Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Suffering and relief - Part 1

Human beings want to be free of suffering.

No - this post is not about yet another technique to relieve suffering. There are many techniques out there to relieve suffering of all kinds. And they can be helpful sometimes. If you are drawn to them, then by all means go there.

This post is addressed to those among us who have already tried many techniques, and even found them helpful sometimes. This post is addressed to those among us who have found that, in the end however, no technique has put them beyond suffering. Yes, there has been occasional and temporary relief from suffering. Sometimes the relief has been longer lasting than at other times. But no matter what they try or how they approach it, the suffering visits again and again and they are not free of suffering.

We have a powerful human urge to relieve suffering, in ourselves and in others. And equally, we have a powerful human addiction to relief from suffering. Remember how it feels when a very vexing and troubling issue is cleared up? Remember the delicious relief of suffering dissolved? Of course you remember. We all remember. And we love it. And we want more of it. And more and more.

But how about some relief from relief? Any takers? :-)

The intensity of any experience, relief included, is proportional to the extent of contrast within the experience. When we go from acute distress to peace, it feels palpably different and marvelous! When we go from peace to more peace, the change is not registered so dramatically. Yes?

What we are really addicted to is the drama, - the highs and lows of experience. They make us feel alive in a glittering sort of way. In order to experience this kind of intense high, we need to experience an intense low first, for it is the contrast between the two that makes the high so dramatic. This is not just true for addictions to substance. This is true for the human addiction to experience. And while it may seem ridiculous to say that we are buying into our suffering because we are addicted to the relief from suffering, there may be more than a grain of truth there to examine, each for himself.

While we find it easy to let go of suffering, we don't find it so easy to let go of relief. While we are eager to let go of blame and guilt, we are not so eager to let go of credit and praise. But they are inextricably tied together. One can only be experienced in contrast with the other. So grasping at one thing automatically preserves the other. Grasping at praise preserves the blame. Grasping at relief preserves the suffering.

Notice I said grasping. I did not say enjoying. The difference can be stark or subtle. Only you can know what it is for you. When the sun shines, we can enjoy the sunshine. But when it changes to rain, the sunshine is not missed. When it rains, the rain can be enjoyed. When it snows, the snow can be enjoyed. Each brings its own flavor. This is enjoyment without grasping. When I want the sun to shine instead of the rain that is pouring, it is grasping. When I am anxious that it should be sunny tomorrow, it is grasping. And there is little enjoyment in it.

Again, this post is not for those who enjoy being in the game of opposites. It is indeed a wonderful game. And there is nothing wrong with the game at all. If you enjoy the game, go for it. Enjoy yourself. There is indeed an infinite variety of games to play out there, in the world of opposites.

But if you have seen that, in the end, they are all the same game, and if you just don't enjoy the game anymore, then know that you don't have to play it. You can rest. You can rest in the vastness beyond suffering and relief. Neither is needed for this rest.

Relief from suffering is great, and relief from suffering and relief is sublime. This vastness - it includes all opposites and is beyond all opposites at the same time. Rest here.

And this vastness is not dumb and this vastness is not passive.

More on this in the next post.

Monday, December 15, 2008

What am I really seeking? - Part 3

The question is: What do I really want?

Answers arise:

I want peace
I want happiness
I want fulfilment
I want love

Perhaps you found an answer similar to the ones above?

For the purpose of this post, let's just take the first one: I want peace.

By now we have seen quite conclusively that there is no such thing as a perfectly accurate prediction of what actually happens in this moment. Right?

So this moment may express itself as peace or war, as comfort or suffering, as anger or love, as hatred or joy, or anything else. Right? The truth is we don't know. So when this moment manifests disturbance or suffering of any kind, how does that relate to our wanting peace? In other words, when we want peace, how do we experience the suffering of this moment? Do we experience it as not having what we want? Check your own experience. Find out what comes up for you when you want peace and this moment brings suffering. Be totally honest with yourself. Explore gently.

If you discover that your experience is of not having what you want, then I would urge you to return to the question: What do I really want?.

You ask: Why?

Perhaps to see that this question has no answer.

Perhaps to see that whatever answer the mind comes up with will leave you wanting - either because your want shifts, (previous post), or because there is always the possibility that something may come up which is opposite to what you want.

Perhaps to see that in the very idea of your wanting something, you put it at a distance from yourself, you separate it out from you.

Perhaps to see that what you really deeply want is this moment as it is. No matter what it brings.

Perhaps to see that you are what you want.

Discover for yourself.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

What am I really seeking? - Part 2

A couple of posts back, I painted a scenario where you have an opportunity to tell God what you really want from your seeking. The only condition for fulfilment is that you be very clear about what you want. Time is no bar. God is very patient. :-)

I got a few different replies, some of which were posted on this blog and others to my direct email. Thanks for your participation.

In my experience, (shared by some of you) this question itself is very clarifying. Asking yourself :What do I really want?, can cut away so much of the meandering on the seeker's journey and can really bring you into the essence of what the seeking is about. It allows what is truly important to shine amidst the rubbish pile that pretends to be equally important. Have you seen that for yourself, clearly?

Looking back, perhaps we can each remember many different desires that sprung up in the mind - I really want to have a great job, I really want to have lots of money, I really want to be appreciated and loved, and so on. Perhaps some of those desires were fulfilled, and then what happened? If I really wanted a great job and I got it, then that should have been the end of it for me, is it not? But that's not what happened. After I got the great job, I wanted to get promoted, then I wanted to run the place and so on. After I made a lot of money, I wanted still more. When I had the appreciation of one set of people, I wanted it from another set of people. This is familiar ground, is it not?

And what this shows us is that the mind is quite capable of producing wants endlessly. Within every fresh want, is the implicit promise that this will be it; this one will make us feel fulfilled. But it has not happened yet.

For some of us, this is ok. It's ok to play this game yet again. Others have reached the end of their tether. So when answers start to arise to the question of What do I really want?, bring to bear the full weight of your experience with wants, as you see those answers. Don't rush to believe the answers. Subject them to some scrutiny.

The process of questioning is far more valuable than any answers the mind may produce. This does not mean that answers that come up are irrelevant. I would suggest that some of these answers are simply part of the questioning process. They put us in touch with some of our beliefs and in that sense they are useful. I am suggesting that we don't let those answers stop the questioning process, as if it was completed by getting those answers

Let me go out on a limb here.

You will know when an answer is authentic for you, for it will bubble up from the depth of your being. And it will have an insistent quality to it. You may find that it will connect the dots between all your wants. And (and this is where it can get really icky), it may not announce itself with great fanfare! The answer to this question may simply seep into your consciousness very quietly. You may even find yourself in the odd position of holding the question in the mind, long after the answer is already known and being acted upon. Then somehow the question - which is now only a shell - will just dry up and disappear on its own. I share this only because sometimes we may miss the answer because we are expecting it to look a particular way! And it may look that way or it may not.

Yes this is the last thing that the mind wants to hear! :-) All that effort in the inquiry and no clear-cut answer to point to and grab a hold of ! What a waste of time! - says the mind. And I would only say: don't believe the mind and don't reject it. :-)

Please feel free to write in again.

I will continue with this topic in a future post.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Much confusion can arise around acceptance.

What is acceptance?

In the mind, we have an idea of what this means. We think of acceptance as something we have to do in the face of difficulty - a kind of grit-your-teeth-and-bear-it approach. This is so difficult to do when what is actually happening inside us, is this storm of resistance. Perhaps we are facing a difficult challenge and we have run out of options to address it. The thoughts running through the mind are taking the form of: This should not be happening. This is wrong and bad. Then we remember this spiritual advice of acceptance. To some it sounds beautiful and noble, but it also seems impossible to achieve! So we pretend to accept. To others it sounds like a good idea since nothing else is working, but it still seems very difficult to actually do!

Or perhaps we are living with someone who is being difficult, and we have learned through tough experience that we cannot change her. So we try to accept this person, either because it is the only option left to us, or because we want to be noble and try to feel good and loving toward this difficult person. It works for a while, but then the facade cracks, as all facades eventually do. And it feels so painful. Even when it works, it is such a burden to keep this kind of acceptance going. Right?

Is any of this familiar so far?

So is this the acceptance that is being pointed to?

Is acceptance something we have to struggle to do?

A friend of mine recently wrote this to me: Acceptance which seems so important and necessary and even noble to the mind is just a mound of dirt and rubble, heavy and lifeless, compared to choiceless awareness.

Acceptance is not something to do. Acceptance is choiceless awareness. It happens and it is happening all the time. We can just tune into it. It is much simpler than we think and it is abundantly available. There is already something here that accepts everything just as it is. It is the same something that allows everything to happen! What prevents us from tuning into it is the belief that this moment should be different. And if there is anything at all to do, then it is this: see this belief in operation. Only see it. See that this belief has formed in the mind. We did not make this belief, nor choose to have it installed. It is there quite innocently. See this. That really is all.

This acceptance is not passive, as mind fears. This acceptance does not freeze us into inaction. Look around you. Is life going on? This acceptance that is already here does not halt the flow of life. This acceptance is powerful and real and present. It is the source of all action.

Discover this for yourself.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Don't believe the mind and don't reject it

A wise teacher said, Don't believe the mind and don't reject it either.

Sometimes, as seekers, we take the first part of that teaching to heart, but not the second part. Right?

Infact, the two parts can seem downright contradictory. If we don't believe the mind, then it seems like we must automatically ignore it. True. And the key word is automatically. This is the conditioned response of the mind. We are conditioned to have an either-or response. So if we embrace one pole, then it stands to reason and experience that we cannot embrace the opposite pole. But is that really true?

As we travel on the so-called spiritual path, many of our beliefs actually start to shed and drop away. And most seekers develop a growing and quite healthy inability to believe mind's endless thoughts. :-) But frustration can set in even in the midst of this growing clarity. The frustration can be that thoughts don't stop or that we feel stuck in the mind despite so much having fallen away.

This is where the second part of the teaching can come in handy. Don't reject the mind. Don't resist the mind. For we know that what we resist, persists. And then we feel stuck in the same rut of thoughts and beliefs. So if you feel frustrated, see if there is something of a rejecting attitude towards mind, and towards the thoughts and beliefs. It may be subtle, but even the most subtle rejection can potently reinforce mind.

Perhaps part of the difficulty is that mind keeps posing arguments that sustain it's either-or nature. So it insists that what is not believed must be rejected. Sometimes the seeker buys into this insistence and a certain hardness can develop. All this can be happening very subtly. If this rings a bell for you, tune into it. And expose it to the light of the question: Is it really true? Is it really true that if I don't believe mind, then I must reject it?

You may make surprising discoveries! :-)

Perhaps I can offer an analogy for the mind to consider.

Imagine that you are with an innocent young child. And this beloved child is telling you about the fairies and elves in the garden, or the the monsters under her bed. Would you believe her stories? No, but would you reject them? Isn't there that gentle place within us that can listen to the story, take delight in it and give it loving attention, without believing it? Go there.

This is the quiet ease with what is. This is the resting in the groundless ground. Discover yourself here.

Monday, November 17, 2008

What am I really seeking? - Part 1

Bear with me here while I pose some funny questions.

Imagine that the ultimate truth itself came to you dressed up as God and said: I am here to confer a boon on you. You can have whatever you want, if and only if you can clearly tell me what you want.

What would your answer be?

Further, imagine that it is made very clear to you that this offer is open for all time. In other words, there is no expiry on this offer. :-) So no need to rush and no need to sweat.

What would your answer be?

Ask yourself: What am I really seeking? What do I really want?

Stick with this one question. Get curious about it. Discover what arises.

This is a key question. It can laser-focus your attention to that which matters for you.

Feel free to write in and share.

I will return to this in future posts.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

What is grace?

The seeker asks 'What is grace?'

After a lifetime of living in the mind, of worrying about himself and his worth, of feeling unfulfilled or stressed or unhappy or all of those, the seeker cannot be unfamiliar with the enormous power of mind to keep him in the trance. The seeker cannot be unfamiliar with thought's prolific ability to procreate! - One thought leading to another to another and to yet another, seamlessly and unceasingly.

Given this incessant nature of mind, what's to stop us from being enmeshed in its entrails forever?

Isn't that something to stop and consider?

What made the seeker a seeker? What put him on the journey to look beyond mind's babble? What put him on the journey to know his own truth? After all, he could have remained as he had for so long, - taking mind to be his full reality.

Whatever it is that does this - it births the seeker. It puts a spoke in the wheel of mind. It may start with a small spoke, but it knows what it is doing. For even the smallest spoke must start to affect the turning of the wheel, in it's own time.

So what is it? - This quiet, self-assured, powerful, loving force that can quiet mind? That, - dear seeker, - would be grace, - Is it not?

Grace births the seeker. Grace pulls the seeker back, again and again from the trance of mind. Grace finds the teacher, whether internal or external. Grace puts the seeker in the way of the teaching. And grace delivers the seeker into truth.

It is all grace. And deep, deep, deep gratitude is the response. Also from grace.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Who is enlightened? - Part 2

So what is already enlightened?

What already has no argument with reality?

When we sit with this question and let it sink deep within us, we may first notice the resounding silence. The mind may launch an argument right away, wanting an answer to the vexing question. We don't have to settle for mind's prattle. We can notice the silence in the background, and see how the silence holds mind's argument. We can notice that the silence is aware of mind's argument, and yet offers no counter-argument of its own. We can notice this everpresent silent awareness. Is there a moment when this is not?

Arguments start and stop; noise starts and stops, objects in the mind appear and then disappear. Where do they go? Where did they arise? What is present before they arise and after they go? Everything appears in the everpresent silent awareness and returns to it.

And what is the everything that arises within awareness? Can it be anything other than awareness taking shape as something? Can it be 'made of some other substance'? Can a wave be anything other than water in different shapes? But this is not something to be deduced in the mind. See this for yourself. Get to the root of everything that pretends to be other than awareness. Get to the root of every argument with reality.

If I take myself to be this body-mind, then clearly I was born at some time and I must die at some time. What did I come from and where do I go? Notice mind's insistence on this identification with the body-mind. Alas, even the mind is not happy with this identification. If it were happy with it, then you would not be reading this post, right? :-) So notice that mind believes what it does because it does not know any better. But something inside us remains unfulfilled by mind's reasoning. That is the doorway. Go there if you can. Simply occupy that unease with a curiosity to find out what it really is. Don't be afraid of it - it is grace waiting to be received.

This everpresent silent awareness has no argument with reality. It is already enlightened and it is everything. And this means it is I. The I that you are is already enlightened. And all the feelings of unenlightenment are only enlightened awareness in different shapes - free to play in complete freedom - so free that there is nothing to lose even in feeling unenlightened.

For this here is forever enlightened, beyond feeling and thought. And from this enlightenment it plays a darned good game of virtual reality, so real that it fools itself quite successfully - a remarkable feat in itself. And this miraculous self-delusion is seen through and a belly-laugh arises from deep within.

So in summary,

I notice the everpresent silent awareness, that is present before all thoughts and arguments and after them. I see that that which appears and disappears within the everpresent silent awareness is nothing but awareness itself in different forms. I see that this body-mind too appears in the everpresent silent awareness. I see that I am the everpresent silent awareness. Nothing that this body-mind does can be other than the everpresent silent awareness. And it is from this seeing, and from this freedom that I can drop the argument with reality.

The wave knows itself to be water and from this knowing it is free to be a tsunami or a lapping beach wave. From this knowing it is free to be powerful and to be overpowered as the case may be. From this knowing it can advance or retreat as it may happen. This is water living as the wave. This is enlightenment living as you and I.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Who is enlightened? - Part 1

Who is enlightened?

Ask this question to a seeker and he will point to the masters and teachers - someone other than himself.

What if we change the question slightly:

What is enlightened?

We are so accustomed to viewing enlightenment as the preserve of certain fortunate individuals, that asking what, instead of who, is enlightened, can put us in a bit of a quandary perhaps. :-) Let's throw another spanner in the works, and qualify the question further:

What is already enlightened?

This question now raises a prior question:

What do we mean by enlightened?

Enlightenment has been defined in several ways, and since I am concerned with enlightenment lived rather than enlightenment theorized, I am partial to the definition given by spiritual teacher and Jesuit priest, Anthony de Mello.

I believe he defined it thus:

Enlightenment is absolute co-operation with the inevitable.

Byron Katie says something similar - she invites us to drop the argument with reality.

Imagine your life lived in co-operation with reality, exactly as it occurs. What would it look like? What would it take to live so?

Is it possible to live in absolute co-operation with reality and still be 'unenlightened'?

Now with this definition of enlightenment, let's return to our question:

What is already enlightened?

In other words, what is already in absolute coperation with the inevitable? What simply does not argue with reality?

Look deeply within, and see what you discover. Sit with the question, as though only the question matters and not the answer. Don't settle for any pat answers. Let the answer reveal itself via the experience of holding the question with sincerity.

Feel free to share what you find with other readers on this blog.

I will return to this topic next week with Part 2.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Concept and reality

In practical terms, what is concept, and what is reality?

I am no expert in matters philosophical, and so I am not referring here to academic or theological definitions. I am talking about looking at concept and reality in a way that can be applied realistically to our spiritual quest.

First of all, why is it important to look at the terms concept and reality? - Because on the spiritual journey, we are apt to mistake one for the other, and this can create some confusion.

Secondly, I suggest that concept and reality are not mutually exclusive! What I mean, is that one person's concept may be another person's reality and vice versa.

When a spiritual master says 'There is nobody' or 'All is one', she speaks from her reality, and her direct experience in the moment. For the student listening to her, it may sound like the ultimate truth, but he would have to look and see if it is indeed the reality for him in the moment.

Then the teacher may say that all suffering is only a concept in the mind. Again he speaks from his direct reality in the moment. But the student listening to these words will have to investigate for herself whether her own experience of suffering is real or not.

In each case, the teaching is at best a pointer - a finger pointing to the moon, as they say. When we mistake the pointing finger for the moon, we become confused.

'There is nobody' - is a spectacularly clear reality, and a particularly confusing concept. Imagine the plight of the student who looks upon this statement as the ultimate truth, without directly experiencing it. Her mind is liable to take the words literally and to discount her own experience as somebody. She is not sure whether she can trust her body-mind or anything it experiences, because doing so would assert the somebodiness which she believes to be in contradiction to the truth. For this student, at this time, the ultimate truth is a concept. And simply seeing that can clear the confusion.

There is nothing wrong with a concept. There is great beauty in it. For even as a concept, the ultimate truth finds great resonance in the student, because deep within her she knows the truth of it. Then when this truth finds expression in her direct experience, concept is now reality.

A concept is a concept when it is not aligned with experience. Concept and reality collapse into one another in the miracle of experience.

No matter what the experience is - ecstatic, good, bad or ugly, - stay with it and you cannot stray from the truth. Negate or deny your experience and you fall into the false division of concept or reality.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Seeking happens

The Buddhist monk hits the air with his stick, and says, 'You want to know the truth? Here it is!'.

Of course the mind gets puzzled and the seeker gets frustrated. His pursuit of truth is too intense, and his aspiration to be there, too lofty, to be appeased by such apparent whimsy. Yet something about the response must cause the seeker to pause. After all, what does it mean when the sublime search can end in so trivial a matter, as a stick waving in the air!

This pause is really among the first jolts to the identity of the seeker. For it makes him go to what appears like a very scary place -'What if the truth that I am seeking is something I don't like at all?', he asks himself querulously. This is when it starts to get really interesting. What has so far seemed like a long and rewarding journey with more and more beautiful stops along the way, suddenly threatens to reach an arid spot, and maybe even stay there forever!

The thing about truth though is that once you glimpse it, nothing else can satisfy you. So the seeker may try to undo his fearful question, may attempt to shake it off, and get back to where he was - comfortable in his glorious quest, but all in vain. He can no longer convince himself to strive like before. He is now terribly frustrated and try as he might, he simply doesn't know what to do.

Right in this moment, the truth appears again, - as a fleeting intuition, a gentle reminder - most likely ignored. The seeker is in his mind, feeling angry, and hopeless about his situation, when the truth touches him. And when finally the anger is spent and the hopelessness has exhausted itself, that very touch revives him! It comes to him to follow the truth, even to be led by it. With no other choice, he goes. It takes him deeper and deeper in, past the mind, and past every idea of enlightenment ever held. And now he is in so deep, that he is at the root of everything. There is nothing but truth.

His x-ray vision can see through the layers. The lofty, the trivial,the high and low - they are all the same. The truth is life happening in this moment. - No matter what happens, no matter if he likes it or not. The frustration is it, and so is the confusion. The anger is it, as is the peace. No change required to anything, yet it changes all the time. No need for anything to happen, and yet the universe swirls around in the endless dance.

No need to seek and yet seeking happens.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

All is one

The unborn wishes to be born
Don't stop the birthing

The completion wishes to give
Don't stop the receiving

The stillness wants to soar
But we fear the falling

The eternal wants to live
But we fear the dying

Let the perfection express itself
As imperfection
Let stillness speak
Let greatness become small

When freedom itself soars
Soaring is same as falling

When freedom itself lives
Dying is same as living

Undivided undivided
All is one

Monday, September 22, 2008

Emptiness fills itself

This one falls and falls
And falls all away

And empties and empties
And empties right through

And everything disappears
Yet nothing is denied!

This emptiness lives
And this emptiness dies

This emptiness sings
and this emptiness cries

And filling to the brim with sourceless love
It remains empty, empty, empty, ever-empty

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Suffering in the world

Seeing suffering in the world
I suffer

Tears for the victim
Anger and fear towards the aggressor

I close my eyes
In pain

When they open again
Something shifts

A question arises
Is the victim just a victim?

I look again
And the answer is no

The victim is much more
I touch her vastness

I feel her presence
I inhale her freedom

I had frozen her victimness
In my mind

Oh God!
I am the aggressor

In panic, I turn
Towards the aggressor

But he is gone too
With the victim

Into the vastness
The vastness of us all

Sunday, August 31, 2008

All freedom

Knowing what I am
I choose to be another

Knowing what I am
I choose to not know what I am
Freedom of delusion

Not knowing what I am
I believe myself to be another
Delusion of freedom

Not knowing what I am
What knows me frees itself of me

All is knowing what I am
All is freedom

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Point of It

What is the point of this?
Bird singing

What is the point of this?
Bud blooming

What is the point of this?
Sun shining

Stars twinkling
Moon glowing
Girl laughing
Ball bouncing

Boundless miracles
Only gratitude, gratitude, gratitude

Friday, August 22, 2008

Beyond intellectual understanding

Sometimes on the spiritual search we come to a point, where our experience is that we have understood what is being pointed to, at an intellectual level, but it has not sunk deeper than that. The mind is still busy and we can still get easily lost in trance. This can be puzzling and frustrating.

At the same time, we also experience a deep knowing that what is being pointed to is true. Is it not? Indeed this knowing is what keeps us on the path even when we are frustrated and don't seem to 'get' it.

So first let's take this moment to acknowledge that which keeps bringing us back to our desire for truth. The mind may spin in all directions, and then something calls us back to the awareness of the spinning mind. At the moment that we are aware, the spinning mind has ceased, and is now a memory. Let's take this moment to celebrate this grace that reminds us again and again of the awareness that we are. In this acknowledgement we open to the grace more and more.

Now when the thought arises that I have not yet got enlightenment, we can see that thought itself. See how it spawns a whole belief system about yourself. It may even masquerade as an honest thought - I haven't got it can seem like the honest truth. And it is real for you, until it isn't.

So stay with the thought with the attitude of a curious scientist. In other words, see if you can observe your whole experience with this thought, simply with a desire to know what is really going on. Notice if other thoughts arise; perhaps fear, perhaps boredom? Discover for yourself.

When something inside us resonates with truth very strongly, the mind must work smarter to cover it up, not because mind is evil, but because that is mind's job. So we can simply notice the hard-working mind, and its efforts. This seeing of our entire experience around a thought is at once the seeing through it.

Often the mind deploys boredom and fear very effectively. Our great fear is that without thoughts to engage us, life would be very boring and completely empty. Again this seems like an honest and innocent thought, and yet, if this is believed then it can give rise to a plethora of other thoughts to keep us enmeshed in the trance. So watch if this thought arises and see if you are believing it. If so, ask yourself - Is it true that there is boring emptiness without thoughts to engage me? Is it really true?

Even just asking this question means that we have opened up to a different possibility.

When we believe our thoughts strongly, we become those beliefs and we look at life from those beliefs. Then it becomes difficult to separate out those beliefs from us, and we assume that the beliefs are true. So questioning our beliefs is very powerful. The answers don't matter. The questions do all the work!

By its very nature a belief militates against the truth. When we believe something, the mind must work to keep it 'true' in time. This is contrary to the freedom of truth which is totally free to be something new every moment. As soon as I have a belief, I have invested in a future in which this belief will be 'true' for me. This is exactly how the mind veers away from ever-changing reality - by insisting on 'permanence' over time, by investing in a future.

So beliefs are like the wall that the mind uses to bounce thoughts off, like balls. So long as the wall exists, we are captivated by the surface reality of bouncing balls. When the wall collapses, the thoughts surrender to gravity and stop their furious and quite pointless activity. What happens then? This fear of what happens when the bouncing stops, is the wall of last resort that restores the trance.

Recognize the fear for what it is and discover what lies inderneath.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Back from India

I am just back from India. What a wonderful time!

Order among chaos. Small joys within ordinary existence. Contentment amidst great difficulty.

Driving down a chaotic high-traffic road is a reminder of what holds us up. For it surely is not the the efficient roadway or the great traffic control system at work. The mind, used to American infrastructure, can panic and freeze, - aghast at the myriad possible ways in which accidents could occur! Miraculously the moment passes safely for the entire street of cars and people and life, as far as the eye can see. And another safe moment and another and another.....Miracles abound!

A dirty urchin, not more than 10 years old, polishes shoes for a living. Speaking in good English, learned in a few years at school, he boasts about the daily earnings that keep his siblings fed, after the death of their father. His refusal to take money without delivering its worth in services shatters automatic conclusions about the relationship of poverty to a lack of dignity. His mother will beat him for begging, he tells me with a grin on his face.

Not that any of these aspects of India are new to me - I grew up in India. But going back provides a new perspective each time.

And no perspective by itself is the truth. The same one is looking from all the perspectives. The same one is different in different situations. The same one is experiencing life in so many amazing ways. The same one is beyond everything and in it at the same time.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Changing your experience

Do you want to change your experience?

The chances are that if this moment is unpleasant or stressful in any way, then you probably do want to change your experience. Is it not so? It is important to notice if this is so.

There is a whole world of ways out there that you can choose from to change your experience. And in life, we try many of them. By the time we come to the spiritual search, we have realized that many, and even most of them, do not ultimtately work.

On the spiritual journey, we may have lost our belief in many solutions out there, but we may retain one key belief - suffering is not ok and it must go. When I say suffering, I mean the entire range of feelings from mild discontent to acute stress.

Suffering is not ok, goes the belief, so we accumulate more and more subtle and sophisticated techniques to change our experience - to not suffer.

We have the idea that if we keep successfully changing our experience enough times using this or that technique, then somehow there will come a time when that change will stick and become a permanent state of unmitigated bliss.

There is nothing wrong with this, of course.

I mention all this because perhaps there comes a time when we may fall through to a place where nothing works. There is nowhere to turn to and nothing to depend on. And this is experienced as helplessness or depair or misery or anger or whatever else. And we feel completely overwhelmed.

With no effective technique and no defense against this onslaught, we are simply swallowed by it. And it feels like the end of everything. Which perhaps it is. It takes everything away.

There is good news here - for what it can take away completely is also the belief that suffering is not ok and needs to be changed. This is actually quite a relief, but not because relief was sought.

Sometimes all these words seem very paradoxical. What is being suggested is this:

When suffering arises, and there is no belief that it needs to be changed, then we respond to suffering from freedom. We may then happen to act in such a way that suffering stops, or we may not. Either way the action does not arise from a fear of the suffering. It arises from the freedom of experience.

This is the difference.

We no longer need to change our experience and our experience is free to change.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Unconditional love

Like a wave that appears
In the ocean
I appear
Separate in form

Then when it has had enough
Of separation
The wave dips back
Into the everpresent ocean
As I do

The ocean that embraces me
Is unconditional love
Eternal, independent,
Forever ready
To take me back

And when I rise again
I am the ocean
Rising as a wave
Never in doubt
Of what it really is

Monday, June 23, 2008

Awareness acting

Who has made the choice to have this life experience?

Who made the choice to inhabit this particular perspective that views the world in this particular way? Apparently formed in this body-mind, from genes and conditioning?

This question arises when we see that there is something here that can observe the body-mind. This question arises when we see that someting here is aware of this perspective. What is the something? It is I. I am this that is aware of the body-mind and I am this that is aware of this perspective.

In the awareness of one body-mind is the awareness of all body-minds. In the awareness of one perspective is the awareness of all perspectives. The bodies and minds and perspectives differ. The awareness is the same and I am that awareness. This awareness that I am, was here before my body-mind was here. And it will be here when my body-mind is gone.

Where is this awareness when I am not aware of being it? Where is this awareness when I am lost to the body-mind and its perspective? It is still here - this awareness. Where can it go? It is true that sometimes I am not aware of being the awareness. So sometimes I believe I am the body-mind and its perspective. And sometimes I see the body-mind and its perspective from what seems like somewhere outside of the body-mind and its perspective. So sometimes I am the awareness and sometimes I am the body-mind. Which is real?

When an actor plays a part in a play, he finds himself inhabiting the role fully. He is completely immersed in the character he plays. He forgets who he is in real life. He laughs as the character and he cries as the character. He feels the pain of the character's sorrow and rejoices in the character's joy. It is real while it lasts. But it does not last. The play does not last. And when the play is done, the character dissolves. And when the character dissolves, the reality behind the character emerges again. The actor finds himself back in his own reality. So where was the reality when the actor was immersed in the character? Was it lost? Even when the actor forgot his own reality and was totally lost in the play, did it change the reality of who he was? No. All that happened was that the actor forgot his reality and assumed another identity - temporarily.

And whose choice is it to assume another identity? Who decides to play the part of this character for a while? The choice is made by the actor in reality. Not by the character in the play. While the actor plays his role, he is both the actor and the character. He is the actor as the character. He is the actor wearing a mask. And all the characters in the play treat each other as though they are real. But they are not. If you didn't know this, you would argue this reality. Your mind would provide all the evidence to prove that the characters are real. But that would not make them real. They would remain characters in a play. Only you would be fooled, forgetting your own reality, and the reality of us all in the play.

Now imagine a play in which an actor drops his act! What would such a play look like? The actor can't take his role seriously. He can't take any of the characters seriously. He cannot obscure his reality. And when he drops his act, the other characters don't know how to react to him. They try to carry on their act, but whenever they interact with this actor, their act crumbles. The script is not panning out. Something shifts. The play is altered.

And all this shifting and alteration is in the play. The reality of all the actors is still unchanged by what happens in the play.

So back to where we started - who made the choice for this body-mind to be born? Who will make the choice for it to die?

Who is asking this question? Is it the mind or the awareness of it? What is aware of the question being asked?

You see, awareness has no questions, and it is aware of all questions. And I am this awareness. And you are this awareness.

The rest is a play.

Friday, June 13, 2008

What is real?

Disagreeable things arise.

Mind's natural response is to judge them - bad, unpleasant, evil, unhappy, wrong, violent, and on and on.

It would be nice if mind didn't judge them. And sometimes it does not. And that's nice. And at other times, it does judge them. And that's not so nice! Do you see the judgement right here? :-)

Mind judges. That's what it does for a living!

We enter mind and we enter duality. And judgements are the poles of this duality. Good and bad, right and wrong and so on.

The next time mind rushes to judgement, notice what happens along with judgement.

When we judge something as good, the natural inclination is to stay in the goodness - to keep it. And when we judge something as bad, the natural urge is to fix it, to do something about it! Is it not? Discover if this is true for you.

So the urge arises to fix what is wrong or bad. And we follow the urge and the mind gets busy fixing and problem-solving.

The mind moves from judgement to more mind activity - review and analysis of the problem and an evaluation and implementation of the solution!

And throughout this process, awareness simply watches. It lets all the mind's moves arise within it, without judgement.

Awareness sees the judgement arise. Awareness sees the urge to fix arise. Awareness watches what the mind does with the urge.

When we are the awareness watching the mind, is there is a need to fix anything?

We are like the ocean holding a rising wave - no attempt to flatten it out.

Awareness is the acceptance of everything that arises, without a need to change anything.

If change arises, it too arises within this awareness, as awareness. What arises, comes from beyond the mind. The mind interpretes it, like a screen that catches the light and makes a whole world of fantasy from that source. The mind is the movie maker, - the virtual reality machine.

Judgements are part of the movie, problems are part of the movie and fixing problems is part of the movie too.

And movies are not real.

So we discover what is real. Each for oneself.

Thursday, June 5, 2008


Are there 2 sides to freedom?

We tend to associate freedom with the freedom from suffering. We want to be free of everything that limits us and constrains us and holds us back. Is it not?

And then we start to notice that this freedom does indeed exist. We can be free of suffering. We are free of suffering. We are free from mind's prattle. We are free of being hurt and feeling rejected. For we are not defined by any of those things.

And then we settle into this freedom with great delight. We feel expanded and happy.

And then reality strikes and we notice that all is not perfect. There are still 'bad' moments. - Moments when we don't feel quite so free.

So we remember the wise teaching. The one that says we are not what happens, but rather the awareness of what happens. And thank God - what a relief - the teaching works! And we go back to feeling free of the suffering yet again.

For now.

Then reality strikes again. And again and again.

There comes a time perhaps when the teaching 'stops' working! And no matter what wisdom we drag up from the depth of our being, we don't quite feel free. Even if we kid ourselves, there is something inside us that knows the truth. We simply don't feel quite free in this moment.

So what is happening?

Perhaps this is where the other side of freedom presents itself.

We can notice that freedom is also the freedom to feel 'not free'. Of course this is paradoxical. But we can let our experience teach us beyond the paradox.

The eagle that soars must also swoop down. For it depends on that which is earth-bound to feed it.

In other words, let not the taste of expansion become such an addiction that we are in bondage to it. Let it not be so grasped that we are not free to be small when we are small.

Be free from and of limitation and be free to be limited. And let reality show us how freedom dances between the two!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Eternal intersection

Everything begins here.

And why not? If everything can be said to have a beginning, then it can equally be here as anywhere else! Where does a sphere start? Where does it end? How about here?

So that's the other side of no beginning-no end. Yes there is no beginning to our reality and no end. So then, anything and everything can be a beginning (and an end)! How about here?

So we come to this magical point of our direct reality - right here, right now! This is where everything intersects. With nothing. With itself. Eternal intersection.

And what's happening right here right now?

What allows it to happen?

See that love. Discover that as you.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Witness the birth of I

Notice the movement of air around you right now.

Is it a gust of wind strongly felt?

Is it a gentle breeze quite pleasant?

Is it simply still?

Whatever it is, can you say about it - This is my gust of wind, or This is my gentle breeze, or This is my stillness?

This simply is, as it is. And we notice it. Is it not?

Thoughts are like the movement of air too.

Whether they are big and gusty, or peaceful, or still, they simply are.

Who makes them mine? - My thoughts?

What arises to claim ownership?

See that one who is born with thoughts, born only to own them.

Be the one who witnesses this birth.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

In the flow

I - this body-mind
With thoughts. feelings, actions
I am in the flow
The flow of life

What I do
Is life doing me
What I live
Is life living me

I am the teardrop
That rolls down the cheek
Moved by the heart
Not separate from it

I am that
By which
Life experiences itself
Such joy, such joy

To be this
Only this
All this

Monday, May 19, 2008

Embrace this moment...

We worry about what tomorrow will be, and the day after. We worry about whether or not we will become spiritually evolved enough. Or perhaps materially evolved enough. We worry about being enough.

What a burden we carry. And all the time that we spend worrying is about something that isn't even here yet. Tomorrow is not here yet. Now is what is here now. This is like throwing away the jewel in your hand right now, for the guarantee of a jewel in your hand tomorrow! Yet why would we value tomorrow what we cannot value this moment?

See through mind's madness.

If indeed there is something to do, it is simple. Embrace this moment. As it is.

And when the mind rebels against this statement, simply embrace that rebellion, for that is what this moment is presenting.

The mind's rebellion is not a force opposing the awareness. It cannot be. The mind's rebellion is an opposing force within the awareness.

What's the difference?

Imagine a tornado with all its fierce destructive energy that seems to flatten out everything in its wake. Wherever the tornado expands, space makes place for it to expand! Space simply holds this whirling swirling tornado without any judgement. Can the tornado said to be opposing this space? Or arising in it?

Awareness is like that. No matter what storm the mind kicks up, awarenes allows it to happen, and simply holds the mind without judgement.

Be that awareness which you are and embrace this moment.

This moment becomes the next and the next and now you are holding life.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Subject, object and dissociation

This is the realm that militates against the idea of even experience itself. It goes beyond experience as the I experiences it.

We are often told to simply watch everything arising. This is the witness consciousness that steps back and sees from a larger perspective - a perspective that is not identified with what it watches.

What is still present in this consciousness, is the duality of the watcher and the watched, or the seer and the seen. There is nothing wrong with this. But we may suddenly notice this duality.

One place where it can really show itself, and thus become the portal into non-dual consciousness, (forgive the use of this language, for it is what we have), is our relationship with others.

One can look at another person and can experience discomfort with some aspect of this other person. Let's say that this aspect of the other is totally alien to you. In other words, you are witnessing someting in this other, that you have never experienced about, or in, yourself. So this aspect feels alien or separate from you, because you have not directly experienced it.

When this aspect is looked upon from the place of 'this is not me', there can be dissociation. The witness consciousness can be hijacked by the me, and still simply watch this alien aspect in the other. But there is a subtle sense of 'I am watching this that is not me'. It is dissociating with tolerance! This is not unkind, or bad in any way. But the dissociation comes home to roost. Stated differently, we become aware of the dissociation, usually through a sense of something missing, or some kind of unease.

The love that is, shines a light by means of the unease, and helps us to go beyond it.

Personal experience too has its limits. And this is where we must let go of even our personal experience. Of course the curious thing is, that this is a letting go that returns us back to experience, only more expanded.

What is meant by all this?

The invitation in the experience of dissociative watching, is to transcend the separation between the experience of the watcher and that of the watched. To ask oneself - is it true that I am not this other person who is so clearly and evidently different from me? Is it true?

Staying in this question can open a realm of awareness which completely dissolves that separation. And it penetrates you that you are beyond your personal experience, and not separate from any experience - no matter who or what it manifests in - that other person, the door, the sky! I am that and that and that. I am all.

Now you look at everything, but there is literally no distance between the one looking, and the one being looked at, - no distance between the subject and the object. It is same. Witnessing without dissociation. Witnessing without object. I witness I.

I am the one - the witness, the witnessing and the witnessed.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Nothing is insignificant

Everything holds up everything else. When we see this, we realize that nothing is insignificant. And we fill up with love for everything there is. Even the parts we don't like.

A great place to start discovering this is within oneself.

Right now, notice if there is something that you disapprove of, or disagree with, or are unhappy about. It may be something overt and tangible that you can point to, or sometimes it can be covert and less tangible. If it is the latter, then simply notice the unease, even if it cannot be defined specifically.

Say to yourself - I see this unease (or whatever else that comes up).

Even as you say this, you may find several different thoughts/ feelings, and even fears come up.

Say to yourself - I see the fear. Or - I see many uneasy thoughts. Or - I see the uneasy feelings coming up.

In other words, you acknowledge whatever arises, with the words - I see ---.

Notice what happens.

Then say 'I see ---., to whatever is noticed also.

Sustain this for as long as you naturally can. Don't force anything.

Do this right now. And you may find that you will do this sometime again. And then again, and again. Not by forcing yourself. But just spontaneously.

There are many ways to describe what may happen. And each person discovers this for herself. One way that perhaps many of us can resonate with, is simply this: what is our experience when we are seen and acknowledged? Isn't that a simple, yet fundamental, human desire?

So we start to extend it to ourselves. Not abstractly - to some notion of who we are. But to something much simpler and more direct - our experience right now - our thoughts, feelings and whatever is arising right now.

You may find the act of seeing, just by itself, is so precious and dear.

And realize this - the disturbance created by our unease opens up the vast space of seeing and acknowledging this that we are - now and now and right now!

Discover this simple love.

Friday, May 2, 2008

From me to me

If I am you
then you don't need to change

For who would you change to?
The you that is me!

If I am you
then I don't need to change

For what could I change to?
The you that is me!

And meanwhile we change
You and I
From me to me.

Monday, April 28, 2008

I am the ocean

I am the ocean
Calm and rough

Inside me lies a secret
That unfolds gently
Like wisdom when I seek it

I am the ocean
I swell in anger
And subside in awe

I rage humanly
And flow like god

I transform
And my balance
Is in all of me
As I am

I am the ocean
There is life above me
And life below
I am a mirror
For life to see life

Give me your ripple
So I may grow and grow you

Give me your ripple
So I may make our waves

Give me your ripple
So I may live and die

And when I storm
And when I sleep
Your ripple will lie in me deep

Saturday, April 26, 2008

What comes between you and this right now?

What comes between you and this right now?

The mind's argument with what is.

What is the argument saying?

He should not be this way. She should not be this way. This should not be this way.

If he is this way, or she is that way, then I get upset or angry or sad or...

So, finally, says the argument,

I should not be this way. I should be something else - something other than what I am in this moment.

See how the argument always tracks back to the I.

The mind provides a thousand different reasons why I should not be what I am right now.

Perhaps it says I should be a better person than this. I should be stronger, more loving, less emotional, less angry, more peaceful, more wise, a better parent, or whatever else.

Perhas it says simply that I should not have to face this right now.

However longwinded the connection, the mind's argument comes back to I. - The I who is uncomfortable with the I as it is right now.

So this is one big step. - Calling a spade a spade.

This is not about some other person, or thing or circumstance. This is about I.

Seeing this is big.

When this is seen, there is a resting.

It is exhausting to be on a wild goose chase for so long, running all over the place to make something else the problem.

It is a relief to come back home, to I. - To see that this is where it all is.

The mind may understand this to mean that I am the problem.

The mind thinks that if that other person or thing or event is not the problem, then I am the problem. For there is a problem, and so somebody must be it!

Then it may ask, how can it be a relief to know that I am the problem?

There is a problem here and it needs to be solved. But changing the source of the problem to I, is no solution!

These are all legitimate beliefs. The mind is doing its job.

But is a belief automatically true?

This is the inquiry.

For much of our lives, we automatically accept our beliefs as the truth. We become separate from what is, and we suffer.

By amazing grace, it takes very little to change that. What does it take?

Just 2 questions to ask of oneself -

What am I believing right now? and - Is this belief true?

What you find may be very interesting. And much more besides.

Don't believe any of this. :-)

Discover for yourself.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Playing with Mirrors

Try this

Look at yourself in the mirror.

Look at your eyes. See how they look at you.

Look at yourself looking. This is you.

See this that sees.

Now look out the window.

Imagine the mirror is still there.

What do you see?

Cars, trees, road, birds, flowers, people, sky, fence?

Now this is you. Look at how you look!

You look like the car! The tree. The road. The flower....everything!

The mirror is in your eye. It shows you how you look.

The mirror is in your ear. It shows you how you sound.

The mirror is in your touch. It shows you how you feel.

The mirror is in your nose. It shows you how you smell.

The mirror is in your tongue. It shows you how you taste.

Discover you. New every moment.

You are the infinite oneness

Infinite oneness

The teachers say 'You are it! You are the oneness.'

Imagine that. Imagine that you are the oneness. One being. The only one.

Yet you know nothing about being the one. There is no concept whatsoever about this.

Take this in just for a bit. Drop all ideas of what one means. And sit still in the conviction of the one.

What is oneness without concept?

One doesn't mean not two. One doesn't mean not many.

Feel this oneness connecting everything through you and around you, even in the far distance.

Feel this oneness embracing even the unseen.

Feel how far and wide you stretch.

There is nothing that is not you.

Feel yourself falling as the bottomless ocean. - Soaring as the infinite sky, and further still and further and further...

Nothing is separate.

You are the infinite oneness.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Try this

Try this.

Close your eyes. Take in what is - the sounds that are heard, the smells that are smelled, the sensations that are felt. Take it all in. Savor it like a glass of wine.

What hears the sounds? What feels the sensations?

What is it? - This that hears and feels?

Does it have a name? Does it need to have a name? Does it need to have your name?

Does it have a body? Does it need to have a body? Does it need to have a specific body?

Does it care what it hears? Does it depend on what it feels?

This is the awareness. Simply that. Receiving everything. And not needing anything.

Discover this independent awareness. Is it not you?



The waves arise from the ocean
Knowing they can only return
Where they began

Where is this knowing?

In the fierce arch of the giant storm wave
In the gentle curl of the lapping beach wave

See how they turn
Right back into themselves
With complete certainty
Amazing Grace

From absolutely nowhere
A thought arises

What is thought without thinker?
Who is thinker without thought?

From absolutely nothing
Thinker and thought arise

So thinker can think thought
Seer can see sights
Listener can hear sound

So self can discover itself
And nothing is everything