Tuesday, December 22, 2009
My teacher Adya, calls it a core belief.
Our very life is unfolding from that belief so that everything we do, including what we do on the spiritual journey, is in accordance with this belief.
Then we are the living embodiment of that belief pattern.
When we are living the belief in this way we cannot see the belief in operation, because there is no objectivity around it - we are too identified with it. To see it requires a distance from it which we do not have because we are it and we are only it.
Then at some point grace intervenes and we can see the belief. We have gained some distance from it and we can see how our life is being run by it.
However even if we see it quite clearly, the belief still seems to be playing out in our lives. And this can be confusing and frustrating.
If you find yourself in this situation, then perhaps what follows may be useful for you.
Let's take a concrete example.
Let's say that the belief is a need for appreciation. So there is a strong desire for appreciation that is playing itself out in your life.
Now everything that is born has a certain stickiness to it. The degree of stickiness can vary enormously, but once something is born there is a finite period of time for which it is sustained. And then it dies.
Some things that are born have a great stickiness and they are greatly self-sustaining. The kind of belief that we have been discussing is an example of this. It is by nature very sticky and wants to live.
So the strong desire for appreciation is very sticky. It uses every trick in the book to stay alive.
Let's say that this desire for appreciation were fulfilled and you experienced great appreciation. What would this mean for the desire for appreciation? What is a fulfilled desire? Is it a desire anymore? No - A fulfilled desire is a dead desire. Right?
The strong desire for appreciation which is very sticky does not want to die and so it does not want to be fulfilled. Of course this sounds completely counter-intuitive and contradictory. But don't go by the analysis of this, go by your experience of how the belief plays out for you.
So the strong desire for appreciation, in order to stay alive, avoids total fulfillment. However it is very skillful and it will accept partial fulfillment. So you will surely feel appreciated sometimes. But then that goes away and the old hunger arises again and is even stronger! Right?
Sometimes this strong desire for appreciation may even use a subtle and totally contradictory pattern to sustain itself. It may actually and very subtly seek rejection. Perhaps this is the point where you may completely dismiss what I am saying here as rubbish and so be it. :)
What happens to you when you have a strong desire for appreciation, and then you feel rejected? You immediately want appreciation oh so much more, right?
Everytime there is an experience of rejection, the desire for appreciation gains a new lease of life as it kicks back in with greater force. The desire for appreciation is so sticky that it can even use a totally opposite thing like rejection to further its goal of survival.
If you know what I am talking about then you know how this feels - like being pulled in opposite directions, so that the end result is one of stagnation.
This contradictory push and pull is what makes it so confusing. You may be aware of your need for appreciation and then you become aware of your being drawn to rejection in your life experience. And you wonder what is really going on! Right?
So you can check in your experience if the rejection bit is simply a mechanism of survival for your strong need for appreciation. And then if it is the case and you can see it for what it is, you may experience a clearing of the confusion.
What is true for a desire for appreciation can also be true for other strong patterns.
I have witnessed a case of great aversion to life. The experience of it for the most part was an apathy towards life in general and even a casual nonchalance towards death. But then a grave illness came about, and gave rise to a terror of dying. And now life became about illness and fear and so the aversion to such a life became even stronger.
At the same time confusion was being experienced in this push-pull of I don't want to live but I don't want to die!
Until it was seen in perspective.
When we see our core belief patterns in perspective, it is not that they immediately dissolve but they get conscious space around them. And instead of being lived out unconsciously they play out their momentum in the light of consciousness. And we are not yanked around by them so much anymore.
This releases blocked energy within us and something new and more free has space to be born.
Monday, November 23, 2009
As soon as the ego tries to define us as someone, something much bigger than ego knows that it is not that one. It is not any one - not this one and not that one - not any particular one.
To read about this without having experienced it can be confusing. And experiencing it can be disorienting to the mind. The mind seeks certainty and likes to be someone - someone particular - someone predictable who can be described and defined in a specific way. Until it doesn't.
And then there is that inbetween place, when something here can no longer really believe in the story of being someone particular. Still there can be a sort of half-hearted believing for a while. But rest assured this belief is very surely on its way out. And sooner rather than later that belief evaporates.
However, during this experience it seems like life around us continues on pretty much as before, and we still find ourselves amidst the same or similar situations as before. But now there is no particular someone dealing with those situations. Instead there is an openness that can still hear and see what is going on.
This is what is disorienting to mind. It doesn't know how to deal with life without being someone. So it may keep attempting to settle into being someone and reacting to what is happening as that someone. But it cannot really sustain that act for very long. So right in the middle of being someone, the belief in someone may just vanish and the openness may be revealed again.
This can be quite funny. We may find ourselves arguing a point (as someone) and then suddenly all interest in our own argument disappears and we are left holding nothing and feeling a little silly, and no doubt looking a lot sillier! :-)
That this could happen sometimes - that mind could try to be someone - that isn't a problem. It pretends for a while and then it can't anymore. Without any interference from us, the drama simply passes.
However we may be tempted to interfere. All our interference is from the mind, and it can take the form of thoughts believed - thoughts like:
I shouldn't be shaken from the openness
I am still not really enlightened enough
I should not look silly
None of these are true. But if believed in, they simply contract us again. So instead we can simply relax into what is happening, even if we are being someone again, or being silly or 'unspiritual'.
In this openness there is no attachment to being any one way, no attachment to appearing any one way. There is simply the freedom to be and the freedom to appear as any one. We are life responding to life and we are flexible.
This last statement seems contradictory? It is certainly paradoxical. For somehow, in a mysterious way, this openness that we are is no-one specific and yet can appear as specific things, without being confined to any one of them, without being defined as any one of them.
And we find out the truth of how this works right where we are, as life unfolds.
This body doesn't suddenly evaporate. This life experience isn't suddenly blanked out. The facts of our life don't change. We continue to look the same and sound the same and appear the same (atleast on the outside). But there is no one left here who needs to hang on to any one appearance.
So we are free - free to be what the moment demands of us - free to be the flow of life in this moment, as this moment.
We are free to be new and fresh. And there is no need to know in advance how to be.
By means unknown we are the unknown appearing as the known. What could be more amazing!
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
In a voice and way
It has rarely used
Displaying its rich beauty
Its sonorous silence
Its bursting fullness
in my being
Look, it says, at what I am
Not what you thought
Not just time
Marker for some event in your life
Not the start of something
Nor the end of something
Not even the inbetween
Though truth be told
comes closest to what I am
But you cast aside that
You cast aside the inbetween
In your hurry to get somewhere
And so you lose me
and lose me again
But I didn't lose you
How could I?
You come from my womb
you are my own child
You wander all over freely
away from me
and yet never outside
for I am all there is
Then someday I call out to you
And this time you say yes!
And we come back home
And that is what I am
I am you
Monday, October 12, 2009
The mind presents us with all kinds of experience. And further, the mind articulates that experience in many different ways (depending on the experience), such as:
I am working or
I am sad or
I am having a good time or
I am watching a movie etc
All of mind's interest and attention is in the sensory experience of being happy or sad or engrossed in the movie or whatever else. But if we really look at experience (any experience), there are always 2 components to any experience: - one is the sensory part of the experience (as described above - happy, sad, etc)- two is the 'I am' part of the experience or the beingness implicit in any experience.
This component of 'I am' is the foundational experience without which the sensory experience cannot be had. In order for something to be experienced, there must be someone who experiences it. So we can say that "I am" is the primary experience and the sensory part is the secondary experience.
Then perhaps we can agree that we live most of our lives located in secondary experience alone. It can be said that the primary experience is mostly ignored or taken for granted.
Most spiritual paths invite us to turn to the primary experience. Many meditation techniques and spiritual practices are geared to anchor us in this I-amness or simply beingness. But when mind goes there it gets very bored. There is no excitement there. By contrast, it seems like the secondary experience is vast, varied and infinitely more interesting. So the mind turns right back there, and assures itself of, at the very least - an exciting time. :-)
And yet, at the same time, it may seem like there is a lingering, maybe small part of us that is getting a bit tired of the sensory stuff. Perhaps we find that we need ever new experiences to keep us interested, because what used to interest us simply lost its appeal. And although there is no dearth of new things, we may find that they have an old air about them.
So we find ourselves in somewhat of a quandary - wanting sensory experience and yet wanting more than just that. The next time this quandary is experienced (or anything else), and the mind says 'I am feeling confused', perhaps we can turn, ever so slightly, to the primary experience there, - I am - and give it a small bit of attention too. So that we find that our awareness holds both - the experience of confusion and the experience of being.
We don't need to hold our attention there, we can just turn there when it occurs to us to do so. What we may find is that something expands out, and instead of feeling boxed into a tiny part of our reality - which is the sensory experience - we feel a spaciousness around experience, that is very relaxing.
But it is not just relaxing, it is perspective-altering. Stepping into I-amness, even for a split second, is stepping into the larger reality. And from here everything is seen differently. This world of experience that we have given so much importance to, begins to be seen in a much bigger context, and all experience is held more lightly.
The split second of unforced turning to I-am ness is unimaginably powerful. In the mind it competes with a lifetime of other experiences, but in reality it works like seeds sprinkled in the ground - invisibly, silently and surely, yielding forests that change the landscape.
In this way, without force, we can start to reconnect with the primary experience of beingness and see where it takes us. There is no need to give up our attraction to secondary experience. We can simply turn to 'I am', when we remember and want to do so. We need not dedicate a pre-specified amount of time to this, nor assign a special place for this. It can happen anytime, anyplace - during work, during leisure, in the car or while walking...
The best time to turn to 'I am' is when it happens spontaneously.
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
The central teachings of Advaita, (and some other spiritual legacies), are few and stark.
- What we take ourselves to be - we are not.
- What we are is the unknown or God or the Oneness.
As human beings we take ourselves to be separate from other human beings, from the world and from God. This is our lived experience. Our lived experience is that of separation. So the teachings seem contrary to our lived experience, and therefore utopian and fantastic. And yet when the time comes, they draw us to their discovery like moths to a flame.
The teachings point to the truth of what we are. And when we desire to know what we are, we come to the teaching. There is no faking this desire.
If something within us spontaneously stays curious about this even amidst all the intelligent protests of mind; if we find ourselves encountering this teaching in our lives again and again somehow, and some small part of us feels compelled to go there, then the desire is there and will chart its own course.
So the teachings tell us that all separation is an illusion. But they don't discount our lived experience. Rather they help us to see that what we take ourselves to be has reality (as we already know), but it is the reality of a mirage.
It is very real when we are in it. But there is a larger reality within which the mirage itself occurs, and from which the mirage can be seen as a mirage. This larger reality which is simultaneously all-inclusive and yet totally empty is the oneness or non-duality that Advaita points to as our true nature.
What is said above may give the impression that the great teachings are putting us on a self-improvement program, with a step-by-step process to becoming self-realized or the highest and best thing to be. :-) This is not so. Certainly our desire to know what we truly are may put us on a spiritual journey, but we are not somehow becoming the Oneness or God through the course of this journey.
We are always and already the Oneness. There is no arriving someplace. Because every place is that. There is no becoming somebody. Because every body is that. There is no way to not be that which we truly are.
But the issue is that we don't see this or experience this clearly, and so we feel we are outside that somehow, separate from God, separate from all there is. All suffering derives from this sense of separation - the firm belief ensconced in mind and body that I am a separate being.
This has also been likened to dreaming. Within the dream everything seems real and we suffer and we rejoice. Yet the truth, as we see clearly, is that we wake up from the dream every morning and know it was just a dream. In other words it is the nature of the dream to be full of stories. Similarly it is the nature of human life to go through this experience of separation.
The mind races ahead with questions as to why this might be so and how this truth can be realized and so on.
Broadly speaking there are 2 aspects to this realization - one is the understanding of what is being pointed to and the other is the living of it. The authentic desire to know what we are is what orchestrates the spiritual journey for each one.
There is no telling what the journey may look like for anyone. For some (very rare few) there may be no experience of a journey at all. Understanding may dawn and it is lived in, as, of and through, that human form, right away. For most others (and certainly for me) the body-mind complex gradually transforms in the living of this realization.
And yet the great paradox which is recognized is that the one that transforms is the same oneness, before, during and after the transformation! :-)
We are always and already that. And the experience of separation occurs within that which we are. This oneness is not the opposite of many. The many arise within it, as expressions of it, confused or otherwise.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Silence can dance
and a whole host
of unlikely partners
And what a dancer it is
Nothing too clumsy
to take into its arms
and rejoice with
Silence the expert dancer
dancing with a clod
in a dance so intimate
like God dancing with God
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
with bowed head
and humble heart
expecting to find
a glorious god
shining and pure
I'm ready to look up
to this great one
surrendering yet again
But what greets me
is a mirror instead
and a pristine image
Am I at home
in my room
No I see that
this is the temple
Where is the god here?
the perfect god
I came to bow to?
The only answer
is the steady image
looking at myself
marred, worn down
me looking at myself
I hear the temple bells
smell the incense
see the flowers
All offered in prayer
And to you
when you come here
other than you and I
without you and I
just you and I
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Sunday, July 5, 2009
is leaving yourself
the option to love
the one who injures you
if love arises
Why take that
off the table
does not deny you
is free of the strategy
to plot hatred
against those who hate
does not deny hatred
If it arises
it is allowed
with unflinching love
It is the space
between the leaves
of a tree dancing
with the wind
Stillness within dance
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
This is the awareness that is inside all things. This is the awareness that we are.
This awareness is not dependent on the human mind as we sometimes believe.
The human mind is a powerful, and possibly unique, vehicle for the awareness to express itself. But awareness does not depend on your being aware or my being aware. It is totally independent of the movement of mind.
But because of the way that the human mind understands awareness, we think that awareness needs objects to be aware of. And we think that the awareness is outside the objects, and separate from them. We think that awareness is aware of the objects from outside them.
But the eye of God is in all things and awareness is on the inside of all things as all things, and as nothing. We can call it the beingness or the isness or the presence inherent in everything.
This is the awareness that is being pointed to.
Rest as this awareness, this beingness, even when the mind doesn't get it, for the mind is not the one that gets it.
Every protest of the mind is shot through with the beingness. Notice this in the next thought that says you don't get it. See the presence in the thought itself that dances in the mind.
We are this vibrant dancing alive beingness and everything is that.
We are the eye of God seeing itself.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
We can't imagine a life where none of this is so - where each moment is on its own - orphaned. We can't imagine something so alone. It frightens us and chills us to the bone, as only something can that we know to be true. So we construct an elaborate facade and we collaborate to keep it strong and upright - not allowing each other to remember, lest the clear seeing of one become the undoing of all.
So precious is this life of meaning we say that we are willing to take its knocks just to live its grandeur. What garbage we feed ourselves. We are like a bird on the ground that does not know it has wings - and so it walks about and has little adventures - little triumphs and little mishaps. They don't really satisfy and so the bird uses its little beak of imagination to weave something grand out of the little things - and invents meaning for a filler - to fill the gaps between the little things so they can stick together and appear much bigger than they actually are.
We allow ourselves to be fooled by a life woven this way - from imagination and empty fillers. Out of fear we continue weaving and building out the emptiness. Till it grows so big and so hungry it swallows us whole. And there is nothing again. The very nothing we tried to run from. It is everywhere we run. And all the running is only running into its lap.
We can get desperate then and crumble or we can laugh - laugh a great big belly laugh. It is ridiculous to run from our self, believing we might escape the bugger. When what is running is the self. It is funny to realize this.
Then the sound of our own laughter dissolves into the nothing. And it's like it never was.
Then something is forgotten deep inside us and something is remembered there but not from a memory. And we look into the distance. And a tree waves its leaves and the sunlight filters in through a window. And we blink our eyes. And it is all one thing. Everything is just one thing. And we choke on the lump in the throat and we are blinded by the rush of tears. Gratitude and peace course through the veins. And there is fullness to bursting. Like a ripe peach cracking its skin to share the sweet juiciness. We spill over with complete abandon, not even noticing what is given up.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Maybe we stay with the spiritual teachings because we taste the peace they appear to suggest.
But who can deny life its eccentricities? What can force life to provide us with unending peace?
Life inevitably presents us with the 'unpeaceful' - death, sickness, loss, war, recession etc.
(Perhaps you want to replace the word peace above with something else, like love, which resonates more strongly for you.)
Are we peaceful in these situations? What is our experience?
If you are like most seekers, then no - you are not peaceful in unpeaceful situations.
But the spiritual teachings are unassailable, we know. They are infallible, we tell ourselves.
So it must be that we are doing something wrong, - we are not seeking in the right way, we tell ourselves. If we were doing this right, then unending peace would be our experience.
This may seem like a spiritually naive belief that seasoned seekers may scoff at. But if we look again, even veteran seekers may find some version of this inside.
So we equate the end of seeking or enlightenment with a state of unending peace.
And further, we often believe that this is something that can be attained, whether it is by the right spiritual practices done the right way, or by the right transmission from the right teacher, or by the right kind of spiritual experience, or by the right spiritual attitude and so on.
The spiritual teachings that we revere so, consistently tell us one thing:
We are already and always that.
But we have given ourselves a new teaching:
I can attain the experience of unending peace.
Simply consider the vast gap between the above 2 statements.
Yet this is how all seekers (in some way or another) interprete the teachings.
Peace (or love) is only one of the myriad expressions of this that we are. If we insist on unending peace, we insist on denying every other expression. We insist on denying the fullness and vastness of what we are. In other words we insist on staying limited.
Luckily we don't succeed. :-) We are the freedom and the infinite vastness no matter how contorted and cramped we find ourselves.
So hear the teachings afresh. No old ideas needed.
We are already and always that.
The peaceful is that and the unpeaceful is that.
The love is that and the hatred is that.
The right spiritual practice is that and the wrong spiritual practice is that.
The right teacher is that and the wrong teacher is that.
The right attitude is that and the wrong attitude is that.
You are that through and through whatever you do and whoever you are.
What prevents us from acknowledging this within us is fear. All kinds of fear.
The fear of losing control. The fear of having nothing to do. The fear of dying. The fear of not knowing. The fear of of being too great to be true. The fear of being too small to matter. The fear of letting go and finding our demons. The fear of losing the world. The fear of being cast out of humanity. The fear of losing everything and everyone we love. The fear of living. The fear of freedom. The fear of not caring. The fear of losing our image. The fear of fear.
And we run from fear. This is the natural human tendency. Until it isn't.
It is not necessary to run from fear. It is not necessary to run from fear.
Can we look at the fear? - gently and at our own pace?
Can we see that something is already allowing the fear to be?
Can we be that which is already allowing the fear to be? Can we look at fear from here? - in this way?
No pressure to deal with the fear or fix it or resolve it.
Can we simply look?
Yes - It may not be very peaceful to look at fear. And that's why we have avoided the fear for so long. But the avoidance has not worked - it has not brought us peace.
Meanwhile the fear stands in the way of acknowledging what we are.
When we are ready, we can look at the fear and see what that brings.
And the beauty of this is, that the fear itself is that - that even as we look at the fear, we are already that. And no matter what we find, we are already that. And everything we find is already that.
We have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Thursday, June 4, 2009
in human form
Pure innocence arises
Then attachment occurs
and thought becomes belief
And this happens also
in pure innocence
The belief becomes the mask
through which we look
And the world appears
colored by belief
In this way
beliefs are amassed
The mask becomes thicker
and the world more complex
We don't realize
that what we see
is only a result
of the masks we are wearing
So we take it all
to be very real
Until we don't
And it is all pure innocence
In a moment of grace
our looking chances
through which we are looking
We see the mask
and we see how
it has shaped our world
for so long now
The mask may not
slip off right away
Infact it tends
to cling in pure innocence
But the mask
has been seen you know
And though nothing has changed
This changes everything
Sunday, May 31, 2009
that I don't want
to live an idea
it may bring me peace
or wealth or joy.
This I know
that I want
to live the truth
whatever it may bring.
I have lived ideas
of all kinds.
They do not satisfy
but leave me parched
for what I do not know.
In truth I am free
of the need
to duck or hold
any one thing.
Wide wide open
to all that arises.
Monday, May 18, 2009
Nothing can change the reality of the rainbow's source or its true nature. It is light appearing in different colors. Now we may prefer one color to another, but what has that to do with what each color truly is? The seven colors can produce a kaleidoscopic reality of great beauty and intricacy. And we can enjoy the spectacular show. But the entire show is enabled by the light. The entire show is only a play of light. Miraculous!
In the same way, formlessness refracts through the great witnessing into the rainbow of this universe. And you arise and I arise and the moon and the stars, and we dance life. And we are all only the great unknown in different shades and shapes.
The great witnessing is the prism that refracts. The great witnessing is the observer observing the observed. It is the observer that unfolds the observed, from deep within itself, such that the birth of the observer is simultaneously the birth of the observed.
We can name these things and dress them in fancy words and classify them into elaborate systems and there is great joy in all that. But what remains unchanged? The true nature of all things. It is the great unknown.
Saturday, May 9, 2009
In pain or suffering?
Where is the love
In hatred and war?
Where is the love
I rave and rant
About this elusive love
Its startling absence
Then the anger
And I am back
where I started
Even as I berate
Something has allowed
And something allows
My self-judgement now
Something is ok
exactly as I am
I don't have to be different
In its presence
It is equally present
No matter who or what I am
Can there be
A more restful love?
Sunday, April 26, 2009
I see 2 fundamental ways in which seekers avoid the truth - procrastination and projection.
Procrastination is about waiting for enlightenment to occur to us. It can take various forms. But usually the mind picks on some particular spiritual information that it has read or heard about, and either obviously or subtly, converts that into a pre-requisite for our enlightenment.
I haven't yet had a big spiritual experience. When I have it then perhaps enlightenment may set in.
I have had one or many memorable spiritual experiences, but they don't last. They come and go. When I have one that stays then I will be truly enlightened.
When I am finally able to be rid of my anger, and be loving all the time, then I will know that I am enlightened.
When I can make the time to do more meditation (or inquiry), and when I can learn to do it right, then I may have a chance at enlightenment.
When I find the right teacher and receive the right transmission, then .......
and on and on.
Is any of this familiar so far? Discover your own voice of procrastination. And see how it sustains the seeking. - Till you see that in this way we end up seeking only that which can be used to keep away the truth!
Projection is about putting the enlightenment onto another's shoulders. It's the you-are-enlightened-and-I-am-not pattern. Typically the teacher or someone else is held up as an exemplar that simply cannot be matched. The mind finds something unique about this enlightened other, that is then used to compare one's own experience with, and of course one's own experience always falls short.
This teacher talks about how they are in constant bliss. Now that is true enlightenment and it is simply not my experience.
I go from teacher to teacher and I see clearly that they have all had some extraordinary experience that changed them forever and that is not my experience and will likely never be.
My experience contradicts what the enlightened one says, so my experience is wrong. I can never be what she is.
Look at that amazing enlightened one! How could I (with all my faults) be the same as that one? What blasphemy!
and on and on.
Perhaps this sounds familiar? Check in to find your own version of projection. And notice if it is not infact used to reassert a comfortable belief - that you are not enlightened.
So why do we try to avoid the truth of what we are? Especially when we profess to want it so much?
It has much to do with the fear of realizing the truth fully. - The fear of disappearing as this ego-mind, the fear of taking full responsibility for everything, the fear of being completely alone, the fear of losing control and the fear of dying.
So what to do about this fear?
Nothing. Anything that is done to counter the fear actually stems from fear - the fear of fear. Instead we can take the opportunity to see clearly. Seeing clearly means seeing what is just as it is, without having to interprete it through the lens of judgement.
So when we see the various ways in which we are avoiding the truth of ourselves, then simply by that act of seeing, something starts to open up. It clears the way for a dropping of the resistance to the truth.
Don't expect this to be experienced in any one particular way. Discover and enjoy how it wishes to manifest in your own experience.
Monday, April 20, 2009
Seeking is the dance between the deep desire for the truth and the avoidance of the truth, of what we are.
The desire for the truth holds our integrity. - That which yearns to fully meet itself.
The avoidance of the truth holds our resistance. - That which is afraid of what the truth may really mean for the I, for the body-mind.
The desire for the truth comes from beyond the I, despite the I. The avoidance of the truth comes from the I.
The desire for the truth bestows the grace of the breakthroughs. The avoidance attaches to the breakthroughs - the lack of them and the presence of them - as though they were the only truth.
Finally, it is the deep desire for the truth that enables us to see that we are in avoidance of the truth.
Seeking is avoidance.
Seeking is seeing the avoidance.
Seeking is seeing the dropping of avoidance.
Seeking ceases. The joy of continual discovery begins.
Nothing has changed. Everything has changed.
Sunday, April 12, 2009
Into the heart of all things
We find the same innocence
When we look at something
And miss the heart here and there
We find the same separateness
The price of separateness
Is the loss of innocence
The separate one does not deem this
To be a great loss
Nor a high price
To pay for its existence
But remember that separation too
Is born from the oneness
And the innocence
And returns to it surely
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Monday, March 30, 2009
To write this post
Sometimes the fingers fly
on the keyboard
At other times
Taking their own time
to form words
Today the hand is poised
over the letters
And the silence comes
I don't know how long
I sit this way
With the silence
And the potential for words
After a while
The eyes open
The fingers fly again
And these words appear
Silence takes shape
Silence takes form
Silence wears a mask
It is all silence
Beckoning us back home
Friday, March 20, 2009
How foolish I am being
When have I been free of mind?
Yesterday says the mind
Yesterday in meditation
I was free of mind
But the truth is
That today rolled around
And mind appeared again
As it always does
And mind is mostly quiet here
But here is there
And mind is active there
So how foolish of me
To seek my rest
In quiet mind
Here or there
The only rest
Is alongside mind
Inside it even
Right in its sweet lap
This is real freedom
By mind's noise
And by mind's silence
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Friday, March 6, 2009
I am this human expression - is it true?
I look into the mirror. I see this familiar face. I see the corners of the mouth turn up.
And I am deeply conscious of this that is looking - looking at this face and its reflection. It is looking at the eyes looking at the eyes. How strange.
I am this human expression - is it true?
This human expression is ever-changing. This body-mind is never the same from one year to the next, from one week to the next, from one day to the next, even from one moment to the next. One moment I am not smiling, then in the next moment I am! One moment my tooth is attached to the gum and in the next moment it comes unattached. One moment I am not in pain and then in the next moment, the pain starts.
One moment I am not conceived, and in the next moment I am. One moment I am not dead and in the next moment ....
This human expression is ever-changing.
Yet something always call itself I. What is it that holds to calling itself I? What is I?
What is I?
The body moves. The legs start up and walk the body into the kitchen. The hands move and reach out for this and that. A cup of tea is ready. The cup is lifted to the mouth. The tea is tasted. The eyes close briefly in appreciation. The legs walk this back here, with cup of tea in hand.
Action is happening. The heart is beating. The lungs are breathing. The bird is flying. The tree is gently waving.
Where am I in all this?
I am here - in this body-mind - is it true?
I look into the mirror again. I see the wall behind, a bottle, a candle-holder. Am I there, in those?
I touch the space separating this here from that there. The space is filled with thoughts. They are quite wispy. They just float about. It is very clearly seen that if attachment occurs to any of them, and if they are believed, - even a tiny bit, then wham - the wispy thoughts become a sticky quagmire, sucking more and more identity into them. And with that attachment, a vast distance develops between this I here and everything else. The separate I is birthed from the attachment to thought.
Something sees all this very calmly, as though in complete empathy and understanding. What is it that sees the I being born? What is it that sees the I live? What is it that sees the I die?
What sees I?
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Most human beings, including the spiritual seeker, have a certain common idea of what it means to be good, - to be a good person. A good person is one who is kind and considerate, loving and generous, good-tempered and helpful. When a person is unkind or angry or unhelpful, we don't think of that person as being so good. Is this not true?
These are very deeply entrenched beliefs in the human psyche.
One can describe the spiritual path as one where all beliefs come undone. - Even the most widely held, universally claimed and deeply entrenched ones - such as what it means to be good.
Through my own experience and that of those I am with, I find that most spiritual seekers have a very strong resistance to the dropping of this belief in being good. We equate being spiritual with being very good. How can it be otherwise? We have heard and read of saints and sages and Gods who personify and embody the good virtues listed above. So it comes as a bit of a shock when we are nudged to see that even being good, in the commonly accepted human sense, can be simply another belief. And we are frightened of seeing through this belief. This is very natural. The fear is that if this belief drops away then we will somehow be bad people, or, at the very least our bad side will show up more. We think that our belief in being good is what keeps the bad demons away. We don't want to be bad and we don't want to be seen to be bad. We don't want to hurt ourselves or the other. So we cling to this belief in being good.
Does any of this strike a chord so far?
Now I am not saying that being good is bad. :-) Infact this belief can arise in great innocence, and is very well-intentioned. And who among us would not prefer 'good' behavior to 'bad' behavior? But good and bad are ideas too and all ideas are eventually seen through. So I am simply saying that when we no longer resist seeing this apparently difficult truth, then this belief can be seen through.
When we cling to the belief in being good, we are basically insuring ourselves from finding out our bad side. So the belief in being good is fuelled by a fear of discovering how bad we may actually be. The belief in being good is rooted in fear. And fear is rooted in separation. Only one that believes herself to be separate, is fearful for herself.
So let's take a minute to see how this belief in being good plays out in our lives.
We try to be good. We curb what arises naturally and try to make it conform with our idea of good. We censor our words and actions. We speak lies to avoid uncomfortable truths. We live lies to fend off inconvenient truths. We blame ourselves and others when badness escapes our watch anyways and manifests as anger or unkindness. We feel conflicted inside, over our actions, and the actions of others. We feel like we must be on constant guard. We feel tense and constrained in body and mind. We feel superior to the less good people. We build up our image of virtuosity and feel inflated by it. And then we feel deflated when we slip into the slightest deviation. And on and on.
Curiously the belief never really sets out to achieve what it intends. Does it? Look within yourself. Do you believe in being good as a credo? Has it effectively stopped you from being 'bad'? Of course the mind's comeback is that although it doesn't stop badness, it keeps it in check. Yes? No - that is not my experience and if you are interested, I invite you to discover what is really true for you, beyond what mind says. You may be very surprised by what you discover.
For the spiritual seeker, there is the added issue of spiritual image. How can one be spiritual and bad at the same time? No, no - one must avoid being bad and being seen to be bad. That would not be spiritual at all. So we hold back and pull back and perpetuate this violence upon ourselves and others, all in the service of this belief in being good.
Why do I call it violence? When we resist something using force, it is violence, is it not? And when we force ourselves to act good, it is violence upon ourselves. When we force others to be good as per our ideas of good, we are being violent towards them. I am not saying it is right or wrong. But it is violence. And we can see for ourselves how this violence feels inside us and how it affects the other.
Yet, all the time, despite the extent of our suffering around this belief, we feel a certain sense of relief and validation that at least we are trying to be good, just like everyone around us. There is a safety about this trying, because it brings us membership to the human club. This sustains the belief. No need to blame ourselves for this - this just happens. Our need for safety and affiliation is so strong that we are willing to pay a very very high price for it. Until we are not.
When we are no longer willing to pay this high price, we are willing to look deeply into this belief. We are willing to confront the fear that upholds annd perpetuates this belief and all its suffering. We are willing to see that good and bad are both only ideas based on a certain perspective. We see that when we accept living in fear and suffering, then we feed that fear and suffering in everyone around us. This is a gut-wrenching discovery that brings us to our knees. It turns our world upside-down. For we see that our very attempts to not harm, when frozen into this belief in being good, can generate suffering within and without! When this belief dissolves, humility and gratitude flow. Fear starts to be dislodged and freedom begins to take its place. This is the freedom of one who no longer believes herself to be separate from the flow of life and all that it brings.
The belief in being good drops away. And the wisdom of the moment is free to arise. This is the wisdom of wholeness. It may express itself as love, kindness, compassion, understanding, appreciation, gratitude and peace. But make no mistake, nothing is exempt from this freedom; nothing is denied. So anger may arise too. But it is not held back from fear and so it is free to serve its purpose and pass, in freedom. And when we live in this freedom and act from it, then the freedom radiates out, and everything and everyone around us can be free too. This is to be true to ourselves.
Lord Brahma creating the world and Lord Shiva destroying it,
Jesus Christ on the cross and Jesus Christ dealing with the money-lenders,
Kanzeon, the Bodhisattva of compassion and Manjushri wielding the sword.
All in service to the truth.
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Suffering? Bad times? Anger? Sorrow? Evil? Rudeness? Confusion? Mistakes? Discontent?
Joy? Peace? Love? Contentment? Fun? Excitement?
Any mix of the above?
Notice how what you see affects how you feel. Whether the anger or peace arises outside you or inside you, notice that there is a response inside you. What is that response? More feelings? More thoughts? Notice.
Notice that all of these are objects in awareness. You are aware of the anger, the peace, other feelings and thoughts. They are not aware of you.
We get caught up in what we are experiencing and looking at. But who is looking?
No matter what is being looked at, there is always the one that is looking.
What is seen depends on who is seeing.
See this at work in your own life.
Start with the most basic thing that we take so for granted - the physical world. What appears as a red flower to us human beings appears differently to different species in the animal world. Some species can perceive only one color and others can perceive a wider range of colors than the human eye.
Then there are functional differences. What may appear as an insignificant ant to a hiker on a trail appears as food to an anteater.
And of course there are emotional variances. Two people faced with the same circumstances may see different things and respond differently.
At many levels then, we can notice that what is seen depends on who is looking.
The world of objects is so fascinating to us that we keep going from one object to another in wonder. Built into this fascination is a desire to find better and better objects. This fuels the looking. And it is natural and fine as long as it lasts. But many of us begin to experience a kind of dreariness to this endless looking. Then at some point we tire altogether of what seems like a wildgoose chase. That's when we can get interested in the question: Who is looking?
This question begins to draw us inward, as we begin to get interested in the perspective that looks out. At first when we ask ourselves this question, we may come across different perspectives. An example that many people can relate with, is that when we see anger within ourselves, asking this question Who is looking? often reveals somebody filled with fear. And we can simply acknowledge this fearful one. And we can see that when fear is looking, then anger is seen and experienced. Now we have stepped back, behind the anger.
Similarly other sights may reveal other perspectives.
When we continue to ask this question, (at a pace that does not feel forced in any way) we begin to step further and further back. So to continue the example above, when we contact the fearful one fully, we may see that even this fear is only an object - it is being seen and experienced. So it is natural to ask the question again - Who is looking? And we may find yet another perspective.
I am not suggesting that we do this as a process to reach a certain objective. What I am suggesting is that if this question interests you, then this process may arise quite naturally. There may appear to be a little effort in asking the question at first, and then it may just start happen quite frequently on its own.
We begin to see that all the perspectives, or the ones who are looking, are finally objects in themselves. And as we step further and further back, we begin to be what we always and already are - that empty self-aware awareness within which everything arises.
There is no gain from this. And the curious thing is there is no interest in any gain.
Thursday, February 5, 2009
The students listened with rapt attention, some nodding their heads in understanding, and others closing their eyes in meditation.
Each one of you is fully contained within this circle. See this very clearly, each one of you, continued the teacher, scanning all the faces before him intently.
Suddenly a tentative hand raised itself. And a young new student stood up and cleared his throat nervously. Sir, may I share what I am seeing and ask a question? he asked, hesitatingly. The teacher's eyes bore into the young man's even as he nodded his assent.
Well, began the student, clearing his throat again, for two days now you have shown us this circle of being and told us to see that we are each inside it. But I don't see that.... He paused to take note of the teacher's expression, and finding only an even intensity there he made bold to continue. I see myself as being outside the circle, he said a little more confidently.
The teacher's expression softened a bit as he turned to the board and picked up the pen. He drew a small dot outside the circle. Then pointing his pen at the student, he smiled and said, Is this where you find yourself? The student nodded and looked around at the other students. Most of them were now paying close attention. Then the teacher turned back to the board and with great flourish, drew another larger circle, so that the dot was inside this new circle. There now, it is fixed, he said beaming at the student, You are fully within the circle of being.
Some of the students chuckled and others nodded in appreciation.
The student looked nonplussed, then started to sit down as if this was as far as he could get, when the teacher stabbed the air with his pen and said No, no, don't believe me. Look inside again and see what you find this time. Then turning to the other students, he said, All of you - I want you to look inside again. But first, is there anyone here who has never had the same question as this young man? Maybe some of you found the answer sometime back. But allow the answer to refresh itself in this moment. Don't bank on past memories of an answer. See what is true right now.
The students all became very quiet, and a period of silence followed. At one point the teacher called out to the young student and said, I see you are ready to share something. What do you find?. The student stood up and said, a bit sheepishly, I still see myself as being outside that new circle, Sir. He bit his lip anxiously. But the teacher only smiled and drawing another dot outside the second circle, asked, Like this? When the student nodded, the teacher nodded too and again with great flourish drew a third circle on the board such that the new dot was inside it. Then without a word, he turned to the student again and raised his eyebrow. The student nodded slightly, sat down and closed his eyes.
This scene was faithfully repeated many times over the next few days. During this time some of the students went from great discomfort to a kind of settling down. Still others, like the young student, seemed to be ok and took this chance to look within. And then there were a few who seethed about this complete waste of time, but stuck it out for their own reasons. One student left in pure frustration.
The fifth day commenced. On the board were a set of concentric circles, each with a little dot inside. The teacher sat beside the board, immersed in the silence, eyes opening sometimes and closing sometimes. Finally the young student raised his hand again, stood up confidently and said, Sir, I am fully within the circle. And..., he paused, a bit unsure again. Yes? asked the teacher, and what? The student continued, eyes shining, And the circle is fully within me. I am the paper and the circle and the dot.
At that instant many of the students felt an arrow pierce their hearts, but what spilled out was love, not blood.
The teacher turned and began to pack away the board and paper and pen. Good, he said, because I was really getting tired of drawing so many circles.
Saturday, January 31, 2009
Look inside. You will find an idea about what an enlightened being is like. He/she must be experiencing life in a particular way. He/she would act only in a particular way, and so on. And then the implicit assumption is that when I start to experience those things and act like that, then I will be enlightened.
Even the most experienced spiritual seeker, who has been exposed to all the myths, still harbors a very subtle and maybe even highly sophisticated idea of what enlightenment is. And this idea comes in the way of knowing what we are. The mind keeps comparing our idea of an enlightened being with our own self, and finds the self wanting.
In a recent satsang, we talked about squiggles in a painting. What somebody said was that if we zoom in on a squiggle inside a painting, it appears meaningless and ordinary, but when we zoom out and see the whole painting, it suddenly acquires meaning and beauty. This is something we can all relate to, right?
A wonderful analogy, but it still does not come close to capturing the essence of this awareness that we are. The squiggle is not beautiful only in its relation to the painting. This would still be to find the beauty outside oneself. Rather, the totality that is the painting, is as much and as fully in the squiggle, as in the painting. When the squiggle recognizes itself to be the same totality as the painting in which it appears, this is the end of the separation of the squiggle from the painting. They may retain their different forms as squiggle and painting, but they are essentially the same totality - like a holograph.
How is this connected to what we started out with?
When we try to put enlightenment and enlightened people into a box with only some specific attributes, we lose the totality. And we miss the point. Enlightenment and unenlightenment co-exist as one. You who think you are unenlightened - you contain both enlightenment and unenlightenment within you. The teacher who you think is enlightened also contains both enlightenment and unenlightenment within himself. The totality excludes nothing, and includes everything.
The difference between you who think you are unenlightened, and the teacher who you think is enlightened, is that the teacher is fully ok with the unenlightenment within. There is no wishing for it to be different than what it is.
The enlightened squiggle :-) loses its identification with its squiggleness, and sees itself as being the totality that contains the squiggle form. Now the squiggle is not the squiggle. Yet it continues to appear as the squiggle. But it would not be true to say that the squiggle is enlightened, because there is nothing that identifies itself as the squiggle anymore. And yet the squiggle form continues. Until it doesn't. But it is only this totality appearing as the squiggle.
Examine your idea of enlightenment. See how it excludes so much. Can enlightenment exclude anything? Can totality exclude anything? So long as you identify with your enlightened self alone or your unenlightened self alone, you miss the totality of you that contains both.
See through the myth of exclusive enlightenment.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Do I want the truth more than I want love and peace?
This is a tough question, is it not? It may conjure up unpleasant images that we would much rather avoid. Yet it is a critical question, and it must be faced at some point or the other on the spiritual journey. So are you ready to ask this question now? If you are not ready, no problem - being honest about yourself is always a good thing, is it not? And if you are ready, then go ahead. Get tough.
The truth is that the deep spiritual journey carries no incentive. There is no grand prize awaiting us that makes all the heartache worthwhile. If you are on this journey and holding out for the grand prize, then you are setting yourself up for great disappointment. The deep spiritual journey is its own incentive. We are on this journey, because it chooses us and not vice versa. Any idea that the mind has about pursuing eternal love and peace on this quest is just that - an idea.
The rational mind wants to have a worthy objective and so it makes up a story about the spiritual goals of eternal bliss or eternal contentment. And then it leads us to believe that we are looking for those things. And then what happens? We may have a wonderful spiritual experience or two or even a dozen. But we always seem to return to the life we had before those experiences. In other words, life outside those experiences is not necessarily always blissful or content. So we seek more spiritual highs, and we seek new teachers, new teachings, new techniques - anything that promises us eternal peace. And we end up not with eternal peace, but with eternal seeking. What a mindtrap! Is it not?
Somehow it never occurs to us to question the spiritual goal itself. What if we are deluding ourselves about the goal itself? Am I really seeking eternal love and peace? And even if such questions do occur to us, we dismiss them easily, because mind produces some weighty distractions that help us avoid them. For example, we start to think about all those wise and realized men and women who emanate peace and bliss, and they are shining examples of what can be achieved, is it not? So that justfies the goals we have set ourselves. And it just shows that we need to do something differently to reach those goals. Or so the mind would have us believe. And then off we go -seeking in new fresh ways again!
And yet, can you think of even one realized master who said that he/she was in this to find peace and love for themselves? Yes, many of these masters embody and emanate love and peace. That part is true, but the rest is imagined in our minds. The idea that they pursued that love and peace for personal gain can find no support in their authentic accounts or their teachings. Isn't that true? Don't believe me - check it for yourself.
What these great teachers tell us is that love, peace and contentment are the bye-products of living in truth. But they cannot be grasped at, for what is grasped at and sometimes attained also slips through and is often lost. This love that they radiate is not the idea of love that we carry around in our heads. It is a love that loves without cause. It is a love that loves because it is its nature to love, because it cannot help itself. This is the love that does not need to hold on to itself, lest it should slip away. And this love is a bye-product of seeing and being the truth of what we are. Because living in truth means an openness and appreciation of whatever arises; it means being in unity with what is.
So go ahead, if you are ready. Ask yourself the question:
Do I want the truth more than I want love and peace?
Allow yourself to delve into that question for a few days or a few weeks. Discover what compromises you have made, or may still be making in order to choose peace over the truth. Find out if such a peace really satisfies you in a sustained way. Rediscover what you already know - that the truth is not always peaceful. Really let in what you already know - that you cannot know what this moment will look like for you - that there is no guarantee of peace.
It is not my purpose to make you feel bad, and it is certainly not my purpose to make you feel good! This question is not for the faint of heart. But if you are willing and ready for it, it will change the course of your seeking.