Healing the Spirit/Matter Split
Spiritual Awakener Saniel Bonder Discusses the Marriage of Heaven and Earth
© 2002 Saniel Bonder & Laurel Airica
Unlike the creatures with whom we share this planet, we do not know how to be ourselves. We are confused about our identity, the purpose of our existence, the nature of Reality, and how best to live our lives. We struggle with the actual and assumed limitations of this finite physical dimension ? while yet carrying intimations of the infinite within our hearts and minds. And we are uncertain whether our natural human impulses are to be trusted or transcended in our quest for liberation from the suffering of this world and for eternal conscious union with the Source of all Creation.
Since his awakening in 1992, Saniel Bonder has been offering a revolutionary response to what he sees as “a species-wide quest to clarify how to be here in the most benign and auspicious ways.” He says he is “basically raising questions and offering an alternative orientation about how to proceed.” He calls this alternative ‘Waking Down in Mutuality.’
Awareness asked Saniel to share his views on the body/mind — Earth/Spirit — split that has characterized not only Western civilization but the consciousness movement itself — and on how we can move beyond it.
First of all, why do you emphasize ‘waking down’ instead of waking up?
Because when we attempt to disentangle ourselves from the messy stuff of life by waking UP, we wind up dissociating from our body with its emotions and sensations, from the Earth, from material existence, and from each other.
The more balanced, complete perspective isn’t fundamentally interested in escaping. In fact, instead of being obsessed with liberation from the wheel of birth and death, Waking Down permits a liberation into the wheel of birth and death, but with the infinite spirit-consciousness 100 percent intact.
If we’re not on Earth to graduate from the karmic need to be here, then what do you sense as the purpose of our existence?
In my view, our purpose for being alive is not to get out of here. It’s to get here ever so much more profoundly than we ever have been before.
Many spiritual people assume that if you are passionately involved in life, the Earth, sexuality, money, you must not have achieved your freedom. I energetically disagree. And I think this debate is crucial — even to the future of life in the biosphere.
From an orientation of embodying conscious awake-ness, I see Earth as a premier place for cutting-edge work of conscious evolution. Such awake-ness is way too paradoxical to fit under labels like “personal” or “impersonal.” When we despair of reactive efforts to extricate ourselves from bodily life and resume it in awakeness, we discover we are consciously co-evolving universal existence right here on this magnificent planet, with all its confining limits and stresses.
How can you so confidently contradict thousands of years of spiritual science, which emphasizes the need to withdraw from ordinary human life in order to reach the pinnacles of consciousness and freedom?
Well, mainly because it is a science! I stand in a long tradition of scientists in the laboratory of Being. Contrary to popular belief, a serious look at spiritual history shows that our predecessors have also contradicted one another for thousands of years, as new evidence and comprehension advanced this eternally evolving science.
From my perspective, authentic enlightenment is not about holing up in the energy-spirit-consciousness side of the equation — and then looking down your nose at matter and declaring it’s not really there because it’s only energy condensed into a transient form.
My friends and I are discovering a way of living that values both infinite, unconditional conscious spirit and finite mortal embodiment and relationships. It’s immensely challenging to live the two at the same time.
How completely can one actually do that?
To a great degree but never perfectly! And you can’t do it at all by, in effect, buffering yourself with a dissociated ‘infinite freedom’ and then manipulating your heart and the hearts of others to make sure you never lose that lofty state. The way to live both conditions at once is to surrender into life and find out what awakened love requires of us when we’re no longer seeking it but are actually living it.
As I see it, each of us is a divine Being struggling to get here and to express uniquely. The more skill we bring to taking responsibility for all the elements of an integrated “divinely human” life, the better we get at being simultaneously present, engaged, free, and conscious.
How important is community to our personal and planetary transformation?
In a compilation I read of Native American teachings, one medicine woman was asked if we should try to resurrect community. You’d think she would say, “Yes. We must return to the tribe.” Instead she said, ‘No. First we need to do our own personal work. Out of that will come the new tribal flowering.’
In our way of mutuality, we attend to both together. It’s within our own being — and in our relationships with each other — that the sacred marriage of Heaven and Earth can occur. This alchemical wedding within and between us is struggling to birth a new spirit of love and trust on the planet that can carry us successfully into the future.
But there aren’t any guarantees. And our tendency to assume that there are guarantees could be the most dangerous threat to this success.
The work ahead requires the willingness to go through extremely challenging transformations as we reveal and heal what I call the “broken zones” of the psyche. We are called upon not just to realize an integrated condition of self, but to continually encounter the mystery of the other — and to bring our awakened, infinite consciousness into this full-spectrum human life without losing our humility and vulnerability. Without this kind of mutual grounding, the spiritual awakening of countless souls may still be insufficient to catalyze the advent of a different kind of human culture. This is our Moment.
Part II of this interview will appear in the Sept/Oct issue of Awareness.
Saniel Bonder’s book, “Waking Down: Beyond Hypermasculine Dharmas — A Breakthrough Way of Self-Realization in the Sanctuary of Mutuality,” is available at local bookstores, by phone at (888) 741-5000, or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org . Please visit www.sanielbonder.com and www.humansunseminars.com . Laurel Airica is a freelance writer and intuitive counselor. E-mail email@example.com .
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