The Sun Is Always Shining: A New Model for Awakening

In Opening to the Infinite by Jeff Carreira103 Comments

Those of us who sincerely seek for spiritual liberation and awakening are most likely hoping to have a spiritual experience or opening that is powerful enough, deep enough, or long lasting enough that it becomes our permanent state of consciousness.

Unfortunately, this hope might just be the biggest obstacle standing in the way of true awakening.

You see, we’ve been taught to think about spiritual awakening the wrong way. We have been given a model that is faulty and that all but guarantees we won’t find the fulfillment we’re looking for.

We have been taught that the holy grail of the spiritual path is having an awakening experience that becomes permanent. We could call this The Experience that Sticks model of awakening.

We’ve had spiritual experiences, maybe even powerful and profound ones that have lasted for a few moments, a few hours or longer, but they always seem to disappear in the end leaving us busy searching for more.

So at some point along the way we decide that we need to spend time on retreat to be able to practice long enough and intensely enough to have an experience so explosive that it shifts our consciousness into a permanently awakened state.

We go on retreat. Maybe for a weekend, or a week, or a month or longer. We have spiritual experiences, maybe many of them, perhaps very powerful ones, and yet they all eventually recede from awareness.

So we go back on retreat, each time resolved to give it everything we have – determined to open so wide that we will never close down again.

How do I know? Because I did exactly this, time and time again for over twenty years

Then one day something did happen – but it wasn’t anything like what I was hoping for.

I sat down to the first practice of the very first day of yet another twenty day retreat. As I walked up to my cushion I thought about how I was going to be more still, more focused, more intent, and more receptive than ever before. I was ready for this to be the big one.

I sat down and the bell rang to start the first meditation and something happened that I absolutely didn’t expect.

As soon as I heard the bell sound to start of the meditation, I realized that I just didn’t have it in me. I couldn’t do this retreat harder than ever before because I just didn’t have the energy for another round.

Initially I thought something was terribly wrong. I started to imagine that I may have lost my passion for spiritual freedom and enlightenment.

But as I sat there for a minute, I realized that wasn’t it at all.

The reason I didn’t have the energy to pursue any more awakening experiences is because I didn’t’ need any more.

Why? Because I was already convinced. I knew that the glory that I had experienced so many times before had always been, and would always be, the deepest part of me – even when I was not experiencing it directly.

Suddenly I realized that I didn’t need any more spiritual experiences because I already knew the truth of who I was and I didn’t need any more experiences to remind me.

I can’t tell you how free that felt. Imagine a moment of recognizing that everything is already perfect, always has been and always will be – because at the deepest level of our being we are always whole, complete, and profoundly fulfilled.

I stayed on retreat and it was the best meditation retreat of my life, because I didn’t want or need to get anything from it. I was absolutely free to just sit hour after hour and be perfectly content with everything exactly as it was.

I spent hours simply absorbed in the experience of sitting still and watching the parade of thoughts and feelings pass by the mind’s eye. Occasionally my spirit would mysteriously lift into an unprompted experience of elation and revelation. Then it would gently return to just sitting.

It was all perfect. I was sitting in a continuous state of unbroken trust and contentment.

As a teacher of awakening and meditation, all I want is to make this magnificent possibility available to others.

I suppose you might get there by chasing more spiritual experiences, but that could take another ten or twenty years.

Instead, I teach that the secret to awakening is realizing that what we discover in our spiritually heightened moments is simply the truth of how things are.

The goal of awakening is not to have an experience that sticks. It is to recognize the true freedom that is the natural state of our own consciousness before it gets distorted by fear, desire, or the inevitable wounds of life.

Our spiritual experiences do not reveal a future possibility. They show us the way things are already.

We could call this The Sun is Always Shining model of awakening because although the Sun is only visible to us on a clear day, we always know the Sun is still there when there are clouds in the sky. In the same way, it is possible to come to a place where we know that the spaciousness of an open heart and mind is always there even when our attention is distracted by fear, doubt or self-concern.

If you hold this new model as the context for your spiritual practice and simultaneously find the courage to give up any investment in having an experience that sticks – you will find yourself living in an ongoing recognition of the miraculous truth of who you already are.

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Jeff Carreira

Jeff Carreira

Jeff Carreira is a contemporary mystic and philosopher who teaches meditation and transformative philosophy throughout the world. As a spiritual guide, he offers retreats and courses leading individuals in a form of meditation called The Practice of No Problem.
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Grace Valentine
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Grace Valentine

The inner brilliance of be here now is this we always and in all ways already are arrived in the now of awakened enlightenment Beyond the seeking Beyond the practicing Is this state of Embodiment [I come in peace and in peace I reside] For we are all living breathing embodiments of our creator in this awareness we emanate as love and light Radiant essential beings Essence of pure energy Nothing is before you No thing must be reached for It is all here always available and readily within reach in the ever present now Presence In this inner Stillpoint… Read more »

Lao Tzu
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Lao Tzu

I appreciate Jeff’s spiritual intentions to bring peace to many troubled seekers, but we must also be careful of creating “instant enlightenment” for our instant gratification culture. Intellectually understanding oneness isn’t the same as a deep experience based on years of hard work. There is no short cut to enlightenment; it does take hard work and the process of ego transcendence is painful. Yes, on the one hand, there is nothing to seek and the “sun is always shining”, but this doesn’t mean you are living in the light because there are many dark places, deep chasms of ignorance which… Read more »

Lindsay
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Lindsay

This is so true and I wondered if you got it. I want to encourage everyone to realize that all is perfect just as it is. Be present with the gifts that naturally appear. Thanks

Nando silva
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Nando silva

Thank you for sharing all this Jeff. Warm regards from Colombia and warmly welcome once you come…

Juanita Shay
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Juanita Shay

Great article Jeff. When people complain about the weather, my reply is “The Sun is ALWAYS shining somewhere”. I apply that same philosophy to the “stuff” that is going on in their lives and that at the core of them their light continues to shine. It’s just waiting for the opening.

Rick
Guest
Rick

There are assumptions in this post that don’t align with my experience. I have not had a satori experience, nor do I seek one. I see meditation as one of the Arts of Living, sufficient unto itself. I resonate much more with your more recent writings, Jeff, on Paradigm Shifts.

I see the notion of satori as more of a marketing scheme, to draw people into meditation. Kind of like telling Christians that they’ll go to heaven if they are nice to each other. Then they discover that if you live a life of kindness, you are already in heaven.

Al Beattie
Guest
Al Beattie

Reach forward on your destined way. Be open to what has been and is becoming.

Be one with the divine collective being in its creation.

Sumadi Bambang Oetomo
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Sumadi Bambang Oetomo

Around 11 years ago I decided that I was ready. There was no obstacle between me and life and I was to be the only one who could decide and was going to decide about my life. This propelled me until now opening up and being focused on giving mainly. Also I learned dynamically carry my experience not falling out unconsciously like so many times before. The No Problem Practice became vital for that. All kinds of forces came up in my experience which were not supportive to who I was and who I wanted to be. Victimhood self destruction,… Read more »

Farhad
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Farhad

If you wanted to be “awakened” all the time, then why did you come into this 3D Earth Matrix in the first place?

Dianna
Guest
Dianna

I read these words of yours two years ago while on Maui, and it completely shifted me into a new dimension. It was a key moment in my spiritual awakening, and I am grateful to you for sharing and offering your work in the World.

I recently have a new guide- St. Theresa of Avila- who lived in Spain in the 1500’s. I am reading her works now (she wrote 4 books), and she also speaks of the Sun in our inner castle. I smile at the same analogy.

Blessings and light to you on your continued journey.

John Allen Mollenhauer
Guest
John Allen Mollenhauer

Now that’s enlightenment.

Gretchen Dewire
Guest
Gretchen Dewire

I experienced this realization at the end of Graigs short course in integral enlightenment. I dont know if that was the point of the course, but it was incredibly freeing.

Rosie Quigley
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Rosie Quigley

Aloha Jeff! I appreciate your blog and don’t agree that everything is perfect. I am writing to you from the Big Island of Hawaii, where the lava is flowing and thousands are losing their homes. They have spent a lifetime building – No insurance covers lava! The land is cheap here, which gives lower income people land to grow food and live off-grid. I find that your philosphy is making people complacent. Earth changes are happening. Earthquakes having been shaking us awake to the truth. These are the end times. How are we going to embrace this truth. The sun… Read more »

Mariette L Jones
Guest
Mariette L Jones

Hey Jeff, on the Conscious Teachers Retreat in April, I had a marvelous experience of contentment. I have gone on retreats (not necessarily meditation retreats, although I have gone on Centering Prayer retreats) my whole life in search of the transformation and ‘answer’ I needed to live a spiritual life in my everyday life. In April, it was the first time I tasted the sweetness of abandoning the search, realizing I had everything I could ever need or want. I don’t even know why this settled on me, but it did and I rejoiced in the flavour of knowing this.… Read more »

Lynn Sparrow Christy
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Lynn Sparrow Christy

This essay is very timely for me, as it meshes with many thoughts and changes I have been going through relative to what I am calling aging gracefully. So many years trying to grow spiritually and “fix” myself. A hounding sense of not having been diligent or ambitious enough to fulfill all of what I could have done with my mission in this life. Constantly battling my desire to just have a nice, enjoyable life and labeling that desire “sloth.” But I am discovering that among the many gifts of the last decades in life is the opportunity to surrender… Read more »

Michael
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Michael

I truly resonate with this divine awareness and revelation and I find myself in this state of knowing on a regular basis. I wonder however, do you think this is a state that can be grasped by someone who has not had years of experience and practice with meditation? I have been meditating for more than twenty years and have had countless transcendent experiences. So I’m curious did my years of practice created the space for this awareness or do you believe a complete novice with meditation can grasped the depth and knowingness of this spiritual truth?

Martha H Pawlicki
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Martha H Pawlicki

I agree with you completely. There it was, all around me in the beauty and connectivity of everything. I finally understood what Anthony De Mello meant, to try to find God (enlightment, Gaia, the light) for us is like a fish swimming trying to find the ocean.
Thank you for wording it so beautifully. I too have been practicing, studying, reading and trying. Years ago this effort during retreats left me empty and sad. I was trying too hard.
Finding God in all things- St Ignatious of Loyola (founder of the Jesuits).

Louise
Guest
Louise

Thank you for sharing your wisdom.

River
Guest
River

Yep. The training I need now is strengthening the ability – or relaxation – to not struggle with the trouble-du-jour and to remember every event is just life’s best evolutionary training, designed just for me (the non-existent me).
Good to separate absolute Awareness from relative happenings (yes, I know they are made of the same essence); it helps me to remember a (sometimes hidden) smile in the (sometimes hidden) sunshine.

Gayle
Guest
Gayle

Dear Jeff, I fell into Love with you when I read your words. I am touched as as you reminded me of the Truth that I still forget so very often. Tears of joy and gratitude continue to flow even on this very “cloudy” day. Blessings, Namaste, With Metta…

Leeann Means
Member
Leeann Means

The statement that struck me the most from this was “because I didn’t want or need to get anything from it.” What happens when we no longer “want or need to get anything from something”? Thank you for this as it seems to be quite important in some way.

Patrishe Maxwell
Member
Patrishe Maxwell

I love this reminder”The Sun is always Shining.” Yesterday having listened to the recording on Inclusivity I realized I had been unconsciously living in terror at being on the edge for years. All I felt was the resistance to answering my calling. I found shame, guilt and confusion in the space. In that meditation/contemplation I opened to embracing the resistance and made the commitment to answer that call no matter what challenges I faced. My whole being filled with Fear and Anxiety . My body simply closed down. The pain in my solar plexus was intense and the tension in… Read more »

Matt Ludmer
Guest
Matt Ludmer

Hi Jeff,

Thank you for the beautiful blog post.

I am in Jerusalem and Passover starts today. Many of us will be with family focusing on the topic of freedom.

We will celebrate the freedom of our historical story, ours and the worlds difficult yet beautiful “growing up” story.

However, It would be incomplete If we did not also realize and celebrate “Awakening” this “Sun is always shining” reality…

Thanks for insights which make its realization so much more accessible not just at this time of year but always.

Much love,

Matt

Renny
Guest
Renny

Thank you for this lovely offering Jeff. I feel most connected to the energy of our star Sun. It is an essential element to our life here on the amazing planet. I love playing with or being played with the variations of the light from the Sun throughout the day and with changes in cloud cover. For me this is the meditation of my life, each day which allows the same or similar experience you speak of here, that the Sun is always here for us in so many vast presentations. It is comforting. It is reassuring. It is unconditional.… Read more »

Kathy
Guest
Kathy

I love this idea Renny!!

Katherine Jennings
Guest
Katherine Jennings

Joining..

Jim-el
Guest
Jim-el

I so appreciate your “cut-to-the-chase” approach to the spiritual journey, Jeff Carreira, and especially your focus on the ironic truth that there’s no “chase” needed at all!

Josef Zopf
Guest
Josef Zopf

So true. There is the never ending, always changing, personal developement and there is that unmoving, unchanging “isness” where the personal can dissolve to take a bath, to get strength again for the next challenge that comes, for further deepening, blossomong…..
endlessly!
That is home, nowhere to go but turn inside from time to time, knowing home is always available, any time. It is not either…or, but as well as…

Om shanti
Josef

Mary
Guest
Mary

Love this explanation

Jeff Carreira
Guest
Jeff Carreira

Thank you Mary.

Kathy
Guest
Kathy

Jeff, I just LOVE your perspective! I really relate to you and Craig, and I love how you are both so amazing at explaining things using exactly the most meaningful and precise words! I have been on a very unique spiritual awakening of my own that found me and has been unfolding in my life. I have come to a very similar place as you described here. To me, it has a lot to do with the connection of my spiritual and physical aspects. And so it isn’t about striving to leave the physical experience to be in the spiritual.… Read more »

Jeff Carreira
Guest
Jeff Carreira

Thank you Kathy, it sounds like you are on a magnificent journey. It is so confirming to share the path with others who experiences are similar.

Petar
Guest
Petar

Is it possible to feel fear and be peaceful and aware at the same time?

Gertrud Zechbauer
Guest
Gertrud Zechbauer

Dear Jeff, I want to thank You for Your texts which i get by email. They inspire me, they accompany me and do not feel alone with my life when i read them.
The last times i wondered, why i don`t like to practice like i did years after years. But during the day it happens, that i get contact to the mysterial ground like a flash, and i thought, that this is my new way. So i thank you for the confirmation.( I am Austrian, so my english is perhaps not very well.)

Deb
Guest
Deb

Very well languaged, Jeff. Because life in the egoic sense keeps coming at us, I would add that forming a practice of awareness and using tools for making conscious choices can make life a constant, vibrant and infinitely interesting moving meditation. In total appreciation of what you and Craig have accomplished,
Deb

Rhoni Groff
Guest
Rhoni Groff

Thank you for your clarity Jeff. It’s a major step to realize there doesn’t have to be a big AHA that sticks. It’s fluid like we are~ it’s energy like most of our physical body is and my visual is arms up spread apart and slowing opening more and more. There isn’t anything I wish to do anymore, but once in a while, I feel a pull. That is why I am coming to your meditation class at Main Line Yoga Shala. I look forward to connecting with you in the space of nothing to seek. I found I had… Read more »

Janis Butler
Guest
Janis Butler

Wonderful, Jeff! There is such peace and contentment available in your thoughts here. I will have a smile on my face The rest of the day. Thank you for this offering.
Light and love, Janis

irv mandelberg
Guest
irv mandelberg

Terrific !!!
Thanks !!!!!

Doris Mical
Guest
Doris Mical

Thanks Jeff! Very helpful! I always look forward to your insights and words of wisdom!
Peace,

Clifton Isaacs
Guest
Clifton Isaacs

Wow. You make believe I might have a shot at getting this thing after all. I’ve essentially given up on it ever happening for me, and subconsciously regard it as something that happens to other people, or a certain kind of person. Thanks for sharing.

George Jacobs
Guest
George Jacobs

Jeff, this is my experience as well, but there is also constancy that I’m experiencing. That constancy is being able to access a state of conscious compassionate awareness that can bring unconditional love and acceptance to any mind/body experience, even the most painful and confounding. This unconditional love toward the self that is often caught in the illusion of separation– in the many forms of fear– is wise parenting to all of our inner children.

Peaslee DuMont
Guest
Peaslee DuMont

I am struck by how similar the imagery of “The Sun is Always Shining” model is to my profound spontaneous experience in the redwoods in the 1980’s, a guiding experience in my life. It was a cloudy day as I walked toward the ancient redwood grove, and everyone I met was walking back— by the time I arrived, I was completely alone. As I lay on my back in a circle of ancient trees, there was a profound, shimmering sense of the flow of Life—and a knowing that that awareness was the way things always are, the experience of being… Read more »

Orna Taub
Guest
Orna Taub

Hi Jeff, I think that what we don’t get, is that even after our truly miraculous recognition of who we are, our minds are still not ready to let go. It takes time to really free our minds from all the years of conditioning, fear, etc., but knowing who we are gives us the ability to acknowledge and return, time and time again, to the openness and spaciousness of our natural state. Orna

Bedford
Guest
Bedford

Jeff,
I couldn’t agree more. Your description of what awakening is all about fits my experience. But, more importantly for me, your account is also validating. To know someone of your meditation experience describing awakening in this manner confirms my experience which anchors a knowing, regardless of the inevitable ups and downs of life, rather than trying to create a sustained elevated consciousness.
Thank you.

Loma
Guest
Loma

Jeff. Thanks for your story of your realization. I believe most on the “spiritual path” here on earth,have gotten tangled in the illusion of time in a line…. of the concept of becoming in the future,having forgotten who we are,already very powerful,loving creative beings. Such beauty and grace is emerging with this rapid awakening of the Humans. Thank you and Craig for offering the gifts that you bring.
In Love and Joy,
Loma Walker

Lisa
Guest
Lisa

Lovely. Yes.

Patrya Kay
Guest
Patrya Kay

The initial retreat experience you described was one that feels very familiar. In my case I didn’t find the perspective you described and spent a rather bad tempered week ‘failing’ even to have one ‘spiritual experience’ let alone having one that stuck! I love and appreciate you way of looking at your own experience. It is truely liberating. Thank you.

Dianna
Guest
Dianna

This morning I was sitting on the balcony of my hotel room watching the sun come up over the mountains on Maui when I read this email. I smile at the perfection of perfect and right timing. The Universe has been prepping me this entire vacation, and just like that, when I read this, not only did I completely understand it, I integrated it. My Spiritual coach told me a few weeks ago to just stop trying and be, but I couldn’t “get” there. After a series of heart opening events, it all landed today. Thank you from my depths… Read more »

julie
Guest
julie

Beautiful and so important to remember when we feel and think there is so much to fix, this only seems to create resistance to what already is perfect and whole.

jesse
Guest
jesse

yes i totally agree. having spent most my life in spiritual communities, it finally dawns and sinks in. resting in not searching finally noticing that there is nothing that can be lost. only a resting that can be noticed or not. a softness

Bob
Guest
Bob

I really want to thank you for this informative note. I’ve been working through this exact line of thought for a while and your way of interpreting it was enlightening and down to earth sensible. For so long I have always assumed the spiritual would be a big bang event and a constant state but I’m coming to realize that it’s more of a perceptual change and acceptance plus it fluxes with an ebb and flow allowing us to experience it again but in degrees. Thank you.

iami
Guest
iami

Sounds nice. You push so hard till you find out your pushing an image in a mirror. Why does anyone what to teach about this so called enlightenment/awakening? Who is the teacher? It is all about ego. It comes in many flavors? Do you really think ego can enlighten another ego? Who is the other? Does the Real need to be enlighten? It is just a game to play and the one chosen. Great entertainment and it keeps one busy and the ball stays in motion. These are just thoughts in the stream. Some catch little fish and some catch… Read more »

Mark de Bruijn
Guest
Mark de Bruijn

I completely agree with you, Jeff, though most of the time my mind still loves to believe that I need to search more and try harder to “achieve” awakening. What a weird paradox this is, to know the truth and yet at the same time to feel that it’s just not happening! Gradually, I am coming to terms with this, and find myself more and more at peace with it. Thank you for your clear description of this Sun Always Shining model.

Marion Culhane
Guest
Marion Culhane

I loved this entry, Jeff. It’s a great analogy for knowing that just as the sun is always
shining, Presence is always present. Where in the world could it disappear?