Around the full moon in July this summer (Guru Purnima), I taught Phase 3, the last phase of the Advanced Technique Course series. Participants gave some wonderful feedback on their experiences, including profound shifts both in their meditation and in their being (see below photo).
This led me to reflect on the experience of going through the door to what lies within, and the many new experiences that unfold from there, forever. What can one really say about that? How can one explain it?
Within” is so distinctly different or seemingly separate from the
world of daily hustle and bustle that consumes people. As the inner cobwebs
clear, everything is different. But what to do with it is, at first, not
fathomed. Certainly not fully understood,
as life continues to fly by, with all the distractions, mindsets, wantings,
longings, passions, and emotions that dominate people. It takes time to
assimilate and integrate all the levels of life, ranging from the
transcendental depth to the surface. That assimilation and integration is
“the hero’s journey”.
Yet, in quiet moments, inner knowledge is all available, all right there: “The Kingdom of Heaven Dwells Within”.
What Participants are Saying:
“… I am experiencing corners of the universe and of my own physiology that I was not aware of. Magnificent!”
“I have been opened up in the most natural way to allow the experience of all the Advanced Techniques, culminating with the Phase 3 techniques. The Phase 3 Techniques create a phase transition in thinking and experiencing and I liken them to the grand finale of what was built for us in the prior phases. Inside myself there is more space, more clarity, more freedom. It’s an incredible and priceless gift…”
“Phase 3 is really different from Phase 1 and Phase 2. Phase 1 and Phase 2 were like building blocks on which Phase 3 was added. It feels like there are some major transformations taking place.”
“The Phase 3 Advanced Technique Course is amazing. Phase 1 and 2 laid the groundwork, culminating in a whole new experience of meditation in Phase 3. I suspect a whole new set of results will ensue over the coming days and feel a quantum leap forward is imminent.”
Nick Kyrgios is a natural athlete and great tennis player. He is edgy, hot headed, not so disciplined, rebellious, and does not practice as much as he should. In a recent interview, the great Rafael Nadal was asked what if Kyrgios could control his temperament and practice more. Nadal responded, “If, if, if does not exist.” What a fabulous response! What exists is what is. As has been said, it’s not what you can do. It’s what you actually do. The rest is a dream. But then again, you can take the first step of living your dream anytime you choose.
Adi Shankara said it so beautifully when he said that the spiritual path is the path of discernment. So much contained in so few words! The words “spirituality” and “discernment” both have a limitless array of essential aspects. In particular, let’s take a look at “discernment” as it applies to our relationship with what we do not know.
The discerning want to know what they do not know. Otherwise, the door is closed. Inquiry is halted. Learning stops. The path is no longer a path, but is rather a fixed and stagnant point. This does not mean that we do not have beliefs, perspectives, and opinions. Life is made up of such things. However, the discerning are open to new insights, revelations, perspectives, paradigms, information and understandings. Of course, most everyone believes that they want to learn more. However, the true art of discernment slips through the fingers of most people.
Here, it is important to note that spirituality is not one small facet of life. Rather, spirituality is the vessel that holds all aspects of life. Spirituality (the path of discernment), then, entails a discerning mindset in all aspects of our lives: our relationships with friends and family, our relationship with our community, our relationship with politics, health, religion, philosophy, and anything else we can imagine.
It has been said that the most dangerous person in the room is the person who doesn’t know what they do not know. I can understand and appreciate that, but I would suggest that the most dangerous person is the person who doesn’t want to know what they do not know.
Not only is that dangerous, but it is also epidemic. It permeates all levels of life. People thereby form their opinions and relationships with every person, every situation, their religion, philosophy, and every aspect of life. That is called “dogmatic” or “small minded”, the antithesis of wisdom. Discernment is thereby lost, be it in the form of religious fanaticism, judgement, bias, limited thinking, narrow vision, paradigm identity, etc.
Granted, we cannot know everything about everything. However, discernment entails the quest to know what matters and not burying our heads in the sand to what we don’t know. Discernment is wisdom.
There are laws of nature inherent to our world. Different animal species have their natural behaviors. Plants, the movement of planets, the changing of season—all things have their nature. We humans are part of nature. We have our nature. Living life in accord with our nature is what it means to live in harmony with natural law. The idea is that we have certain inalienable rights determined by nature, by natural law. It is considered the responsibility of government to uphold those rights, as is referred to in our Declaration of Independence.
However, there is an opposing philosophy. The idea is that we humans can, and must, overcome our nature. We can think and use our intellect to thereby know better than what our own nature dictates. Katharine Hepburn said to Humphrey Bogart in the movie, The African Queen, something like, “Your nature, sir, is what you are on this earth to overcome.” Sadly, it is considered then, the responsibility of government to overcome our nature, determine what human behavior should be, and to enforce that behavior.
I believe that in a stressed out, unhealthy world, people confuse their nature with their distorted perspectives. When the stresses and strains in the psychophysiology are released, people behave in harmony with their true nature spontaneously. The intellect and government would thereby naturally and spontaneously support living in harmony with nature. Yet, we must keep in mind that we can justify anything with the intellect and do. Until the hearts and minds of the people are free from stress and strain, our beliefs are not consistent with our true nature. At this time, what we feel and think is our nature is really just stress and strain dictating what we believe.
It is not hard to see that we live in a time when judgement, anger, and polarization seem to be in our nature. Peace and harmony is a shared ideal, but it is not what rules. Our world, our nations, our communities, and our associations are plagued with such distortions. We view others through the colored glasses we look through to see the world. That is what we believe. Thus, that is what we create.
I, for one, dedicate my life to creating a world where we live in peace and harmony with nature… our true nature… Mother Nature. In spite of judgement, suspicion, and blame, may we all come together to bring forth such a world for all humanity. It is achievable, but we must look beyond the horizon… beyond the toil and turbulence that dominates so many. Yes, the path to a better world can be painful and challenging. Yet, if we keep a steady hand on the rudder, it is attainable.
Life could be so simple… just keep your balance. Yet, from time to time, we all lose our emotional balance. The real problem is that when people lose their emotional balance, they do not think they have lost their balance. They think they are right, and live by the code that dictates. Only deeper inside, where few are able or willing to go, do they know the truth of it.
Upon occasion, when the wise lose their balance, they strive to regain it as quickly and honorably as possible. A balanced apology or simple acknowledgement makes a monumental difference.
When a strong wind blows, even the mightiest of tree branches bend, but the tree does not crumble. Upon losing balance, there is no need for a gushing, self-deprecating apology… an honest, heartfelt acknowledgement or balanced apology counts for more… and the sooner, the better. Thereby, when one loses balance, they do not lose respect, but gain it.
These days, in my short early morning drive from home to the temple, there are lots of rabbits all along the road. They so clearly reflect my feelings to me. When I am calm and peaceful, they remain still, as I drive right by them, not even moving off the road. If I am in a hurry, they scurry off into the bushes when they sense my distant car approaching. With great accuracy, they spontaneously feel me through my driving.
Last night, I was chatting with a person from the ashram. We were trying to articulate feelings and mindsets. No words seemed to work just right. What seemed to sort of work for one of us just felt blatantly incorrect to the other. There was a huge gap between the feelings we felt, and the words we used to try to articulate those feelings. The more words, the bigger it seemed the gap became. Yet I could tell that we were both feeling the same thing. Assigning words to the feelings only undermined our communication.
We humans rely heavily on words. Animals are not burdened with words. Maybe that is why so many people love their pets. With pets, we stay with feelings unencumbered, unfettered, uncompromised, undistorted by words.
When someone says something, we tend to hold on to how their words affected us. That is rarely completely consistent with the feeling, the motivation, behind those words. The words, then, take on more significance than the feeling they were intended to convey. When we reflect on the interaction, we reflect on the words that were said, that clouded the communication, not the feeling behind them.
Words are most often defining, limiting, and misleading. Feelings are pure, honest, and genuine. We do well to give lots of space around words that we share. We do best to feel what is behind those words. Sincerity lies in the feelings that lie deeper than the meaning of the words we use. Words, at best, point in a general direction.
When we try to communicate with another, we do well to pay more attention to the underlying feelings than the meaning we assign to their words.
Duality breeds duality. Or, as the ancient Chinese put it, “yin creates yang.” Duality is the mentality of humanity. It permeates all our thinking. Our politics are all about which perspective is good and which is bad. Our legal system is all about who is right and who is wrong. Humanity even took the concept of Oneness in God to the dualistic perspective of God and devil—good and evil. For goodness sake, even our computers are based upon the binary system, the x’s and o’s of ‘yes’ and ’no.’
We all say we want peace. We all want love and harmony. But the very foundation of how we have been trained to think propagates separation, the polarization called duality. Along the lines of what Victor Davis Hanson said, we instinctively define people, countries, etc. not in terms of their majority of positive traits, but rather in terms of whatever shortcomings may exist in their history. If anybody or anything has to be perfect in order to be good, or if a country’s history has to be perfect for the country to be good, then nothing, nobody, and no country is good.
Yet, the dualistic mentality is not so easy to get past. Even what has been said here sets up the polarization of duality versus unity. This world is the world of duality (relativity). However, the root, the essence, the foundation is unity. Not just theologians, but also modern physicists tell us that. Unity can be experienced from deep within our being; not as a concept or emotional longing for love and light, but as a physiological reality.
For thousands of years, it has been called “enlightenment.” However, the dualistic hype around the word has rendered it more meaningless than meaningful, more misleading that enlightening. Suffice it to say that unity at the very depth of our being is not so easily lived day to day, moment to moment. Being in the world of duality but not of it is not understood or even perceived from the perspective of duality.
Our holidays (Christmas, Thanksgiving, and those of religion in general) are meant to enliven our sense of unity. Every Sunday, in fact, is about Sun-day—the Sun being the One, central, unifying core that the world of duality revolves around.
Family, community, patriotism, team spirit, etc. are all principles that revive the unification, the glue thatupholds, feeds, harmonizes and strengthens all of life. Without unity, there is no peace and no love. After all, it is our sense of oneness with another that is called “love.”
The 4th of July is meant to feed the harmonizing unity of patriotism. Have a happy and harmonizing holiday everyone!
Relative existence is born of and constructed in perspective. For each soul, each Atman, there is a unique perspective: a unique relationship with all that is.
Life can be viewed as the pursuit of Truth. The Cosmic Joke can be then stated as: There is no Truth in the relative. The relative is the field of imperfection.
Yet, reaching for the perspective that is Truth is the way of the world. Clinging to one’s current perspective as truth is the theme that attempts to navigate the waters of life.
To understand is to see beyond the field of perspectives. To understand is to transcend relativity. Live in the world with perspectives, but not be of it… not be lost to it—not be lost to perspective, not even your own. That is the path of Wisdom. Your true Self is the Transcendental depth of your being, freed from perspective.
It is a huge step forward when you can take a step back and view the relationship between your thoughts and emotions. Unlike computers, we are emotionally based. Of course, we do have the ability to think rationally. That, in and of itself, birthed the industrial age with all the technology we have grown to be so dependent upon.
However, what underlies our behavior is more emotion that rational thought. What we think matters little. How we feel about those thoughts makes all the difference. And what determines how we feel has more to do with our inner psychological landscape than anything else. Psychologists tell us that we can track those feelings back to the first five years of our life. It is during those years that the tonal quality of our psyche is developed. There are plenty of common one-line phrases regarding this, such as, “People hear what they want to hear and disregard the rest” (from “Sounds of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel).
As a teacher, I have to believe I can help people with their relationship with their thoughts and emotions. I really want to believe that we can together take a step back and look and how we behave and why. I have to believe that in so doing, we can heal our wounds, distortions, and biases. And, I still do believe there is truth in that. However, our psychological dynamic is rooted deeply in the physiology of the mind. Working with that can be likened to massaging a muscle. It can relax and get better. But under the stress of daily life, it returns to its habitual state. It takes time and regular massage to keep it healthy.
So many times, people have heard my teachings and sworn they would never forget them. But it is not so simple. Like a massaged muscle, the old distortions quickly return. Yet, over time, if we stay with it, things do heal.
Of course, the greatest tool of all to help calm, settle, relax, and heal the psyche is the Surya Ram Meditation. The technique is known in various circles, but various Mantras are used with various results. The Surya Ram Meditation employs the knowledge of Mantra held by our Vedic Pandits for thousands of years as healing, natural, and evolutionary. Deep inside, deeper than any distortions of the psyche, we are all eternally healthy. Our path of evolution is simply to rest into that—to heal.
Most every photograph I take is from my same bedroom window. How the view touches my heart in the moment determines the time to capture the scene.
Weather, like life, covers a full spectrum of possibilities. Sometimes the sun shines brightly over the beautiful landscape. Sometimes the stormy winds blow.
After each photo is taken, it never seems to adequately convey the personal experience with the feel of the weather against my skin, the scent in the air, the flow of the clouds and the motion of the wind. Yet months later, each photo acts as a portal that carries me through space and time to an appreciation of the moment somehow more poignant than the moment itself.
Perhaps it is all in the context of the greater whole. Perhaps it is when we take a step back to reflect upon the numerous scenes and episodes of life that our experiences gain their deepest meaning.