Enlightenment: Do we experience reality as an illusion and are we are all hallucinating? What does it mean to “break the glass wall”? Well perception is like ‘a map of Earth’. It is not the exact picture. However, it works. #HealingTrauma
The intellect is like that. It cannot see the whole truth but it works. It has been said that to “break the glass wall” is to taste truth so to speak. But it can be too much to experience all at once. That’s why practices, using systems like Yoga, Martial Arts or Ceremonial Dance, were for people to experience it slowly.
Spontaneous Enlightenment can be dangerous: like Psychosis. Now if you have read my thread on the ‘Window of Tolerance’, about snakes 🐍 and ladders 🪜, it’s like going from zero to hero, in intensity of arousal. You hit the roof of the attic. The body cannot go further.
So it can even feel like you are exploding. My Psychosis was initially very beautiful. It felt like a “peak experience” because my PhD took me there slowly. Psychology would describe it as: mania. India as: blissfulness or ecstasy. The latter sounds kinder.
However, no one I knew understood this. So I just seemed crazy. Plus what goes up comes down right! My brain eventually shut down. Another way to understand this, is, say you take the drug ecstasy, because you want to feel high. Just like a trampoline you jump straight up!
However, what goes up comes down right? So then you have the ‘come down’ afterwards. There is also a ‘rebound effect’ with drugs. Basically, the highs become less and the lows feel worse. This is the problem with using drugs to try to achieve optimal states of wellbeing.
So the safest and most effective way to experience Enlightenment has been to use a ‘staircase’. This means you begin by taking up a simple practice (e.g. Mindfulness, Yoga, Martial Arts, Ceremonial Dance, anything really). As you develop the skills you will also cultivate awareness.
Slowly, slowly you climb the staircase. With enough practice, if you keep going in the same direction, eventually, to your complete surprise, the staircase will disappear. Essentially, you are now where you would be if you took ecstasy – high – however this came gradually, not with a trampoline, so you will not fall down immediately. This is also where you “break the glass wall”.
Why? A child thinks their parent knows everything. Students, their teacher knows everything. University students, their professor knows everything. However, as a parent, a teacher, or a professor, if you are truthful, you know how much you do not know. That was my experience as I approached ‘completing’ my PhD: Standing on the shoulders of giants is ignorance.
But guess what? Ignorance is bliss! Why? This is clarity. Truth is freedom. It is what education was intended for. Philosophy, in Greek, means: “love of wisdom”. You broke the glass wall: the staircase dissolves. The Dalai Lama said: always remember emptiness and compassion. Why?
When you go as far as the intellect will take you, you will find mostly emptiness. Then what? What is truth now? What does that say about everything that I’ve been taught? Are kings really kings? Are they really more than slaves as they profess to be? Or has this just been the greatest delusion of man kind.
Anyone can become a king or queen in existence if they cultivate awareness. Although a king is never more than a slave. Truth does not play that game. A king is as significant or insignificant as an ant. Mostly emptiness and inseparably connected! No glass walls: ‘me’ against ‘you’.
The Dalai Lama said once you see this as truth the only appropriate response is compassion. Our reality is an illusion. A first year student sees a Doctor as the top: An expert. However, I saw myself as the bottom! I had found the beginning of a never ending journey.
It was both exhilarating and terrifying. With clarity hierarchical power structures drop: nothing and no one is the whole truth. It is a humbling experience when your staircase dissolves. When you break the glass wall you naturally feel connected to all. That was my PhD.
I could only take the intellect so far and then I could not go any further, if what I really wanted – was not knowledge – but the truth. The intellect has constructed a hierarchal world based on power. This is not the whole truth. Truth is simply this: ‘It is what it is.’
If you are a truth seeker, when it happens, you will be presented with two choices: play the game and pretend to be the king (or queen) or choose to become the truth. If you choose the truth it will require an enormous leap of faith. I am talking about trust. Not Religion.
It will mean you will have to jump: metaphorically. Why? Because you have been trying so desperately to get to the top when it is not even the truth! If you make this decision the truth will set you free. It is important to note the staircase will not dissolve forever.
You can keep your life. Your job. Your family. Enlightenment is nothing more than a realisation. It is not a goal or an achievement. It is not something that can be obtained or grasped. So do not look for it in the Himalayas. I have been there. It was not there.
It was inside me. It is also inside you. It is just that it is like a butterfly. If you chase it, like happiness, it will elude you. If you sit quietly, it will come and sit on your shoulder. A sweet taste of bliss. That is all Enlightenment is. Moments of truth: freedom.
Once you see this you can never un-see it. You now know knowledge has limits. Your ignorance however is boundless! Is it any wonder then why it feels bliss! Intelligence – as in all of life’s existence – is freedom from our delusions. This makes intelligence primary.
Our psychological structure, with its intellect, is secondary. Our perception is so limited. There is much more than the map of Earth we have been given. I wanted to explain this for my PhD. It was truly profound to me. However, my supervisors understandably said no.
I tried to explain this to my friends and family. They did not understand this. So I felt completely isolated. Which made absolutely no sense whatsoever when the truth had just showed me that absolutely everything is all connected. This became overwhelming.
I lost complete trust in myself and those around me. It did not take long for my beautiful experience to turn into a terrifying nightmare. I was admitted into a mental hospital and diagnosed with Psychosis. It took three years to recover. I did go back. I finished my PhD.
It is now 10 years later and there is even more I would like to share. I love to share this story because the worst thing that ever happen to me was the only thing that set me free: clarity. How? I got to learn firsthand why Wisdom Traditions worldwide are so misunderstood.
I understand why Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures continue to experience human rights abuse. The West’s obsession with the intellect is to conquer and divide, to reject anything it cannot measure (i.e. Spirituality), or has no utility (i.e. the Arts).
I also saw this very clearly when I went the Philippines. My partner, is a 4th Dan Black Belt in Filipino Martial Arts. My Australian instructors had learnt with him for a long time. If I had to describe him in two words they would be: ‘disciplined’ and ‘playful’.
That is the gift an art (a practice, aka staircase) gives you. You start from scratch. You climb the staircase (aka knowledge). Then one day it’s gone (aka wisdom). My partner always says: for every problem there is a solution. He never complains. He simply solves them:
Discipline helped him function and focus: He is a leader in most contexts and an incredible father of five baby champs. This was intimidating because I was not as disciplined. However, at the same time, I had never met a person who could switch so effortlessly to play.
He can be deadly serious when it is absolutely necessary. However, as soon as it not, he can just as easily soften. His capacity for playfulness is equal to his capacity to fight for life. Martial arts had tuned his threat system (fight, flight, freeze, collapse) and self soothing system (peace, joy, love, compassion, blissfulness, ecstasy).
I was so impressed. I had honestly never seen a Westerner like that. The only other person I knew of was Sadhguru: A man from India who shares the art of Yoga and Enlightenment to millions.
What is so cool, is, Sadhguru knows the experience of his Enlightenment intimately, and his work involves explaining the mechanics of these processes intellectually (i.e. the intellect). I was also able to explain it because of Psychology. However, neither are necessary.
My partner had simply learnt a practice and was doing it naturally. He did not study Psychology. He did not need to know it all intellectually. He simply applied the tools from his practice (i.e. martial arts) to life: Knowledge became wisdom. A byproduct of seeking truth.
I told him that I believe our obsession with the intellect has created so much division and conflicts. It has destroyed the planet. Filipino Instructors teach classics: honour basics (discipline), prepare for combat (mastery), respect the art (play), the essence.
Sometimes Filipino Instructors kept the best techniques their secret. The West were more into a contemporary teaching style: change it, adapt it, evolve the practice. It was common that each disagreed and there are fall outs. I saw the West’s approach succeed and fail:
My Brazilian Jiu Jitsu teacher is English. He chose to evolve BJJ. Every class of his was fascinating. It was successful only because he used wisdom: He maintained the classics: basics, combat, most importantly the (he)art. His style was unique and it kept the essence.
Another way I saw it done was primarily with the intellect. Context first: At the camp my partner and the other Filipino Instructors always emphasised the importance of play. If you were tense or nervous they would always say “Relax. Relax. Just play. Just play”.
They moved like magic: they were essentially dancing. They placed as much important on the practice being a form of “art” as they did a weapon for combat. Sadly I saw some Western Instructors (not all) do the opposite. Some rewrote the curriculum, removing all techniques with no utility: no use in combat.
My partner is polite, humble and wise. I watched him observe another culture come to his country, copy his art, slice it in half with the sharpe knife of the intellect, and then profess it was better. He respected their choices.
Art is in martial arts so you can cultivate both: discipline and play. You learn to be functional, solve problems, and act in combat. Although, since most of life here is “almost” always safe it is essential to be able to put the “fight mode” down and switch into “play”.
In other words you can climb the staircase and when it is safe to do so it can disappear. That is the only freedom we will ever have so long as a hierarchical power structure exists. I not sure I would have fully understood this without my Psychosis. Simplicity is genius.
So my Psychosis taught lots. It taught me how easily one could lose their mind. But just as equally come back. It taught me what it felt like to be the patient instead of the professional. How this power imbalance can feel even more traumatising than the trauma itself.
It taught me I could lose my mind and still become a Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology. Even win Martial Arts championships! It taught me I could lose it a second time and then become a Psychologist and Human Rights Activist. I have stopped Martial Arts and Yoga now.
However, truth lasts forever. I realised Psychology, Yoga and Martial Arts were my practice: Only in hindsight I saw why they are a staircase. What is so fascinating about this phenomenal life we have been given is that you do not need a practice to take you “here”.
Remember it is “here” not “there” (e.g. heaven or hell). Look at Tharnicaa’s eyes and smile. Kopika has same already inside her. We are the most sophisticated gadgets on the planet. Our own curiosity took us to Mars! We can push boundaries, breakdown, even breakthrough.
We are here for the truth: safety, freedom, health and wellbeing. Yet we live in fear, anxiety, depression, untold violence. We can heal. We can recover from trauma. I truly want you to know that. We are all born simple geniuses because life has it’s own intelligence.
It’s just no one has told us that. We get a map earth instead of the real deal. We are also climbing a series of multiple staircases. Some that are incredibly helpful because they were designed to bring us “here”. Others incredibly harmful: living in hell on Earth.
If I said 100 years ago, that in 100 years time you’ll have a ‘smart phone’, the size of your pocket, you can ask anyone anything, in the entire world: What would people say? That’s impossible! You’re crazy! And yet here we are. Imagine if we saw truth beyond the map.
Imagine if we dropped the hierarchical power structure: By primarily embodying emptiness and compassion (See Thread: Why I switched from self esteem to self compassion?). Imagine if we did not have to behave like we are kings (or queens) or slaves.
Just a speck of dust: A creative co-creator of creation itself. No glass wall. No ecstasy pill necessary. Just many different staircases. Knowledge intended to melt into wisdom. Tharnicaa and Kopika would not be behind walls. I have faith they will break the glass wall.
Now you know the power of Trauma Informed Care. Let’s turn this framework into a mindset for personal, social and political change. If you are unable to, you might need help first, to get safe or become ‘unstuck’ from trauma. Reach out for trauma informed care. #YouBelong
Dr Louise Hansen
PhD in Psychology
Human Rights Activist
#HealingTrauma #Justice4Australia #WeAllBelong
Trauma Informed World was inspired by Kopika and Tharnicaa; two faces that remind us everyday of Australia’s cruel refugee system. One of many systems in Australia that remind us of the negative operation of power. #HomeToBilo
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