I have been working with a fitness coach/trainer for a while now. It has been a lot of fun. He is excellent. I have noticed that I am quite sensitive to how he responds to me. I sometimes wonder how he feels about a question I have… if he feels like he has already answered it or it is silly, etc. I recall, years ago, feeling similarly with my spiritual teach, professors, etc. The image of me that they held was important to me.
These recollections and current experiences with my coach/trainer have been good. It has brought to light (again) the sensitivity I am sure a number of you have with respect to your interactions with me. I think this is particularly true in the spiritual area when the path is often viewed as one of Neti, Neti, Neti… not that, not that, not that. It could feel like everything you say is wrong. I know that such a response, even from my coach/trainer would be difficult for me.
I want to make it very clear to you all, that the path to enlightenment leaves one with nothing, NO-THING, to cling to. The transcendent is an abstraction, not a concrete concept or ‘thing’. Though infinitely solid and stable, it is also infinitely boundless and without edge or handle to cling to. Any ‘thing’ is not it… not that… neti, neti, neti. You rest into it, rest upon it, like a sort of cosmic cushion. It lies beyond relativity. So it is out of my love and devotion for you, that I keep pointing you in the direction of that which lies beyond all relativity. I love all your questions. I never judge you for them. I am your devoted helper.
Remember that every point has a counter point. Every notion has an equally valid yet contradictory notion. My job is to free you. Anything you cling to is Not That. Please do not forget, that my corrections or introduction of contradictory points to what you may be holding on to is not a judgment of you. Please do not feel that I have made you wrong. It is only to keep you moving forward… to keep your vision looking beyond the horizon and not locked on to a fixed notion, position, or principle. You are the transcendent, the divine, the absolute. My purpose is to awaken you to that. Enlightenment is not about adding anything, it is only about taking away reliance upon that which is Neti, Neti, Neti.
“So long as you have faith in your Guru, nothing will be able to obstruct your way.” — Vivekananda, 1896
This quote (that Marty provided) is one of the most beautiful things I have recently seen. It immediately made me think of my teacher. Through his presence and his words, he touched a place within me. It is as if he somehow lit a candle deep within me that once lit, could never go out. The guru lights the way. It has struck me over the years to see people who have read and studied Vedic knowledge without the influence of a true, real, and living guru. It underscores for me the understanding that real spiritual knowledge can not be attained from books. It is too subtle. Such knowledge succumbs to the ‘I get it syndrome’. People think they ‘get it’, but they do not. The words may be there, but the understanding is not. As it is said, knowledge exists in the gaps between the words. It is the guru that clarifies the knowledge.
The spiritual tragedy of our time is that so many think of themselves as spiritually knowledgeable, when they are not. Then many of them go out and teach, leading so many well intended people astray.
Finding a real guru is far more challenging and precious than many understand. All too often people are swayed by the drama or presentation: flowing robes, an appealing accent, a trip abroad, an awe inspiring moment and they are convinced they found a real living guru. Real gurus are far rarer than most spiritual seekers can even imagine.
The truth is, finding a real guru has more to do with the depth of their being and knowledge than any superficial criterion you may be holding on to. And depth of knowledge does not mean volume of facts memorized. More is not better. Better is better.
Now why would Vivekananda say ‘so long as you have faith in your Guru…?” Isn’t faith in your guru a given? Well, not always. I have seen people walk away from a real teacher for the most ridiculous reasons. Maybe they projected on to the guru that he did not like them. Maybe the guru’s correction of the person’s behavior or thinking pushed the ego too much. Some people cannot tolerate the idea that they were wrong or behaved in a not ideal manner. When you are too vested in the ego, it can seem intolerable at times to even have a guru.
Once someone said to my guru, “I love you so much, but what if you asked me to go jump off a cliff? Should I do it?” My guru responded with a shaking of his head “no”, as he said, “You know me by my teachings.” Faith in the guru means knowing him by his teachings… knowing him by what he touches deep within you through those teachings. There will be times when a glance or action of the guru may not sit completely right with you. That may be more about you than him. He is a being that is acting in this world… a world of imperfection. To live better, you must look deeper. By all means, be discerning. Any real guru would insist upon that. But be clear on who and what he really is and do not judge him by inane criterion that you have, in reality, come to him to help you overcome.
More than a few times throughout the years I have been told I live in accord with my teachings and never contradict myself or those teachings. My teacher was that way. It resonated with the divinity within me and has guided my life all these years. Divinity is within you. It IS you. The guru just more fully awakens you to it. Stay with that and “nothing will be able to obstruct your way.”
I have two personal offices in my home. One is a traditional sort of office. The other is my home gym. It is a place where I go not just to workout, but also to hangout. It gives my mind some space… a different type of space to reflect, ponder, and plan my day. Before I exercise, I warm up with a foam roller, etc. Often during part of the warm up, I will put on the television and tune in and out of listening to the news. One newly added and essential part of that space is my dry erase board. Currently, I have the following written on that board:
Better is better.
Earn it. Mean it.
Let’s get serious.
Regarding ‘Better is better’, it points out that more is not better. Better is better.
Now this for me is all about one thing: Fascination. The quotes (simple as they are) fascinate me. To may they say a lot about the human psyche.
If I have a secret to my life, it is that I pursue what fascinates me. Of course, along with that path are things I do not like but must do… such as paying taxes. However, I do not allow those things to cloud my fascination. Furthermore, for something to really, really fascinate me, it must be something I really, really believe in.
Just this morning my daughter asked me to check her math homework for her. As usual, when she began reading a math problem, I stopped her. I told her that I need to have control of my mind when I do math… i.e. to read at my own pace and rhythm. As I usually do with my kids (sometimes eliciting a roll of their eyes) I, waxing philosophical, generalize the point. I told her that she needs to be able to take control of her own mind in life. That is called focus.
So if you want my suggestion for a possible New Year’s Resolution: Find something that really fascinates you. See what is in it that you believe in. And then focus on making it so in your life.
Belief and fascination are the fuels of passion and progress.
This time of year a common resolution is to exercise and get healthy. That is not enough. Why you believe in it… well… that is probably simple enough… good health, feel better, look better, etc. But that is not enough. Find the fascination in it. Fascination with how the human physiology works… Fascination with how your psyche works in relation to it… whatever it may be that fascinates you about it. THEN you are ready to take control of your mind and focus. Part of the focus may include research. The Internet makes that easy. Just remember that life is a string of failures as you pursue what you believe in. That is called the churning process, like when the Gods and Asuras had their tug of war, out of which came the nectar of immortality. Remember: Forward, forward, always forward. And do what it takes to accommodate YOUR process, if it is having to read the math problem for yourself, or finding a way to ease in to the gym… like saying you will just go roll around on the floor for a few minutes with the tv on. Work with your psyche – don’t fight it.
If you fight your psyche, you will lose.
Lastly but importantly, I read an article today about habits. The idea was the neurons in the brain become linked so that when one fires, the other automatically fires as well. This conditions your mind to function a certain way and is the source of bad habits. Freeing up the nervous system is the way out of this. I call that clearing the samskaras, the programming of how you function. The best way of doing that is through proper meditation, which you can learn free on this website. Now there is a New Year’s Resolution for you: meditate regularly. But hold on here. First get clear on why you really believe in meditation [many good reasons like evolution, health, freedom from any and all bad habits, etc… just take your pick]. Then find your fascination with that: fascination with the notion of enlightenment, health, etc. etc… whatever works for you. Then focus… and do whatever YOU need to do for YOUR psyche to keep it going… maybe even a dry erase board would help inspire you to keep up your belief, fascination, and focus.
I then returned to the world…
… to offer what I had gained
… to teach
… to heal
But then there were too many to heal one by one…
So I began teaching others to heal…
But to heal is not to learn techniques
To heal is to be… to be established in your own being…
… in your own true nature
… which is to say, in your spiritual nature
… once that is attained, the ability to heal comes naturally, with every breath.
So I now focus on cultivating the spiritual growth of individuals… of groups of individuals… of the world
There is so much wanting in this world…
To answer every wanting on its own level is not possible…
There is no end to all those wantings on all those levels…
But to bring fulfillment to all wanting by introducing individuals to their True Nature
That is attainable
That must be the fixity of purpose
There is a natural inclination to answer every wanting…
But to remain focused on the highest purpose… is my purpose… is our purpose.
Modern Physics calls it the unified field. It is also called the transcendent and the absolute. The ancient rishis, as well as some modern physicists, call it consciousness. It is oneness… the one thing out of which all things emerge… similar to how all sorts of ‘things’ emerge from your consciousness when you dream. As you evolve, this understanding moves from an intellectual notion, to an inner sense, to a clear certainty, to a direct/perceptible experience. That evolution takes place within you. Though it may be prompted by a notion presented to you, it is how clearly you find it within yourself that really matters. To take the notion and put it in your closet proclaiming, “I already know this, what else can you teach me?” is a wasteful relationship with that knowledge. Your ‘knowledge’ must become your ‘Knowledge’ with a capital ‘K’. All knowledge is there deep within you, but it is shrouded, not totally clear. Yet it is that inner knowing that spurs you on, that you live in dedication to. You do well to work with the knowledge of the transcendent in diverse ways to make it more and more clear, more and more of a certainty for yourself. Proper meditation is, of course, the most important tool. But deep thought and careful reflection are also of great importance. Everything has to make sense TO YOU. And making sense is not just about the intellect. It includes all level of your being… thoughts, finest feeling, emotions, common sense, wisdom level, etc., etc. It is not a matter of convincing yourself. It is a matter of finding the truth of the Absolute within yourself, through your OWN convictions, your own reasoning, your own personal experience. Without that, you are merely parroting something you heard. You only own it when you become it, when you find it within you. That process of becoming is called evolution.
What are examples that may help you find the Absolute within? Well, how is it that all fields of knowledge parallel one another? How is it that principles in business parallel principles in music and science? If you reflect on this you will see that it is only possible if all things are coming out of the same one thing, like spokes of a wheel all spinning around the same one axle. But it is up to you to see this from within yourself more and more and more clearly. It is not a matter of accepting it, or clinging to your current level of understanding of it, but of exploring that notion more and more to see it more and more clearly. Do not try to convince yourself. Try to find truth within yourself. These are two very different things.
Another example: Look around you right now. What do you see? What do you hear? What do you experience? Now for an exercise in total honesty: How do you know any of it is real? How do you know it is not just an illusion, like in the movie “The Matrix”? What do you really know? Maybe everything you are conscious of is an illusion, but one thing is for sure… irrefutable: Consciousness is. If you are just honest with your ongoing experience, the deepest secret of the universe is revealed to you. All is born out of one thing… consciousness… your consciousness. There is only one consciousness, or as it is said, you are one with God. The only difference is your angle of approach, your relationship with that one consciousness. That is what makes you uniquely you. So there you have the second example, but are you going to work with it and explore it and discover the truth of it within yourself? Or are you going to put it in your closet and say you get it? The exploration is yours, no one else’s. Exploration tills the soil that uncovers deeper and deeper understanding. Evolution is not so much about learning more facts as it is about finding a deeper relationship with the facts you already know.
Remember, real knowledge of anything and everything is found within YOU. Find ways to explore the notion of oneness for yourself. To own it, you must become it. And that is a process called evolution.
So Point #1 is Discernment. Point #2 is that there is one thing that birthed and underlies all things. Spend time with these.
Students who excel in academics are the ones that really listen to what the professor says. It is so easy to tweak or distort what the real message is. To stay true to it and work with it until you really know it from within yourself is not so simple. Commonly, you read it, ‘get it’, and then move on with your distorted version of it (a.k.a. “the I get it syndrome”).
Now enter the real world. Suddenly there are a multitude of diverse opinions pushing and pulling you in all different directions. The natural inclination is to pick and choose what you like from each and distort or reject what you do not like in each. This leaves the bulk of your distortions, biases, and limitations of thoughts and emotions perfectly intact.
Needless to say, weight loss guidance is a great example. Who do you listen to? Well, at least in that arena, you can try diverse approaches until you find what actually works. However, that too requires giving each approach a chance… which leads us back to the challenge of listening. Of course, then you only need to listen for a few weeks or so before you have definitive results.
Now enter the spiritual arena. Real spiritual progress is not as easy as weight loss. Real spiritual progress is more abstract and also takes more time. Of course, people cling to superficial things to try to convince themselves they are growing spiritually. But real spiritual growth is something much deeper and far more elusive than a sugar coating! Yet there are plenty of alleged spiritual leaders out there walking the sugar coated walk and encouraging you to do the same. There are plenty of alleged spiritual leaders out there offering limited, simplistic, or distorted spins on the knowledge. Even the writings of truly great Masters have been lost in translation or in your interpretation. For sure, the spiritual arena in this age is a real mess. Even more disconcerting, it seems most everybody from the atheist to the self-proclaimed spiritual scholar is certain that their understanding is the correct one!
So now, how hard is it to listen? Who do you even attempt to listen to? The process of determining that is called discernment. You may want to try it out on something easier than spirituality and see how you do. Explore for example, your convictions on diet. Every time I bring that topic up in a group, the passions and convictions run wild… so many strong opinions. Do not feel alone in this. I experience it also when I read something from a new diet or exercise guru. But I do my very best to discern.
Can you let go of your current indoctrinations? It is not so easy. Even when you think you are listening and decide that you ‘get it’, well, do you… do you really? Even when you think you are listening, even when you think you are being discerning, well, are you… are you really? Is what you are hearing resonating or conflicting with your bias or the truth that lies deep within you? The normal inclination is to believe that your bias is actually truth. But is it… really?
Discernment is not done with just the mind. It is certainly not done with just the emotions. It is not a matter of the mind rallying around the emotions to create a rationalization to justify your reactions. You need to start on steady ground… unbiased, unconditioned, open, refined in feelings, and free, while solid, balanced, reflective, rational, and willing to take a look, not just at the information, but even more importantly, how you receive and process that information… what it resonates with or clashes with inside you and why!! Are you reinforcing your biases or are you moving beyond them? Only as you explore this, will you begin to cultivate your ability to discern, will you begin to cultivate your ability to listen, to know how to listen, and what/who to listen to. As Adi Shankara said, the spiritual path is the path of discernment.
Like most everyone, I do try to take care of my physical body. Unfortunately, when I get too busy, the first two things to go are diet and exercise. During those windows of opportunity in my life, when I do exercise and watch my diet, I enjoy reading and learning about nutrition and training. I take what I learn and create an ever-evolving program for myself. It is all very fascinating to me. And the principles are universal. They map on to personal evolution beautifully.
Recently after a great deal of exploration, reflection, and discernment, I found a trainer that I feel really knows his stuff. After reading most everything he has written, I decided to go with his diet and fitness instructions 110% and had a phone consultation with him. He has become my ‘fitness guru’. Such commitment is not so easy. It involves change. The good news is that it has given me a greater appreciation of how difficult it is for many of you to really listen to, hear, and receive what I offer.
I remember saying that if I ever find out that I should not be using stevia, that is where I would draw the line. Well guess what… no stevia for me. I felt all the resistances to that… all the rationalizations like: 1) well, how much difference can a little stevia in my morning coffee really make? 2) does he really know what he is talking about? Maybe he is wrong on just this one little thing 3) Maybe if I just take some cinnamon and other herbs with it then my blood sugar would remain stable, etc. etc. But I just had to stick to my commitment and go with what he said. That’s the deal I made, as I sit here sipping my morning tea since unsweetened coffee is just too bitter for me. One of life’s little pleasures gone with the wind!
Now stevia is just one example. As a result of my consult with him, I have had to revamp not only some of my habits, but also (and with even more difficulty) my thinking on many things that on one level “I already knew all about.” After all, I read all of his books and many other fitness and nutrition books as well.
Again the good news is, this has enlivened my appreciation of how difficult it is for many of you to make the changes necessary to move forward. As Winston Churchill said, “I like to learn, I am just not particularly fond of being taught.” But I prefer to align with what the grandfather of chess said, “Five minutes with a master is better than a life time of study”. As I like to say, you can know all about it, but until you embody it, you do not really know it. Real change is not so easy. Funny thing is, though I already knew everything he said, it went in deeper and in a different way after the consult… when I decided to be 110% accountable to him. You have to be accountable! And that is a real and ongoing challenge. Now is the time to make change happen. As Nike says, “Just do it” or as my fitness guru says, “Attack”, “You’ve gotta earn it”. “110% is the key.” Or as he likes to quote Arnold Schwarzenegger, “Let’s get SERIOUS!”
It is good to have a reference frame or conceptual context for your life. It may be a philosophy or religion or intellectual understanding of just what life is and what your place in this universe is. These contexts, of which there are many, usually come with a moral code, rules of conduct, and model of the mechanics of creation. For example, the modern scientific context, which is quite popular, has codes and rules based upon what can be derived from the current intellectual understanding of the world, which is rooted in physics and logic. It is the context that seems to be most universally adhered to in the world today. Needless to say, religions generally provide an alternate perspective on how the universe came into being and where we should look for moral codes and rules of conduct. Isn’t it fascinating that we live in a world where there are so many wildly diverse and contradictory perspectives on just what the context, the bottom line, of life actually is.
Now at age 63, if I were to look back and summarize my life, I would say it was lived in the pursuit of a valid and all encompassing context. Science certainly provides a steady rudder in its demand for validity… the demand for factual, verifiable proof. Certainly that is a good thing and a demand that I have always adhered to. In other words, I always insisted that the underlying context of life’s understanding make sense! For that reason, I always had a bit of an issue with the notion of ‘faith’. I did not just want to have faith, to just believe. I wanted to know.
This led me to an exploration of the notion of Truth. How do you know that something is actually true? If you think about it, truth is something that applies and is valid when all aspects of life are taken into account. When there are no blinders on, no limitation to thought and experience, no denial of what certainly is… when science is not denied but incorporated fully and integrated fully with all aspects of life. But we must, at the same time, embrace the simple truth that our current scientific knowledge is quite limited. Along the lines of what Sir Isaac Newton said, our knowledge of science is like one grain of sand on the beach of knowledge. That is certainly still true today. When it comes to moral codes and rules of conduct, pure ‘scientific thought’ can, and does, justify almost anything. This led me early on to realize that though science is a great aspect of the puzzle of life, and a great tool to employ in the unraveling of the nature of life, it does not provide the complete context for life. However, the valid context for life must not contradict science, but include it. There is no room for denial.
In my rigorous pursuit of truth, I came to some conclusions. I found some principles that I knew had to be true. The first and foremost was that there had to be a unified field… one thing out of which all things emerged. That is the only way, I reasoned, that everything could be so seamless integrated… that principles in business and biology could parallel so perfectly. That math could apply to music as well as economics.
After deriving a set of principles I felt certain were valid, an amazing thing happened. To this day I still marvel over it as I think about it. I discovered that in ancient times, there was a group of people who revealed a context for life and existence that was completely consistent with what I had come to know must be true. This was remarkable to me. How could it be? How did they do it? What was even more incredible was the fact that they had developed the understanding of this context to a magnificent degree. No stone was left unturned. All aspects of life were included… psychology, physics, architecture, music… everything. I did, however, find that in today’s world, irrationality, unclear thinking, superstition, and limited understanding had in many instances undermined people’s current relationship with that knowledge. However, the core, the essence, was there… meticulously preserved in great detail.
That knowledge is referred to as Vedic knowledge. However, Veda is not a belief system… it is the underlying substrate of nature… just as a seed is the underlying substrate of a tree. Veda is nature. Vedic knowledge is knowledge of that seed. All aspects of the tree of life are contained in the seed… the one thing out of which all things emerged. To hear about this is of value. To learn all about it is of more value. To find the validity of it within yourself is of great value. In so doing, the wheat of knowledge is separated from the chaff of limitation, irrationality, distortion, superstition, and blind faith.
I do not want you to take anything on faith. I want you to know, and know clearly, from within yourself, not just feel or believe. There are about a dozen principles that I will be providing soon. If each is understood and woven together with the others, an understanding of a context of life is revealed. No stone is left unturned. No blinders must, or even can, remain on. No scientific thinking is denied or contradicted. No question is taboo or blasphemous. BUT more importantly, if you reflect on those principles, you will, in time, find within your own self (not as an indoctrination from the outside, but as a discovery from within yourself) that there is a valid context to life. And that, for you, will change everything.
“What is enquiry into the Truth? It is the firm conviction that the Self is real, and all, other than That, is unreal.”
– Adi Sankaracharya
When a pebble is tossed into a pond, concentric rings ripple out from the point of entry. The innermost ring may think, “I touched the pebble. I felt the pebble. I know the pebble.” The next ring out might think, “There is no difference between the innermost ring and me. After all, I am right next to it. I felt everything it felt. So I know the pebble too.” This process continues all the way to the outermost ring.
Of course no ring fully knows the pebble. Furthermore, any point on any ring has a unique perspective of the pebble. One may say the pebble is in the northern direction. Another sees the pebble to the south. To fully know the pebble, you must be the pebble.
As one gets closer and closer to the Sun, one may feel they know it. They may say, “The Sun is hot.” Yet someone further away may say, “Yes, I know that also.” But the closer you get, the more you know the true meaning of ‘hot’.
Similarly, as water cools to ice, it may feel it knows the nature of ice. But only after water becomes ice, is its full value experienced.
This principle is universal. To know anything, you must be it. Yet what is anything in its essential nature? It is beyond the maya of relativity. It is the Self, the One, the source of all that is… beyond ‘thingness’… no-thing-ness… pure “isness”… pure unbounded consciousness.
So what does this have to do with humility? What is humility? As you evolve, you come to see that your previous understanding, your previous life experience, was a ring outside of the pebble. You take a step forward to a deeper understanding. That is why I say that Knowledge, real Knowledge, is not so much about gaining new facts and information as it is about cultivating a deeper understanding of the facts and information you already have. Ultimately, you arrive at the Self, which lies beyond the grasp of life experiences, knowledge or information. You come to know “that the Self is real, and all, other than That, is unreal.” This is the source of great humility. True wisdom is infinitely humble. Even Adi Shankara said that he knows nothing. The Self lies beyond the grasp of what one thinks one knows. Knowers of the Self experience that directly. Until that awakening, it is another fact or notion… another ring around the pebble in the pond.
It is exquisite, that as one becomes truly great, one becomes truly humble. To know everything, is to know nothing… to know no-thing-ness. To know that for every ‘thing’ that you know, there is another truth that contradicts it. There is a deeper truth until all truths are transcended and the One Self is realized. Arrogance is the opposite of humility. The source of arrogance resides in the belief that you know something, that you know anything.
True humility is not a perspective that one adheres to. It is not an emotion or attitude. It is a quality of a physiological state, a level of consciousness. In the state of enlightenment, the nature of relativity becomes self evident. One rests upon the Self, upon not knowing… that which lies beyond notions and beyond the need to cling to notions. The sublime beauty and the exquisite “absurdity” of life is known. And why the word “absurdity?” Well, once that which lies beyond the illusion is revealed, it seems absurd that you were caught in the web of maya for so many lifetimes. Yet the magnificence of that web remains profoundly humbling. The word reverence comes to mind.
When you encounter conflict, it is good to remember that there are three things involved:
2) the person you are in conflict with, and
3) the conflict itself.
Usually conflict puts you on one side of the fence and the person on the other. You equate the conflict with that person.
Consider another approach: You are on the same side of the fence shoulder to shoulder with the person. The conflict is what is on the other side of the fence. The two of you are on a team striving to overcome the conflict.
Now, of course, usually the person is not looking at it that way. They equate you with the conflict. That is ok. But you need to remember that the conflict has overtaken the person, but in actuality you are both on the same side. Neither wants the conflict. Depending upon the relationship, you may even be able to relate this to the person and work together to overcome the conflict. It is almost like the conflict itself is a third person involved that is dedicated to overtaking you both. It has a mind of its own. It wants to rule you both.
Also remember: Time is the great resolver. The most irresolvable issues are resolved by time. In time, even nations at war become allies. Life, nature, has a rhythm. Find that rhythm and allow it to be. After all, rhythm is timing. Rhythm is nothing other than a healthy relationship with time. There is a cosmic flow to nature. Find that within yourself. Impatience interferes with rhythm… interferes with the cosmic flow. Do not insist upon finding a solution immediately. Forcing the issue interferes with the natural flow. Give things the time and space they need to resolve themselves. The solution will come if you allow it time and space to reveal itself. Give time the opportunity to flow naturally.
"Take the time to reflect on what is said here. If you find yourself associating this material with things you have heard elsewhere, please take the time to diligently explore how they are different. This knowledge is elusive. I share it here because I have seen how much this knowledge helps people – the potential is enormous." – Michael Mamas