into that stillness and staying with it
  • The final five minutes might be then spent observing creative inspirations that arise from the stillness, noting them and perhaps contemplating how you might practically apply them to your daily life.

In the long term what happens is that you start to be able to access this level of higher creativity even when out of meditation, which in turn enables you to make your whole life a an expression of your deeper creativity. The only chaser I would add to this is that sometimes these creative ideas are deeply challenging to our sense of what are limits are as a personality, so with the experience of deeper creativity comes the need for greater courage to act upon that which is arising within you.

© Toby Ouvry 2014, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website 

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Body-Mountain, Cloud-Thought, Sky-Mind

Dear Integral Meditators,

The context in which you experience your thoughts and feelings determines how much significance and power they have over you. The article below explains a simple way of re-contextualizing your thoughts in a way that makes it easier to enjoy their ups and downs, their comings and goings with a greater sense of stability and clarity.

Final reminder of the Language of the shadow workshop this coming Sunday, click on the link below for full details…

Yours in the spirit of mountains and sky,


Body-Mountain, Cloud-Thought, Sky-Mind

Here’s an image to use in meditation; Experience your body as being like a mountain, your thoughts and associated feelings as being like clouds and your mind or consciousness itself as being like the sky.

Often the thoughts and associated feelings that we have in our mind are the dominant factor in our experience of personal stability or instabilty during our day. They take us away from the stability of our physical body and make us forgetful of the clear and spacious nature of our consciousness itself.

How does a mountain experience clouds? It is completely unbothered by them; whether the sky is clear around it or it is surrounded by thunderclouds, wind and rain, a mountain remains stable, solid and calm. By relating to the solidity of your body as being like a mountain you can re-contextualize the way you experience your thoughts and feelings. Being less easily swayed and manipulated by them, you bring solidity to your experience of the present moment.

How does the sky experience clouds and weather? It allows them to come and go with ease.  At all times the sky remains open and spacious, even when it contains clouds, wind and rain. Indeed, if it was not spacious the clouds could not even be there. If we become used to relating to our mind, or to our consciousness itself as being like the sky; even in the midst of mental chaos and emotional stress we will be able to retain a connection to an experience of spaciousness, openness and clarity, just like the sky itself.

Clouds come in many shapes and forms. If we are the mountain and the sky we can enjoy all forms of clouds, all forms of weather with a sense of solidity, calmness and clarity underlying the experience.

© Toby Ouvry 2014, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website 

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The Hidden Calm Within the Body

Dear Integral Meditators,

This weeks article focuses on finding aspects of enlightened flow through your physical body, the technique is simple in its basic elements, but you can investigate it in almost infinite depth.

Yours in the spirit of calm,



The Hidden Calm Within the Body

Within your physical body itself there is an ever present space and calm that you can find through mindful reflection.
When you focus on the physical and energetic aspect of your body, there is constant change and flux; sometimes feeling heavy, sometimes light, sometimes healthy, sometimes sick, sometimes energized, sometimes tired, sometimes sensual and pleasurable, sometimes uncomfortable and unpleasant.
Within all of this change there is a part that remains the same, what is that? Well, think about what your body is primarily made up of. It is made up of parts, which are made up of cells, which are made up of atoms, which are made up of a nucleus (made up of neutrons and protons) with electrons orbiting them. The primary element in an atom, that is to say the part that it has by far the most of is space; it is just a few points of energy orbiting around a fixed point.
So if you look at the atomic nature of your body, really what you find is just energy and space, and mostly space. Whilst everything else in your body is always changing, its biggest element, that of space always remains constant; it is just open space.
So, finding the hidden calm in your body involves simply becoming aware of the space element that dominates its construction and tuning into it in order to find a sense of calm and relaxation even when other aspects of your body and mind feel out of balance or disturbed.
As well as an exercise for general pleasure and calm, I personally also find this to be a useful object of meditation and mindfulness when I am sick. The last couple of weeks I’ve had the flu followed by a nose infection. During this time because my body’s energy has been out of whack it is actually very difficult to meditate effectively. One of the easiest ways to find and sustain a sense of meditative calm in such circumstances for me has been to meditate on the space element of the body because, in the midst of all the energetic chaos, there it is, constant and unchanging.
It is difficult to say whether I have actually managed to accelerate the healing of my body through this technique (as there are so many other factors involved), but I would guess that I have, and even if not, it has certainly made the experience of not being well a lot easier and more manageable.

Focusing on the space element in your body

This is a very simple exercise:
First bring your attention onto the physical aspect of your body; sense its texture, weight, shape.
Then focus on the energy of your body; the way it feels, areas of comfort and discomfort ect…
Then become aware of the space element of your body; that fact that each of its basic atomic building blocks consists primarily (99.9 percent) of space; your solid, physical body consists primarily of empty space.
Relax into the space element of your body, naturally calm, constant and peaceful, breathe mindfully with it. You can also reflect if you like that all the other physical elements around you are also primarily empty space. The physical world is much more space-filled than we habitually think!

© Toby Ouvry 2014, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website 

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Dear Integral Meditators,

June and the summer sees a change in the pace and  of my working routine, and as a way of making the adjustment to that new routine I’ve been working this week with the practice of non-striving. Details of what it is and how to practice it are in this weeks article!

Yours in the spirit of non-striving,



Non-striving is a refusal to be in conflict with yourself and your life. Put another way, rather than seeing yourself in an adversarial relationship to yourself and your circumstances, you practice accepting and working with what is there.

For example, if I am over-tired non-striving is not simply the practice of stopping what I am doing and having a rest (although I may do that), it is the practice if not getting in conflict with myself about the reality of my fatigue, and thus even if I have to work on for a while, my mental approach is not being hampered by the friction of me fighting the reality of my fatigue.

If I have a business deal that I am anxious should happen, and then it seems as if the other party will not close on it, then I can recognize my attachment to making it happen, and my disappointment at the fact that it has not happened, and then make a point of not fighting that disappointment; rather I accept it and flow with it even whilst I see if there is any way that the deal may still go forward.

If I have a social commitment that I am not looking forward to, then if I can accept and practice non-striving with the reality that I have to go (assuming that there is no choice), then my chances of actually enjoying that social engagement even though I may not find it ideal is much greater

The thing about non-striving is that when we are in a state of non-conflict with ourself, then our natural intelligence functions far better and so our chances of actually finding solutions, enjoying ourselves, transforming difficulties to our advantage and so forth actually increases.

So often our instinctive idea of how to get what we want in our life is based around striving, battling, being effortful and fighting and there is no doubt that on occasion this approach may have its place. However if we can develop our competency at non-striving then we discover that it is possible to get what we want or at least what we need with much less effort than we deemed necessary.

To practice non-striving means acknowledging honestly what is there and going with the flow of that reality, even as we may work to change it. It is a pleasant and energy efficient way of re-connecting to our sanity and intelligence as well as creating a space where our mind body and spirit can rest and regenerate their energies even whilst we are in the midst of our daily activities.

© Toby Ouvry 2014, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website 

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Finding Your Spiritual Flow

Dear Toby,

This is an article on how to find your spiritual flow. In this article there is what I consider to be a really great and useful definition of the word ‘spiritual’. We often use ‘spiritual’ conversationally as if we have a clear idea what it means, but when we check our understanding is often a lot more nebulous. This article on spiritual flow is once again on the topic of flow states in meditation which I will be addressing in great practical depth in my upcoming Enlightened Flow Workshop on the 29th June, with the free introductory talk on Tuesday 17th June . For those of you not in Singapore, don’t worry, the online version will follow 😉

Yours in the spirit of spiritual flow,



Finding Your Spiritual Flow

This is an article about how to find your spiritual or enlightened flow. So, firstly, what do we mean by spiritual. Oftentimes people use the word like we all know what it means, but actually a sound working definition of what it means to be spiritual can be elusive; so here is one that I find very practical and useful from Nathaniel Branden: “Spiritual means pertaining (or referring to) to consciousness and the development of consciousness”.
From this we can see that to be a spiritual person means being interested in developing your inner or non-material self.
Quite often the spiritual is set up in contrast to materialism. A materialist is someone for whom the material world is of primary importance, in contrast a spiritual person is someone for whom the non-material or inner world of consciousness is of primary importance. This is not to say that a single person cannot have an integrated balance of materialism and spirituality in their life, indeed perhaps this would be the ideal.

So to be a spiritual person means to be interested in developing the inner world of your consciousness, and you yourself can assess how ‘spiritual’ you are by measuring how much effort each day you spend on the development of your consciousness.

Now that we have a definition of spiritual, we can look at what spiritual flow means. To be‘in the spiritual flow’ means to be centered in your consciousness, and allowing your life to unfold around that central inner identity of yourself as a non-physical self within a physical body and experiencing a physical world
Deep spiritual flow or enlightened means to be centred on the experience of consciousness itself, so that as well as distinguishing yourself from your physical body and self, you have also distinguished yourself from the contents of your consciousness as well. You are the centre of pure living awareness and/or consciousness that is the possessor and expereincer of your thoughts, feelings and body.

Four images for spiritual or enlightened flow:
So what might that actually look or feel like? Here are four images for getting a feel for what it is like to be in the spiritual or enlightened flow.

1. Think of your actual or spiritual self as being the parent of the contents of your consciousness – You are dis-identified** with the contents of your consciousness, but holding them with care and love
2. To be the ocean of your consciousness but not the waves or ripples – Your consciousness is like the ocean, your mental experience of thoughts and sensory information are like the waves – be the ocean, not the waves!
3. To be the sky and not the clouds – Experience your consciousness itself as being like a clear open sky, and your senses and thoughts as being like the clouds. Be the open sky, not the clouds!
4. Being the tree and not the leaves – The tree cares for and feeds the leaves but is not destroyed when they fall of in the winter, it lets them fall, stands silent through winter and then re-grows them the next spring. Your consciousness itself is like the tree, your thoughts and senses are like the leaves. Be the tree and not the leaves!

If you want some homework from this article, over the next week or so simply take one of these images each day and use your contemplation of them as a way of starting to experience your own spiritual or enlightened flow.

**Please note the difference between dis-identified and dis-associated from . We aim to be in touch with and aware of our thoughts, emotions and senses whilst being dis-identified with them. To be dis-associated from them would be to be completely out of touch with them, which would invariably lead to psychological issues!

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Wake, up, Grow up, Clean up, Flow

Dear Integral Meditators,

Sometimes when we think of flow states there is the idea that they should be somehow effortless, stress-free and easy. In the article below I describe a state of flow that I’ve called enlightened flow which needs a certain amount of  effort-fullness before it can become effortless. I hope you enjoy it. 

Dear Integral Meditators,

Sometimes when we think of flow states there is the idea that they should be somehow effortless, stress-free and easy. In the article below I describe a state of flow that I’ve called enlightened flow which needs a certain amount of  effort-fullness before it can become effortless. I hope you enjoy it. 

For those of you interested in integral and evolutionary physical fitness, Scott Sonnon has come out with an interesting new offering he calls Six Degree Flow which I am taking a look at right now. I always find it interesting to see ideas of integration, evolution and flow are developing in other fields than my own!


Wake, up, Grow up, Clean up, Flow – The Art of Enlightened Flow

What comes into your mind when you think of the words “enlightened flow?
What might your life look like if it were lived in this state of enlightened flow?
How would it affect the way in which you help and experienced your body? Your work? Your relationships?
Before you go onto the rest of the article, please just pause for a few moments just to sit with these questions and see what type of images, ideas and experiences start to flow into your awareness.

From the point of view of integral growth and the path that I try and teach at Integral Meditation Asia, enlightened flow has three main aspects of facets:

Waking up – Bringing as much conscious awareness to your physical, mental and spiritual life as possible, keeping the light of your awareness turned on at all times.

Growing up – Doing psychological work in order to go through the stages of inner development outlined by developmental psychology. In its simplest terms this means mastering and integrating three essential levels of development:

  • Awareness and mastery of your instincts and biological self
  • Awareness and mastery of your conceptual and rational mind
  • Awareness and harnessing of your intuitive, trans-rational and trans-logical faculties

Want to know what that means in a single sentence? It means to be continually working to become a playful, mature adult who is actively working on the next level of her/his development.

Cleaning up – This means doing consistent ‘clean up’ work on our emotional, spiritual and psychological selves by doing regular shadow work, or put another way; working to integrate the destructive parts of ourselves that we are afraid of and have disowned or rejected back into our conscious mind in a constructive and positive way.

So, to practice enlightened flow in your life means to bring the following qualities to each moment of your existence, organically and to the best of your ability:

  • To be awake and alert – The torchlight of your awareness in switched ON
  • To take responsibility for what is going on and what you are contributing to each moment of your life – to be an adult
  • To be as fully present to the difficult and challenging aspects of what you are experiencing as you are to the easy, the positive and the pleasurable. Put another way; to clean up the mess that is in your mind on a regular basis!

Enlightened flow then in this means in each moment of your life you are:

  • Awake
  • Self-responsible
  • Not afraid to get your hands dirty

I’m calling this a state of enlightened flow because if you bring these three qualities into each moment of your life, then there will be nothing or at least very little that will be able to knock you of your centre and out of your flow.

Want to start practising enlightened flow? Here is the image for you to hold in your mind over the next week:

  • Visualize an image of yourself as a responsible (yet playful) grown-up adult.
  • In one hand you have a torch which you shine onto your life; you are awake
  • In the other hand you have a mop, you are doing the work of cleaning up your own emotional, mental and spiritual self; you are prepared to get your hands dirty whenever necessary.

So there you go, the three tools you need to stay in your own enlightened flow each day; are you ready to give it a try this week?

© Toby Ouvry 2014, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website 

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An Enlightenment Visualization

Dear Integral Meditators,

This weeks article uses a series of six simple images to try and communicate the basic enlightenment experience. In June I’ll be doing a workshop on meditation for cultivating the enlightenment experience, this article is one way of exploring this space.

I’ll be facilitating the three hour Mindful Self-Leadership workshop again on the 7th June for those interested. It will be at the CLIA workshop space on Khoon Seng Road.

Finally, I-Awake technologies are having a 50% Sale on until Monday evening US time, I’ve placed the details at the bottom of this newsletter, do check it out!

Yours in the spirit of enlightenment,


Upcoming Meditation Classes and Workshops at Integral Meditation Asia in June:

Mindful Self-Leadership: Taking Control of Your Life Through the Practice of Mindful Self-Leadership – A Five Week Online Course (This is ongoing and can be entered into at any time)

Saturday 7th June, 2.30-5.30pm – Mindful Self-Leadership Course at CLIA(Creative Leadership in Asia)

Enlightened Flow: Finding the Ultimate Relaxation and Release from Stress – A Practical Three Hour Meditation Workshop

Free Preview Talk: Tuesday , 17th June, 7.30-8.30pm at the Reiki Centre

The Three Hour Workshop:  Sunday 29th June, 9.30am-12.30pm

Click title link for details of both Enlightened Flow events.

Enlightenment Visualization

The following is a visualization process for connecting experientially to the experience of spiritual enlightenment. By Spiritual Enlightenment here I mean connecting to the formless, timeless, unified dimension or reality that underlies both the outer world of our body and senses, and the inner world of our mind.
The best artists use their pictures/creations to connect the viewer to a deeper dimension of their being. Very often a picture or image speaks louder, more clearly and more practically to us than abstract concepts (not always, but often). The point of this visualization exercise therefore is to describe in a series of 6 key images how to connect to the enlightenment experience without giving too much philosophy; the images connect you to the meaning.

Stage 1: Sit quietly for a while, bringing your attention to your body and the breathing. Use your exhalation to release tension from your mind and body and enter as deep and relaxed a state of awareness as you can.

Stage 2: Now imagine that the world around the room or space in which you are seated gradually dissolves in to light, space and emptiness. It is just you and the room surrounded by an infinity of light and empty space.

Stage 3: Now imagine that the room where you are seated dissolves into light, space and emptiness; it is just you, and your body sitting in this living, empty infinity.

Stage 4: Now imagine that your body itself dissolves away into light, space and emptiness so that all you are experiencing is a huge unified space of light and emptiness with no beginning and no end. For the main section of the meditation, rest in this space of formless timeless spaciousness as deeply as you can. This is the initial focus of the experience of spiritual enlightenment as we are describing it in this exercise.

Stage 5: When you are ready, from this unified space of formless timeless emptiness see the barest trace of your body outlined in that space, in lines and points of light. Gradually your room and the whole world around it also appear in this ghostly white framework of lines and points of light. The main experience is still one of spacious light, emptiness and unity, but traced within that timeless space is now your entire world of time and space, with your body in the centre.

Stage 6: Gradually see your body and the world around you becoming more solid and real, filled with colour, texture, weight, sound and so on. See this solid ‘real’ world emerging or arising from the vast infinity of formless, timeless infinity that you have been resting in during stage 4.
The formless timeless unity of enlightenment and the diverse solid and sometimes chaotic world of time and space exist as one, as a mutually supporting unity.

When you are ready you can bring your meditation to a close. When you are out of meditation the practice them becomes to recognize that the real, solid world around you is arising and one with the timeless domain of enlightenment. They are not two different objects, but the same reality appearing in two different ways.

As I mention below, the I-Awake sale is on, with 50% off all tracks until Monday 26th May. The tracks that best support the meditation I have described in this article would be Audio SerenityHarmonic Resonance Meditation and Meditative Ocean.

© Toby Ouvry 2014, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website

Our friends at I-Awake technologies are offering a 50% discount on all digital downloads of ALL their products in their 5 day memorial day sale!
Its a great opportunity to get some amazing products and technologies to support your meditation practice and peace of mind at a great price.
Check out the link for full details!

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Enlightenment and the Call to Awakened Creativity

Dear Toby,

Those of you in Asia I hope you had a nice holiday yesterday as Wesak, or Buddhas birthday was celebrated. The article below is the result of my own reflections on the creative process of enlightenment, thinking about the Buddha in particular.

Final call for those who may be interested in the 3 hour Mindful Self Leadership Workshop in Singapore this Sunday 18th May, 9.30am-12.30. Click on the link for details!

Yours mindfully and creatively,


PS: Click on the picture to find out about Buddha shaped pears!

Enlightenment and the Call to Awakened Creativity

I’m writing this article on Wesak day, or Buddha’s birthday, and the occasion has led me to have a go at expressing something that has been on my mind for a little while which is basically this; The great enlightened leaders of different eras for example Buddha, the Christ, Krishna responded to their experience of spiritual enlightenment with courageous creative acts of worldly innovation.

For example one of the things that the Buddha did was to create whole new class of citizen. Back in India 600BC as a man you had three options; either you were of the class of nobleman, or the warrior class or the servant/slave class. If you were in the tiny minority of noblemen, then life would have been good, but if you were a warrior or a slave you really were not operating with much freedom. If you were a woman the choices were correspondingly limited.
So what the Buddha did was to create a new class of citizen – the ordained Sangha – or community of monks and nuns who were essentially able to side step the three class options and live peacefully, supported by laypeople and focus on getting enlightened themselves and being of service to the community at large. It is difficult for us to appreciate fully today what an amazing act of social innovation this was on the part of the Buddha, as today we live in a very different society where, relatively speaking we have very different freedoms and limitations. At the time of the Buddha many, many men and women were socially liberated in the way through the creative this creative act of Buddha.

So then, the interesting thing to me is that while the truly great enlightened people and leaders innovate and act with dynamic creativity, the people that follow them mainly seem just to seek to follow the rules that got set down after their death – they do not seem to feel the imperative to act creatively, to take chances, to innovate, to respond to the genuine organic needs of their life and times.

To become spiritually enlightened means basically this; to be interested in developing your consciousness and to be focused on the process of seeing and integrating your inner and outer reality as clearly and courageously as you can. Spiritual enlightenment is a process with many levels of unfolding. I’m at a certain level of spiritual development; you are at a certain level of development. At each level I believe we have a responsibility not just to gain insight into our reality, but also to respond to that insight with action and creativity. This means to be taking active responsibility for expressing your own enlightenment (on whatever level you are at) in your life. Very often that will mean taking a chance, engaging in something a little experimental.

The main thing is that you get in the habit of expressing your enlightened creativity now, today, at least a little.

Happy Wesak day!

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Enlightened Imperfection

Dear Integral Meditators,

Are you on a quest for enlightened perfection? This weeks Integral Meditations article explores what enlightened perfection looks like (or doesn’t look like) and how we can start to use it to embrace our own imperfection and the imperfection of the world.
It is kind of a complementary take to the midweek article on “That Which Solves All Your Problems and None“.

Yours in the spirit of the perfectly imperfect,


Enlightened Imperfection

There is a lot of confusion around the idea of perfection and enlightenment. Many people seem to think that, when you attain a ‘spiritual’ enlightenment you become in some way perfect. Actually, what the realization of enlightenment points out is that there is a part of ourself that is already perfect, they always have been and always will be.

When we realize enlightenment we also realize that all things including ourself are totally imperfect and not just that, they always will be.

Let me explain what I mean, starting with what spiritual enlightenment is. There are three domains or aspects of our moment to moment experience:

  1. Our outer physical and sensory experience
  2. Our inner mental experience based around thoughts and images
  3. The experience of awareness itself which is the formless timeless ‘ground’ upon which the rest of our outer and inner experience is based.

To become spiritually enlightened means to gain practical experience of this third domain of formless timeless awareness, and base our core identity around this experience. Thus, enlightenment has nothing to do with what one believes or philosophizes about, and everything to do with what one discovers through meditation and other related practical methods of investigating our moment to moment experience.

In the state of formless timeless awareness (that is number 3 of the above list) there is perfection and only perfection. This is because in such a state of no-form and no-time there is no-thing that could possibly be imperfect. It is the dimension of each moment of our experience that is perfect, pristine, and flawless. You could be blind drunk, be in the middle of nuclear war or have just married to the person of our dreams, it doesn’t matter; the part of that moment that is simply formless timeless awareness is perfect and always will be.

Classical spiritual enlightenment is a discovery you make about this pristine, formless, timeless state that is already there. You don’t create it, you discover it, and it is absolutely perfect.

As for the rest of you, your life, and the rest of the world, it is completely imperfect. Not just that, it always will be. In the physical world and in the world of our everyday mind there is always imperfection, there will always be difficulties, there is no point of final perfection; there is just a changeable present and future extending to the end of our life, to future generations and to infinity.

To be enlightened is to stop looking for perfection in your life, because you understand that it is already there.

To be enlightened is also to commit to responding to the dance of imperfection in your life in the best way you can with curiosity, courage and care. It means not being afraid to make mistakes, to be vulnerable, and to occasionally and when necessary be seen as a bit of a fool.

Enlightened perfection is not something that you can achieve, it is something that you come to know and recognize. From this space of ‘already perfect’ the challenge is then to launch yourself into the imperfection that will always be there, and commit to making it better.

Over the next week or so if you want to start working with this idea, you can try this:
Simply focus on the statement ‘Everything is already perfect’. Allow your mind to rest in this recognition for as long as you wish. Just relax, let go and feel your way into a space of timeless awareness where everything is always perfect, immutable, pristine. Allow yourself to regenerate your energies in that space.
Now bring your attention back to yourself, back to your world, back to the endless beautiful and tragic imperfection. Now smile to yourself, open to your imperfect reality and commit to participating in the most enlightened way you can.

© Toby Ouvry 2014, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website