Edited by HENRY REED, Ph.D.
September 23,   2011
Hidden Treasure

Hidden Treasure

Uncovering the Truth in Your Life Story



In this life-changing book, renowned spiritual teacher Gangaji uses the telling of her own life story to help readers uncover the truth in their own. Publisher's Weekly said, "This gently flowing but often disarming volume invites readers to examine the narratives that shape them, and is a call to pass beyond personal stories to find a deeper, more universal self." Mirabai Starr shares, "Hidden Treasure not only speaks to the transformation of consciousness, it is a tool for directly transforming consciousness."

Three Questions with Gangaji

1. Why did you write HIDDEN TREASURE?

GANGAJI: I wrote this book to point to universal truths that are directly and concretely relevant to the individual reader. There have been countless beautiful stories of great beings' lives that have inspired others throughout time. Yet even when we are profoundly affected by reading the story of a great person's life, we too often see his or her story as disconnected from the life--the story--that each one of us lives.

We can wonder at the beauty and be inspired to follow in the footsteps of a hero, but we often miss that our own life is offering us portals to deep discovery. My wish is that the reader see that although the details of our lives may be different from each other, and different from the great beings we emulate, within every life story there are unique opportunities for realizing peace and fulfillment.

We know the principles of peace, and love, and freedom, but how are these principles revealed in each of our lives? What is our life story offering us at this very moment? How can we discover the offering? The investigation of these questions generated this book.

2. The central message in HIDDEN TREASURE seems to be that we should stop telling the same old stories about ourselves. How?

GANGAJI: It is essential to first recognize that some story is being told. We are often so identified with whatever thoughts we may be having that we don't realize that the thoughts are a commentary on reality, rather than reality itself. We are thinking creatures, and thinking is a beautiful power, but the capacity to overhear our own thoughts as thoughts--rather than reality--reveals the choice to either continue that same story, or amend the story in some positive or negative way, or to stop telling the story all together.

Continuing the story is the usual choice. A choice that is so habitual it appears to be choiceless. Amending the choice is a way to "create your reality." At least your inner reality. The inner feelings of following the thought "I am a worthless person" are obviously different from following the thought "I am worthy and deserve to be happy." The choice to stop telling any story is a choice as well. This choice reveals that inner reality needs no story, needs no thought for conscious recognition of itself.

3. What do you want people to take away from reading your book?

GANGAJI: It is my aim for the readers to recognize that however the events of a life are arranged, the opportunity to realize lasting peace and fulfillment is present. I want the readers to see clearly that all the necessary ingredients for realization of happiness are already present in their lives.

I want them to directly experience the wonder and simplicity of peace in their day-to-day lives.

We are conditioned to believe that only certain kinds of events generate happiness. This belief naturally keeps our attention turned toward accumulating more of those kinds of events. When our attention is tied up seeking more and more pleasure or comfort, we overlook the peace that needs nothing for its existence.

Stories: An Excerpt*

At this time in our present history we have the ability to be conscious of the stories we have been taught and how they define us, as well as the stories we unquestionably have believed about who another is. We can be willing to be naked to ourselves, and we can take responsibility for the result. We can marvel when we discover that the stories of previously demonized others (enemies) are as beautiful and multilayered as our own. We mature when we realize that some of the stories cherished as the foundation of our culture are flimsy and insubstantial in truth and are sometimes outrightly false. One generation's true and defining story can be proved to be a lie in the next generation. Stories that celebrate freedom and revolution against tyranny can turn on themselves and become stories of reigns of terror.

We recognize the location of the story in our flesh and emotions. From this recognition choice is born. We have most often either chosen to continue the given story or to rebel against that story. Naturally we have been thrilled to realize that we can choose to live a different story, one we feel more in alignment with. There is yet another choice. We have the capacity to take a moment and release all stories. We can experience what it means to be nobody, uncovered even by our primary identity.

Underneath all the stories, we can experience that deep core of ourselves that is historyless, genderless, and parentless. Naked. That presence is unencumbered by relationships and has no past and no future. In the core of our beingness we are free of definitions. Unencumbered by our definitions we experience ourselves as conscious intelligence aware of itself as open, endless space. This instant of being storyless is an instant of freedom. For even if our story is filled with light and beauty, to the degree that we define ourselves through that story, we are less free.

After such a moment, stories are never the same. They can be present, as they most likely will be, but they no longer have the inherent power to define our reality. The inner wealth that is available to us is no longer limited or augmented by particular inner or outer events. While the personality or the "creatureness" of each individual continues just as stories continue, the underlying awareness, the true "I" has come home to itself.

After such a moment, choice is present where before we were blindly choiceless. When we are not blinded by the stories that have been created for us, or the stories we create, we can appreciate the mysterious vastness that is holographically present in each moment of any story. We can discover what is and has always been here, throughout whatever rendition of story was being lived or believed. Each of us can take any story from our past, and we can discover the treasure that was hidden only through unquestioning belief in narrowly focused assumptions of the time. Stories can then be profoundly appreciated as displays of multidimensional life expressing itself in all forms.

What is the frame or context of your life? You don't know how your story will end, but at this point you can discover what your story is about. You can ask yourself how your inner sense of self is expressed, or has gone unexpressed, in the structure and message of your life story.

How does a particular success or failure fit into the whole of your life story? We tend to focus on and magnify particular events, but if we see them as part of a continuum, we can see the trajectory of the arc of our life story. Seeing in this way does not mean attempting to take control of the story. Instead, this is an invitation to tell the truth about what your story has been teaching so far. It is an invitation to recognize how your story fits into the larger context of what is important now to you as a human being. It is an invitation to discover how awareness and inquiry naturally broaden, deepen, and expand your own story so that it demonstrates precisely what needs to be learned. Since stories both archetypical and banal ultimately teach us something, investigate what your story teaches. Regardless of where you are in your story--still at the beginning, the hopefully long middle, or near the end--what bigger story does your life story contribute to?

Just becoming more aware of the stories we live, along with their infinite plotlines and subplots, begins to wake us up. In lucid dreaming, we become aware of ourselves as both in the dream story and outside it. In lucid living, as in lucid dreaming, we are no longer tyrannized by the stories circulating around and inside us. The demon in the nightmare can be faced directly; the flying dream can be enjoyed in its ecstatic moment. As we face ourselves in our stories, we have space for perspective. We can stand back and see our personal story as part of a bigger whole.

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What is your story? You discover your story by noticing what you are telling yourself over and over. Notice what you tell yourself about your past, your present, and your future. In order to have any lasting impact, our stories have to be told and retold. All stories have a narrative. Your narrative is what you tell yourself through thoughts and images with accompanying emotions. What is your narrative? You can check right now. It is bound to be familiar. It is natural as human animals with developed cognitive abilities to generate and follow the narrative of our stories. It certainly is not wrong to do so. But it is limiting. It limits attention to events that are forever changing. To discover how your attention is being spent, discover what you habitually say to yourself. Listen to your narrative while suspending belief in it.

There is great and mysterious power in knowing the potential gift of your life as a teaching story. This book is not written to teach you skills to create your version of reality. You are already doing that with your internal narrative. It is an invitation to be quiet and unidentified in the events that are appearing in and around your consciousness. In this quiet, there is a revelation impossible to discern if your attention is caught by the noise of identification. The revelation does not bestow greater power to create a better story. It is bigger than that. Revelatory power can take the events of your life as they are and show them as essential to your own awakening as well as your contribution to the awakening of all humanity.
It is a power that shifts the story line from one limited to "about me" to one about all. With that shift there is both a profound surrender and a closer attention to how all is unfolding. There is paradoxically a disidentification from any character and a truer welcoming of all aspects of each character.

In profound, redemptive stories there is a moment of surrender to a deep command of being. This is not esoteric. It is concretely grounded in all who live fulfilled lives, however their fulfillment may be described. Whether it be religious, artistic, scientific, or ordinarily personal, there is recognition of something unarticulated by intellect. Surrender to this is surrender to the consciousness of being rather than to the conditioned structure of thought. With this deep and true surrender, stories shift in their perspective. With this shift you are no longer veiled from yourself. You are no longer bound by whatever inner or outer definitions may appear in your life story. All definitions and stories arise from the silent core, and in surrender all are then pointers to where they come from and where they return at their end. In surrender all is transparent from the luminosity of your naked self.

 To Purchase Hidden Treasure From Amazon.com, click here!


About Gangaji

Born in Texas in 1942, Gangaji grew up in Mississippi. After graduating from the University of Mississippi in 1964, she married and had a daughter. In 1972, she moved to San Francisco where she began exploring deeper levels of her being. She took Bodhisattva vows, practiced Zen and Vipassana meditation, helped run a Tibetan Buddhist Meditation Center, and had a career as an acupuncturist in the San Francisco Bay area.

 Despite her successes, Gangaji continued to experience a deep and persistent longing for fulfillment. She pursued many paths to change her life including relationship, motherhood, political activism, career, and spiritual practice, but even the greatest of her successes ultimately came up short. In the wake of her disillusionment, she made a final prayer for true help. In 1990, the answer to her prayer came unexpectedly, taking her to India and to the meeting that would change everything. There on the banks of the river Ganga, she met Sri H.W.L. Poonja, also known as Papaji, who opened the floodgates of self-recognition. In this meeting Gangaji's personal story of suffering ended and the promise of a true life began to flower and unfold.

Today, Gangaji travels the world speaking to seekers from all walks of life. A teacher and author, she shares her direct experience of the essential message she received from Papaji and offers it to all who want to discover a true and lasting fulfillment. Through her life and words, she powerfully articulates how it is really possible to discover the truth of who you are and to be true to that discovery.

Responses to Hidden Treasure:

"Gangaji is one of the smartest, clearest, and most poetic spiritual leaders of our time. Her writing in Hidden Treasure is compassionate, transparent, generous, and ruthless. The mere reading of only a few of her words brings me home to the truth of who I am in seconds." --Alanis Morissette, Grammy Award-winning singer and songwriter

"To liberate oneself from the story of the ego is a momentous leap utterly necessary in order to wake up to your true nature.  It is the transmission and tools for this great liberation from the story of ego which Gangaji gifts her students and all of her readers. What a joy to feel the power of this liberation in both Gangaji's words and even more, in the space of silence between the words.  It is only from this place of liberation that resplendent glory of the unique perspective of your enlightenment can emerge in its full radiance. It is an honor and delight to recommend this book to any sincere seeker."-- Marc Gafni, Rabbi PhD, author of Soul Prints and The Mystery of Love

"Gangaji's luminous words reflect her luminous Heart, which shines through in the naked telling of her story and her realization.  There's a simplicity, beauty, and grace in both her presence and prose which comes from the real freedom underneath.  Listen, absorb, relax, and know that you are already Home."
--Stephen Dinan, CEO, The Shift Network and author of Radical Spirit

"We each have our own story of the life we think that we are living. But underneath this story lies the deeper truth of who we are--our real nature--and a life that is fully present. With simplicity, clarity and the deep wisdom gained from her own lived experience, in this book Gangaji gives us the tools we need to make this step into our real self. Hidden Treasure is an invitation to wake up into the truth and freedom that are always here." --Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee Ph.D. Sufi teacher and author, The Return of the Feminine and World Soul

"Hidden Treasure not only speaks to the transformation of consciousness, it is a tool for directly transforming consciousness.  I turned the last page and felt cleansed, renewed.  Ordinary things were more vividly imbued with the sacred, loved ones more lovable, the path home to my true being ample and gracious.  The perennial truths Gangaji shares in this sublime book penetrate to the heart of our deepest longings, and reveal the treasures hidden in the places we have been conditioned to turn away from: the open fields of silence behind our stories." -- Mirabai Starr, adjunct professor of Philosophy and World Religions at University of New Mexico-Taos

 * Excerpt copyright C 2011 Gangaji. Reprinted by Permission of the Publisher, All Rights Reserved.

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