Michael Hall just let me know that you have posted our email conversations on your Blog and that they created quite a commotion. Since I am not on Facebook, and do not usually read enlightenment stuff on line, had no idea. I would like to say a few things to everyone if that would be ok with you. Thank you in advance for being so kind and posting this:
First of all, the emails were 'private' emails to Ed. Kind of calls for help and clarification - to assist me in understanding what has been and is still happening with me because I am so far off the map as far as what the typical enlightenment/awakening stuff goes. That Ed would post them for public viewing, I had no idea. It is totally fine, of course, as apparently they got quite a lot of people jumping off their seats - which is always a good thing!
Until one fateful day in December 2005, I was very happily living my life, offering wonderful healing work for 15 years, helping people improve their "I". Then one day, I saw that there was nothing to the I which was a huge blow to my system as I had dedicated years of study and work to improving my own and other people's I. After that, within 6 months, my entire life had crumbled until there was nothing left, including no more I.
Now, losing everything in the outer world - including all financial, material and social safety, stability and security - and on top of that, one's sense of I - creates a huge predicament, especially for someone who has never heard about awakening or enlightenment and has no one to guide her and/or ask for clarification and help.
I did not choose to be ejected from regular life. I fought it tooth and nail, believe me. But nothing I did could stop what seemingly wanted to happen - which was, to send this empty shell of Margot Ridler traveling around third world countries, with no money, not knowing a single person anywhere there, no clue as to why I was to go and not speaking a word of the local language.
Plus, I was completely void of the faculty that previously could choose, want, wish for, decide, envision. There was nothing operational anymore inside. In fact, there was no more inside. There was just This (I called it nothingness back then) doing Its thing - living life as It wanted as It had rubbed out most of the Margot programming that would have stood in the way before with the usual fears, judgments, oppositions and negations.
This was on the one hand, completely insane - because how does one do life without the ability to choose, decide, wish, hope, want? And on the other hand, it was an amazing blessing. Because to live life without ever knowing anything - and with no structures to hold one in place to provide continuity, stability, predictability and safety - to be moved from nothingness, with nothingness, as nothingness - is magical beyond comprehension as anything is possible and can happen at any moment. (This is, of course, true for all people at all times, except the usual life set up does not allow for much wiggle room.)
Whenever terror and fear would wane throughout a day (and they were constant companions for a good three years) there was this immense aliveness pulsating through the body (not correct, as there was no more sense of a body - sorry - so hard to explain.) But there was just aliveness, aliveness, aliveness - and still is to this day. Everything was and is seen as delicious and delightful.
Even the attempted murder I was present for the other day. My presence and the presence of another person (so it seemed anyway) assisted the man to eventually stop his attacking. My body had gone into shock and was trembling quite heavily but there was no sense of this should not have happened or any sense of anger or rage or even fear. There was complete clarity and a calm doing as I helped the blood soaked victim to tend to his wounds, called for help and then stayed with him until the ambulance boat came.
There was power and strength and clarity present (all words to describe what can't be described - don't pay attention to the words - try to get a feel of what the words are conveying.) A moving and doing without any thought but fully alive, fully present, fully there (all just words - don't get hung up on them - see if you can feel into it.)
Now, you see, I was 2 1/2 years into living this way when I first heard about no self, no I. I thought, well, this sounds like what is happening to me. And from then on, I began to piece together, one piece at a time, a seeming puzzle that brought me to the whole awakening and enlightenment thing through the back door. That is why in the past, have checked plenty of times with others to see what's what. Had no idea if what was happening to me was actually what spiritual seekers are seeking and spiritual teachers are teaching - because to me there was nothing spiritual about any of it. To me it was always all about life living life.
But really, I couldn't care less. I was not seeking it to begin with. I was after freedom in my life and with my professional work - and was doing it via digging into our programming. That the final freedom consisted of life without an I, I could have never imagined in my wildest dreams. Have therefore, no vested interest in the whole enlightenment gig as spiritual seekers and some teachers have. Am just an odd-ball within a very structured, well-oiled and well-working enlightenment machinery. That is why my words shook so many of you up. Am not fitting the mold and you don't know what to do with what I am saying. It's coming out of left field.
There seems to be this sense that I am putting other paths down and/or am against meditation. And that I am prideful of what is/has been happening to me. This could not be further from the truth. Am not seeing what happened to me as special in any way. In fact, see it as incredibly hard and would not wish it upon anyone to be stripped the way I have been. But - it places me in a singular position because when you live the way I have lived for six years, you will have to face what most people will never come up against. And that's where my question, what does awake really mean? come from. It's a very valid question from where I stand. Why it created so much huff and puff I really do not understand. It seems to me that everyone would want to know the answer. I am still checking in to see what's what - that's why I wrote to Ed. When is one all done? As far as I am concerned, the day the body dies. Until then, life will continue to throw us wrenches and hammers and screw drivers to keep taking the programming apart so that life can continue to move through ever more freely. Ed would you agree with this?
Most (if not all) spiritual seekers believe, I think, that awakening is the end-all and it is my understanding from the bit I have researched and read that this is also what a lot of teachers are conveying.
Fully awake, as far as what I have deducted from my process, means awake in all aspects of one's life. One cannot know how awake one really is when faced with certain life scenarios if they have not come to pass. Am sure meditation is very helpful for many people and may facilitate awakening. Am not questioning that at all. The question I put out is how awake - and in how many areas of one's life? because only life can bring one face to face with certain programming, especially the deep-seated programming of safety, security, survival, family attachment, loyalty, money, etc. It's easy to say am awake/enlightened while life goes on as usual. Sure, everyone has their own share of problems in life to deal with. But one can never know how free one really is from programming until faced with various life scenarios that bring them right up to the surface and smack one in the face.
To me, program-free living is what it's all about. An awakening experience may blow out a whole bunch of programming (for some more than for others) - but there is usually plenty left. One can easily get tripped up at this juncture thinking that one is done. And for those who have not had an awakening, one can so easily miss the grand opportunity life delivers in so many moments of each day where one can rip one's own face off. 24/7, life offers us the possibility to deconstruct our programming - because really, enlightenment is nothing other than the realization that the nothingness that is sought by spiritual seekers is always right there in each and every moment - yet not experienced because of the endless automatic programming, mind chatter and emotions running rampant.
Ed said in one of his responses you are not providing a carrot that would lead anyone to follow your advice. And two days later, a new friend asked me the same thing. She said, what's the path you are telling people to follow? Have had no thought about it thus far - but here is what came to me today: I'd say, don't chase enlightenment. You have no clue what it is anyway. You might have all these various ideas in your heads as far as what enlightenment is. But that's just what they are: ideas. Enlightenment is not what you think it is. Your mind can't imagine what life is like with no I. It can paint plenty pretty pictures so that you keep running after it - and all the while, you miss out on living life. The way I look at most seekers is that they are all chasing something they have absolutely no clue about what it actually is.
To me, that is really sad. 20, 30, 40 years of seeking - that's a lot of time and consumed energy. I'd say, go after freedom of programming, after aliveness, after living fully in each moment. That is worth dedicating your precious energy toward and that is actually something you can work toward achieving. I am sure that meditation is a great tool for this. If enlightenment is to happen, it will happen. Guaranteed. Look at me, it came to me and I did not even know it existed, nor wanted it. (What a blow that is to the nicely oiled and well-established enlightenment machinery....!)
Plus, enlightenment always comes as a gift. You can't will it or make it happen.
...and on a more sobering note - enlightenment means death to your I. You can't know to what degree enlightenment will create death all around "you" and actually destroys "your" life. Look at Eckhart Tolle - his life got rebuilt into something completely new and different from what it was before. But at first, he lost everything! Look at UG Krishnamurti. Look at Bernadette Roberts. Look at the author of the Jed McKenna books. Look at Roshi Jun Po Denis Kelly and many others. And me, too. If you are not willing, in the depths of your being, to die and lose your entire life as it is, there is no chance in heaven or hell that awakening can ever come your way because your very impulse to hold on to what you are and what you've got are the mechanisms that keep what is really ever going on from your view.
You all have heard a thousand times about programming and ego and nothingness - but where does it go when you hear it? Into your mind. And what happens then? All kinds of ideas and concepts are formed as to what enlightenment is, awakening is, the ego is, the I is, etc. But it's mind that's gotta go. So hearing and reading just enforces mind structures.
All my best to all of you! You are all in good hands with Ed! Warmest regards!
This is Margot's story and understanding. This too was my initial awakening experience, but there is so much more! So much more, and also less in the sense of letting all beliefs and concepts and conditioning go. But there comes a time when you are so empty, God comes and fills you with love and bliss.