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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You are Nobody – Part 2

free-wallpaper-11111111111In my December post, ‘You are Nobody,’ I discussed how we place too much importance on what the ego does. The ego has a role to play in this life, to be sure, but it’s a problem when that role becomes the only focus for the individual. The striving that propels the personality to achieve is crucial in the ego/personality fulfilling its destiny, but that same striving also takes it down roads that will never bring truth, or peace, because the importance is placed on the outer life at the expense of the inner life. Now, let’s take this a step further and consider the physical body itself.

“… you have to do all these things until you come to the conclusion that there is nobody doing anything… as long as you believe you’re still a body then you have to do those things that you have to do to find out that there is no body. ~ Robert Adams …from “The Knower is the last to go!”

The idea of immortality is a big deal for a lot of people. In fact, there are some very rich people pouring billions of dollars into longevity research.  Of all our attachments, attachment to the physical body is by far the strongest, so this comes as no surprise.  It’s also no surprise that attachment to the body keeps us stuck in duality. This is maya and this is the way it’s supposed to be, but the time comes for everyone when the way out of maya is presented. How many lifetimes that will take, well unfortunately, there is no way of knowing.

Meanwhile, we are all concerned with keeping the body healthy, as we should; however, society’s obsession with youth and beauty is not only a distraction, but also a perversion. It’s a trap that will keep you forever bound to the unreal, the impermanent. We all come into this life with a set of karmas that need to be expressed and experienced.  We must realize that the prarabdha karma of the body (and of the personality) will play out the way it’s supposed to. There’s no getting around that.

Below is a wonderful video featuring a young woman with breast cancer. She describes to Advaita Master Mooji her struggles with accepting her diagnosis and how she came to realize the non-dual truth that it is just her body that is sick – she (as pure awareness) cannot be sick or die.

As Mooji says, “Take care of the body, but you don’t have to worship it. Worship the Indweller…”

The melody at the beginning and end of this video is particularly beautiful. It is “Remember” by Omkara. You can listen to the entire song on youtube.

You are Nobody

256px-Adobe_Red2In December 1990, I was contemplating (and secretly preparing for) a difficult but necessary life change. I felt scared, helpless and alone. At a Christmas party with friends, I remember thinking that this was probably going to be the last time we would all be together like this. My sadness deepened and I felt the fear of change crystallize inside my being. Then, the Christmas grab bag ritual began. I reached in and pulled out a book by Og Mandino.  I’d never even heard of him until that moment and for the life of me I can’t remember the title, but that book gave me great comfort and courage at a time when I needed it most.  I also recognized that it came to me at that moment in time for a reason. It gave me the validation I needed that I was making the right decision regarding my new life path. A month later, I made my move.

According to Forbes, “Americans spent $11 billion in 2008 on self-improvement books, CDs, seminars, coaching and stress-management programs.” And although, according to PRWeb, that number hadn’t risen very much in 2012 due to the recession and various scandals, that kind of money is still pretty hefty for an industry full of experts (some more qualified than others) who, for a price, are willing to help us achieve all that society deems important: the best career, the best relationship, and the best body, because as you know, this is the only way we can feel good about ourselves and the life we are living. Now, I don’t have a problem with people wanting to better their circumstances as they do glean insights into themselves, and gaining those insights is a not only a step on the journey, but those same insights can help them through some difficult times. Yes, it’s psychological insight, but it’s still insight and we all have to start somewhere. I believe that psychological insight into the personality is an important tool in the eventual “bigger picture thinking” aka “spiritual seeking” that inevitably follows.  Advaita Master Mooji says that when a part of your life crashes you experience “birth pains to a deeper awakening inside you.”

That said, my biggest issue with self-help gurus, as well as the dreaded self-help aisle at the bookstore, is the emphasis placed on the impermanent. If you were to put your energy into finding out who you really are, then the rest of it won’t matter anymore.  The biggest obstacle to seeking is that too much importance is placed on the life of the personality, largely because we still tend to separate out our earthly lives from our spiritual lives. And therein lies the problem. Even though our seeking tells us that ‘all is One,’ there is still a dualistic perspective to this life we are living.

“How do I integrate spirituality into my everyday life? Throw out the concept of “spiritual life” and “everyday life.” There is only life, undivided and whole. ~ Adyashanti”

Another pitfall stemming from this dualistic perspective is that once the spiritual search has begun, the personality thinks that its life should benefit from this seeking, which is missing the point of the search entirely.  We feel we should be rewarded in some way for our diligence by finally attaining that perfect job or mate.  What we forget is that everything in our lives is there for our spiritual benefit. The ultimate goal of the spiritual search is to kill off the ego, not make it stronger by pandering to it. The ego wants to be somebody; but You are nobody.

I will be forever grateful for the Og Mandino book I pulled out of the grab bag that winter night. But I also know that it was supposed to happen that way. In the twenty years plus since, I can safely say that although my life hasn’t turned out the way I thought it would, and whose life has – be honest, I wouldn’t change a thing.  The Universe knows what it’s doing. We need to trust it.

The bottom line is that every personality, every ‘body’, will have the life it is supposed to have. And if you gain inspiration or solace on the journey from a book or person, there is nothing wrong with that, just recognize it for what it is: something that was supposed to be there in your life, at that particular moment.

My child, because you think you are the body, for a long time you have been bound. Know you are pure awareness. With this knowledge as your sword cut through your chains and be happy!   ~ Ashtavakra Gita (1.13-14)

What do You Want?

This is an excerpt from a letter Mooji read at his weekly satsang on 9/29/13 (around the 1:29 mark).  I thought it needed to be shared. It stands on its own – no commentary needed… By the way, I happened to tune into Mooji’s weekly satsang right at this point…

“I don’t want anything

I don’t want to know

I don’t want to carry

I don’t want to hold

I don’t want to know what is ego

I don’t want to know what is mind

I don’t want to know what is consciousness

I don’t want to know what is self

I don’t want to know even what it is ‘to know’

I don’t want to know happiness, sadness, suffering or joy

I don’t want to know what is ‘I’

I don’t want to know what this ‘me’ is

I don’t want to know ‘who’ it is that doesn’t want to know these things

… let me be without me always

let me forget me

let the universe forget me

Please hear my prayer

Don’t let me appear any longer

Kill me now

Destroy what remains.”

From Satsang with Mooji, 9/29/13. I had the video posted, but it was removed. Here is the link:

http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/39371808

 

 

Cleaning Out The Attic

In this insightful and humorous video, Advaita Master Mooji addresses the struggle of getting past the mind and our misidentification with it. “Look, and sink more deeply until the arms of the mind are not long enough to reach You. Then you’re in a beautiful place.”

He urges us to stop investing in the personality; it will not lead to Truth. There is only the recognition of who you are that is necessary, and when that happens, all the rest will fall into place. Everything else just reinforces the ego, the body/mind personality. Know the “Self” and you will know peace.

By the way, at the end of the video, the person who asked the question remarked to Mooji, “That wasn’t the answer I was looking for, but it was the answer I needed.”  And so it goes…..

 

The Summer of My Discontent – Part 2

As my summer of discontent continues, I’ve been thinking a lot about the teacher/student relationship.  What I found was that this connection changes and deepens as bhakti develops for the student.

The guru/disciple relationship remains a foreign concept to Westerners, who consider it to be suspicious or just downright scary. I’ve written about gurus on this blog before – The Idea of Guru – suggesting that a true teacher is merely a guide, for no one can show you truth; you must experience it for yourself.  Still, there are those who continue to strongly reject ‘the idea of guru’. One such dissenter was Jiddu Krishnamurti, who said:

“You yourself have to be the master and the pupil. The moment you acknowledge another as a master and yourself as a pupil, you are denying truth. There is no master, no pupil, in the search for truth.”

“You must know for yourself, directly, the truth of yourself and you cannot realize it through another, however great. There is no authority that can reveal it.”

My teacher would be the first to agree with this. I believe that Krishnamurti was referring to those who put themselves in authority and their followers into a submissive position; the way organized religions do.  Interestingly, Krishnamurti did have teachers; just not in the usual sense of the word.  His sadhana was a rare one. It is known and accepted that Masters, who were not in the body, initiated him into the process leading to Realization, that state in which identification with the Immortal Self is uninterrupted.

DoF_largeIrina Tweedie describes her personal experience of the guru/disciple relationship and how it evolves for the student in Daughter of Fire: A Diary of a Spiritual Training with a Sufi Master.  Spanning five years, Tweedie’s account of her relationship with her teacher runs the gamut of emotions. In the beginning, ego strongly intact, she dealt with confusion, doubt, and at times, harsh treatment from her teacher.  We should keep in mind that she was a Westerner living in a foreign country while dealing with an Eastern guru; all adding to the difficulties she encountered during her sadhana.  She writes:

“I hoped to get instruction in Yoga, expected wonderful teachings, but what the teacher did was mainly to force me to face the darkness within myself…. I was beaten down in every sense until I had to come to terms with that in me which I kept rejecting all my life.”


Tweedie, in an interview with Jeffrey Mishlove (Thinking Allowed series), dismisses the notion that the guru subjugates the student:

“One doesn’t surrender to the Guru – not really – ….One surrenders to the Light within oneself, the Light of the Soul, that part in us, which belongs to Eternity.”

As you read Tweedie’s diary, you are carried along on her journey of Self-discovery. You watch as her ego, which is where the doubts live, dissolves and she arrives at the place of complete love and maindevotion – a place far from where she started. In The Matrix, a movie with many non-dual themes including the guru/disciple relationship, there is a scene where Neo tells Trinity not to join him in his quest to save Morpheus. Trinity plainly tells him that she is sure that Morpheus means more to her than he does to him.  The devotion they both feel, however, becomes clear as they risk their own lives to save their beloved teacher.

It takes time for the teacher/student relationship to deepen.  The ego needs to diminish enough for the Love, which is the Light within, to replace it.

If my summer went according to my plan, then I never would’ve acknowledged the depth of feeling for the guru that arises with spiritual practice. This experience was a great gift for me. This is the way sadhana works. You may not get what you want, but you get what you need and no one could ever predict what that might be.

The Summer of My Discontent – Part I

Summer vacation for a schoolteacher is a sacred time. I plan, in fairly great detail, how I will spend those days.  I’m going to do yoga ‘x’ number of times a week, read more books, eat healthier, etc. But it’s not just my summers that I plan; I try to plan most everything. It’s my way of controlling the future. You can probably tell where this is going.

During these summer months, I had plans of spending as much time with my teacher as possible. It’s more challenging to maintain a good spiritual focus during the school year as working lends it’s own brand of distractions, and since I’ve never really been good at walking and chewing gum at the same time, I’ve always looked to my work breaks as opportunities to place and keep my focus on more spiritual pursuits. That was the plan.  The first week into my summer, the plan got flushed. My teacher’s ill health is preventing him from seeing students and this state of things will probably continue for a while. You get what you need in sadhana – and usually what you need is not what you want.

So, during these past few weeks, I’ve been reminded of the time before I moved here. Living in New Jersey early on in my process with no teacher or fellow students nearby, I had to work to keep my practice front and center. Being physically close to your teacher is not required, but it does help.  It has also given me some insight as to how the teacher/student relationship changes over time, which I will address in part 2.  Basically, all this has made me realize that I needed to take more responsibility for my sadhana, much like that time in New Jersey.

Lately though, I’ve been more worried that my teacher may not be here much longer. I have no reason to think this, he should be fine, but during these past weeks without him, I’ve been wondering what it’s going to be like when he does leave his body.  He’s been preparing us for this inevitability, giving us the tools to make it easier to continue on our path without his physical presence.  After the death of her guru, Irina Tweedie, author of Daughter of Fire: A Diary of a Spiritual Training with a Sufi Master, began to realize that even though her beloved guru was gone he was still with her, and that she could have contact with him whenever she wanted. Oddly, in some ways, she felt that her real spiritual training began after her teacher’s death.

Sadhana is a conspiracy. It peels back the layers of the personality and forces you to know who you are. Not who you are as an ego, a character in this play, but the ‘You’ as the Immortal Self. That is no small task and, if you’re paying attention, you will understand that everything that happens is just another step in the long journey leading back to Yourself.

Photo credit: Red bench near Kilt Rock, on Skye Island (Scotland, United Kingdom). By Two Wings (own work)