Message to self (lowercase ‘s’ is intentional)

HD-Creative-fantasy-door-wallpapers-background-1680x1050You think you are free. That you have free will. Who is it that you think is free? You, as a body/ego, are not free. The ego is a bundle of karmas and your life is providing an arena for those to be played out…and to acquire new ones. You have responsibilities: job, family. Where is the freedom? You feel constrained by a body that gets sick, gets old. Where is the freedom?

You give way too much importance to the body/ego personality living a life. You think that is all there is and you pour all of your energy into sustaining things that do not last.

YOU as a being of pure consciousness, YOU as part of the Absolute are free. Know the difference and the struggle ends. As a being of pure consciousness, You are free to place the attention of the body/ego wherever You want. That, and only that, is under Your control. This is Your power; wield it with good intentions.

“Know within your heart that your life is tailor-made for awakening” ~Mooji
That is freedom.
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Reaching for the Light…(and a very special day)

White-Lotus-Flower-Exposed-to-Sunlight-Wallpaper-1024x576There are moments in our lives that change us forever. Sometimes the change is visible, sometimes not. Those that are visible tend to carry more importance than the ones that change us on the inside, but that is the way of the world. Not that inside changes don’t ever get noticed; it’s just that it usually takes longer for those to manifest.

We break down our lives into manageable parts: childhood, elementary school, high school, college, jobs, friendships, romances, marriages, having children etc. Each stage of life will, upon reflection, reveal the secrets of its meaning to us, but that does take time. In her book, “Writing Down the Bones,” writer and Zen student Natalie Goldberg, called this ‘composting.’  We dig up our memories from the depths of our consciousness and turn them over in the soil of our minds, fertilized by the emotions that filter in as we process that which is now part of our past. When given enough time, maybe we can make sense of all that went before that made us into who we are today in this present moment. And when we do that, it’s hard to deny that there isn’t some plan at work. That which was planted rises up to the light.

I met my sadguru thirteen years ago. It is the one defining moment in my life that has no equal. Everything that went before was merely a preparation to bring me to that moment; I can see that now. And everything that has followed has carried me further along the path. Every life unfolds exactly the way it should. Be grateful to everything and everyone you have experienced. On this special day, I am most grateful for all that is in my past, in my present, and in my future, as I continue to reach for the Light….

Only Love

Anne Pryor, artist, connector and inventor, created this Lovitude® image. Lovitude represents the quantum energy of Love and Gratitude.
Anne Pryor, artist, connector and inventor, created this Lovitude® image. Lovitude represents the quantum energy of Love and Gratitude.

Dr. Masaru Emoto is a researcher who has studied the effects of human consciousness on the molecular structure of water. I first became acquainted with his work in the movie, “What the Bleep Do We Know!?” Mainstream scientists dismiss Emoto’s work as pseudoscience. I can’t say if his work is valid or not, but I see some non-dual connections that I’d like to share.

The metaphysical community has long held that “thoughts are things.” We know they can produce physical changes in the body: anger can raise blood pressure, meditation can reduce stress, etc. In the video, the result of the ‘higher’ vibrational energies (love, gratitude, devotion etc.) produced crystals with form. The lower vibrational energies (hate, anger, judgment etc.) did not. Pretty simple, even logical when you consider how our bodies react to the same stimuli. Now the leap…

Non-dualism teaches us that Love is the blood of Consciousness (the Absolute). The Christian view would be “God is Love.” Since Consciousness (God) creates form, I think you can extrapolate here that Love created the material universes. The Shakti, which is the creative power, (as well as the power of our own consciousness, since God dwells within us as us), manifests the dream of the Absolute into the form we perceive of as the material world.

So, if Emoto is indeed on to something and I’m correct in connecting the dots, all of what we see and perceive of as matter comes from Love, which could explain why we feel such bliss when experiencing ‘oneness’ while in Nature. No wonder bhakti (devotion/love) is so important in spiritual practice. Love is all there is.

Photo note: The image used was inspired by Dr. Emoto’s work.

(If you go to the you-tube link, there is a short explanation as to how Emoto conducted his research)

Born-Again!?

256px-Born-again_atheist_badge,_c.1987There are polls suggesting that atheism is on the rise. I just read through a list of ‘famous atheists’ and noticed that many of these people (there are a lot of celebrities on this particular list) consider themselves atheists because they equate God with organized religion. Heck, I’d probably be one too if I made that connection. I wish more people realized that God and organized religion (as it is today) are about as mutually exclusive as you can get.  And although Pope Francis tried to bridge the gap between believers and non-believers, the Vatican still holds that if you don’t follow the Church’s teachings you are going to hell. Talk about lousy public relations. And to dare contradict what the Pope said shows how afraid the Vatican is of losing control over the masses. The interesting thing, though, is that atheism, organized religion, and the material world share a common bond; they are all born and live in duality.

Organized religions attempt to take something that is formless and give it form or structure. To believe that God, the Absolute, which is pure Consciousness, has no form is a tough concept to get, so religions give God a form or face. The form that people use as their personal God is called their Ishwara.  There is nothing wrong with having an Ishwara – it certainly helps with bhakti (devotion) – but there will come a time when all form needs to be discarded. Form perpetuates duality (God is separate from who I am) and to be stuck in form will keep you stuck in duality (separation).

A major reason atheists reject the notion of the Divine, is their assumption that religions contradict each other with the assertion that theirs embody the only true God. Sri Ramakrishna, probably the greatest saint India has ever produced, studied all religions, including Christianity and Islam (yes, Islam) and found they all lead to the same God, having truth at their heart. Unfortunately, that truth gets lost under the layers of dogma, rules, control, and fear mongering, which bastardize the teachings and give rise to the divisive right-wing fanaticism we see today. And while I understand the reasoning behind rejecting organized religion, I don’t get rejecting the notion of the Sacred because of it. That’s like throwing the baby out with the bathwater, if you ask me.

The rest of the people on the list of “famous atheists” are either scientists or some other sort of academic, which use curiosity as the driving force.  Curiosity is important; it is the spark that propels the search for truth, but scientific research is limited and words are limited, as they attempt to explain something that essentially defies explanation in the material world. It’s not that they’re useless in searching, but the seeker should not pin his or her hopes of finding Truth on either.

When you engage in philosophical discussion, even if the discussion is about non-duality, eventually you get caught up in the illusion of the ego as it becomes buried under a mountain of thoughts. When you engage in scientific research, you are bound by a methodology that also keeps you stuck in the illusion. So, a laboratory or philosophical debate can never yield Truth because the medium used to find the answers is based in duality – the unreal. You’re either stuck in a lab or in the mind and you can never find the real in the unreal. In these scenarios, the best you can hope for is a direction for your seeking or an intellectual understanding of some sort, which is not entirely a bad thing because it keeps you asking questions. Also, let me add that science is beginning to recognize that there may be more to what we see as the ‘material’ world, which leads me to the next point.

As I see it, the basic problem with atheism is the unwillingness to consider the idea  that anything exists outside of the material world. And even though science is making some headway in this area, i.e. the world as a hologram, it will be a bitter pill for many to swallow. Not only because old habits (beliefs) die hard, but also because it will be difficult to fully comprehend the ramifications such discoveries have on our perception of the world and our lives in it.  This would mean bridging the gap between duality and non-duality, acknowledging that the idea of a world with form (duality) will need to be discarded in favor of the idea of a world composed of One Consciousness (non-duality).  Shifting paradigms is no easy task – just ask Copernicus.

I found it interesting that some of the atheists listed said (I’m paraphrasing here) that what is important is that we be kind to each other.  If they only realize that we should be kind to each other because we are each other, then they will have captured Truth – without following any dogma or doctrine. Imagine that!

All the World’s a Stage

“All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players,” is a line from Shakespeare’s “As You Like It” and what students of non-duality strive to understand.  The idea here is that we (our ego/body) are merely actors performing a script: a script that has already been written by the Absolute and is being produced by the Shakti, the creative power of the universe.  The implication is that we cannot be the doer of anything.

Nisargadatta discusses non-doership in “I Am That,” devoting an entire section on this point.  While there is no easy way to understand this, if we recognize that we are not these bodies that move, talk, eat, or sleep, but are something beyond the physical manifestation, then we’ve taken the first step.

Advaita Master Mooji examines the world with all its activity in this video talk, “You know it’s a movie,” and asks if we can avoid the temptation to identify with or get drawn into the drama.  He discusses that the “human being is itself an effect in consciousness. It is not the operator or controller of consciousness.”  He goes on to explain that there is the mortal (our bodies) and the immortal (the being of consciousness). Only one of them is real.

Identity with the ego causes life to be claustrophobic. We are held prisoner by our own minds thinking that we are these bodies.  “Who are you?” you are asked.  “I’m a woman, a man, a mother, a father, an American, a cab driver…..” When we break the chains of the false identities that bind us to a material (un)reality, we catch a glimpse of our true state – Pure Awareness – Pure Beingness.

Remember, the ego is nothing more than a bundle of karmas and since “your karma defines your dharma” as Ram Dass says, the character in the play will experience what it needs to experience – let it be. The script has already been written. The ego will dutifully execute its lines and actions never missing a cue or its mark.

Ego – The Love/Hate Relationship

By Perfilbtl (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons

During any sadhana, the seeker will be faced with unflattering aspects of oneself.  In my personal sadhana, which is shaktipat sadhana, these aspects are merely karmas that the Shakti is removing. My teacher tells us that all we can do is watch, but that doesn’t always help the character (ego) when it is experiencing the emotionality of anger, jealousy, judgment, and the like.  Even with the tools and techniques my teacher has given us to detach from the “emotional roller coaster,” as he likes to put it, getting caught up in negative emotions seems to be a normal part of the process.

The good news is that as karmas are removed, we find fewer buttons get pushed and life goes along in a smoother fashion. That is not to say that the external parts of life get easier; that is to say that we remain calm in the face of whatever happens, because the karmic trigger is gone. Acceptance of ‘what is’ is easier allowing one to go with the flow of life.

It wasn’t until shaktipat that I came to realize the ego is nothing more than a bundle of karmas. These karmas prevent us from knowing who we really are, which is pure Divine Consciousness, and perpetuates the duality, the notion that we are separate from everyone and everything, with which we experience our reality.

So therein lies the problem. With nearly 7 billion people on the planet, every single one of them, by nature of their individual karmas, have their own perception of how the world should be and many attempt to force this perception on the rest of us. Until we understand the non-dual nature of reality – that all is One – conflict and suffering will continue to plague us.  You don’t need to have shaktipat in order to understand non-duality.  Any spiritual path will lead you to this conclusion; shaktipat just happened to be the path I landed on.

My teacher likes to use the example of scarves covering the light of a lamp as a metaphor for the layers of ego or karmas that hide the light of our true selves. But in this analogy, the removal of the layers appears to be a gentle process. For me, as well as some of my fellow students on this path, the removal of karmas can sometimes feel more like ripping off a band-aid covering a still open wound. You feel exposed and vulnerable. Sometimes an ‘ego-loathing’ (in lieu of self-loathing) sets in. We are urged not to indulge in ‘mea culpas,’ but instead to be gentle with ourselves through this process. This will help us recognize the divinity within not only ourselves, but in everyone else out there struggling with the illusion of duality.

Catch – 22

Here’s the thing. I can blog about non-duality and you can read about non-duality until the cows come home, but until there is direct experience, there is no real understanding.  Oh, there may be an intellectual understanding to a certain point, but no real ‘gut’ feeling of those ‘aha’ moments that tell us we really and truly get it. Direct experience is the real teacher. Direct experience is truth because it cannot be refuted. Unfortunately, it also cannot be proven by the usual scientific standards, but that doesn’t preclude its authenticity.  We need to let go of our limited views of reality.  Look around.  It’s time and it’s necessary.

Now, here’s the problem.  You can’t go looking for direct experiences. They creep up on you at totally unexpected times. Even if you have a regular contemplation or meditation practice, there is no guarantee that you will have a ‘brick falling on your head’ type of experience.  You can, certainly, but with consistent spiritual practice, the experiences tend to be cumulative and therefore culminate into a broader kind of understanding, which over time changes your views about things and you begin that wondrous, scary journey from which there is no return.  Still, those ‘right between the eyes’ sort of experiences are the ones that catch our attention. But, of course, we have to be open to them.

The good news is that stories of non-dual, watershed moments are not as rare as one might think.  Eckhart Tolle, in the introduction of his book, The Power of Now, describes his life up to the age of 29 as one of immense anxiety and dread “…interspersed with periods of suicidal depression.” One night, as he was suffering through his usual panic and dread, he thought, “I cannot live with myself any longer.”  He suddenly realized the strangeness of that thought. He began to question who he really was. Was he “… the “I” or the “self” that the “I” cannot live with?”  The duality that we all experience smacked him right between the eyes and he began to wonder if only one of them (the ‘I’ or the ‘self’) was real. His spiritual transformation occurred at that moment.

Fritjof Capra in the preface of his book the Tao of Physics, describes his non-dual experience of ‘oneness’ occurring on a beach, where he suddenly became aware of the ‘…cascades of energy coming down from outer space, in which particles were created and destroyed in rhythmic pulses…” and how his own atoms were participating in this cosmic dance. He suddenly began to see the similarities between modern physics and Eastern philosophy, which set him on the path of writing this book.

Direct experience usually leads us down a whole new path in life, as it did for Tolle and Capra. It expands our awareness and life is never the same. We begin to rise above the tedium to see the big picture. But do we really need to have direct experiences in order to experience changes in our perception?

I’m not sure what the answer to that question is, so we’re stuck in a spiritual catch-22.  How do we get to a place where we can begin to perceive non-duality without direct experience? How about cultivating a bit of tolerance? Tolerance removes the obstacles that lead to compassion and kindness. That would be a huge step forward from where we are now. It requires that we lift our awareness and place it on something other than our own self-interests. When we get there, we begin thinking of ways in which we can be of service to others.  Ask yourself, “Am I serving myself or am I serving others?”  Service to others might just put you on the path toward non-dualism.

Every age thinks it has all the answers. We need to get over ourselves and realize that it’s time we wake up and move past the limited conceptual, man-made parameters of thought and embrace a more encompassing, compassionate view of reality in an effort to solve humanity’s problems. Einstein said, “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.”  We need a shift of consciousness – now. We can put our awareness anywhere we want, so put it where it will do the most good.