the Spirit/Matter Split
Spiritual Awakener Saniel Bonder Discusses the Marriage of Heaven and Earth
Part II: Do Attachments Limit Freedom?
© 2002 Laurel Airica
The major aim for most spiritual practitioners is transcendence of this world of duality through achievement of a blissful state of subjective freedom that then grants one liberation from the karmic wheel of birth and death. Few actually expect to realize this goal in this lifetime. And most believe they must forego the attachments and aversions of earthly life in order to succeed in some future existence.
Now, several Self-realized teachers on the leading edge of the consciousness movement are making awakenings accessible to many and are encouraging an embrace of the totality of existence. One of the primary trailblazers in this spiritual revolution is Harvard-educated Saniel Bonder.
Through Saniel’s radically innovative process — which he describes as ‘Waking Down in Mutuality’ — many students achieve a profound and lasting awakening into transcendent, unified consciousness as a matter of course and in a relatively short period of time. Simultaneously and paradoxically, they land more fully in their bodies and become more acutely aware of the ‘broken zones’ within their psyches. This is when the embrace of ‘mutuality’ becomes particularly important since we all need to be seen and held with understanding and compassion when we are in our ‘stuff.’
A number of people who have awakened with Saniel’s assistance are now helping to carry this remarkably effective process for awakened embodiment to many hungry hearts within the U.S. and abroad. They are also providing the skilled and loving support that practitioners require to integrate the shadow with the light, to liberate repressed psychic energy for greater creative self-expression, and to communicate authentically with others — from a deeply honest, heart-centered space — through the “tight squeezes” of daily life. This is ‘mutuality’ in action.
In the second part of our interview with Saniel, Awareness asked him to address some of the common challenges and taboos traditionally associated with spiritual practices.
Do you share the belief that our attachments prevent us from realizing spiritual freedom?
When people start attacking attachments I roll up my sleeves and ask, ‘What’s wrong with attachments? What are they preventing you from realizing? Let’s really investigate that.’
Although it’s a challenging and paradoxical statement for a supposed Self-realizer or “liberated being” to make, I can tell you that my relative, phenomenal body/mind moves unavoidably into the ebb and flow of attachment and aversion. What’s more, I contend that this is true for everyone. And we don’t have to try to prevent it because this ebb and flow actually has no capacity whatsoever to prevent or diminish the realization of one’s conscious freedom.
When I was younger, I used to believe that some people were totally free of attachment and aversion. But after many years of studying great realizers of absolute consciousness, often through direct contact, I now find this notion preposterous — and dangerous. Those emperors have no clothes. And to the degree that they can get their students to believe their dogmas, these students end up carrying a lot of the emperors’ baggage — including their considerable psychic ‘shadows’ and mind/body/spirit splits.
What about the saints and avatars?
I know many people reading this will think that one saintly, miraculous person or another is an exception. There are people who are so radiant with love, so omniscient with insight and awareness of others, so amazing in their demonstrations of service to the world that they appear to have no shadow at all. They seem to have transcended ordinary humanness altogether. I am aware of many such people, past and present. And while I deeply appreciate and honor their enormous contributions to the great science of human life, as respectfully as possible, I have to disagree.
Physical bodies cast shadows when light falls upon them. We all accept that. But somehow we tend to buy the notion that human psyches can become perfectly transparent to the absolute Light of infinite spirit.
It’s a terrible illusion, I would suggest, to assume that certain enlightened people have no psychic bodies or that they have absolutely “gone beyond” — rather than directly healed — their shadow sides and splits. Scratch the surface a little. Check out the totality of how they are related to others and the world. I contend that these splits must be worked out and healed in mutuality with others.
But even if you believe that certain extraordinary beings are free and clear of human ‘stuff,’ consider how likely it is that you could attain such a pristine condition in this lifetime. The good news is, it isn’t necessary.
What I know from my own considerable experience — and that of the many people I have assisted — is that long before these “broken zones” are restored to wholeness, one can awaken to infinite consciousness and irrepressible compassion. And from that space, one can make extraordinary and essential contributions to the quality of all life.
If attachments cannot and need not be avoided, what then do you propose to be a truer, more realistic attitude?
Infinite consciousness is completely unattached. Nothing can attach to it — ever — because our inherent conscious nature is always and only observing and registering phenomena. No phenomena can ever besmirch it.
Thus, my conscious nature is effortlessly thriving in its absolute freedom from all phenomena — while at the same time experiencing the joy and suffering that attachments and aversions create in daily human life. To escape this joy and suffering, I would have to divorce my infinite spirit from my limited body/mind. But to do that is to perpetuate a kind of violence that I feel is at the heart of the human crisis all over the world. That very divorce has been propagandized and fostered for millennia by what I call “hypermascu-line” culture and is at the root of our madness.
I don’t have to try to bring my body, mind, and emotions into a state of empty stillness that mimics the qualities of impersonal consciousness either to achieve or to sustain liberation. I live that and abandoning the Earth in a misguided effort to lift soul above soil. Waking down into mutual embodiment and life together — with this much conscious sensitivity — is often excruciating. I sometimes jokingly call it “God-realization for a small planet” because it’s such a challenge to incarnate your own true and total Self while also making room for others to do the same.
Yet, no one I know who is living it would ever trade it in for the previous life. It’s such a heroic journey and adventure. And the rewards all along the way are unprecedented and priceless.
Part III of this interview will appear in the Nov/Dec issue of Awareness Magazine.
See the announcement in this issue about Saniel’s Great Relief introductory seminar in L.A. in September. Saniel’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 by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org . For more information, please visit www.sanielbonder.com and www.humansunseminars.com . Laurel Airica is a freelance writer and intuitive counselor. She can be reached at (310) 395-7177 and at email@example.com .
Return to the September/October Index page