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 Articles by Rita Marie Robinson

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The Feminine Face of Awakening             

            A detached and kind of blissful state no longer has the appeal it once had back in the 1970s when I was a spiritual seeker looking for what was then considered to be the ultimate goal: enlightenment. I was younger and naively thought that if I could just have that experience of oneness, then all struggle and pain would melt away and be replaced by infinite love and wisdom. While it is true that realization of the formless or the Absolute is an important part of the journey, the real question is what comes next. Westerners in particular want a spirituality grounded in the practical.

            This practical approach is what I was looking for when I recently met the first person in my life that I could call enlightened, though I hesitate to use that term because of all the past baggage it carries.  For that reason, I often say self-realized or awakened.  These terms are interchangeable—they describe a genuine, profound shift in the way a person experiences life.  The sense of a separate self dissolves.  What I notice about someone who is awakened, is that nothing gets in the way of the full expression of love and wisdom, attributes of our true nature at the core of each and every one of us. 

          When I initially saw Pamela Wilson, I had a hard time believing that she was the teacher. She wore jeans and a flannel shirt; her long blonde hair hung loose around her shoulders. She looked much younger than her 50-something years. What made the biggest impression on me is the way Pamela was the same whether cooking oatmeal or sitting in front of a group answering questions — there was no change in her warm, loving presence. 

           After meeting Pamela, I began to wonder—are there other teachers like her, women who haven’t left “real” life but who have awakened to their true nature.  I was delighted to find that the answer is “yes”.  My search eventually led to writing a book based on interviews with over a dozen women spiritual teachers. Though their backgrounds are diverse, their lives look very much like everyone else’s.  They have normal names (with a couple of exceptions). Some have kids, husbands, dogs, bills to pay. In each case, after their awakening,  they went back to living life in all its humanness. Instead of resisting the mundane, these women embrace — even celebrate — the ordinariness of daily life. Read Entire Article


Take Enlightenment off the “To-Do” List

I was fourteen, bored, and fasting for the first time in my short life. I hadn’t eaten for 24 hours, a long enough time for a skinny teenager to be in an “altered state.” I turned off the lights and looked out the window of my suburban house at the night sky. For a just a moment, a long and magical moment, I let it all in, the infinite vastness of the universe.   I fully felt the reality that each star was a sun, and each sun had its own planets and moons all spinning within a solar system, within a galaxy, with other galaxies, on and on until my mind just gave up trying to grasp the vastness of it all. So this is the mystery and the wonder that all the great religions talk about, I thought.

              That was when it all started…a longing that led me on a lifelong search, from one spiritual path to another.  I vaguely thought it was enlightenment that I was looking for but I didn’t have a clue what that meant, much less how to “get” there.  In high school, I did a thorough, comparative study of all the major religions.  The answer certainly wasn’t there. I read the book “Be Here Now” in my first year of college and decided that maybe the eastern traditions had the key.  So I started studying Yogananda’s teachings and I started meditating, regularly attending week-long Vipassna retreats. That approach seemed too detached so I turned to the Native American traditions, building a medicine wheel on my land, going on a 10-day vision quest. I read lots of spiritual and metaphysical books, attended all kinds of workshops, always looking, hoping to attain some peace of mind, some feeling of wholeness and completion. Maybe even a glimpse of God. 

At some point in mid-life I put the search on the backburner and focused on more attainable goals, like building a house and a good career. But the longing continued to simmer.  Until the death of my husband rekindled my search.  It was not longer after my encounter with mortality that I stumbled upon the direct path of awakening.  At the heart of this approach is the profound and simple truth:  you are that which you seek.  That takes the wind right out of your sails if you’re a lifelong seeker.  Read Entire Article