The Shift


One of my favourite books is ‘Conversations on Non-Duality, 26 Awakenings’  in which teachers and authors describe their process of realisation. Each has their own unique experience of a mind and belief system shifting, falling away or aligning to a deeper truth of being. 

I call this the Shift. 

There is nothing more fascinating to explore because it is the only access to lived reality. 

There is nothing more significant for humanity because it marks the end of the handed down trauma of human conditioning. 

The Shift is a relocation from one realm or paradigm of living to another that bears no relation to the previous understanding and yet, bizarrely, through this transformation nothing has actually changed. 

This is because the Shift is not linear or incremental. It is not about progress or improvement. It is a radical, seismic disruption of identification and the attempt to stabilise that identity. The only thing that changes is something that was never there in the first place. 

Here are some of the elements that comprise this disruption.

From separation to no separation 

It looks as though everything is separate. There is me here. Then ‘out there’ there are other people, objects, experiences. Even within me there is separation - we say ‘my thoughts’ ‘my emotions’ ‘my body’ as though the I and these things are separate.

The Shift is the recognition of no separation - that there is no separate me and separate them. The self and other are created from the same conditioning driven perceptual system. So there is no separation at the level of experience. 

And even more profoundly, perception itself is made of and enabled by the absolute and infinite - life, consciousness, intelligence, beingness… 

From chooser and doer to choosing and doing happening  

At the heart of the belief in separation is the unquestioned conviction that what we are is a free-willed entity capable of making objective decisions and taking independent action. The  belief is that the ‘I’ is the chooser and the do-er and this belief dictates all experience.

Yet all thoughts, understandings, choosing and doing originate in the sub-conscious realm governed by beliefs and learning which have been acquired automatically and unconsciously. 

There is no independent ‘I’ controlling any of this. 

From shame and resentment to sanity 

The belief in ourselves as a separate and independent decider means that shame and blame are inevitably at the heart of separation. 

Shame and blame are highly toxic, confusing and alienating emotions not least because they originate in utter misunderstanding of what we are and where behaviour comes from. 

They cannot survive the falling away of the belief in separation. This shift from shame, the lowest and most painful of experiences of existence to the blissful sanity of no-doer is, I believe, the reason why enlightenment is such a powerfully transformative experience. 

From numbing and gratification to healing  

The lived experience of being an individual, separate from wholeness, intelligence, love, peace, life, that needs to somehow control its way back home is a state of deep suffering. 

Numbing of the suffering or obtaining what we think we need in the form of attention, recognition or love to secure that individual identity must be the on-going motivation when confusion reigns. 

Exploration of what that individual really is means that suffering is no longer the signal to numb, distract or gratify. It is the signal to come into reality, to experience whatever is being resisted and in this way, to heal and integrate the conditioning of lack.


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