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Rooted in the Absolute



In Buddhism, the spiritual and material realm are often referred to as the absolute and the relative, respectively. The relative is form. It is what is perceived through our senses: it is the world of thought, feeling, differentiation, and consciousness. It is the world of objects. It is the world of duality: you and me; self and other; good and bad.

Conversely, the absolute is also referred to as emptiness, the deathless, and nothingness. The absolute might also be referred to as the divine, pure consciousness, oneness, wholeness. It is absolute. It contains everything! It is the source from which form arises. The irony is that there is no thing (nothing) there. And yet, that nothing is us. It is the source of form and, simultaneously is equal to form. That is why in the Heart Sutra of Buddhism, it says “form is emptiness; emptiness is form.

However, there is a bit of a misunderstanding among spiritual seekers. Many individuals who are attracted to a spiritual path do so because they desire inner peace, harmony, and equilibrium, and/or to live their lives stress free. The misunderstanding is that there is the belief that when one awakens to the divine or when one becomes enlightened, something is gained. This is from the perspective of the ego or small self. The thought is that it is the ego that becomes enlightened.

However, in order to even have an awakening experience, the sense of self or of ego must disappear. One must surrender to the divine, to the absolute. One must lose their sense of self; the ego.

What happens for many people is that after an awakening, there is a period of oscillation in which the sense of self arises once again. For some people, the ego might grasp hold of the awakening experience and try to own it, as if it was something to hold on to; but in doing so, the ego only reinforces itself and loses the sense of divinity that was previously experienced. For most people, there is a sense of “I had it; then lost it.” One becomes stuck back in the mind and suffering, which perhaps seemed to have disappeared, arises once more.

However, with vigilance and due diligence, such as engaging in inquiry and meditation, the conditioned patterns that constitute what we think of as the self, begin to dissipate. More and more, turn your attention back on itself. Over time, the sense of oscillation will shift to a sense of stabilization. Our identification with the self shifts to identifying as the absolute, as oneness.

Over time, one becomes more and more rooted as the absolute. As the divine. As emptiness. However, the irony here is that the more one is rooted in the absolute, the more one is absolutely unrooted. This is because putting down roots anywhere other than the absolute involves holding onto something, particularly one