In Alumni in Action, Essays & Poems

The Abode of Awakening

Our Physical Body Consciously Connecting with Our Luminous Presence

“When we are attached to our thoughts, our “beliefs” our sensations, and we are not consciously connected with our Light, with Consciousness, every “experience”, every sorrow, every guilt, every anger, every unworthiness, every longing, every attachment, every filled desire, every unfulfilled desire, every past-present-future, every grief, every feeling which arises from negative thoughts, every craving, every rejection, every blame, every judgment, is simply the experience which arises when we are not connected with our Light, when we are separate from our Heart, from Mother Earth, when we are not connected with our “True Self”. When we are connected with the One, with Mother Earth, Living As the Light, all these illusions disappear. This experience of Awakening requires of us to develop and to learn to live WITH a quiet mind.

The Experience of Awakening: It is challenging to try and describe the experience of Awakening, also referred to as Enlightenment. The process of Awakening is a stage-specific developmental process. There are Three Thresholds, or three basic prerequisites for attaining Awakening. These fundamental attributes we commit to are the “bridge” to our Awakening. This bridge is formed from the connection of the mind/body/sensations within what Buddha referred to as the Seat of Consciousness, which presides within our Heart Chakra, that is our “Luminous Presence” which is already totally Awake.

By consciously being the Light that we are, and living consciously from our Light, from our Heart, we are connected, informed, and guided. All people, things and events find us, we do not find them. The “moth” (life) is attracted to our Light. Once we connect and become One with our Light, with Mother Earth, all things come to us, and we consciously connect with our Luminous Presence, our “Awake Presence”.

First Threshold: The First Threshold is to give up our story. We need to first identify our story, “see” our story and our limited beliefs, see the Truth in the first experience of our limited beliefs, dissolve our personal identity with these limited beliefs and use them as the “springboard” or Bridge to our Luminous Presence; the Infinite. In mythology, this is also known as “Crossing the River Styx”. Our story is the boat, and the boatman represents our conscious awareness doing the work to cross the river.

Second Threshold: The Second Threshold, the Journey back to our Inner Light of our Highest Self, our Luminous Presence is fulfilled when we embrace rather than shun the Darkness within us. This is accomplished through meditation; first using meditation for calming the mind, and second, as we meditate, simply observing our “negative” thoughts and sensations rather than push them away. I’ve been practicing Vipassana Meditation for over 20 years as taught by S.N. Goenka. It happens to be the technique that Buddha taught. It is the “negative” thoughts and sensations which catch our attention, but the Truth is accessed by observing ALL thoughts and sensations; “positive” and “negative” and breaking our addiction to all sensations. Paradoxically, “negative” thoughts and sensations or the Darkness is our friend; in surrendering to, accepting our negative thoughts and sensations we connect with our Luminous Presence, and we become whole, Awake. In other words, when we give up thinking, when we give up negative thinking we wake up. On the contrary, when we think we suffer.

Third Threshold: The Third Threshold is to consciously connect with and live from our own Light. What this requires is for us to first give up our story. We all want to be Awake; we want Freedom. Freedom is already there; we came in with Freedom. But when we created and became attached to our story, our “beliefs” we cut ourselves off from our Freedom, we separated ourselves from our own Light and our own Truth, and we separated ourselves from “God”. Once we’ve “unhooked” ourselves from our story, from the lies, the Truth will automatically be revealed to us. I refer back to my writing, “Awakening”.

During the Third Threshold experience we invite our Light, our Luminous Presence which is Totally Awake to come be with us; we have to “invite it into our house”, come in and sit down and be with us; it has been waiting for our invitation. The Third Threshold action is to invite our Higher Self, our True Self, or whatever you call that Higher Being, into the room, and to come be with us. Our invitation is actually a “leap of faith”. Our invitation is the moment when we unconditionally open our Heart and, as Buddha says; “Accept life as it is, not how we want it to be or how it should have been, but “AS IT IS”.

This action accomplishes a number of things residing within the many layers of our being. First, it is using our old story as the bridge, or the boat crossing the river, to our Higher Self. What this means is, we did not need to change, or fix, or heal, or bury our past, or carry it as a lifetime burden, because it was not preventing our happiness and Awakening, it was there to actually be the bridge to our Higher Self; the bridge to our happiness and Awakening. Through meditation we disolve our addiction to sensations, we let go of our beliefs and we then accomplish the opportunity to consciously connect with and live from our Higher Self. Awakening is the moment our Luminous Presence, as Consciousness connects with and experiences the energy of the All That Is, and that we are all One.

Our Higher Self has been in existence before we came into this world in form, and now we accomplish the purpose of creating form, and that is, to become “consciously connected with and live from our Higher Self; to become “consciously connected to God”. This action also accomplishes the most important purpose and realization; to Realize and be consciously connected to everything. That is, to be Awake, is to live the Truth; that there is only the One. We are here to understand the Truth, to comprehend the Truth, and to be the Truth; this is our Awakening.

The way through these troubled times begins within each of us. These times signal the opportunity for a great shift in consciousness. It requires us to be aware of the consequences of our actions and ultimately surrender to being guided by our True Self. It requires that we connect with the Light within us, with the Earth and Nature, and with all beings. Because the Universal Truth is that we are already connected to everything, everywhere; into “infinity”.

What is the foundation for Awakening? Compassion, LovingKindness. It is from this place that our real power can emerge as Compassion begins with the Self. We are here to learn to love ourselves. From here we can focus on the great powers of love and peace and how we handle our own choices, regardless of outward appearances. Let us choose to walk the ecological pathway of harmony, stability, and diversity; let us create and cross “The Great HeartWisdom Bridge into the Abode of Awakening”. Here is the challenge and the opportunity; “Go inside, master the Art of Detachment and Surrender, stop your mind, then connect with your own Light, which is your own Heart, instead of letting your false beliefs control your life, listen to your Heart for Guidance, and do what it tells you”.

Finally, we need live our lives according to the Five Guidelines, and in addition, the Five Agreements as communicated by Don Miguel Ruiz. Every day, every moment we try to live according to these basic rules. More precisely, these are the Laws of Nature. It is in our best interest to live according to and guided by the Laws of Nature. Guided by the Laws, we get to connect and live from our Higher Self. If we don’t adhere to one of the Laws, we compromise our connection; we “fall from Grace”. It is simply about being in and staying connected to our Truth, to ourselves, as the Luminous Presence of Consciousness, to all of life, As It Is.

Following are Five Guidelines and the Five Agreements which are necessary to follow for the purpose of advancing spiritually and living in Harmony with all that is, As It Is:

The Five Guidelines:

  1. Meditate daily 2. Refrain from Stealing and Killing 3. Refrain from sexual misconduct.
  2. Refrain from Lies. 5. Refrain from drugs and alcohol which lead to carelessness and moral misconduct.

The Five Agreements from Don Miguel Ruiz, “The Five Agreements”:

  1. Be impeccable with your word
  2. Don’t take anything personally
  3. Don’t make assumptions
  4. Always do your best (includes living a moral life)
  5. Be skeptical, but learn to listen


  1. First, we give up our story and we let go of our thinking mind, our ego and our beliefs.
  2. Meditate daily to calm the mind, be equanimous with all thoughts, all feelings, and all sensations.
  3. Consciously connect with your True Self, your Luminous Presence which is Totally Awake
  4. Incorporate the 5 Guidelines and the 5 Agreements into your life.
  5. Live from, be Guided, and take right action from your True Self, your Luminous Presence; live from Love.
  6. Develop and practice Compassion, Equanimity, and LovingKindness in every situation.
  7. Seek and give support to others, develop an extended community and be of service.

—James Smallwood, M.A.


James Smallwood “bio”

James had been a resident of Santa Barbara since 1975 until 5 years ago when he moved to Ojai.  James earned his Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology in 1982 when it was  the Human Relations Institute. He was a paid intern and he provided counseling at the school and at Los Prieto’s Boys Camp. Immediately following graduation James was hired by David Edelman, Director for Klein Bottle Social Advocates for Youth (KBSAY) to be the Director in Santa Ynez to design and operate the Klein Bottle Community Counseling Program. For the next 7 years the program was very successful providing counseling in all of the public elementary schools in the area including the Santa Ynez High School.

Starting when he was about 12 years old , his family would go camping in the Northern Sierras near Yosemite for 2 to 3 weeks. Growing up in a very dysfunctional family, it was his relationship with the wilderness that he could always depend on. That relationship became the soul out of which his Master’s Thesis, “Wilderness Experience as an Adjunct to Psychotherapy for At -Risk Youth” was birthed.  Also as a result of counseling at Los Prieto’s. He saw that “kids weren’t suffering because of a lack of therapy”, it was a lack of nature, the needed to “connect with nature and themselves”.

So, it was very serendipitous that in 2000 James was introduced to Warren Brush, and including a few other pioneers, James helped design and launch the now invaluable Wilderness Youth Project. Actually helping to launch and grow the exact kind of program his thesis was about almost 10 years before.

Several years later James helped launch another non-profit, the Pesticide Awareness Coalition (PAN). It was a program devoted to education and eliminating toxic pesticides in the city parks and local schools. Employing his counseling experience, he brought together Jeff Cope, the director of City Parks, Gil Garcia from the City Council and a number of other arborists and farmers, pest management experts, and members of the community to design and implement the first IPM program to replace toxic chemicals and pesticides with organic and least toxic alternatives.

In 2014, James was invited and joined the local Surfrider program as a member of the Executive Committee. Most of the focus and funding was devoted to protecting and permanently preserving Naples Bluffs and the dos Pueblos land. There were many other groups that had basically the same goals.  Originally, the Chumash had established and developed villages there for hundreds of years, and a population of about 30,000. James had been with Surfrider for about a year, and having other skills and gifts, started getting a vision that he kept seeing over and over, about conducting healing and prayer ceremonies on the land as a way to bring everyone together, and to someday accomplish the goal of protecting and preserving the land.

He called his friend, Chumash Firekeeper, Art Cisneros and described the vision to Art.  Art was excited about the vision and committed to hold ceremony there. They performed 3 Ceremonies over the next 3 years, and those prayers were answered as eventually those groups have now come together as one group. And it looks like the land will someday preserved and protected “forever”.

Since 1980 James had always been involved in counseling and community service. But in 1995 he started what evolved into an organic fertilizer and farm equipment provider. However, another incredible turn of events would be introduced him to a gentleman who had invented an amazing water conditioning system. James became a distributor for the sales aspect. But eventually  the inventor would be building a selling the units directly to James. The inventor was an extraordinary man, and his water ionization invention comprised ideas from Tesla, and the principles of a Raymond Rife, who in 1935 was curing cancer using frequencies.

Over the years James helped further develop the invention which was invented to isolate sodium from the water molecule. Field trials were conducted, using irrigation water that was high in sodium. Other trials included ocean water, even frac water. We have proven that the invention can grow food using ocean water, even frac water. James believes the invention could help end global hunger, even help reverse global warming. It may turn out to be the most important invention of the 21st century.

James’ spiritual journey has taken many paths and evolved in many forms.  In 1991 James attended his first 10-day Vipassana Meditation course. Vipassana Meditation is the technique discovered by Buddha. It was this technique that would trigger and lead to his Awakening. Also referred to as Enlightenment. Vipassana means insight, and the key to the meditation is that it works directly with the subconscious mind. The same subconscious mind Carl Jung lived and wrote about.

And what Vipassana does is what I would call “de-programming the subconscious mind”. Like a computer program can get erased, Vipassana erases the program in the subconscious mind. With worldwide 10-day courses held in the tradition of U Ba Khin and S. N. Goenka, all courses are free, there is no charge, with the option for a donation at the end of a course.  James was fortunate and was able to attend the 30-day course in India, at the main Vipassana center, and the Center where Goenka stayed pretty much full-time. It was at this course that James would have a full spiritual Awakening, the experience of enlightenment, an experience that he writes about (“The Abode of Awakening”) and is always ready to talk about and discuss.

In his early days in junior college, 1973 to 1975, James was deeply involved with some of the well know teachers and teachings. That was the period of time where he learned that a guy named Buddha got enlightenment. And James wanted to know how he had done that, what did he do? He learned later it was Vipassana. James has also been reading all of the Carlos Castaneda books, “The Teachings of don Juan”.

James set his intention, he wanted to meet don Juan, he wanted to be a shaman’s apprentice. In 2010 he got to do just that. He met don Luis Molinar and don Miguel Ruiz, author of “The Four Agreements”.  And for the next 4 years became an advanced apprentice studying and practicing the Toltec Teachings. It was during this time, working with don Luis. When asked about the extraordinary experiences and vision that James was having, don Luis said, “James, your heart is opening”. James came to understand exactly what happened. James will say, “My heart opened, and I fell in love with Mother Earth”. As James came to be initiated he also got his other name as an apprentice, and that is Santiago, which translates from Spanish and means, James.

As don Luis was teaching me at some point I realized it was the same technique as Vipassana. I said this to don Luis. He countered and said that Vipassana was Buddhism. I said “No, the Buddhist never existed during Buddha’s life. Buddha did not teach Buddhism, he taught Vipassana”. It was at that point that don Luis proved to be an invaluable teacher. And now it was time for James to say goodbye.

There’s also  another very interesting aspect to all of this. In the Toltec Teaching the central practice is something they call “recapitulation”. Its’ purpose is to “unhook” the attachment to “our story”. Within the subconscious mind, the subconscious mind is accentually attached to experience pleasant sensations and avoid negative sensations. The technique of Vipassana actually dissolves this pattern of craving and aversion within the subconscious mind. James came to understand that there’s this basic, universal technique, the key that unlocks the lock, the key to freedom, the path to enlightenment. For some it’s called Vipassana, for others, Recapitulation. No matter what you call it, it’s all the same technique.

During this whole period of time, 2002 up to present time, James has been deeply involved with the water ionizer invention. He will tell you that it’s been entrusted to him, it’s his life purpose, it’s his calling, it’s why he’s here and doing this in this lifetime, it’s “what he’s here to do”. Interestingly, the invention is designed to “isolate the sodium from the water molecule”. Just like Recapitulation and Vipassana, it’s successful at breaking attachment, it’s successful at unhooking the sodium from the water molecule.

As it turns out there’s an ancient prophesy form Peru. The Prophesy of the Eagle and Condor, “the coming together of the condor and the eagle”. The condor representing the indigenous teachings from the Amazon. The eagle representing the west and western technology. The prophesy says “at this time  the condor and the eagle will come together as one”. James learned about the prophesy just 10 years ago. Soon after he ends up going to Ecuador. He comes to meet 2 different shaman, a Quechua shaman, don Luis from Ecuador, and the other, don Allpa, a Q’ero shaman from Peru. James contributes to both “Healing and Prayer Ceremonies for Water”, and just as he and don Allpa begin, don Allpa gives a condor feather to James and says, “The condor and eagle fly together as one, welcome James, welcome Santiago”.

Putting all of this together, the water is James life purpose, his calling , to help heal mother earth, the water Ionizer was entrusted to him, and, it will be this invention that will help fulfill the coming together of the condor and eagle, it will help fulfill the actual prophesy, the eagle and condor are coming together as one, the invention is the “eagle”, western technology and it is how the vision of the prophesy will be fulfilled.

James ultimate vision is what is called, “The G-4 Vision for Ending Global Hunger”. The plan is to put the solar-powered Ionizers in villages globally, grow their own food, end poverty, conflict, political corruption and extorsion, create employment and the “Global Organic Eco-Farming Collaborative”. Help end global hunger, and possibly reverse global warming. Five years ago James moved to Ojai, and it’s in Ojai where he continues to network and further develop this wonderful invention.

James continues to write. The writing he calls “transmission’s”. They’re not really poetry. They “come from Mother Earth”. James say’s, “My connection is with Mother Earth. Mother Earth talks to me. She gives me information, she’s the voice I hear when  give psychic readings, she brings me these words. The words and guidance are provided, they come from Mother Earth, these words and guidance do not come from me, they come through me, they are from Her, not me, I just write down what She says, what she says to me. James also wrote about Awakening, called “The Abode of Awakening”. Describing the process of Awakening as developmental process, just like Erikson’s Stages of Development. We endure a rigorous process of maturing spiritually, spiritual maturity. We have to attain a high level of spiritual maturity and then the process leading to Awakening can begin.

His other interests and hobbies include teaching Insight Meditation, photography, kayaking, river rafting, surfing, art, poetry, music and guitar, motorcycle riding, hiking, and backpacking, and protecting the environment. James also provides counseling and guidance in Ojai as he’s developing his new practice, which he calls “The Abode of Awakening”.

Recent Posts
Contact Us

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

Not readable? Change text. captcha txt

Start typing and press Enter to search