“Imagine being asleep in your bed for years and years, having dream after dream. In these dreams you could experience a whole variety of things. You could have wonderful dreams and nightmares. When you’re in the dream, they feel so real. You’re either flying around the world and doing your absolute favorite things or running for your life with heart pounding. It all feels incredibly real!” ~Ariel Bravy
Ariel Bravy is author of his site Youaretrulyloved.com and he writes amazing blogposts about spiritual growth. The content is not only Enlightenment or Spirituality in general, but there are also different insightful posts about creation, manifestation and the nature of reality.
After the first part in the interview-series with Evelyn Lim of AttractionMindMap, which focused on Personal Development and also the Law of Attraction, this interview is all about Spiritual Development.
Ariel, your blog carries the line “We Are All One” and is dedicated to Spirituality. Could you please give us a small introduction about yourself, your spiritual path and how you came to blogging?
It’s starting to feel more and more foreign to think of “Ariel” as who I am, but it’s a useful framework to come from at times, so we’ll pretend that it’s actually who I am. So I grew up doing my thing, living my life, like we all did. Went through school, went to college, dated a number of girls, the whole bit.
From a spiritual standpoint, I was born into a Jewish family, but hopped off the religion boat pretty early. It never really appealed to me. Growing up I started rejecting religion, seeing all the ridiculousness associated with it in the world and eventually became agnostic, intuitively feeling that there had to be something more, but religion ain’t it. =)
My mom had been into this weird meditation stuff before me and we had some debates on the subject. Eventually, around the age of 14 or so (I’m 24 at the time of this writing), I started reading books by Deepak Chopra, Neale Donald Walsch, and the like and something really resonated within me. It was all the awesomeness, without all the dogma, rules, guilt, and threats of sin and going to hell.
This whole spiritual thing started to flower within me, growing from just something that sounded interesting to my life’s purpose itself. Everything I did became imbued with a sense of spirituality, a recognition that there was something more going on to life than meets the eye, and an acknowledgment of this on some level. Interestingly, a lot of this comes very naturally to me, almost as if I’ve done this before many times…
Eventually I found myself finding an online forum to discuss these topics and realized people had been saving and collecting my posts. There was some really great discussions going on in both directions, a real team effort where we would all bounce ideas back and forth off one another, share ideas, book recommendations, teacher suggestions, and so on. It was like a spiritual mastermind group.
There then became a growing sense that this spiritual wisdom needed to start reaching people on a more global scale, not just within the walls of this private online forum. It was time to expand, like an animal growing out of its shell. Enter the blog. Now there is an avenue for me to express the realizations that continue to unfold literally every day. There’s SO much to share with people, SO much I have to offer. I will sit down and write 7-10 blog posts in one sitting. It literally pours through me. One subject would trigger another. There’s books inside me, just waiting to come forth. I am very fortunate to be able to structure my life to where I can sit devote all day every day to spiritual growth.
Now there’s even more stuff happening behind the scenes beyond just a blog that I’m very excited about. Growth is starting to feel exponential. As the saying goes, when it rains, it POURS! The valve inside of me is continuing to open more and more and I’m so grateful to have an outlet to share all of this with the world.
If you would have to describe the meaning of spirituality and awakening to someone who is not in this topic? How would you go about it?
Imagine being asleep in your bed for years and years, having dream after dream. In these dreams you could experience a whole variety of things. You could have wonderful dreams and nightmares. When you’re in the dream, they feel so real. You’re either flying around the world and doing your absolute favorite things or running for your life with heart pounding. It all feels incredibly real!
Imagine then one afternoon you woke up and suddenly realized that all those dreams you had were just dreams! There was never any threat at all. It was all just happening in your imagination. There’s this whole other reality that’s WAY more real than the dream world!
Then let’s say you could go back to sleep yet still consciously recognize that the whole dream was still just a dream. You’d be in the dream world, but not of it.
You’d then tell people about this whole other reality that was happening all the time, that was where you actually existed, despite the fact that you can’t see it or feel it. It exists right here and now, but you can’t imagine what it’s like. Some people might believe you. Others would think you’re crazy. The ones who’d think you’re crazy would dismiss you. Perhaps even crucify you. No big deal. It’s all just another dream anyways. They’re under no threat in the first place so you’re not worried for them.
The ones who’d believe you, maybe you’d tell them what the experience is like and they’d try to mimic the experience, to have a dream called reality. No no no, you’d say, you must first awaken and realize this for yourself. Any dream you try to have is not it. It’s still just a dream. Reality is not a dream. It’s what’s happening this whole time, yet you can’t experience it by trying to. You actually have to STOP dreaming and wake up to recognize actual reality which is infinitely more real than the one you think you’re in.
From this awake world, you could look back at the dream world and realize that literally anything is possible. There is no possibility of getting hurt, other than the mental idea that you can, which is just part of the dream too. Even the suffering you experience is part of the dream illusion, even though it feels so real. In fact, the “you” that’s suffering in the dream isn’t actually you at all!
What we call “real life” is a lot like the dream world. This “real life” seems very real. Our physical senses are telling us it’s oh so real. Our stomachs feel pangs of hunger and our heart skips a beat when we see the one we love. It all feels so real.
Enlightenment is simply awakening out from this dream and realizing that it’s all just a dream. It doesn’t mean that you necessarily escape the dream world and that dreams never happen again. It simply means that you can watch the dreams happen without getting attached to it, while realizing it’s still just a dream, without fearing what is happening or might happen in the dream. Afterall, you’re in no danger anyways! You can be totally free in the dream world, and all fear, if the mind had any, would be recognized to be totally silly, just a made-up idea that has no truth to it.
Will awakening magically fix your dream life? Not at all. Will it make you fabulously wealthy and fix all of life’s problems? Not at all. You’ll simply realize that there is no “you” to have these experiences and all suffering would then cease.
Spirituality simply boils down to waking up from the dream world and recognizing there’s something far more expansive going on and you are that which is aware of the dream world. “You” are, in a sense, in the dream world, but not of it.
Have you ever described it to a person who is new to spirituality? How did it go?
Sure, but I typically wind up hitting mental road blocks, doubt, and skepticism. Even if they believe me, the dream world of separation feels SO real and has been their reality for so long that something so radical as the idea that you don’t exist sounds absolutely absurd! lol…
(You as a separate being don’t actually exist outside of thought. The “I” that you are is existence itself. You simply are. You are existence. I am. Things may arise within existence, but they are simply the things that arise. They aren’t existence itself.)
Sometimes people may understand. Others don’t. Either way, it plants seeds and expands people’s realm of possibilities for what’s out there. When the time is right, they’ll start seeking, wondering if there’s something more to life… unless they don’t. Either way, it’s all good. It’s just a dream anyways! ;)
My role is not to improve or fix anyone, but to simply raise my consciousness as high as possible and literally be the change I wish to see in the world: a world of awakened beings.
If you would break it down to just a few sentences, what is the most important thing one can do to develop towards awakening and enlightenment, towards spirituality?
Absolute, complete, and unconditional dedication and devotion to God and the willingness to surrender all of the ego’s emotional payoffs for the love of God. If you don’t want to use the word God, which is totally cool, think of it as wanting freedom more than you want suffering. (Sounds like an obvious choice, logically, but when you’re in the heat of the moment, it can be a more challenging decision.) You have to want freedom MORE than you want to be right, to play the victim, to stick to your beliefs, to get people’s approval, to even EXIST!
Maybe there is one reader of the interview who is new to spirituality, has some distance to it and wants to have some practical entry point. Eckhart Tolle is pointing to the present moment, The Now, as an entry point to experience spirituality. What do you think about a practical introduction?
The Now moment is a great entry point. The main idea here is to realize that there is a difference between thought and who I am. It’s an extremely valuable realization to have the direct experience of witnessing thought happen without thinking that the thoughts are me or that I’m the one thinking the thoughts. Thoughts are just happening.
His teachings are also great for introducing readers to the concept of the human ego and the illusion of time.
I don’t believe that his teachings necessarily give you everything you need for enlightenment and that there are some higher understandings we can look at later, but they are an excellent introduction.
Do you see a connection between personal development and spirituality?
Absolutely! The personal development mindset often leads people to spirituality. We all grow up wanting better, happier, more enjoyable lives. It’s human nature. We want to gain pleasure and avoid pain. So the two go hand in hand, at least at first.
We want to get more things to make us happy: a bigger house, a new car, more popularity or power, lots of money, health and success for ourselves and our loved ones, whatever it is that we feel makes us happy. The personal development field offers a whole number of ways to do it. I’m sure you’re familiar with many of them. The spiritual community offers its suggestions as well.
Ultimately, however, life is not about what you can get from life. It’s about who you’re being. Who you are. Think about the last time you really wanted to get something. Eventually you got it. Did it make you happy? Maybe for a short while. Permanently? Probably not. If your achievement was really what made you happy, then as long as you had it, you should be happy, right? hm, it doesn’t seem to work that way.
So perhaps eventually we come to the realization that nothing outside of us can make us happy. This usually happens after we keep trying to get more more more from life, trying to fill the bottomless pit to get enough. It’s never enough…
So then we try to become a better person, not to get more stuff, but simply to try and make ourselves happy without needing all this external stuff. So we learn about changing our attitudes, taking control of our emotional state, reading affirmations, and so on. There’s lots of great stuff available here. Instead of trying to create a better life, we create a better me, which happens to automatically tends to createa a better life around us. Ah, that’s a cool added benefit.
This is well and good until we start examining who is the “me” that is trying to be happy in the first place. We keep trying to create new versions of me, better versions of me, happier and more fulfilled versions of me, but is this who I really am?
Some of these spiritual/religious people are telling me I am God. What could possibly be greater than THAT? Oh wait, now if I could get enlightened, that’d be the coolest thing ever! Then I’d be like Jesus or Buddha himself. By getting enlightened, I would then “escape” the world of suffering. No more suffering? Hot diggity dog! Sign me up! Then I won’t have to try and make myself happy all the time!
Interestingly though, enlightenment isn’t about a better and more spiritual version of me. It’s about the total dissolution of the idea of “me” altogether. It’s totally different from what people ever imagined it would be, yet infinitely greater than anything they ever could imagine.
Instead of wanting things in the universe, including physical items or states of being, you literally BECOME everything! If you are the entire universe, what more could you need? It sounds like the ultimate accomplishment ever. The cookie to beat all cookies.
So yeah, personal development often ties in very nicely with spirituality, and one tends to lead to another, and is often intertwined with the other.
How do you see spirituality in the mainstream today? How do you see it evolving?
I see it as literally one of the greatest things to EVER happen to the world. Ever!
There is nothing greater than raising your level of consciousness. All suffering is due to ignorance and rising above suffering involves realizing higher truths, not just conceptually, but deep in one’s heart.
As Einstein said, no problem can be solved by the level of consciousness that created it.
Today’s world is fraught with wars, suffering, hunger, murders, fights, racism, jealousy, repression, and so on. The root cause of all these issues is a certain level of consciousness, a fundamental idea that we are separate and that there’s not enough of what we need so we must fight with others to get that of which there is not enough. This includes physical things like money, land, water, and food, as well as non-physical items such as respect, sex, and love.
It is by rising above this level of consciousness, and only by rising above this level of consciousness, that the appropriate solutions can ever manifest into this world. Consciousness is everything, both figuratively and literally.
Spirituality today is becoming more experiential, something that people are living. Instead of just paying lip service to the great masters of long ago and hoping that they’ll swoop down and save us, we are literally becoming the light and love of the world. We are becoming the living Christ, the living Buddha, the living Krishna… literally living Gods! We are recognizing that we actually are God, have been all along (but just forgotten who we are), and now that we are realizing who we truly are, and we are living into our true nature.
This spiritual expansion that’s happening right now is one of the most unbelievably exciting things to ever happen in the history of mankind as we know it. It’s truly an exciting time to be alive! Heaven itself is manifesting on earth! How ’bout that!?
I am so grateful that we are all enjoying this journey together, as one. What a ride!
If you could choose one article of your blog, which one would that be and why?
I would say this article talking about how the mind isn’t actually a valid source for truth .
Why? Why wouldn’t I give people the answer they’re looking for and explain to them who they actually are? Well would you rather me eat my cookies all by myself and tell you what they taste like? Would it be sufficient for me to show you my cookies and impress you, and for you to pass down stories about this guy who had cookies? Or would you rather me show you how to find and enjoy the cookies you already have, the ones you haven’t realize are already right here?
The main obstacle in spirituality is identification with thought, believing the voice in our head, and thinking that we are our roles, ideas, beliefs, personalities, bodies, emotions, and so on.
You see, the egoic mind itself is the very source of illusion, the separation creating machine. It isn’t by trying to become what you already are that you become what you already are. How can you become what you already are? No, it’s by letting go of the false idea that you’re something other than what you actually are that you realize, that you experientially realize, what you actually are.
Instead of hearing the truth, you become the living truth.
So learning to question the validity of the thoughts you have is a starting point to spiritual growth.
From which people have you learned the most or which people are kinds of role model for you?
I most value teachers who are the living truth they teach. People who are walking the enlightened walk. My favorite teacher at this point is Adyashanti . Why? His explanations of truth are so simple and clear. Truth is simple. The mind loves making things complicated. Have you noticed that? The reality is that Truth is SO simple that people refuse to buy into it. “There must be more to it than this! Just be who I am? I already am what I’m looking for?”
See, Truth itself is very simple and I enjoy teachers whose teachings reflect this understanding.
Spiritual teachers who have influenced me most include Neale Donald Walsch, Eckhart Tolle , David Hawkins and Lester Levinson.
Perhaps most of all, I’d say life itself. Life is the greatest teacher and I am enormously grateful to be alive and to constantly be growing, unfolding, and expanding.
Anything you would like to add?
Thank you so much Myrko. I deeply appreciate your questions and I want to acknowledge the Divinity within you, as well as in every person who reads these words.
From my heart to yours, namaste.