There is, in sanest hours, a consciousness, a thought that rises, independent, lifted out from all else, calm, like the stars, shining eternal. This is the thought of identity. — yours for you, whoever you are, as mine for me.
Miracle of miracles, beyond statement, most spiritual and vaguest of earth’s dreams, yet hardest basic fact, and only entrance to all facts. In such devout hours, in the midst of the significant wonders of heaven and earth, (significant only because of the Me in the centre,) creeds, conventions, fall away and become of no account before this simple idea. Under the luminousness of real vision, it alone takes possession, takes value. Like the shadowy dwarf in the fable, once liberated and look’d upon, it expands over the whole earth, and spreads to the roof of heaven.
Michael Damian, Ph.D. is a spiritual teacher, Jungian psychologist, and author of The Art of Freedom: A Guide to Awakening. Michael is a guide to inner transformation and awakening for many around the world. A highly empathic and experienced healer, Michael works from a deep understanding of human development joined with spiritual wisdom.
Born in 1975, Michael has had a love of inner silence and self-knowledge from an early age. This led to a life of passionate exploration in many areas, including the martial arts, literature, music and psychology. After growing up in New England, Michael lived and worked in Amsterdam, London and Washington, DC. He then moved to California to earn his Ph.D. in clinical psychology. During the following years Michael went through a classical mystic journey of self-knowledge and spiritual awakening. In 2006 came a life-changing shift of consciousness, which brought immense silence, grace and clarity.
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What kind of teacher are you?
I am a catalyst for new consciousness, a way-shower and a healer. My role is to bring people to themselves both on a human and spiritual level. It is to bring out your human uniqueness as well as spiritual essence. Full self-actualization.
I deal with spiritual issues as well as practical life problems, because these are interconnected. By nature I am very down to earth. What I say will surprise you, and whatever you heard from other teachers is probably not what I'm saying, although there may be some overlap.
How do we reach higher consciousness?
At first we tend to think of higher consciousness in a simplistic and idealized way. Or we want it to come all at once. But if you want to live a divine and empowered life, it can only happen through your own struggle and passion for truth. With time, it becomes more effortless.
Authentic enlightenment comes through real self-knowledge - not trying to deny your entire psyche and life situation. As for realizing a higher love, we have to start with loving truth, even if we're not sure what it is. You can't love your misery, selfishness or addictions. You can't pretend to feel happy when you don't.
To start realizing love and truth, you have start with small things in your life instead of projecting God or supreme consciousness way out beyond you. Many people just want to use meditation or spiritual teachings to get high. The real high is when you embrace all of life and your whole psyche as the path. Then the silence and meditative attitude in daily life provides great depth instead of being an escape. There's nothing about your life that caan be left out or ignored - because Life is a whole.
Gradually the heart is opened by Life, by real suffering and also by real joy, and as you hold your sorrows with humility and compassion, then real love is born. Eventually you pass through the dark night with new consciousness.
Can we find peace in every moment?
Either we have realized that level or we have not. I do not pretend that everyone can suddenly feel peaceful every moment. We have to practice being less reactive in each moment, but it doesn't come easily. Stable peace comes when there is sufficient psychological integrity, which means a rather massive degree of consciousness. Peace comes when energy has been deployed in the right directions and the unconscious backlog of existential angst and trauma has been dissolved.
If you want peace, you have to go the way of passion. The energy for growth is passion, not resignation and fatalism. Passion means desire for the right things - for righteousness itself. It's the passion even to dress a bit sharper, to have a productive day, or to study investing instead of blaming rich people for everything. Passion for life, love and truth shows up in a vital, courageous attitude toward life. Courageous action brings peace.
Doesn't peace come from observing and knowing we are not our thoughts?
That is only one aspect of peace. Observing is only the first step. It's the base camp of all spiritual development. We then take action, gain insight, observe and take action again. Eventually, you dissolve a lot of karma and your life becomes more simple. Eventually we feel the peace of conscious presence in stillness and action alike. Observing and being aware doesn't mean you have wisdom.
Until we gain wisdom, we have to work to understand what is true in every situation, and to act in accord with truth. Where truth is, there you will find God, or love, or psychological sanity and new energy for Life. What saps our energy the most is living with comfortable fictions. Only when truth has burned off our illusions and we have real wisdom, is there peace, vitality and joy all at once. It doesn't come from just meditating enough or doing yoga every day. You need wisdom.
Do you initiate people in consciousness?
I do initiate people in consciousness and the first step is getting real. If you just want to hear that all is well and that you have no choices because it's all an illusion - to me that approach is incredibly shallow. To become conscious you have to come alive and take total responsibility for your life. Only later do you come to a great realization of consciousness.
I initiate people in accord with their readiness. Someone who is very evolved only needs to hear a few words from me about consciousness, and we will sit in silence gazing at each other, and a few days later they will report that they had a very clear shift of consciousness. Even that is only a start, but it's good. And it's rare.
This happened with a Christian monk who came to me for therapy. Eventually he just gazed at me and noticed the extraordinary presence of consciousness. Each session, we would talk a little and then just rest in presence together. That was all he needed. He still had some relationship issues to work out, but the initiation was effortless.
The people who are the most impatient for that great awakening are generally the least ready for it. I know where you are in consciousness. Some people can get very high in meditation, and they understand awareness, but their psychology is a mess. I work on the foundation. If someone just wants to sit in silence with a one-sided guru and hear that they are already enlightened, there are many gurus who will do that. It flatters them. They do not see what is in the unconscious shadows of the person's psyche. I do. They are not there for the person when their life is falling apart a month later. I am. I have seen it a hundred times.
There is initiation, but then there must be ongoing development.
You are concerned that many spiritual seekers are ungrounded.
Yes. I am concerned with humanity's foundation which is very weak. We have highly spiritual, idealistic people who believe the strangest things; all kinds of superstitions and false ideologies. They lose their common sense and critical thinking. Look at how many hippies, intellectuals and artists never find true happiness or wisdom.
George Orwell said, "There are some ideas so wrong only an intellectual can believe them." Before we transcend thinking, we need to learn to think properly and not fall for phony wisdom.
Do we die? Are we just illusions?
We are living right now in a provisional, human sense of self, but even this temporary self is connected with our eternal soul and its life in God. The popular "illusion theory" of the self is ultimately false. Our mind creates an illusory, limited identity but that doesn't mean we are illusions. If you think about someone you love - that person is a unique, divine spark of divine creation. When the body dies, the spark rejoins the spiritual dimension. The human being cannot be reduced to an illusion. The illusion is our atheistic nihilism and materialism. We live in a world that is steeped in illusions, but we are ultimately quite real. What is real is our presence, love, intelligence and psyche. God is absolutely real, and we are in God.
Where do you get your wisdom?
The most difficult thing to understand is that even though a very subtle wisdom comes from an opening in consciousness, it must then be refined and corrected in many ways. I have found wisdom by examining myself intensively and living with passion. It's the passion to cycle to exhaustion in the French countryside, to have honest conversations, to read visionary poets and English biographies from the early 1900s, or what have you. I learn from everything. I have studied life. I have taken risks. I have dived into Life very intensely, and I am bringing forth a lot from the unconscious that was opened to me.
You seem rather calm and reserved.
Most of the time I am. A tiger is calm most of the day. It knows when to rest and when to move. Others do not see the intensity within, but I am in touch with the passion at all times. It is consciousness. It is spirit. I aim to live in a constant state of rapport with God - in the sense of being truthful, honorable and responsive to Life. There is no perfection here on Earth, but we try.
What bothers you?
Aside from the terrible crimes that bother everyone, what bothers me is disrespect for the culture and civilization our ancestors built, which took centuries of struggle. The superficial notions of progress we entertain, with our focus on deconstructing common sense and traditional values. At heart I am a very traditional person, and I feel most at home in an old countryside with old traditions. I believe we should seek wisdom first before we seek to change others or the world.