After more than 20 years of spiritual seeking, and engaging various practices with several authentic spiritual teachers, I began working with Saniel Bonder in 1997. A little more than two years later, something very subtle, but most profound occurred for me in October, 1999.

The whole time immediately preceding this occurrence had been a nightmare. The shock of losing an intimate love relationship, and the recognition of my primary responsibility for that occurring, had been devastating. I felt stunned, as if delivered an immensely powerful blow by an adversary.

And yet, in the midst of this nightmare whirling around me – I kept noticing a center within who I am that remained calm, balanced and untouched. It seemed odd, since at any other time in my life, I would have collapsed altogether for some time from the emotional effects of what was occurring.

I recalled Saniel Bonder's essay "The Aikido of Consciousness" – comparing the ability of a skilled warrior to stay centered in the midst of multiple attacks, to One identified as Consciousness staying centered in the midst of all experiences, no matter how difficult or terrifying. I began to realize that something was changing in me, and quickly. (I mentioned some of this when I spoke about what has been happening at an earlier Sunday gathering of the Marin sangha.

On Monday, October 18th, I flew to Austin, Texas on business. I spent that evening with friends who did their best to distract me from the pain I was feeling. We ate a good meal, drank a few beers and smoked some cigarettes – actually "good medicine" to anesthetize my bleeding heart.

During part of this evening, we were shooting pool in a downtown dive with loud rock music playing continuously. At one point, I spontaneously started spouting humorous wisdom puns about consciousness only in the midst of all experience, and "being" the entire event altogether that we were witnessing. I realize now that what I was speaking was not just humorous speech, but bearing witness to what I was actually experiencing.

Later that evening, I went back to my hotel where a simple but very significant event occurred. I went to my room, still not sleepy, alone without distraction and feeling more intensely again the pain of what had been happening in my life. I watched TV for a while, and then shut it off, sitting and staring at the blank screen  - feeling so down I could hardly move.

Then the awareness came – that somehow it made no difference whether the TV was on or not, to who and what I really am. I simply and clearly felt my primary identity as Consciousness – that in which every being and thing arises – unmoving, witnessing, never changing and timeless. It was so tacit and simple, yet subtle and most profound.

Many times before I had experienced the Witness Consciousness present, but
It seemed somehow behind and separate from me. This time I experienced it obviously and directly as me. I began to cry and pray to all the Powers that be,
"Oh please, stay with me always, do not go, stay with me forever – whither thou leadest I will follow". I lay there for a quite some time in a twilight zone before falling asleep.

The next morning I awoke, immediately feeling the wound of my present experience, and almost simultaneously noticing this new identification with consciousness.

Throughout the day, at lunch with an old friend, and during my participation in 
a trade show, I kept feeling myself simultaneously to be infinite consciousness and this finite, mortal individuated being just as I am with all my desires, fears, strengths and weaknesses.

What a blessing! What gratitude I felt to have this Awakening occur at last! The crucifixion of infinite consciousness into finite form as a mortal human being had been stably re-cognized. The core wound had finally become conscious.

For some time, the mind still seemed not to accept altogether what had happened. Doubts continued to arise, looking for reasons to affirm that this could not be so. Realms of consciousness appeared and disappeared – Visions of shamanic battles in psychic realms, and living more simply on the earth. Forgiveness arose spontaneously and old wounds began to dissolve without effort. Everything seemed to be moving and changing. What a wonder!

Having finally been graced with this "Great Relief", I am eternally grateful to all the Adepts and Teachers who have served me. Praise to the Great One! May all beings Awaken to this great healing. Let it be So - And may I serve this process in others with Who I truly am………………

                                                               Bob Bishop (Oct, 99)