Thursday, 23 December 2010

Lives of Quiet Desperation



Source/Copyright: Forest & Kim Starr/Wikimedia

We lead lives of quiet desperation. Even in the self-help and metaphysical industry, in which I have been participating for the last 16 years (yes, I can't believe it's been that long either), there is generally a remarkably insensible approach to peace that defies common sense. Of course that's my opinion.

So how do we find peace? There have been many, many tools that have arisen in the last half century which have helped. Many swear by one or the other. I have my favourites, as readers of this blog no doubt have realised. However, there is a very subtle difference in the many approaches which can make a huge difference in the long run. It is simply this - are you finding "peace" in lieu of freedom?

I don't know what others may think, but it seems to me that if I want peace, I really don't want to lose any freedom with it. Otherwise, I might find being locked up in a padded cell with a straitjacket pretty peaceful. No bills to pay, no one to look after. More commonly, though, that is what happens in the mind with some of the techniques out there. If you are truly at peace, you should find the range of your behaviour widening, being more able to find more joy and adventure in life, being able to participate in it more without feeling threatened all the time (whilst being smart about the risks, of course).

Doesn't every technique do this? Well, actually, no. I am an advocate of a peaceful method of finding peace. If we go out with a technique or method designed to hammer whatever's bugging us in that moment back into place, I'm not really convinced that's really peace. We still have to be a manager, an overseer. And if it gives us peace, then we have to constantly guard and monitor that peace. In short, it's a full time job!

So the only way out is to make peace a way of life, a state of living. And also to incorporate our method of working out the kinks to peace into that way of life. We don't make it a huge effort to "fix" ourselves. The "problem" fixes itself in response to our approach, and life lives itself. Now that's true peace. Fire the manager, thank you very much. I didn't sign up to this lifetime to play manager to peace. Talk about a stressful job!

So whatever the method, live peace, and reflect truth, and if your zone of possibilities expands effortlessly, you're probably on the right path. If you're having to put more and more effort into living some kind of "life" in the hope of finding peace, take the padded cell. You might find it less stressful.

Does the Byron Katie stuff only work if your turnaround is totally believable to you?



Source/copyright: Joe Mabel/Wikimedia

I got this question in the mail, and in writing the answer decided it would be worth posting it up here as well. Clearly, I am not Byron Katie and I don't own The Work. Her material is available at www.thework.com and I have referenced it a few times now on this blog.


Think of Katie's stuff as an exploration of truth - your truth. It won't work for someone who is not going to go with it with an open mind, because they have already made up their minds. It similarly will be very much less effective if you try to approach it like some kind of tool to "fix" something. So, to answer your question, yes, it works when your turnaround is believable to you, but that is when you can find examples. It doesn't ONLY work via the turnaround. The questions are enough, sometimes.

Is it true? As Katie says, there are only two answers - yes or no. There is no "but if..." or "yes but..." or "in this situation..." You already have the "yes" in you. We are giving equal opportunity to the no, to see if it is true for us. It is not coercing the mind, and if you do that you'll find it won't work.

Can you absolutely know it is true? Look in again and check. This is where Katie can get some flak from people just coming to the work, because it looks like we are trying to make you say "no". It's not. It's just saying, check your reality map. If it's true for you then by all means stick with it. Go with what you feel. Close your eyes and see if it is true. All that is being asked is that you stay in your integrity.

How do you react when you think that thought? This is an education into how you react when you believe something to be true. Is it worth the pain and misery?

Can you find a single stress-free reason to keep that thought? This is a question she throws in sometimes. I heard a really nice variation of it once - give me one single peaceful reason to keep that thought. And if that reason makes you feel pain, it is NOT stress-free.

Who would you be without that thought? This is research. It is research into what you are outside that thought. Or, as I put it, thought on - pain, thought off - no pain. We're not trying to submerge it or anything. We are simply recognising that reality that the thought creates pain, and without it the confusion lifts, and so does the suffering.

The turnaround can be broken into three parts - to the self, to the other and to the opposite.

"He is a selfish jerk."

1.) To the self - "I am a selfish jerk (especially when thinking about him)."
2.) To the other - doesn't apply here.
3.) To the opposite - "He is not a selfish jerk."

The turnaround is again an exploration of your truth. You don't kick a turnaround under the rug if it just doesn't ring true at first. You write it down and think about it. Give it equal airing time to see if it is as true or truer than your original statement. Then you start finding examples.

Examples
- "I am a selfish jerk around him." Look at your answers to the question about how you react when you think that thought. How do you act around him? Do you pout, become quiet, react? If you took away that thought, you would meet the person for the very first time, not the person you are constructing in your mind. Which is why Katie likes to say that "no two people have ever met". We're all reacting in our minds. And when you act that way, do you think it provokes him to act that way?
- "He is not a selfish jerk." Take your mind away from just the one or two instances it is replaying. Now look at examples of when he is not selfish. You will find them. We are never completely one way or another. The thought provokes us to look at it with a biased mind.

The trick is to approach this with an open mind, a passion in finding the truth, even if it turns out to be what you didn't think it was. If you approach this just wanting to "fix" something, or if you try to force an answer that doesn't work for you, the work is unlikely to succeed.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Enlightenment Isn't Always Pretty



Source/Copyright: Phineastoad/Wikimedia

Enlightenment isn't always pretty. There is a definite ruthlessness about it. There is honesty that is required. Enlightenment is, as Adhyashanti would put it, the end of your world. There are a few common mistakes that followers of the path can fall to, and the main one amongst the New Age/spiritual crowd is the trap of trancendence.

With techniques of energy control and power often available to them (and they are increasingly easily available these days), the average seeker can now "attune" himself to high level vibrations indeed. Nothing wrong with this. In fact, it can be a definite plus. The downside is when this ability to skip above the regular frequencies of existence is abused. It is to be used as a privilege, not as a shield.

If one harbours resistance or attachment somewhere, the responsibility is to enter into it and release it through whatever process one can use - thoughtful inquiry, wrathful visualisation, determined emotional openness. If one instead chooses to continually play with higher energies and pretend it does not exist, this creates a problem. The attachment of the energy festers. The very fact that one has to use a technique to remain in the realm of higher frequencies indicates that that is not the resting state, the default option.

So, one comes back and destroys the chains of attachment with whatever method. One could even use the higher energies to attune it, whilst sitting in those frequencies. However, the key is that the garden must be weeded. When this is done, the higher states become far easier to dance the dance of enlightenment.

Compassion is the Mark



Source/copyright: Petr Bro┼ż/Wikimedia

The Master views the parts with compassion because she understands the whole. Her constant practice is humility. - A Thousand Names for Joy by Byron Katie with Stephen Mitchell

Compassion is the mark of enlightenment. Or is it? This is one I have worked with in many ways, and still would not claim to understand much of it at all. Yet I have recently had some insights regarding compassion. We can engage with compassion in two main ways. One is, having some degree of awakening, we are able to perceive the dance of luminosity and emptiness, and thus are able to view each individually component with generosity and openness, with compassion because you see them for what they are, not what they threaten your ego-identity with.

The more practical application of compassion for most people is the high watermark. Compassion is very useful, because we can use it as the eternal compass, the measure of how open and receptive to emptiness we really are. Even in traditional psychology, we find it easier to be kind when we perceive our basic needs are met. I defer back to the perceived needs/wants of the ego - approval, survival and control.

So, in our daily practice, we can ask ourselves, "How compassionate am I feeling?" and "Can I allow this degree of compassion to increase?" In increasing it, we are feelingmore open, and this allows a greater sense of awakening to the dream-like nature of reality because we are no longer grasping it. We do this with a sense of humility, not with a sense to conquer it, for conquering is in itself an ego trip. This work takes a tremendous amount of personal integrity and honesty. If we find ourselves stuck, then we can explore the stuckness, identifying the reluctance. The reluctance is always this - the ego will have to give up some part of itself. That part will inevitably be a recipe of survival, control and approval tied up with a thought.

We increase our willingness, faith, trust and surrender into compassion. We allow it to support us, just so. It is like the sea rushing into the dry desert. And we die into it, into a state of emptiness and luminosity, resonating and recognising ourselves as this state.

If there is further stuckness, we then apply a more dualistic solution, going lower down the energetic scale to activate the triple liberators. We sit in duality, educating ourselves with the wisdom insights and exposing ego to the reality of pain which its thoughts create. Then we use the determination to create more openness. This is the more wrathful version of surrender.

Either way, compassion is the mark we can aspire to. When we go into it, we disappear and integrate completely into it, like a drop of milk in a glass of water.

The Triple Liberators




After months of silence, it is appropriate to discuss the three liberators, as I call them, or the three liberating emotions. These are not anything like the usual suspects like love or compassion or faith. Rather, these three liberators have to do with the baser suffering instinct.

They are outlined here as an idea, but it is highly encouraged that any work with these be done with supervision of appropriate professionals. I do not bear any responsibility for anything arising from their use or misue.

They are:

1.) Hopelessness/weariness - The weariness of experiencing the pain of daily life. This also includes the weariness of holding onto thoughts that create suffering and pain in our minds through unfulfilled wants and desires. This creates tension and desire and ultimately suffering.

2.) Anger/retaliation - Sometimes the ego reacts to suffering not with weariness but with anger and a sense of having being done an injustice. This energy, although apparently opposite (and in some ways it is) to the energy of hopelessness, can also be applied when channelled to good use.

3.) Jadedness/cynicism/pessimism - This happens when the ego goes neither into victim mode in hopelessness or revenge mode in anger, but instead steels and covers itself with an air of indifference, or protects itself with lower expectations. This lowers sensitivity, and is trickier to deal with in some ways than the other two, but it is still workable.

The trick with these three emotions is to temper them with the appropriate insight. When mixed with wisdom, they can create the motivation to surrender to God, or to release a belief or thought that is creating pain. The key wisdom insight is to realise that there is really nothing to fight against, or to hold onto. That reality just is. Byron Katie's work is a good starting point for this. Whereas my favoured path is to work the emotions, she works the wisdom directly. This approach is a mix of both.

When Katie asks someone to write a painful thought down in her Judge Thy Neighbour worksheet, it is accessing a thought of pain. Then she asks, "Is that true?" and "Can you absolutely know that that is true?" These are questions pointing to the flimsiness of thoughts and belief. They create the wisdom insight that everything is really depending on which side you take, which point of view you are persuaded by.

Then she asks, "How do you feel when you think that thought?" and "Who would you be without that thought?" These questions point to another wisdom insight - that really it is the thought which is creating the pain, not reality itself. It is like green glass held before a light. Put it in front of it - pain. Take the glass away - no pain. It has nothing to do with the light of reality itself. It is the glass filter of thought that does it.

This bears an extreme connection with the triple liberators, for the answer to "How do you feel when you that thought?" is precisely the suffering which leads to the ego reactions. If one were awakened, just becoming aware of that thought would prompt one to release it. However, more often, then is a determination to cling on. The Work of Byron Katie then goes on to change the perspective using a turnaround. There is another way.

We can take the wisdom insight derived from the Inquiry Process, or indeed any other insight-based process or even spiritual principles such as Buddha's Four Noble Truths (1. Life sucks. 2. Life sucks because you want things. 3. So stop wanting things. 4. Deal with it.) and apply it to the emotions, transforming them into liberation. We turn them into a burning determination to be free of the pain, to release the limiting and painful thought, come what may.

So, weariness and hopelessness becomes a determination to find peace. To reside in peace, even if it means giving up all perception of how the ego thinks the world is battering it. The energy of anger is even more useful - it is already looking to strike. We simply guide it to the right target - the offending thought, not the world. In cynicism, expectations are low. The way to deal with it is to recognise that since one doesn't really expect much, there really isn't much to lose anyway, and to play along just in case something spectacular happens.

By confronting and sitting in the emotions this way, and constantly applying the wisdom insight that the pain is arising because of a thought, one gains the determination to be courageous, to open one's mind to the acceptance of what is, of reality. The alternative is suffering. Why is there determination? Because initially fear and uncertainty buffers us as we enter the unfamiliar territory of being open minded. As we do, we hold onto the forged determination to enter into the flame, and our dual minds die into peace.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Twelve Ways of Realising God

Twelve Ways of Realizing Me


1. LONGING...If you experience that same longing and thirst for Union with Me as one who has been lying for days in the hot sun of the Sahara experiences the longing for water, then you will realize Me.

2. PEACE OF MIND...If you have the peace of a frozen lake, then too, you will realize Me.

3. HUMILITY...If you have the humility of the earth which can be molded into any shape, then you will know Me.

4. DESPERATION...If you experience the desperation that causes a man to commit suicide and you feel that you cannot live without seeing Me, then you will see Me.

5. FAITH...If you have the complete faith that Kalyan had for his Master, in believing it was night, although it was day, because his Master said so, then you will know Me.

6. FIDELITY...If you have the fidelity that the breath has in giving you company, even without your constantly feeling it, till the end of your life, that both in happiness and in suffering gives you company and never turns against you, then you will know Me.

7. CONTROL THROUGH LOVE...When your love for Me drives away your lust for the things of the senses, then you realize Me.

8. SELFLESS SERVICE...If you have the quality of selfless service unaffected by results, similar to that of the sun which serves the world by shining on all creation, on the grass in the field, on the birds in the air, on the beasts in the forest, on all mankind with its sinner and its saint, its rich and its poor, unconscious of their attitude towards it, then you will win Me.

9. RENUNCIATION...If you renounce for Me everything physical, mental and spiritual, then you have Me.

10. OBEDIENCE...If your obedience is spontaneous, complete and natural as the light is to the eye or smell is to the nose, then you come to Me.

11. SURRENDER...If your surrender to Me is as wholehearted as that of one, who, suffering from insomnia, surrenders to sudden sleep without fear of being lost, then you have Me.

12. LOVE...If you have that love for Me that St. Francis had for Jesus, then not only will you realize Me, but you will please Me.

— Meher Baba (Source: http://www.ambppct.org/meherbaba/12-ways-of-realizing-me.php)

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

He Can Who Thinks He Can

Kaye: This is an absolutely crucial excerpt from Christian Daa Larson's book Your Forces and How to Use Them. I urge you to ponder upon these concepts, because it is indeed, in my own experience, a good chunk of why students fail.

The discovery of the fact that man is as he thinks, has originated a number of strange ideas concerning the power of thought. One of the principal of these is the belief that thought is a domineering force to be used in controlling things and in compelling fate to come our way. But that this belief is unscientific in every sense of the term has been demonstrated any number of times.

Kaye: Here we see effectively an emphatic denial of the popular version of the Law of Attraction. I too have found this to be true. You can indeed change reality, but for every change there is a price. To think that you can change and compel reality without changing first yourself is an illusion. The very act of compelling from a position of mental weakness is asking for trouble. It either won't work or won't work in the long run.

Those who have accepted this belief, and who have tried to use thought as a compelling force, have seemingly succeeded in the beginning, but later on have utterly failed, and the reason is that the very moment we proceed to apply thought in this manner, we place ourselves out of harmony with everything, both within ourselves and in our environment.

Kaye: I would reread that sentence many, many times. We have a riddle here - to try to force change is to go against nature, and thus create disharmony. But to create change, surely things must change? The answer is that we must change ourselves, our attitude, and our beliefs. It is like a snowball stuck in a hole. If we try to pull it out, it will exhaust us. Instead, if the ice melts and seeps away, it will naturally escape the hole. So the question is, what constitutes melting and seeping away?

The seeming success that such people have had in the beginning, or for a season, is due to the fact that a strong compelling force can cause the various elements of life to respond for awhile, but the force that compels, weakens itself through the very act of compelling, and finally loses its power completely; and then, whatever has been gathered begins to slip away.

Kaye: Scary enough for you to pay attention yet? Trying to manipulate the universe is like a weakling trying to lift a boulder whilst standing on a three-legged stool. Through supreme effort it might be done, but once strength is lost the poor sod may find the boulder crashing down on him. What you want to do is 1. Remove the stool. 2. To put the weakling into a regimen of training 3. Give him a lever.

This explains why thousands of ardent students of metaphysics have failed to secure the results desired, or have succeeded only in spurts. They have taken the wrong view of the power of thought, and therefore have caused their power to work against them during the greater part of the time.

Kaye: First we have to remove the stool. That is the insecurity that is present when the metaphysician articulates his desire. It is the wish that is tainted by uncertainty. When a mighty manifester selects his target, there is no question of attaining it. There is only an intention that it be achieved. Thus, we have to work on belief in one's ability, or the ability of the mind.

The power of thought is not a compelling force. It is a building force, and it is only in the latter sense that desirable results can be produced.The building capacity of thought, however, is practically unlimited. Therefore there is no end to what might be accomplished, so long as this power is employed intelligently.

To apply the full building power of thought, we should proceed upo the principle that he can who thinks he can, and we should act in the full conviction tht whatever man thinks he can do, he can do, because there is no limit to the power that such thinking can bring forth. The majority among intelligent minds admit that there is some truth in the statement that he can who thinks he can, but they do not, as a rule, believe it to be a very large truth. They admit that we gain more confidence in ourselves when we think that we can do what we have undertaken to do, and also that we become more determined, but aside from that, they see no further value in that particular attitude of mind. They do not realise that he who thinks he can, develops the power that can; but this is the truth, and it is one of the most important of all truths in the vast metaphysical domain.

Kaye: So we build belief that a thing is possible. This is parallel to the Desire Belief Expectancy axis in the Silva Method. However, receptivity is also key, as is faith. In training, we are training our thoughts to be silent, to be at rest. Only when activity becomes minimal does the mind have space to create vast change. This is the equivalent of alpha. In visualisation and imagination, it is important to use the present tense sense, for that bypasses many of the blocks which are created by the conscious mind.

At the conscious level, it is useful to imagine the thoughts employed at the alpha level having vast power, and constantly affecting what they need to affect in order for something to manifest. Keep this attitude, and you will be in faith. Keep humble and receptive at the conscious waking level, and the subconscious will act all the faster.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Promise Yourself



Source/copyright: Superflewis/Wikimedia

Promise yourself to be so strong
that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.

To talk health, happiness and prosperity
to every person you meet.

To make all your friends
feel that there is something in them.

To look at the sunny side of everything
and make your optimism come true.

To think only of the best, to work only for the best
and expect only the best.

To be enthusiastic about the success of others
as you are about your own.

To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to
greater achievements of the future.

To wear a cheerful countenance at all times
and give every living creature you meet a smile.

To give so much time to the improvement of yourself
that you have no time to criticise others.

To be too large for worry, too noble for anger,
too strong for fear and too happy
to permit the presence of trouble.

- Christian D Larson
"Your Forces and How to Use Them" 1912

The Prayer of the Chalice


Source: Vassil/Wikimedia

Father, to you I raise my whole being
- a vessel emptied of self.
Accept, O Lord, this my emptiness,
and so fill me with yourself, your light, your love, your life -
that these your precious gifts may radiate through me and over-
flow the chalice of my heart into the hearts of all with whom I
come in contact this day revealing unto them
the beauty of your joy
and wholeness
and the serenity of your peace
which nothing can destroy.

- Francis Nuttall

Do It Anyway


Copyright/source: Kropsoq/Wikimedia


Found written on the wall in Mother Teresa's home for children in Calcutta:

People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.

What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.

Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.

In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.

- Original by Dr. Kent M Keith. This version is credited to Mother Teresa

Monday, 17 May 2010

The Essence, The Nittus Grittus


Source/copyright: Szczery/Wikimedia

If you are unhappy, be unhappy. Do not judge yourself for being that way.

It is wonderful to be unhappy, it is God expressing emotion. Love your unhappiness. It means you are ready for change.

You are ready to go forward, yet you mourn for the old;
you are not ready to let go.

Allow the unhappiness, there is purposefulness in it. Remove from your life everything that inhibits you
from being the totality of yourself. That is called "becoming"

Remove from your thoughts all the have to's, should's, must's.
Remove the images you think you must be and just be.

Embrace your life. Know that you created it.
Love all that you have been, said and done.
Know it was all purposeful.

Never see anything as a failure. See everything as an accomplishment.
Love the hurt, the pain, the sorrow.
For what an experience! What a wonderment!
What jewels of wisdom are now in your treasure!

Be your own teacher, friend, counsel.
Confide in yourself, speak to yourself.

Seek answers that feel right within your soul.
Your soul knows what the truth is, and it will tell you through feelings.
Always listen to your feelings. They know ... they know.

Live, experience, feel. Do not seek to identify yourself.
You will never have a point of understanding from which you
can say, "This is who I am!", for in each expanding moment
of consciousness, of being God, who you are will have changed
into the next moment of being.
To know who you are is to feel what you feel each moment.

Never do anything, no matter how far you are into it,
if you lose the joy of it and it becomes monotonous and mundane.
Do away with it and do something else that brings happiness.
For perhaps what you needed to learn from it you have already achieved.
Go wherever you want to go,
Do whatever you want to do,
for as long as you want to.

Create only for the mere joy of creating.
When you create for you, you will soon find youself living in joy.


Don't ever strive to have anyone understand you.
If they wish to understand, they will.

Love everyone. Have compassion for all other entities.
You do not need to go and take care of them.
Love them by allowing them to express however they choose.
That is the greatest thing you can do!
If they are angered or disappointed by your life, love them
by allowing them to be thay way.
Then you have become a great god, a great light!


- Author Unknown

Love Yourself


Source/Copyright: Stan Shebs/Wikimedia

Take full responsibility for your life.
Stop blaming others.
See yourself as the cause of what happens to you.

Do things you like to do.
Don't stay in a job you don't like.
Participate in life at the highest level you can.

Stop terrorising yourself with your thoughts.
Be gentle and kind and patient with yourself.

Give yourself the simple pleasures of life abundantly.
Wear clothes you feel good in, get a massage etc.

Watch what you say. Avoid self put-downs.
Stop being critical of yourself and others.

Take care of your body.
Give it exercise and good food.

Be willing to create a life-style that generates and nourishes self-esteem.
Associate with others with high esteem.

Acknowledge yourself frequently.
Keep a diary of your successes and accomplishments.

Avoid comparing yourself with others.
Remember that it's who we are, not what we do, that's important

Give yourself permission to do nothing periodically.
Schedule time by yourself.

Frequently take deep breaths.
Discover the benefit and pleasure of breathing fully.

Eat first class frequently.
Don't look at the right side of the menu.

Stop trying to change others.
Focus your attention on being the way you want others to be.

Look into a mirror regularly
and say "I love you, I really love you".

Stop feeling guilty and saying "I'm sorry".
See mistakes as valuable lessons and avoid judging yourself.

Consciously generate positive thoughts and feelings of self-love
in place of old thoughts of inadequacy.

Be willing to laugh at yourself and at life.
Stop taking yourself so seriously.

Accept compliments from others without embarrassment.
Don't invalidate their positive thoughts and feelings about you.

Be kind to your mind.
Don't hate yourself for having negative thoughts.
Gently change your thoughts.

Keep your awareness and your thoughts focussed in present time
instead of living in the past or future.

Acknowledge others frequently.
Tell them what you like and appreciate in them.

Invest money in yourself.
Go to seminars, workshops and courses that develop your talents.

Make a list of 10 things
you love doing and do them frequently.

Treat yourself as you would treat someone you really loved.
Praise yourself.


- Author Unknown

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

O del mio dolce ardor

video

Probably the most difficult song I had to learn when I was younger, although not for range. I was trained in breath control with this song and I still habitually sing it drawn out much longer than most singers. The accuracy of tone and resonance isn't what it used to be but I personally think this was a pretty good attempt.

Gia il sole del Gange

video

And just to prove that I can do classical when I want to...Scarlatti.

On the Street Where You Live

video

I was having some fun here - this is a more operatic version of the same song.

On the Street Where You Live

video

Impossible Dream

video

I Could Have Danced All Night

video

Can anyone tell I was at Julie Andrew's "The Gift of Music" at the O2 Arena?

Wouldn't it be Loverly?

video

"Okay, I'll stop now," he said.

So he lied. Live with it.

I thought my attempt at sounding anywhere near Eliza was so bad that it just had to go up.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Feed the Birds

video

This was a childhood favourite. Okay, I'll stop now. Although these are the only recordings I've ever made getting anywhere near to a falsetto.

Can You Feel the Love Tonight

video

Can't seem to leave it alone, can I?

Beauty and the Beast (Tale as Old as Time)

video


Same comments as below. The mistake in the lyrics caught me by surprise so I went with the typos. Yes, I'm enough of a geek to know the lyrics off by heart.

A Whole New World

video

I was just fooling around with this with a morning (read: not warmed up yet) voice. It came out surprisingly passable, so be nice!

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Meditating on the Kleshas and the Stain of Thoughts

Let me start by providing a link I intend to quote extensively from in this seminar:

http://www.kagyu.org/kagyulineage/buddhism/int/int04.php


Let me also begin by stating that this is simply an out loud rambling meditation on the content of that seminar, and does not in any way represent anyone's thoughts other than my own.

My notes on the content:

The Four Noble Truths were presented in 3 stages:
1. The truth of the origin of suffering
2. The appropriate actions to neutralise suffering
3. The third one I will quote directly: "Third, he taught that if one knows suffering, there is nothing else that one needs to know; if one removes its origin, there is nothing else that one needs to remove; if one applies the practice, nothing else need be applied; and if one experiences cessation, there is nothing else to experience."

My thoughts:

So basically, we are dealing with Noble Truths 1 (life is full of suffering) and 2 (life is full of suffering because we want things) in stage 1. Stage 2 has to do with Noble Truths 3 (so stop wanting things) and 4 (deal with it). Stage 3 basically says, in my humble and possibly mistaken interpretation, if you fulfil stages 1 and 2 and accomplish the Four Noble Truths, you are done. Attained the Emptiness. Enlightened. Period.

The question, of course, is how?

My notes on the content:

The source of karma lies in the Six Kleshas, which I think is extremely well described by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. (My interpretation of his version of the kleshas is here. Note in particular that he also described the kleshas the one of the two kunjung, or sources of suffering. Basically, the model is that we suffer when we develop an emotional attachment to thought in one way or another. I really like his progressive model of it though.) I quote the seminar content wholesale again here:

1. hatred, or anger, which creates the experience of the hell realm;
2. greed, or miserliness, which creates the hungry ghost realm;
3. ignorance of how to act virtuously is the cause of rebirth in the animal realm;
4. attachment (virtuous action performed with attachment to the meritorious results) is the cause of human rebirth;
5. jealousy (virtuous action sullied by jealousy) causes rebirth in the demigod realm; and
6. pride, or egotism (virtuous action performed with pride) causes a godly rebirth.


The seminar goes on to describe a model as follows:


Kleshas/defilements => Unskillful actions => Karma => Suffering

Solution:
Loving kindness + compassion = Diminished defilements/kleshas
Discriminating awareness (prajna) arising out of wisdom of emptiness = Complete uprooting of kleshas


My thoughts:

The "unskillful actions" bit in my simplified arrow model is interesting, because it implies something. Mainly, it seems to imply that if actions were uncoloured by the kleshas, then it is enlightened, or skillful action. So the "skillful means" so often discussed in Buddhism is really nothing more (or less) than methods which are untainted by the kleshas. This whole discussion is very important, because it answers the question of whether someone is enlightened or not. Basically, if you are subject to emotions still, stuck with kleshas still, then you are not fully enlightened, at least according to this model.

This angle is also incredibly important because it gives us a clue as to how to cease suffering. If the kleshas are the source of the issue, then it is a simple (if not easy) matter to dissolve them. And herein lies the problem. There are relative methods and absolute methods for dissolving the kleshas.

My notes on the content:
Solution: Loving kindness + compassion = Diminished defilements/kleshas
Discriminating awareness (prajna) arising out of wisdom of emptiness = Complete uprooting of kleshas


My thoughts:
There are other ways of relating to the kleshas. Since in a sense they form the very root of Buddhism, it is unsurprising that many approaches have developed. From the book "Training the Mind and Cultivating Loving-Kindness" by Chogyam Trungpa, quote number 44 says: Train in the three difficulties. Paraphrasing, they are:

1. Understand how the kleshas trick you.
2. Dispel the emotionalism.
3. Cut the continuity of the emotionalism. (This is the source of the vow never to repeat it again. Incidentally, I used to think vowing might be too harsh a method, especially since it is a vow that is very difficult to keep. When walking in meditation at a retreat recently, it dawned on me that even the karmic effects of not keeping a vow help one to see the kleshas, for the enhanced "negative" (as perceived by the individuated mind) experiences push one back closer to truth. It is a method rooted more in relativity than the absolute, I'll grant, but there is definitely something about it.)

Looking at this, we can see that there is definite value in not being pushed around, or bullied, by the kleshas. If one can face them down with equanimity, then one has gone a long way towards being aware. So, one useful practice is to Notice. Noticing what emotions are doing, or are pushing you to do, is in my opinion getting to know the kleshas. You can't really dispel them if you aren't aware of them. It really doesn't matter what the justification for the klesha is - in fact one of the kleshas is related to holding stubbornly to a worldview. The kleshas, I think, basically attach to thoughts in order to survive.

Klesha = emotional push that becomes emotional bully if you let it
Emotional bully = evolves from the emotional push when it starts sticking to thought and congealing
Emotional despot = kleshas completely fused with thought harden the personality and the individual

So, when I developed a way of relating to fear for myself, I also found a way not to be pushed around by doubt and uncertainty. It certainly helped reduce my level of suffering, although I continue to think that examining the kleshas is a very worthwhile and important experience.

The notes say that compassion or loving kindness reduces the kleshas. There is relative and absolute bodhichitta. This is relative bodhichitta, I think. By practising compassion towards others and meditating on the suffering of others, our self diminishes, for we are meditating on how small our problems really are, compared to others less fortunate than us. This keeps the ego, which one could consider the emotional golem (definition of golem: blockhead. Think about it!), in check. But it still exists, and the golem is pretty sly - it survives in very sneaky ways. So, the only way to completely exit it is to observe the source of thought, the ultimate view - beyond thought. The emptiness. Again. Lovely how things go in a circle, isn't it? For if we can become aware and remain aware of the dreamlike nature of existence, then we are no longer fooled by the kleshas, and can do as we wish. We become free. The hot buttons disappear.

My notes on the content:
Loving kindness + prajna arises out of 5 paths:
1. The path of accumulation
Stage 1:
(a) Taking refuge
(b) Shinay - tranquillity meditation
(c) Listening to the teachings (the wisdom of hearing)
(d) Reflecting on them with the analytical mind (the wisdom of contemplation), which prepares the intellectual/conceptual mind for emptiness by making it fertile to the idea
Stage 2:
(a) Abandonment of negative actions
(b) Cultivation of virtuous actions to accumulate merit
Stage 3:
Development of four qualities relating to Dharma:
(a) aspiration/strong desire to practice
(b) diligence in practice
(c) recollecting/remembering one's practice
(d) developing meditative one-pointedness
2. The path of unification: Deepening of the first path.
3. The path of seeing: The first experience of emptiness. This is also the first bhumi - from this stage there is possibility of falling back.
4. The path of meditation: Stabilising the experience of emptiness in the path of seeing. This is the 2nd to the 10th bhumi. At the 10th bhumi all the subtle traces of the kleshas are purified.
5. The path of no learning: Complete purification. Enlightenment.


Notice that it is all very simple - it has to do with attaining emptiness, or seeing past the illusion of separation. Even when you see past the illusion (path of seeing), there is continued practice so that you learn to abide in the emptiness. You are no longer sitting as ego perceiving emptiness, but ultimately as emptiness perceiving thought. Yet you are totally unmoved by it because you have gone past the kleshas. Enlightenment, plain and simple. Om mani padme hum.

Friday, 16 April 2010

Advice for Carrying the View by His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche




Advice for Carrying the View

by His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

The everyday practice is simply to develop a complete acceptance and openness to all situations and emotions, and to all people, experiencing everything totally without mental reservations and blockages, so that one never withdraws or centralizes into oneself.

This produces a tremendous energy that is usually locked up in the process of mental evasion and a general running away from life experiences.

Clarity of awareness may, in its initial stages, be unpleasant or fear inspiring. If so, then one should open oneself completely to the pain or the fear and welcome it. In this way the barriers created by one’s own habitual emotional reactions and prejudices are broken down.

When performing the meditation practice one should develop the feeling of opening oneself completely to the whole universe with absolute simplicity and nakedness of mind, ridding oneself of all protecting barriers. Don’t mentally split into two when meditating, one part of the mind watching the other like a cat watching a mouse.

One should realize that one does not meditate to go deeply into oneself and withdraw from the world. In buddhist yoga, even when meditating on chakras there is no introspection concentration. Complete openness of mind is the essential point.

The ground of samsara and nirvana is the alaya, the beginning and the end of confusion and realization, the nature of universal shunyata and of all apparent phenomena. It is even more fundamental than the trikaya and is free from bias toward enlightenment. It is sometimes called the “pure” or “original” mind.

Although prajna (wisdom) sees in it no basis for such concepts as different aspects, the fundamental aspects of complete openness, natural perfection, and absolute spontaneity are distinguished by upaya (skillful means) as useful devices.

All aspects of every phenomenon are completely clear and lucid. The whole universe is open and unobstructed, everything mutually interpenetrating. Seeing all things nakedly, clear and free from obscurations, there is nothing to attain or realize. The nature of things naturally appears and is naturally present in time-transcending awareness; this is complete openness.

Everything is perfect just as it is, completely pure and undefiled. All phenomena naturally appear in their uniquely correct modes and situations, forming ever-changing patterns full of meaning and significance, like participants in a great dance. Everything is a symbol, yet there is no difference between the symbol and the truth symbolized. With no effort of practice whatsoever, liberation, enlightenment, and buddhahood are already fully developed and perfected. This is natural perfection.

The everyday practice is just ordinary life itself. Since the underdeveloped state does not exist there is no need to behave in any special way or try to attain or practice anything. There should be no feeling of striving to reach some exalted goal or higher state; this simply produces something conditional or artificial that will act as an obstruction to the free flow of the mind. One should never think of oneself as “sinful” or worthless, but as naturally pure and perfect, lacking nothing.

When performing meditation practice one should think of it as just a natural function of everyday living, like eating or breathing, not as a special, formal event to be undertaken with great seriousness and solemnity. One must realize that to meditate is to pass beyond effort, beyond practice, beyond aims and goals, and beyond the dualism of bondage and liberation.

Meditation is always perfect, so there is no need to correct anything. Since everything that arises is simply the play of the mind, there are no “bad” meditation sessions and no need to judge thoughts as good or evil. Therefore, one should not sit down to meditate with various hopes or fears about the outcome; one just does it, with no selfconscious feeling of “I am meditating,” and without attempting to control or force the mind, and without trying to become peaceful.

If one finds that one is going astray in any of these ways, one should stop meditating and simply rest and relax for a while before resuming.

If, either during or after meditation, one has experiences that one interprets as results, they should not be made into anything special. Recognize that they are just phenomena and simply observe them. Above all, do not attempt to recreate them as this opposes the natural spontaneity of the mind. All phenomena are completely new and fresh and absolutely unique, entirely free from all concepts of past, present, and future—as if experienced in another dimension of time; this is absolute spontaneity.

The continual stream of new discovery and fresh revelation and inspiration that arises at every moment is the manifestation of the eternal youth of the living dharma and its wonders; splendor and spontaneity is the play or dance aspect of the universe as guru.

One should learn to see everyday life as a mandala in which one is at the center, and be free of the bias and prejudice of past conditioning, present desires, and hopes and expectations about the future.

The figures of the mandala are the day-to-day objects of one’s life experiences moving in the great dance of the play of the universe, the symbolism by which the guru reveals profound and ultimate meaning and significance. Therefore, be natural and spontaneous; accept and learn from everything.

See the comical, amusing side of initiating situations. In meditation, see through the illusion of past, present, and future. The past is but a present memory or condition, the future but a present projection, and the present itself vanishes before it can be grasped.

One should put an end to conceptions about meditation and free oneself from memories of the past. Each moment of meditation is completely unique and full of potentiality of new discovery, so one is incapable of judging meditation by past experience or by theory.

Simply plunge straight into meditation at this very moment with your whole mind, and be free from hesitation, boredom, or excitement.

When meditating it is traditional and best, if possible, to sit cross-legged with the back erect but not rigid. However, it is most important to feel comfortable, so it is better to sit in a chair if sitting cross-legged is painful.

One’s mental attitude should be inspired by the three fundamental aspects, whether the meditation is with or without form, and it may often prove desirable, if not essential, to precede a period of formless meditation by a period of meditation with form.

To provide for this eventuality many classes of preliminary meditation practices have been developed over centuries of buddhist practice, the most important being meditations on breathing, mantra recitation, and visualization techniques.

To engage in the second and third of these classes, personal instruction from one’s guru is required, but a few words on the first would not be out of place here as the method used varies little from person to person.

First, let the mind follow the movement of the breath, in and out, until it becomes calm and tranquil. Then increasingly rest the mind on the breath until one’s whole being seems to be identified with it.

Finally, become aware of the breath leaving the body and going out into space, and gradually transfer the attention from the breath to the sensation of spaciousness and expansion. By letting this final sensation merge into complete openness, one moves into the sphere of formless meditation.

In all probability the above description of the three fundamental aspects will seem vague and inadequate. This is inevitable since they attempt to describe what is not only beyond words but beyond thought as well. They invite practice of what is, essentially, a state of being.

The words are simply a form of upaya, skillful means, a hint which, if acted upon, will enable one’s innate natural wisdom and naturally perfect action to arise spontaneously.

Sometimes in meditation one may experience a gap in one’s normal consciousness, a sudden and complete openness. This experience arises only when one has ceased to think in terms of meditation and the object of meditation. It is a glimpse of reality, a sudden flash that occurs infrequently at first, and then, with continued practice, more and more frequently. It may not be a particularly shattering or explosive experience at all, just a moment of great simplicity.

Do not make the mistake of deliberately trying to force these experiences to recur, for to do so is to betray the naturalness and spontaneity of reality.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

The Conceit of Self



The conceit of self (mana in Pali) is said to be the last of the great obstacles to full awakening. Conceit is an ingenious creature, at times masquerading as humility, empathy, or virtue. Conceit manifests in the feelings of being better than, worse than, and equal to another. Within these three dimensions of conceit are held the whole tormented world of comparing, evaluating, and judging that afflicts our hearts. Jealousy, resentment, fear, and low self-esteem spring from this deeply embedded pattern. Conceit perpetuates the dualities of “self” and “other”—the schisms that are the root of the enormous alienation and suffering in our world. Our commitment to awakening asks us to honestly explore the ways in which conceit manifests in our lives and to find the way to its end.



Christina Feldman

Thursday 8th April 2010
Tricycle Daily Dharma

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

You Are Not Alone



Source: Andrew Bossi/Wikimedia

When I speak about inner practice, about facing one's fears and embracing them, about having the courage to look where the mind hides its darkest secrets, there is often a wise nodding that goes in the room. There is a resonance not with me, but with the bare truth that is being spoken. But there is also sometimes a feeling amongst my listeners that somehow, Kaye is different. (Well, weird different, maybe!) Somehow, he is special. Somehow, he can do it, but I can't. Or somehow, he must have forgotten how scary it feels to face one's fears full on. As you can see from the previous post on this blog, I have not. But sometimes, it pays to be reminded that many others have gone through the process. This is from a nationally renowned trainer in the USA, at my request, to share what it feels like to have recently gone through what seemed to be a trial by fire by life and its karmic effects. Sometimes, it pays to be reminded that as difficult and fearful as life seems, you are not alone, and it can be done.


Where I Stand

When you teach others to overcome obstacles and limiting beliefs as part of your career, what the heck do you do when your obstacles and limitations don't respond to the tools you already have? Or when the problem has aspects you can't even see?

I turned to someone whom I could trust to help me see what seemed invisible so I could address what seemed unknowable - Kaye Lee.

I've spent virtually my entire life entrenched in the masculine warrior metaphor - let's go after it (whatever it is) and take no prisoners. There's no problem that can't be solved by the application of more force, more strength, more willpower. Guess what? This time it didn't work. The harder I fought, the more force I tried to apply, the more I felt like a fly stuck in amber - A great metaphor for years of struggle and resentment with no clear idea how to break the cycle.

I just wanted to pull my head under the covers, hoping and praying for someone to swoop in and rescue me. That didn't work either.

What did work was facing the fear head on. This really felt like standing at the edge of the Grand Canyon without a parachute, and having nothing to lose by stepping off the edge anyway. Being able to take that step from a place of complete surrender and openness, and gratitude for the way in which events made clear to me what was truly important in my life. What worked was release or surrender of the warrior paradigm and complete acceptance of the consequences, however dire they turned out to be. (Here I am talking about the power of surrender when previously I resented even saying the word, because it seemed like the antithesis of power, more like the complete abdication of power.)

I guess a shift of this magnitude was needed. Every thing else was like applying Band-aids to stop significant bleeding - ultimately ineffective.

The clarity and peace that come from acceptance and surrender is amazing. I feel more free, lighter and happier, more content, than I could have imagined.

You asked the three things I've learned:

* My Yang warrior stance still has a use in my day-to-day life. It's not the basis for my spiritual energy anymore. It is a role or tool now that comes from peace and power versus a reaction to protect myself, an attempt to keep myself safe. I didn't turn wimpy by embracing a willingness to surrender. Previously I had been unable to imagine moving through the world without the warrior to keep me safe.
* The metaphor of openness, not binary like a door either open or closed, but like a flower bud opening. The beauty and power of this metaphor allowed me, for the first time I'm aware of, to connect with the power and gracefulness of acceptance, of surrender.
* The supportive energies of the universe are always there, always here with me, not waiting in some celestial or energetic staging area for me to call them in.


My dear friend, thank you seems pale, but I can say thank you for the gift of such peace, and thank you for continuing to offer the gift until I was finally ready to receive.


And I, in turn, thank my dear friend and colleague for being so willing to share the experience so that others may draw inspiration from it.

The path is not clean and swept and tidy. The people who are beside you may not be well-dressed, or rich, or cultured. The journey is not always smooth. Winds will blow, candles will gutter. But if one can look past the fear, labels lose their power, for there is no more aversion, and when there is no more aversion, there is no more running. When there is no more running, there is peace. And the innate perfection reveals itself.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

What Masters Get Up To in Caves


Image source: Andre Engels/Wikimedia




So let's get into what masters get up to when they hole up in caves with no food or water for 20 days or more. And no, in case you were thinking to ask, this is NOT something I do. Nonetheless, Master Chunyi Lin had some interesting things to say (years after he got out of the cave by the way) about what the experience was.

"I finally know why masters could go into meditation so much - they were watching TV!"

No kidding. I heard him say that (well, not necessarily word for word - it's been awhile now) at a retreat. And like many others, I had absolutely no idea what he meant until I went through my own process. Having done so and watched also as other people experienced it has given me some kind of clue as to what happens.

The whole process begins by some kind of releasing process, externally or internally triggered. In my case, as my readers will know, circumstances forced me into a mental position where I had a choice of letting go of my own attachments or risk insanity. It is an interesting one - when you make the decision to demand nothing of life, because the very thought of demanding it summons up a sense of desperation so paranoid that you feel extreme pain. This is by far the most dramatic way to discover truth, and I do like the drama, even if I had no clue what was happening at that point.

So I gave up everything, even thinking itself. It was a forced surrender. Every thought brought me pain, so I started ignoring the thoughts. That's when things began getting remarkably exciting. Only the pain remained. With nothing further to lose, I plunged into the pain. It was partially an act of desperation, a last act of defiance that screamed, "Go on then, do your worst!" And it stopped hurting. Not immediately, but it became somewhat more bearable. I no longer had to fight the throbbing headache, the deep fear or the intense cracks in my self confidence. By degrees, over a course of maybe a month, the pain began to disappear. Like fog disappearing in the morning light, it could not withstand conscious awareness upon it when conscious awareness did not impose conditions. And so I understood the nature of thoughts' ability to manipulate - they do it through fear. When fear is no longer a goad one instinctively shirks from, thoughts lose their power and begin to evaporate.

So back to watching telly. I did not digress above, but rather gave a context in which this process happens. As I sat in meditation as I had never sat before, I surrendered everything. It was the most painless thing I had ever done. And when you're in such pain, every little bit helps! And then the thought-ego body (what Eckhart Tolle would call a pain body, one supposes) tried a last ditch attempt to retain the illusion. It started dredging up images. Things I had never seen before, things long forgotten from my youth, loves and hates, fears, random imagery - they all floated by. And this is where I was blessed by weariness. Beleaguered as I was, the monkey mind was finally too tired to chase after each image to analyse them, as I would have in the past. And they flittered right by. Sitting in that perspective of weary hopelessness (and this is why I say hopelessness is rather useful for enlightenment), it became a television show.

Bit by bit, I discovered a way to interact with them without being burned, and this was through service. By praying for others in the depths of my pain, I managed to maintain a neutral stance. And unlike any healing process I was familiar with, the images began to shape themselves. All I did was hold an intention and surrender completely. Images that started out apparently as illusion began to develop into surprising meanings, and I understood them. Practically all the praying I did in those days of trial worked, incidentally - the people benefitted very quickly. And all the intuition worked as well. And thus I understood why so much intuition fails as well - the messages are mixed, like two people shouting over each other. One would be true intuition, and the other would be the pain body. How to recognise truth? It's simple - the images untainted by fear or even attraction. Those are the truth. The truth has no need to compel - it simply is. And by their fruits ye shall know them, I believe Jesus the Christ said. And the whole thing is much like watching television, as Master Lin said all those years ago. I can finally agree.

But he said more!

"When you find in your qigong practice that you enter emptiness, leave your practice and simply sit. The healing will go on instantaneously."


This is a statement I also struggled with for a long while. How can emptiness be trusted to do anything, without supervision? The brainwave management crowd will have the same issue - how can sitting in alpha, theta or delta without doing anything be beneficial for anything other than perhaps rest? How can that solve our problems?

It is an incredibly arrogant position, if you think about it, to assume that the ego knows better than emptiness, or the sea of awareness, from which the ego itself arose. The emptiness is the basic space, the basic canvas upon which everything is painted. To return to the emptiness is to dive beneath the surface of the overpainted fabric of our lives and to get in touch with basic awareness. And it heals. Once left alone, the structures of our thoughts disintegrate - the same process that I described above. However, this becomes painless, for we are enjoying the nature of emptiness.

""Om Mani Padme Hum" means "Go into the emptiness and seek your authentic Self. And from your true Self, everything else will be attained."


Again, Master Lin's words, not mine. But I agree completely. Wish I had said it. But I doubt even Master Lin could claim credit for that one. After all, were we not told to "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and all other things shalt be added on to ye"?

So let's address the difficult issue - how is emptiness to be trusted with what is right? After all, it is constantly throwing up streams of thoughts spontaneously, and all we need do is look around to see that certain outcomes are not, to the ego Self at least, desirable. In the eyes of the Divine they are all perfect, of course. Well, there are a couple of effects there:

1. Firstly, as we transcend thought and conditions, we also transcend need and preference. Whatever happens cannot harm us now, for fear loses its manipulative ability, and thus emptiness can be trusted to do exactly what it does, and the outcome makes no difference.

2. Secondly, the closer one gets to pure awareness, the closer one gets to the true attributes of the soul. One no longer needs the attention of another to feel loved. Money no longer is needed to feel abundance. The conditional emotions are dropped in favour of unconditional ones. These are the First Emotions, the First Order. They are the samboghakaya, the Light that arises out of the sea of awareness. And they are nothing but benevolent. If we rest in them, they can summon nothing but the highest manifestations. Why, then, do we get ourselves into so much trouble? It is only when we get involved in the derivatives of these emotions, the Second Order, the Conditional Emotions, that chaos ensues. Each intention becomes tainted by fear and suspicion, and thought streams become tainted. The purification process, then, is the same - it is to sit in sheer unconditioned awareness, to rest and to recuperate. Then, when we are ready, we surrender our awareness fully to pure emptiness and live in the bliss of the First Order emotions (interesting how that abbreviates to FOEs - which is what our mind perceives them to be, not the salvation that they are).

So nature becomes truly benevolent. And with no effort at all! Fundamental nature is benevolent. Sitting in it, we cannot help but be benevolent and compassionate.

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Getting Accustomed to Peace



For all that we claim to be searching for peace of mind, we have a remarkably difficult time getting comfortable with it. Highly evolved beings through the ages have pointed the way, and yet we continue to struggle with the idea of true peace. A lot of this has to do with the problem is that the mind is so unaccustomed to not having to struggle and run on to the next discovery that it very often, upon stumbling onto a brief moment of peace, simply blunders right on its merry way.

So what is this peace? The Dao De Jing suggests that "the Tao that can be described is not the Tao". Many other sources suggest this element of being beyond description and conception. How can we hope to understand that which is beyond concept? I recall struggling myself with this concept when I was younger. It is a terrifying idea, that mind is no longer needed, and one which it will struggle mightily against. The usual tactics of distraction, manipulation, control and denial will usually ensure quite effectively that we do not stumble upon the truth.

So what is this truth?

Simply this - we are more than our thoughts. Look inside your mind right now, and notice what is there. Where did that thought come from? Where did it go? This is what the masters have asked over the centuries. There seems to be this black hole. But in the moment of asking, if you paid attention, there is a gap, a moment of no-thought. No thought does not mean unconsciousness. We enter this state by accident, sometimes, when driving or doing some kind of repetitive task. Or perhaps when we are lost in art, or rapture. It is a moment of pure awareness, beyond thought.

Well, perhaps it is unfair to say "beyond thought". It is more correct to say "more fundamental than thought". For if we can exist in the space between one thought and the next, and can even be aware, then we are more than our thoughts. The space is the basic fabric of being - it is the sea of awareness. And as we direct our CONSCIOUS awareness towards this, we naturally become more aware of it. Yet, it will defy any attempt to quantify or qualify it. This is what frustrates the mind so. And that is why it fails to see anything special in this event.

But wait! Most of humanity has stumbled upon this gem of existence at one point or another. 99.9% will promptly arise, dust themselves off and go on their way. The remainder will do a variety of things. Many of these will attempt to manipulate this space in some way, for they will correctly deduce that this is somehow the doorway to the soul. Precious few will actually be willing to sit in this space and watch what arises. And for those who do, able to remain awake long enough not to be torn away by newly arisen thoughts, a feeling of peace and well-being will arise. And this will be peace. It will not feel like it necessarily, for the mind will really have no reference for it. But this will be the arising point of the soul. And if we want to get a chance at getting to know lasting peace, we would do well to stay in this sensation long enough to get acquainted.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

On the Art and Skill of Purifying the Awareness



Source/Copyright: Przykuta/Wikimedia

The art of purifying awareness is simple, but not necessarily easy. I'm not exactly in the mood to preach this morning, but thought I'd just note down a few brief comments on it.

To begin with: The skills of purification go from western "releasing negative thoughts" to eastern "purifying the imprints of karma". The idea of letting go of these imprints is that they somehow affect us, not always to our amusement. I won't go into modus operandi - there are plenty of sources for that. More to the point, I'm looking at the main components that make such methodologies work.

Let's work with metaphor as a model. An imprint is like graffiti on a wall. The instinct in dealing with it is to "Erase it all! Mua ha ha!" The temptation is to shower it with the water of positive thoughts, and everything will be just fine. Or will it? Positive thoughts, while potentially beneficial, are just another form of graffiti. You're attempting to overwrite the old stuff by painting it over. It is still beneath the surface. Worse, you have in fact made it more difficult to clean off! And worse yet, the CLOSER it is to the wall, the more power it is able to draw out of your internal energetic circuitry. Ouch. Yep.

So purifying really comes down to 3 components that I can identify offhand. I might develop a better model for this later, but here's what I have:

1. See the graffiti/Awareness - Difficult to purify what you don't know exists.
2. Own the graffiti/Ownership - It doesn't matter how it actually got there. If you don't take responsibility and own it, you can't change it.
3. Release the graffiti/Willingness - Once you own it, you become one with the wall. You don't even have to worry about the graffiti, you can just release it by changing the structure of the wall and the paint will fall off.

We've visited all this in past posts on ROLCE and the like. The key here is that when you take ownership, you gain power over it. Thus, you stop resisting it and the paint loses power to threaten or irritate you somehow. You have to become one with it to dissipate it. It is the art of destroying from within.

Once you have infiltrated it, then it becomes easy. If you make it easy, that is. If you still hold the image of spraying it with water, it becomes difficult again. Instead, regard it as a friend - so much more pleasant to deal with, don't you think? Then you thank it - gratitude always helps. But then imagine it becoming something light and dropping away by itself. Visualisations include blocks floating away in water, becoming smoke or butterflies, or even just shrinking and disappearing into nothing. In all this, one employs the idea of ease and gracefulness. So much easier than struggling with it with a sledgehammer, don't you think?

This has been a pretty pithy post, but that's all I have time for this morning. Happy releasing!