Awakening Matt Sieradski
The awakening of Matt Sieradski
So my wife Hiromi and the kids went away to Japan for three weeks and I got to go on this retreat and a couple days before I was in my office and I had gone up to Seattle, done some private lessons with my Taiji teacher and he had given me some instructions that were actually very helpful for cultivating attention. The type of practice we do often involves the body and so the nice thing about that and how I think it’s compatible with these Choiceless Awareness style contemplation practices is that you’re not trying to get to a state of nirvikalpa Samadhi, some sort of state where there are no objects, you work with the objects as they are in your ordinary state. He gave me some tips that were really helpful in working with attention. And because my life was simpler since the family was gone I was able to keep a rather high degree of mindfulness, for me at that time, after that trip.
On the way down I stopped at Powell’s bookstore, went to the spirituality section and found a Dzogchen book that I hadn’t read before: Practices of the Day and the Night by Namkai Norbhu. It was about 11:45 AM. My last morning patient was reclined in the treatment room, resting with the needles, so I had a few minutes before I had to send her on her way. I looked at the book and opened it to some section and it essentially talked about nondual presence. I don’t remember how the exact passage went but it was just a direct pointing instruction. Then I looked up and something fell away; it was very simple. I can’t describe what happened other than that at that point the resistance just fell away. There were some physical, energetic kinds of things associated with it but nothing spectacular. Essentially, the mind just opened.
I had stuff to do. Actually I was quite busy trying to get ready for the retreat, but all of a sudden there was no problem.
Q: Was this the retreat you just went on last fall?
Matt: Yeah. So, I went on the retreat. It was a deepening into that. It was perfect timing, like Joel said, and there was a deepening into Presence of Awareness. Accompanying that there was bliss, but unconditioned bliss, and there were some things that happened on the retreat too, as I went through some layers of conditioning, because after the initial insight there is still stuff — still conditioned responses to things. But as they’re seen they’re seen, and they either go away or they come back, but it doesn’t matter, and in that retreat setting you can really get into a very deep kind of state.
I also want to mention that one of the things that I came to feel about my experience of awakening (or greater insight into “whatever this is”) is that there is what they call in the literature a knot in the heart in the central channel, and I got to the point where I could feel that knot. I could feel that resistance and this experience was literally the untangling of that. It’s that knot, or resistance, that gives rise to our assumption of separation, our delusion of separation. This is talking about psychic channels — not something our culture understands. I had an actual experience of that: sort of like a feeling in the body or a feeling in the center of ones experience. I think probably my sensitivity to that was brought on by the fact that I had done a lot of energetic practices. So people might have the same experiences I had but just experience it differently because their attention wasn’t there or they hadn’t been trained that way or it could just be a part of the dream but it seems to be something that is in the literature.
So now awareness is not really restricted that way anymore. It doesn’t mean that emotions don’t come up but they’re just not held onto. They just come and they go.
So there was an experience when I was on the retreat where it really kind of came down. I was walking through the woods at Cloud Mountain and there was a point where the separation, the experience of any difference, was completely gone, completely obliterated. The sense was that I could just — I didn’t used to understand the stories of some types of spiritual practitioners who would just go away. But I totally understood it now. It’s just such a natural thing to do, to completely merge back. But then there’s that whole Bodhisattva vow thing: that you should probably hang around. There’s work to do.
Q: So that makes me wonder and this might seem silly, but how did you go back to work? You had somebody with needles in her…
Matt: Oh! Because it’s so ordinary, that’s why. What happened was, the suffering fell away. And then I went on retreat and the state deepened, but realization isn’t dependent on a state. It’s just non-grasping. It’s actually that you are no longer capable of grasping.
Q: So to finish that, you had no trouble going back to the patient and taking the needles out?
Matt: No! It was quite a lot of fun. I was all of a sudden in such a great mood.
Joel: Fortunately, for the patient! (laughter)
Matt: Yeah, so it’s not about state. I’ve been in states where you wouldn’t want me near a patient — like being way high or something. It wasn’t like that. That’s not what realization is.
Original article here