Leaving the Guru or Cult

There would barely be a man or woman alive who hadn’t at some time suffered the heartache of leaving a relationship, feeling let down, cheated on or have had the light-bulb moment when you say to yourself “this ain’t gonna work.”
The Cyclone Path of Cults
Over many years I have seen the (supposed) Spiritual path littered with casualties; sometimes it’s because we have grown and the ‘teachings’ no longer serve us.  At other times we may realise that everyone around us is just crackers, clones walking around parrot fashioning words that are not based in their personal experience, borrowed from books and senior cult members.  Sometimes there is the very common story of the rumor that you don’t want to believe, the guru is sleeping with your friend or what you thought was a sacred Tantric experience between you and the guru turned out to be a situation where you were part of his harem.  If I hadn’t seen so much of it over many years I might be a little more reserved or polite in the way I talk about those issues.
Not all gurus are fakes, I have a short list of heroes.  But there are many who are delusional; then there are those who had some type of Satori (awakening) and decided it was their duty to serve mankind and set up shop, they were well intentioned due to some profound breakthrough but didn’t realise they were just in the kindergarten stage. This heading out into the world to teach at an early stage is fraught with danger. Regardless of whether the time to move on is because of heartache, bewilderment,  or whether it’s because the Indian pajamas got too tight, there is generally a deep emotional response.
Handing Over
One of the big problems we have with being part of a group, cult, sect or religious congregation is in many situations we forget to think for ourselves and the group mentality reinforces ideas, there is a strength in numbers and seems to confirm something even though it may be untruth. The ‘it’s all His Will’, ‘I am just the servant’, ‘This is what God wants me to do’, ‘I got a message from the Master’; although I could write some logical thoughtful dialogue to put forward an argument to support each of those statements, in essence they are all about handing over, total submission and in that is as always the potential for abuses of power.  And no doubt someone would say ‘yes I am handing over to God’. Regardless if it is fact or fiction, truth or it may be a heap of garbage, there comes a time when people say ‘I’m grabbing my rucksack and I’m out of here’
The Strings of Attachment
Standing at the gate heading out, the fellow initiates, disciples have a deep sadness in their eyes at your parting. A lost soul heading out, a few would mumble in agreement “he/she will be back”.
Transition time, leaving the nest is always challenging, by nature many of us are scared of the unknown, we like to feel safe in the familiar, even if it hurts.  Some people like an unknown adventure and do extreme sports, personally I feel that extreme sports are more about the flash of lightning in the brain, the rush, not so much about the unknown. When a young person finishes his or her studies or if things become too difficult in the home environment, unsettling, some just say good riddance  but finding ones way in the world can be scary.  Not all people who join Spiritual groups and Religions do so for spiritual reasons and i am not saying that people aren’t seeking a philosophical resolve, many join because of a need for community and belonging, the teachings make some sort of sense and may reflect good values, so it seems reasonable to become part of something that makes one feel good or is far better than the pain that is attached to us or our loneliness.  It seems natural that people want to BELONG, have a sense of family, to find refuge.  If we are familiar with Buddhism,  we would be aware of the three Gems, take refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha (the assembly /community); there is a sensible reason for this because good company makes a less troublesome journey through life.  We know from experience that some people seem to bring with them a whirlwind of chaos.  Joining a community is reasonable but we also know they can be prison houses.
Dragging Stuff with Us
Wherever there is more than one person there is the potential for differences, in fact just being with oneself is enough for conflict to arise 🙂  When the cult or community no longer fits and we exit, we take a piece of it with us as we go out the door.  The underlying principle of attachment is really about placing things in our subconscious mind, if we have had years of indoctrination it will go deep into us. We may keep the beads, the statues, the pictures, the prayers or even part of the designer language, it’s all legacy stuff we drag with us through life.  I know hundreds of people who have belonged to the Hare Krishna community (Iskcon) and they vary in attitudes about their relationship to their former community, some are no longer interested in Krishna in any way, many of the others still behave as if they are part of the community even though they went through the out-door years back.  We see similarities in behavour with those who have been Buddhist monks or nuns.
It is extremely difficult to disentangle, people fall very deeply into religious groups and they associate God with the group, where a major problem arises is the joint relationship with cult and God creates the feeling that leaving the cult implies at some level that they are leaving God, the Buddha, Krishna, Christ or whoever the form or formless God may be.  There is no shortage of people who will emerge out of nowhere when going through the out-door to remind a person that the journey out into the wilderness away from the cult is a betrayal of God, you are going to be crossed off the list of God’s elect and damnation is heading your way. Depending on how brainwashed the group or the individual believers are, the harder they will push to keep you in the fold.
It can be subtle, it will play on our thoughts, when we have been in a group for a long time we start to think the behaviors and religious practices are truly what God or the Buddha wants, when we stop doing the rituals, the prayers, the mantras, the headstands 🙂 or other crazy stuff there is a feeling that God will be disappointed.  What usually happens is people do a bit of a spring clean,  out goes the white or ochre robes, but the beads might stay hidden from view.  The picture of the guru gets burned in the backyard but the name he gave you ‘Chiiti-Chitti-Bang Bang’ stays as it’s too hard to undo the world relationships around you, after going through the complex process of changing from Johnno to Chiiti Chitti, the thought of having to give an explanation of how come “Johnno’s back’ seems too exhausting.  The mantras get adjusted to something more universal, no more saying “Guru Joe Blogs”, it becomes “Krishna Ram Krishna Ram”  The vegetarian diet sticks but you hide the eggs when your ‘spiritual’ friends come around. The saris get cut up and are turned into other pieces of clothing or cushion covers. Okay let’s get serious.
Digging In
One of the most problematic issues in life for people is trying to understand God, to make sense of how the experiencer of life relates to something bigger or possibly invisible.  It would sound offensive, even blasphemous to some people if I were to say “men create Gods”.  Is this statement true?  Maybe, maybe not, for this article it doesn’t need to be answered but the question can bring out a number of things that we could easily miss if we don’t explore it.
We get caught in a maze of of black and whites, yos and nos, goods and bads, spiritual and material.  This divisiveness is where many problems arise.  We can become so righteous that it is obnoxious and elitist; if we call a young child bad when they are learning and feeling their way through the world we will be teaching them an odd set of values to carry through life, simple things become their enemy and they begin to live in fear of a big stick or an oppressive God.  When religious people start saying that sex is bad, we end up with a very twisted version of reality where intimacy seems unnatural.
I remember a woman who used to hit her kid because he’d forget to make offerings to the deities, he became a very disturbed boy.  When we create or borrow a set of rules about ‘What God Wants’ we can easily create a prison for ourselves.  I think there is s healthier way to live and it is not bound by religious thought, it is simple, just ask where will this action lead? Does something help make us kinder, compassionate? Does it create turmoil? How do i feel after doing something? This type of approach doesn’t need a judgmental God waiting to swoop on our misdoings, a God with a big stick is a tyrant and is no friend of mine.   When we are overburdened with indoctrination or spiritual teachings we can lose our naturalness, intuitiveness and sense of self discrimination. Religious and spiritual groups can come from a linage of rules and guidelines or they may have a petty tyrant who everyone is scared of.  EVERY cult has enforcers of various types, there are the bullies and also the ones who float around as if they are an embodiment of virtue and consider themselves as the model that all others need to aspire to, their farts don’t stink.
The Unknown Future
In leaving the cult or guru there is great freedom, it is a milestone in growing up.  By saying this I am not saying that all religious or spiritual practices ought to be avoided, I am saying that in moving on we claim back a part of ourselves, we no longer need the rule book; if there is something useful we can take it with us, if it works we can implement it.  If we look at Buddha, Jesus and some of the other sages we will notice in many cases they traveled through various schools of thoughts (when I reference Jesus here I mean his time with the Essenes and his journeys through Asia that are avoided by mainstream Christians) , they knew when it was time to leave.  Sometimes the sages got booted out of monasteries because their behavior and thinking no longer suited the sect they belonged to and they were considered a threat.  Here I am not encouraging disruptive behavior but I think it is more than acceptable to ask questions of cults when you go out the door.  The way a cult responds to questioning is a very good way to help decide just how bad the cult is, when there is a closing down and ostracizing of individuals you can rest assured that it is not only a dangerous place for oneself but also others.
Into Foreverness
Going out the door of the world of limited thought is a glorious thing. The reason why people don’t is because they are scared, worried about offending God, losing the community, feeling like they will be ostracized, that it may be a mistake and they are betraying the Divine.
There is a Super-Consciousness that has emerged out of the Deep Silence, it has self awareness, it does not judge, it is extremely forgiving of the journey that got us to now.

May no man enslave you
May you understand that the spark inside you is same as in the great Gods
May your true nature reveal itself
May your endless potential unfold
May no God be greater than you
May you claim back your power from the petty tyrants of limited thought
May wherever you go, there be a trail littered with love, compassion and empathy as you pass by
May you rest safely in Emptiness knowing that from it emerges everything

Tilopa 2.0

Jnana Yoga – Unthinking Ramana

The great Sage Ramana Maharshi was always advising his visitors and students to ‘come back to ones deeper self’, these were not his words but this is partially the essence of what he discussed. He reminded us to stop running into the world and getting caught in the trap of things that sparkle and shine and turn the attention to the awareness of what is behind the experiencer of the world/s, to escape the mousetrap, the room full of mirrors with distorted images.  Often Spiritual aspirants and philosophers translate Ramana’s perspective of what some would erroneously define as reality into what they think he is saying.  As we are attempting to discuss something that is outside our normal way of thinking, it does seem obvious that it would be easy for there to be misinterpretations, or more specifically there are many misassumptions made.
Digging into Ramana’s Words
I was looking at some  text which is an extract from the book ‘Who Am I?’ and am  once again reminded how if we are not alert, we can place a beard on the Mona Lisa, by this I mean add something that is not really there, we end up walking away with an impression in our thoughts that wasn’t said by the one who spoke the original words.  The mind (or more precisely the part of us that creates our understanding of the world) interprets it and adds something of it’s own, it goes into the subconscious and we end up with yet another program that runs in the background and undermines us and blocks the view.

What is called ‘the world’ is only thoughts.

When the world disappears, that is,
When there are no thoughts, the mind experiences bliss;
When the world appears it experiences suffering … Ramana Maharshi

Any Sage who is worth his weight in pure honey straight from the honeybee will always tell you the world is only a network of thought, this for many people is easy to reflect on and go “yes, yes, sure thing”, there is a feeling that we have resolved an aspect of the mystery of life, in support of this we may even reference Particle Physics concepts and say things like “it’s all just atoms in motion and nothing is static”, we feel there is a resolve because an idea has come to rest and assume we don’t have to think any more about it.
The Great Void of Existence
Where we often get into trouble is with the line ‘When the world disappears’. I am in agreement with bliss emerging when the mind disappears, this is a no brainer for a long time deep meditator.  When we enter the Silence, the Great Void, the Emptiness, we take nothing with us, there is a dissolving.  The human being, well at least what it is generally perceived to be a human being, has limited parameters, a series of senses and if we reach in a little deeper we will see we have what I will for this article define as ‘super-senses’.  Regardless of these extra-normal super-senses they also have a finiteness about them, they have boundaries and they also don’t have a gate-pass into the Silence.  It seems to be common to some Indian Spirituality (and this is not a criticism but an observation) to always want to transcend the world, to go beyond it, always running, getting out, it’s as if life is poison that must not be drunk, the beauty around us is our enemy, the world is an enchantress who has to be denied and turned into a widow if we are to find freedom.  Although my foundation is in Jnana Yoga, I do not prescribe to this limited view, this is the Mona Lisa’s mustache added by others. Jnana Yoga although is perceived by many great yogis to be ultimate state, this is not so.
Putting an End to the War Within
If we have the attitude that the world needs to be denied, that what is Spiritual is beyond, we end up being at war with the world around us.  We need to rethink this, to arrive at something that allows us to taste the pure water of the mountain stream, to feel the wind against our face, watch the birds twist around in the vast blue space, to be moved into ecstasy at the sound of master musicians, to embrace the beating heart of another being, to gaze at the gaps in the trees as breeze moves them, to be enchanted by the colours of spring. Human life is a blessing and the bitterness and misunderstandings of the yogis who are running ‘inside’ should not be our guiding light, they have not reached the heart sanctuary, they are caught in a limbo and do not fully understand the role of the human species. Beyond question, it is necessary to drop into the great Void inside, however we need a reminder that everything emerges out of this and the future of man is in the creative potential and the secret of dissolution is in constantly abandoning oneself into it and spiraling out again . Partial truths are an entrapment and just because it sounds good and people can use the words of (supposedly) Sacred texts to back up their world view, does not mean they have an understanding of the very words they quote. Experience is greater than philosophy.
Thought, it’s All Thought
At the core of our problem is thought, and it is a universal problem; this is undeniable but that is where the road splits. Although most of the yogis will agree that thought is the problem, we are not necessarily speaking the same language; and i am NOT comfortable with “there are many paths and they all lead to same place” this is nonsense, it is a flippant statement used by people to close down dialogue.  I am confident there are two paths, and I am hesitant to use the word paths, because it implies going somewhere.  There are two perspectives.  One is a ‘going somewhere’, trying to Become something, and the other is Being.  The first is a movement away from the self, it is an endless journey of looking under rocks for the treasure; unknowingly it is enforcing a hidden mantra of ” I lack”, it is an attitude of I am not worthy, I will one day be better if I try, if I do a lot of Sadhana (Spiritual practice) then one day I will reach the goal.  A wise man or woman would refer to this as the Path of Endless Becoming,  and this path is what religions and half-baked-yogis thrive off.  ‘One day God will save you or find you worthy’, can you see the problem with this?  I was saying thought is the problem.  All the seeking, beckoning for help is in essence running away, it increases a sense of ‘I’ , the ‘I’ has no substance, it is purely a conglomeration of thought, joined together it creates an imaginary being, this being is in constant flux, the idea of making the being better is seriously flawed.  It is just thought.  So we need to look at thought more closely.  The word Ego is given too much attention, by trying to get rid of it, it strengthens its imaginary existence. It’s like a man who goes to a shonky doctor, and he tells the man he has a disease, the man runs hither and thither for a remedy, but he can never find one because the disease is not real, he spends his time and money attempting to fix the unfixable.
Rethinking it All
What I struggled with in the translation of Ramana’s text was ‘When the world appears it experiences suffering’. This is incorrect and it stems from the misunderstanding of the relationship between suffering and attachment.  Where there is clinging there is pain.  The world with all its beauty, its endless unfolding and cascading is an expression of the Underlying Super-Consciousness expressing itself; our eyes and those of other beings, our senses and our super senses are the only thing that will experience this externally, how can this be suffering? A form that emerges will experience it on the inside, that part of consciousness has a right to exist.  It is the obsessiveness and morishness that is common to the human species that creates the problem.  The mind is an empty canvas like the sky, sprinkled with thought-possibilities, but if it holds it too long, if it surpasses the use-by date of the relationship, then the suffering begins.  Life itself is not suffering, it is the endless holding onto things, like a dog biting a leg that brings about pain.  This is where the half-baked Yogis and I have a fork in the road.  Yes thought is the problem, but in the same way that a fine surgeon or master wood craftsman uses their tools, beauty can emerge;  in the hands of a buffoon, tools are dangerous.

” When the world appears, embrace its beauty
Then like the setting sun, let it fall back into space
Be empty like the sky,
As clouds pass by watch with wonder as they bid farewell”

Tilopa 2.0

Real Yoga and the End of Maya

In a way we have all been fooled.  If we think back to when people were in agreement that the world was flat and they imagined it went off in all directions further than anyone could walk and they might fall off, only the dreamers would have imagined anything else, some would have looked at the moon and noticed at a period of time there was something up there that would change shape and from the pondering there would be numerous wondrous stories.  Others would have kept silent their dreams for fear of not fitting in to the community and being ostracised for thinking differently.
A Kaleidoscopic of Tribes 
Anyone who has lived in isolation would have no idea what’s going on over the hill, each tribe in their own jungle has a special way of doing things, a specific language and what’s happening elsewhere would be incomprehensible.  Even today a percentage of the community does not realise that many of the concepts relating to classical physics have been replaced by the challenging and quirkiness of quantum physics, things have become a little more frisky, the familiar world is not so solid any more; things are named when we look at them, but everything quickly moves to another spot.  In one fast swoop and brush of the hand, this new perspective and understanding manages to disintegrate the world we knew, and unless someone is a dreamer it can make people feel a little uncomfortable, the ‘bird has flown’ when it comes to what we once knew or believed true.  Meanwhile religious dogmatists continue their rhetoric and stand their ground regardless.

It’s on the Internet, it Must Be True 🙂
With the emergence of technologies that have stemmed from quantum physics, we have a tsunami of information available that varies in quality, some life changing, other info may be trivial and ‘wannabe’, also there is monolith of material that is not even questionable but is straight out lies…or better I could say, “is from tribes from another jungle.”

When it comes to religion and spirituality, we also have quite a number of dishes at the smorgasbord, many of us are born into a familiar style of cuisine that is so normal to us that it seems so appetising, we feel satiated, so why eat elsewhere?

The World is Only Temporarily Solid
Contrary to popular opinion, the world is not what we think it is. ‘Thought’ plays a major part, and our inherited habit of ‘naming’ things is where we need to look if we want to make greater sense of what may be going on; we unknowingly have tricked ourselves, and everyone around us is part of the game, not intentionally; and not in a ‘paranoid’ sense, it’s the old story of actors in a play who get so carried way with the story, they forget their other normal daily existence.  A good point of reference to go to is Lao Tsu, he supposedly said, “The Nameless is the origin of Heaven and Earth.  The Named is the Mother of myriad things.”  This may not seem overly important at first glance, it’s easy to flit past the endless feel good and philosophical thoughts that populate the cyber universe and bookshelves, but it’s critical to stop for a moment and ponder words by men and woman who are giants, they don’t speak flippantly, their dialogue is designed to destroy the known world, and to take us into new territory.  When wise men and women speak, what they say is something to dig into.  Lao Tsu said, “The named is the mother of all things.” If we go a fraction West to the Indian subcontinent and roll out the Vedic texts, we find the word ‘Maya’, a word often twisted by spiritual and religious zealots.  The relationship between Maya and the Named cannot be overstated.  Maya is interpreted in many ways and is often referred to as meaning ‘illusion’,  I will take the liberty of saying if you call it an ‘illusion’, it is misleading and is slightly incorrect.

Twisted Philosophy
The problem with defining the world we move in as ‘Maya’ is, if we follow that line of thought and our viewpoint or philosophy is in some way extreme, we will have a tendency to ‘run’ from life. Running will in some cases lead us away from obligations, things such as family, developing our skills, and if are not cautious we may minimise what requires our attention.  From my experience I have noticed some people who get caught up in the idea of Maya, are inclined to use phrases like “the world is material”, “it’s all God” as petty excuses to look away from life’s issues.  Many years later a person may find themselves in a situation where ‘regret’ kicks in, when the Maya philosophy bubble bursts, there are often casualties.

Maya, what it really is about is a ‘trick of the mind’, our thoughts have a natural tendency to create stories; this is inbuilt in human nature.  When we look at a tree, we name it, we don’t see the many facets of it, the colours, nor do we think about its relationship with the rest of the world, the eco system it is part of, and because it is ‘familiar’ in the sense that we KNOW what a tree is, it slips past us; we have a story of what a tree is, and don’t ‘second thought’ it.  But when we stop for a moment and look more closely and think it through, that tree that we see is just temporarily a ‘tree’, it will never be the same again, we subconsciously create parameters where the tree starts and stops.  What an awareness of Maya will tell us is we automatically ‘name’ everything, and with it comes a story, we miss what is underneath, we can be so distracted by the sparkle and glitter that emerges constantly in the world around us, we end up looking away from what is at the core of all things, and more importantly what is within ourselves.

Humanity’s Spiritual quest will have a series of milestones; I will simply of say there are markers at various points, and this is not something i would overthink or have as a rigid truth. I have often heard it said that there is a ‘different path for everyone’, this I see as a partial truth pointing to the individual having a unique experience as the kaleidoscope around changes, but at the core, ‘awareness’ hasn’t gone anywhere.  However, I am comfortable to say there is NO PATH.  What this means is there is a labyrinth, the labyrinth is constructed of thought, it goes in a circular motion; the parameters and boundaries are created by the limited view we have; the more way say “that’s not possible”, the tighter the restrictions will be. BUT if we are more detached from opinions about everything, the looser the chains will become.  Thought is the prison house and MAYA is nought but the relationship between the sparklies in the field of life and the way we lose ourselves in it.

So What on Earth Can We Do
From my experience I am comfortable in saying ‘Don’t do anything’; this is a difficult thing for many people because it requires an ‘undoing’ of the way we function.  We are generally goal driven.  The normal order of things is: do this, this and this and you will get ‘that’ at the end.  We are used to being ‘rated’ for what we do and often fall short, always ‘not good enough’,  forever we are away from the destination, or at the other extreme, there are those who are so self obsessed they consider their shower water is fine wine.

Coming Back to Me
By not doing anything we come back to our ‘awareness’, the experiencer, to something that is sensing the rise and fall of the play of life.  This way of doing things is hard for people, education is about striving, so there is habit and an assumption that this way of doing things would also be consistent in relation to the Spirit.  And in defense of the other way of doing things, there are numerous scriptures to quote; there are many words to reference that keep the world hypnotised.  Everyone is in a hurry to BE SOMETHING, but this is Maya at it’s best. NOTHING will always be at odds with Maya, they will never meet.

Maya has NO SUBSTANCE in the sense that EVERYTHING IS IN MOTION, but the centre, the ‘imaginary canvas’ is still, it is THOUGHT that is the SLAYER of the REAL.  And the REAL is the EMPTINESS, the AWARENESS at the centre of all.

A Prayer for Humanity
As the shadows and light move across the stage of life
May we always let them go when they must leave.
May we always treat others in the way we wish for ourselves
May our hearts soften to embrace diversity
May all Beings live in Harmony
May each new generation rise in love

Tilopa 2.0

What isn’t God?

The Dyslexic Dog…
I have started this article by asking “What isn’t God?” Normally people may ask, “What is God?”  I thought a good point to come from might be to ask the opposite, to flip the question. When a dyslexic looks at the words,”What is God?”, he or she may see something that has a totally different meaning, it may read ‘What is Dog?’ Thinking it through, all humanity is just as confused as your average dyslexic in trying to understand either question; God is the greatest enigma. The brilliance of dyslexics (if they do not feel overly disadvantaged by not having the world of words sorted) will be in their ability to function comfortably in the world and solve problems in creative ways by looking at situations and finding a solution in a manner where they can wander unnoticed in the world of men and ‘things’ without a fuss.  The issue of being able to address / make sense of  God properly, is very similar to the dyslexics who, out of necessity have to learn to navigate the world differently; the more we explore the notions of God, it seems like the less capable we are of getting God to fit into a logical view, the crazier it gets.
The Problem with Academics
We could study hard, gather all get all the academics of the world together to write papers on the subject, and still be confused.  When I glance across to the Indian Subcontinent to try to make sense of the issue and look for some of the wise men who have lived there, I find that in the not too distant past there was a sage called Ramakrishna, a simple man. Although he and I have very different perspectives, I find him to be of great interest. Often, whenever somebody asked Ramakrishna a question on spirituality, he would say ‘go ask Vivekananda’.  Vivekananda was his student, and a scholar, a key figure in introducing some of the Indian Philosophies to the West. Ramakrishna was an experiencer of something sublime and wasn’t overly interested in the intellectual side of things, there was no need for him to be.  This scenario gives me a hint, confirms what I already understood, or it is better if I say ‘assumed’ that it is probable that the intellect is not the right lens to look through to see or experience God.  Although it is only one man’s perspective; something I have heard over and over again, the analogy of trying to fit the ocean into the bucket is a perfect description of the dilemma we have.
The Hopelessness of Zen
Anyone who has seriously explored the Zen Koan approach to self-transformation would have a deep understanding of not only why the system exists, but the (if I may say so) futility of the quest and trying to resolve the un-resolvable.  For those who are unfamiliar with Zen Koans, traditionally in some schools of Buddhism, a teacher would give a disciple (disciple = an horrendous and misleading description) /student a puzzle such as, “Why is a mouse when it spins?”,  another example would be,”What is the sound of one hand clapping, out of time?”  🙂 or some other, what would seem nonsensical puzzle to sort. Generally but not always, the teacher or Master would regularly check on the progress of the student (the word Master here means ‘one who has mastered him or herself’, in the same way as Jesus said to Peter, ” I am not your Master” when Peter addressed Him as Master”).  My reason for saying that the Master Teacher will not always check the progress is because most students would be out of there (the dojo/monastery) pretty fast, when they started to get a deeper understanding and an inkling of what was going on, that is unless it was natural for them to stay. Someone with half understanding would continue, and half-understanding is not knowledge, it is opinions, suppositions; awareness is not about opinions, it is about perception, the perceiver or experience; although anything is possible it would be seem a rare event for someone who had gone through the transformation process to stay in the environment, unless they were in some way incapacitated, very old, or were the future teacher who would take over the role as the Master, only fools wish to be Master.  As I see it, a Master emerges out of the depth of consciousness and has no agenda .  Many spiritual aspirants delight in showing how advanced they are spiritually, which in itself tells the world where they are really at. Monasteries and Dojos are for teachers and students, not for free men and women. Religious outfits represent what ones ‘limitation’ is or what one has aligned their thinking with, and is generally not about depth of experience, it expresses the tools that one is clinging to. They are halfway houses.
Believers and Faithers
In the last two paragraphs I have stated that the intellect is not the tool for getting an understanding of what I will refer to as the Sublime Consciousness.  Neither by studying the scriptures intensely, nor by the use of reason to unravel an enigma given by a teacher can we arrive at God; this is a strong statement, I don’t mind if you disagree, but it needs consideration, this is serious stuff.  So, what can we do? If it is true what I say that logic or attempting through contemplation of ‘a great Teacher’s puzzle’ to resolve what the dyslexic Dog is, is not going to work; maybe we ought to look at faith for a solution.  Faith is a fascinating thing, it differs from belief, in some cases it may crossover into being the same, this is a individual thing.  But, faith and belief are very, very different.  Belief we could get by default from our family, our ancestors, they stamp our bums at birth; we may have fear of damnation and grab on to what we think is the best choice available; or convinced by a good God salesman; we may be even tricked with smoke and mirrors and end up following a shonky guru because his story of the universe sounded fantastic and appealed to our emotions.  Faith seems to have a bit more street-cred (credibility), a person could have had some type of deep experience and from it, he or she is convinced and then uses the response to the experience as fuel for motivation. People of faith can come in all sorts of packets, some are zealots, extremists, and others will be the kindest most compassionate being you will ever met, and there are many flavours in between. Believers are different, and a lot of them don’t think too deeply, if they researched the crimes committed by the hierarchies of their religions, they would never go back, their conscious would eat away at them.  The thing with faith is it gives us a reminder that ‘something is doing I don’t know what’, a hint that there may be something beneath the surface of every day life.  And I am not saying that ‘believers’ don’t have character, there are lots of variations, but I will quite clearly say (and it will sound arrogant) believers are on the surface of religion.  They are attached to the ‘story’ of the founders of their religion/Faith,  and I am quite comfortable saying “it’s not IT”.
One Word, a Million Meanings
I have added belief to my list; I will be cautious about Faith, and this is because I consider ‘faith’ to be built on something else, it requires a little more thought.  But we need to be careful, interpretation is something that needs to be addressed.  When we say the word ‘Love’, we all have a different story about it, it may mean something tender to one person, to someone else it could include a mortgage, a white dress, couple of kids, whereas if you discuss it with Shams the teacher of Rumi, or Jiddu Krishnamurthi,  you may find yourself in unknown territory, you could easily be entering the doorway of transformation of your whole being.  Take the word Jazz for example, what comes to mind to someone may be oompah paaah, to others they may envisage old people eating lunch to the sound of overplayed instrumental musical standards resembling piped elevator music, and there are the hipsters who consider it to be blowing (improvising) over chord changes in a bar where you’d expect Miles lookalikes to sneak down the stairs at any moment. Interpretation is in the limitations of the brain capacity and awareness of the beholder. When we bring something to mind, there is always a ‘story, a history, often we come to a resolve that hasn’t had much exploration.  This is the problem with God.
Looking in Another Direction
I like the idea of looking at the questioner, turning it around on oneself.  In India, there is a great tradition of Self Inquiry, looking at oneself.  The problem we have with traditions is they come with a story, it may be true, it may be false; even if it’s true, something else arises, it’s not ours.  It may give us a goal post to aim at but in a world of charlatans where there is is self-interest and self-indulgence, half truths and personal agendas, it is a minefield; as we move down this ‘imaginary’ road, we need to step carefully.  We know from experience that even if something looks good, sounds good and is packaged well, it may not be what we think it is.  The spiritual road is scattered with refugees, casualties and those who have given their whole being, only to find out they have been duped.
Sorting the Questions
Although the questioner may ask questions, they are endless; it’s not unlike a child who wants to know everything, “Mummy, daddy, what’s that, what are you doing, where are we going?”, there are many valid questions, an anxious fearful mind can find a never-ending stream of them.  The mind (or more specifically it is better I say “that which creates thought”) is always pulling up things, stories and ideas,  that’s its nature; although the mind-space is essentially empty, there is something in that space, a part of us that loves movement, is always seeking, always reaching outwards, and continues to bring some kind of logical order to things.  Let’s look at a way of possibly resolving the questioning in some way, we can break it down to bring the ‘agitated thinker within’ to rest.  If we can create some peace and harmony within ourselves, our thinking, it will be easier to deal with the underlying issues and bypass the unnecessary nonsense.
So firstly: Who is the questioner?
Let’s address the age old question of, ‘who am I?’ A cave man, if he was asked, would have answered simply with a few grunts, then gone about his business, club in hand, chasing a bison around a big rock or running from wild beasts of the field who consider caveman a delicacy.  He would have been too busy to be distracted and comes into his moment of ‘what is essential’. It would be easy to say the caveman is dumb, he hadn’t developed his brain like modern man, that’s fair, but his intelligence helped him survive; if we turn of the power and communication grid, who will survive now?  Tens of thousands of years later we are stuck with the same enigma that billions have pondered over; some have made claims of solving it, some have even said they were God; heretics or Godmen?  Yes, humanity has evolved in some ways but many of those belonging to our species are still violent, outrageously self-centred and disrespectful to the world around us.  I am also reminded that the old Zen or Chan Masters may have also responded to the question in a similar way , “What is Buddha?” with a reply of “Go eat your rice?’ When we look to both those scenarios, of cave-person and Zen Teacher, the common thread is to ‘Bring back our awareness to where we are.’ Without over complicating it, this for me is a bit of a give away of where the answer may lie.  I could roll out a series of quotes from scriptural texts that address the issue but there is really no need to.  In essence, we are a point of Awareness,  maybe how we name it is not so important.  A face is a face whether it has a beard or is wearing make-up, a mask or a helmet, the perceiver at the heart of experience is what is critical.
When we see ourselves as ‘a point of perception’ it allows many possibilities to emerge; the changing worlds may take on numerous shapes or colours, but underneath it, the perceiver sits in silence and the show passes, it rises and falls.  The canvas of the Universes are in motion, but we, the ‘supposed me’ or us, is both ‘still’, ’empty’ and also I might use the expression for you to ponder, ‘an ACTIVE observer’ of the show (by this I mean we step into the puppet show of life).  This articulation of being dual in nature ‘still and something that changes’, is at the core of all experiences; for me when I dig in, the contrast is defined by Buddha’s teaching of Emptiness and Krishna’s elaborate / beautiful form as perceived by the Gopi’s,  or in a way is defined by the life of Jesus as he moved through the world and was a stream of compassion in action.
Secondly -Do we need a religion or a God ?
I love this question and lookin through my window it is easy to answer; my response is not necessarily one that would suit many people, it’s not really a concern, one’s God or no-God is a personal thing. I will be bold and say, “Most Gods are false Gods”; OK maybe I will be softer in my language, “Most Gods are temporary”, or if I say it another way, “I consider most Gods are like trainer wheels on a bicycle”… and that probably gets me back into deep water, it may sound arrogant, but the idea of gradually ‘deepening’ our understanding is fair, as is a quantum leap in consciousness; or better still the combination of the two. The Gods people have are generally small.  On such an important issue, maybe we shouldn’t mess around, it’s not a problem if people disagree about God, it is the way we treat each other when we disagree that is important.  If God were real, why would God be offended by a questioning humanity?  I find it critical to explore and question, we do not need to come to the same conclusions or worldviews; we can ‘deepen’ by getting an understanding of others.  I am a Jnana Yogi, but I hang out with Bhaktas (This means I have a perception that we all move in God, whereas my friendly pilgrim neighbours are seeking God).
Will the Real Jesus Stand Up Please

When I look at Jesus, from my window I see the greatest of men, some may call him God or a God, some may say his life was a a lie, a fabrication of the church to control the populace, and others will even say he traveled in Asia in the missing years between thirteen and twenty nine, married Mary Magdalene (who was not a prostitute and was the wisest of the disciples) .  When I keep looking, I see an institution that has grown around the name of Jesus, one with many different variations.  When I look further into history, I see anomalies, serious flaws, not with the person Jesus, but with what has happened over the last 2000 years.  The average man on the street does not know the history of the churches, the crimes against humanity, or where the scriptures came from, nor how they were chosen and complied.  If we are honest and look closely at religions and their Gods, the gurus and supposed Masters, we often see that there is a lot of hidden things going on that do not represent the values and ideals of the wise men that the sects have grown from; we are all aware of religious hypocrisy.  So what do we do, do we become atheists, skeptics, do we dump God?  The question asked earlier was ‘do I need a religion or a God?’ I could say quite confidently, “I don’t need religion, but I do need an inquisitive mind.  Answering about God, I will just say, “assuming that God were real, He/She/It will still exist without me, whether I am a believer or not”.  This thinking is leading me to a particular point, a resolve, and other questions arise, “If God is real, how do I experience God?”, although worship is important for some, is worship critical? It is not relevant to me, and I am not an atheist . I am not interested in the ‘story’ of God, it is ‘experience’ that is required.
Religion Without God
We know that although Buddhism is a religion, and we often see statues of deity’s and forms of Buddhas, Buddhism is not about God.  When you strip it back, its essence is about the Four Noble Truths, these are at the core of the Buddha’s teachings. They are:
the truth of suffering,
the truth of the cause of suffering,
the truth of the end of suffering,
and the truth of the path that leads to the end of suffering.
We see clearly when we look into Buddhism that God is not necessary, and I am not saying there is no God, some type of core primal consciousness. The more I dig around in Buddhism I see it is about how we live my lives which is critical.  And although all religions are about ‘how we live our lives’, the focus changes within each religious institution.  I will also state that ‘truth’ is something to be cautious of, I see it as a temporary thing and a variable.
Thirdly – What do I need to do to live a Spiritual Life?
We know from experience that people do all sorts of rituals, mysterious types of worship, dunking themselves in rivers, splashing babies with water and making them cry, rolling on the ground with coconuts, hanging from ropes with hooks through their skin, covering themselves in dirt, almost starving themselves, over eating because they call it Prasad, carrying crosses, kneeling for hours, burying themselves in the ground, overheating themselves in hot-houses, going on pilgrimages, wearing ridiculous outfits…. numerous ways of trying to grab God’s attention and showing their worthiness, sometimes even exaggerating their worthlessness to make themselves more appealing, the inverted-ego at its best, a twisted form of wannabe humility.  And there are methods which seem more practical such as prayer, meditation, mindful walking and contemplation, various methods for bringing the thoughts to a restful place. There is a smorgasbord to choose from, so how do we choose? What has substance and what is spiritual bling? What’s exhibitionism and what is transformative?  So what makes someone ‘spiritual’, supposedly Holy?  Is that a worthwhile question?
Fourthly – What Supposedly Makes Someone Spiritual?
I have a problem, no not really, it is better that I say the world of men has a problem. Religion is divisive, spirituality can be incredibly arrogant, elitist; if we are not cautious it can fragment the community.  Religious people are often separating the human species into the ‘wheat and the chaff’, the holy and the profane, the saved and the lost; if they are are not doing it out loud, they are doing this in their thoughts, ‘us and them’ mentailty.
If I come back to a basic concept that underlies many religions, there is one God, or even if there is no God mentioned, there is unity at the core.  I won’t even blink when I say this but, “if a religion divides the human community into us and them, those congregations need to rethink their values”. When we look at the civilisations that have come and gone, there are numerous gods who have been the centre focus for worship or religious practice;  we know the game of ‘MY GOD is better than your god‘, there are many people willing to argue this point, personally I wouldn’t bother, my response is going to be ‘get informed’, get an education about the various approaches to God and come back in twenty years.  The deeper we go into a faith or spiritual practice, the more we notice that the water comes from the same source, the wells are different, but water is the same… we are digging for pure water without the coloring’s or artificial flavors.
What Really Matters?
I was asking ‘what makes someone Holy or spiritual?’  I think it would be better to ask “what makes a glorious human being?”,  “What makes our life worthwhile?”, “If there is a God, what would God value?” Or even if there wasn’t a God, “what is it best for us to value?”  I remember watching a television series about the Mahabharata; the Mahabharata relates to Hinduism. I am not a Hindu but there was a defining moment when Krishna spoke to eldest brothers of the two warring clans, one was a Pandava (good guy), the other a Kaurava (bad guy).  Krishna looked at them both and spoke the words, “although I love you both” and then he turned to the Pandava and said, “I must support you.”  For me, most of what I need to know is in that response.  I will take the liberty of saying,”if God were to choose something, someone, He/She/It would lean towards that which nurtures, that which brings harmony.”  We do know that the worlds we move in are a play of ‘rise and fall’, creation and dissolution, a contrast of light and dark, form moving on formless.
What Are We?
We are feeling beings; this feeling-ness is something that goes way beyond ‘tingles’. Although we can get what I would call ‘false-flag-emotions’, things that seem like something with substance but are really just surface experiences; we have a part of ourselves that echoes wisdom from another place; the feelings, these deep emotions speak to us on how to live, what really has value, and what counts, what has substance.   I know from the experiences gathered through my life; empathy, compassion, kindness, detachment, a clear conscience, flexibility, forbearance, honesty are some of the fruits most worth nurturing. If someone asked me how to decide whether their religion or spirituality was working, personally I think they could measure the success of their faith or practice by the growth in these values and whether they are embracing more of a diverse of humanity or if their religion has separated them out as a ‘chosen ones’. When people are tender, vulnerable, at the ‘edge’, that is the time when ‘equality of being’ needs to come to the fore; no-one above or below; our sense of humanity can peep through and it is best we leave our designer Gods at the door; we are in this together, one species moving through space evolving.
The Enigma of Being Human
The original question was ‘What isn’t God?’, we can ponder this deeply and the response will change shape from time to time, the unfolding process is like a tree that spreads out, old leaves and flowers fall off there is new growth; the roots of experience go deep into the ground and the trunk of our understanding becomes firmer.  There is an old Zen Koan which asks, “Does a Dog have Buddha Nature?”, this is also a very, very good question, it moves the focus of puzzle away from the individual, it nullifies our sense of ‘I’, the imaginary part of us which is what we believe ourselves to be; and like all Zen riddles, it is answered with our whole being, it is resolved in our transformation.  I will ask another pertinent question and it’s one we may ask ourselves each day as the sun rises, or for those of us who prefer to be up later starting the day with coffee and chocolate, “What does it take to be a human being who can add beauty the world, to be somebody who embraces both the religious man and the atheist, someone who has an open heart and leaves a trail of kindness wherever we travel?

Home Future Yogis for other interesting articles on consciousness and the mystery of Being

God is Not Catholic or Pastafarian

Not so long ago there was a guy in Melbourne who wanted to get an Australian drivers licence, he fronted up to the Motor Registry Office to get his obligatory licence photo and to the bewilderment of the staff, he put a colander on his head, he claimed to be a Pastafarian.  Originally his wearing of the strainer-hat was rejected by the counter staff at the office, but ultimately he won out and the licence mug shot was given the green light.

Spaghetti Worms 
What prompted me to write this post is because a friend of mine is suing the Catholic Church for crimes against humanity, he did a simple post on a social network that caught my eye.  The post had a gorgeous sunrise over a beach and there was text heading that said ‘God is Not Catholic’.  This uncomplicated and rather eloquent post, opened the can of Pastafarian spaghetti worms.  Many of us who experienced abuse by the Catholic clergy as children have very strong views on where God isn’t; in my case I have spent my whole life since I was ten trying to make sense of the crimes, and more accurately ‘what is or isn’t God’.  Although I am clear that I am standing at the gateway, staring into forever at the undefinable and trying to fit the ocean into the bucket; every time I attempt to say ‘this is IT’, ‘IT’ moves, ‘IT’ gets bigger or infinitely minute, ‘IT’ becomes more mysterious and I resemble a physicist trying to resolve the millions of issues relating to atoms. This God thing is not conceivable by the human-mind, I know this for sure.   It is easy without too much questioning, no-blinking, quite logically say what God isn’t, this is a no-brainer.

Exhibitions of Devotion
I think most of us have seen the ‘pomp and circumstance’ of Bishops and Cardinals dressed up like they would be far more suited to an out-take scene from Alice in Wonderland or the Beatles Magical Mystery tour (sorry John and George); long gowns, staff in hand, ridiculous head-wear, self-important expressions, the nonsensical bowing and waving of arms, the haughtiness, hideous opulence, wasting of flowers, smokey myrrh and frankincense odors… it is beyond my comprehension how any community would tolerate this nonsense and not twig that something was not right. The story of the Emperors New Clothes always comes to mind. “Houston, Apollo here, come in Houston”, we have a very serious problem back on Earth.  And it’s not that I don’t like dress ups, I always try to look my best, it’s just that when your dress-ups have an agenda and are placing you in a position between God and men, we are heading for strife. I wiil say with great confidence, “everybody is hypnotised”

Men in Dresses
The global community is unaware of the scope of Catholic abuse, there are snippets regularly in the news, it may seem incomprehensible, but if you want to get a clear understanding of it all, multiply by thousands what you hear on the news about the issues and you will start to see how BIG the problem is; and I say this because I would be one of the more informed people in the country about it this topic.  I would like to be able to see the good side of the ‘being uninformed about the magnitude of the issue’, maybe there’s a way to frame it in a manner and to follow the line of thought of ‘see the good in everything’, or ‘ignorance is extremely blissful’.  But considering the impact on the individuals, the suicides,  those who have destroyed their lives with intoxicants, the mental health issues and the way it affects the families of those of us who have experienced the crimes, I struggle to see the light in this darkness, and not for want of trying; this dilemma has taken up a large percentage of my life.

Dropping the Robes in the Sand
From my perspective, beyond doubt, I can clearly say it chased me away from the church, at fifteen I said to myself ‘God’s not in there’, but intuitively due to the inquisitive nature we humans have, I felt ‘something is doing I don’t know what’, and was confident there is a bigger intelligence, a totality that resonated through things, in people, all creatures and across the skies.  The idea that the care-taking of such a sublime thing is in the hands of a bunch of guys in dresses who have alienated themselves from the community, many of who think it is their privilege to have sex with boys and then pray to God for forgiveness and then do it again, is absolutely absurd, unreasonable and so small minded that it seems incomprehensible that so many people can be duped into believing their version of the story of Jesus; it’s just not sound. And the excuse that “it’s only a small number of clergy who commit these crimes”, is an uninformed totally uneducated view. From my readings, it is clear to me that a great human being passed through the world, but the idea that the guys in dresses are the caretakers and are responsible for our destiny, is questionable, particularly when you look at the formation of the church, it’s choices and the hideous crimes committed; if the God these people speak of is represented by the values exhibited by Jesus or any great Sage, He/She/It would not select a group such as those in the church. The ‘we have all sinned’ rhetoric does not work for me at all; the small misgivings of the man on the street does not generally include the slaughter of humans because of a religious agenda, and most of us well balanced emotionally intelligent people, have much clearer and respectful boundaries with children.

Time Out 
Solitude that may be found in a monastery or church can be important, yes.  I will say from my personal experience that ‘time out’ of the world of madmen is critical. Being out of the loop of madmen is good,  it’s similar to how it’s not until a junkie stops using and stands back and looks at the big picture of the impact of drugs, the condition of the people around him and sees the tragedy of it all, it becomes clear. Following that line of thought, when we are immersed in the ‘play of life’ we can really only see a small perspective, it’s easy to miss what is going on over the fence, the lens is too small, everything is too familiar and there is little breathing space.  Time in solitude is a healthy thing for most of us, and it is in this ‘space’ that we can begin to unravel the world of men, to see what we do to each other, we can come face to face with our dark side and say, “i am never going back to that place”, then we take full control of our life instead of being kicked around by our thoughts, and following them in the opposite direction for what is good for us.

Redefining the Foreverness of God
Standing on the beach on clear moonlit night, it’s there that we can see the shooting stars, a hint of the enormity and beauty of it all; the men in dresses lose their power here, God – whatever that be, does not know them; they are strangers in His/Her/Its house, their mad ramblings about being guilty, repent, fear of the Lord, gloom and doom,  on the third day the faithful will be rising from the grave; the hundred and forty four thousand chosen ones; when we put that stuff under the microscope we can see it for what it is. When we feel the sun on our skin, sand between our toes, hold the hand of someone dear to us, or dive into Emptiness and ‘lose’ the world, that’s closer to what those on bended knee and joined palms are seeking.

Letting Someone Else Think for Us
There are a number of reasons why men and women hand over their thinking about what God is and leave it to others.  Simply put ‘it’s easy’.  By taking on a story of how things are, knowing there is a God and IF we get enough points together, one day we get to heaven, we can go about our business, then when the body runs out of fuel we can pick up the certificate as we go through the Pearly Gates.  Game, Set, Match, too easy. Really?  We can go through the motions, be a nice person, say all the right prayers, pull God out of the pocket in times of great trouble; for me that does not have enough depth.  A sense of order about God seems good; we know Jesus supposedly lived two K years ago, we believe this to be true because the “Bible tells me so”….. But hey, any thinking person  who has explored the structure of the churches, the history of the texts, the crimes, the abuse of power; even simple things like the missing years of Jesus….. will tell you something is drastically wrong.  I am not saying Jesus did not exist or there is no God, it is just that there are so many things that just aren’t right, blind faith does not suffice for any man who is prepared to ask a few basic questions.

Changing Outfits and Going Nowhere
So what can we do?  Do we become a Buddhist instead?  No maybe not, do we need another somebody to tell us what IT is?  But maybe we ought not discard the ‘Buddha perspective’ completely, the Dhamapada (collection of Buddhist sayings) is sensible; Tibetan Buddhism (a loose term for the Vajrayana teachings) has magnificent material on keeping the mind in check and an emphasis on compassion, whereas other religions focus on faith, or relationship between God and individual, the techniques and approach when we push aside the statues, pictures, beads and outfits, can help move aside the ‘nonsense’;  Taosim helps us normalise the chaos and come into harmony; and then we have the Ramayana, the tale of Rama with guidelines on being noble, how to play each role in the community to its best-est, with Hanuman the wise monkey ever faithful as a model; and the Bhagavad Gita, the Sing of God describing the battle for the hearts and minds of men, the book that many people erroneously think belongs to Isckon (the Hari Krishna movement).  As we know, there are numerous other approaches East and West, some do have substance. The idea of taking a bit from each and creating a personalised version is fair, but not really sound, it may put the mind at rest, go about our business and we can throw God or whatever IT may be into the back pocket, but all we have is a collection of ideas, concepts.

Wherever I Lay My Hat
So if we ‘leave the monastery’, the church, the safe zone, what’s going to happen? There is a natural tendency for many people to religion hop, to jump from one spiritual group to another to change from orange outfit to maroon, a bit like those bods who are collectors of stamps in their passports, they usually say they have ‘done Cambodia, are going to do Uzbekistan’, running from one destination to another, not really feeling or getting inside a culture.  I always liked Alan Watts, his best work was the Wisdom of Insecurity, a magnificent book, the title may be misleading.  The book covers the very thing I am talking about.  If you leave the monastery, church or whatever be your flavour, the ‘space’ does not need to be filled with something else, no new philosophy required to cling to; there is great freedom in Emptiness, this IS the wisdom of insecurity, not stacking up more info or religious, spiritual stories to fill the void; no story to ‘protect us’.  An important point to get to is understanding that ‘questioning does not betray God’, the God most people have is a creation of their thoughts, and I am not saying there is no God; it is our ‘picture of what God supposedly is’ that needs addressing, it’s a fantasy, a story.

Getting Rid of the Middle Man
And this is the problem with organised religion, it tells you what God is, and then sits itself between that vision and you; there is a potential for abuse of power.  And nobody does it as good as, or it is better to say worse than the Catholic Church, and I don’t say this out of spite, nor do I have a ‘bee in my bonnet’, as an experiencer of Catholic crimes I made it my business to find out the extent of the breaches of power, the crimes against humanity.  And I will say it quite openly, without blinking, without malice, the general populace has absolutely no idea of the scope of what has gone on.

  • God is not Hindu, but there is something in Hinduism to explore; great men and woman have come and gone in the land of Bharat (India), they have spent thousands of years mastering the craft of answering the important questions.
  • God is not Christianity, but Jesus showed us how to live with empathy and compassion to be selfless.
  • God is not Rastafarian, but if God needed a musical groove, singing about Jah would definitely be in the front runners.
  • God is not Taoism, but we can bring our lives into harmony with small-nature and the rest of the omniverse .
  • God is not Buddhist, but we can learn to understand suffering and manage it.
  • God may be the Beloved to some, seen and felt in all of the creation and in the foreverness.
  • God is definitely not Pastafarian, when it rains your head will get wet.

    Tilopa 2.0 – with love

The Yoga of Water

Water the Guru
When I watch the movement of water, I know that I am in the presence of something that can teach me a lot about myself and show me how to navigate the world around and within me;  if I am quiet and alert in my thinking, I will extract a wealth of wisdom from it.  Water takes the form of what I would refer to as a guru.  No, not a slightly chubby swami, looking smug, bathing in his feeling of self-importance with his followers, smiling and chewing on the fruits of their wealth. Nor an emaciated yogi type with hardened skin, a tree branch walking-stick, subconsciously clinging to an ancient tradition, living out a story of being a wandering mendicant; placed a little uncomfortably into a caste system that allows breaches of power, bullying, elitism and an acquired submissiveness by those who feel powerless, imprisoned by a cultural system, educated into accepting their roles in the community, bound by what their society says they must be.  Nah, not that type of guru; the other ones, the ones who give, not ‘takers’, they make you realise that what you are seeking is right where you are, this very moment, it’s there if you dig in; they don’t create a dependency, the guru could take any form at all, and why not, what’s this obsession with the human form anyway?

Water Water Everywhere
My father was born in a tent on the beach; a child from the meeting of two great cultural streams, this has a been an advantageous meeting-ground for me, it has given me a lot of skills, gifts from my ancestors. I lived a number of my formative childhood years near a beach just across the Tasman;  I learned to enjoy as well as fear the water.  The childhood bliss of rolling in the waves with the hot sun on my skin, the sand between my toes, ice blocks and coconut oil.  And the pain; at about twelve years old, my friends and I found a body floating in the surf; that day my world changed  forever.  Death is that ‘something’ most of us are never quite ready for, even when we know it’s on its way and gives us fair warning, just there watching us or circling around those dear to us, waiting to snare those beloveds who we cling to; there is always a sidestepping, a looking away, a saying, “nope not yet”. The alternative is challenging and questioning, to look straight into the heart of the enigma of death, to embark on the journey of a man or woman of ‘power’; power over ourselves not others, a quest to overcome our perceived limitations and be more than we ever dreamed of.  We can make death our teacher and use it as a yardstick for measuring what is important, a filter to sort the small stuff from what really is critical or needs our attention. As we know from every day life, this water stuff can be big or small, and knowing what we do about quantum physics, size, distance and volume doesn’t necessarily always matter;  it’s the ‘essence’, what is at the ‘core’ that counts… in the same way a drop of rose oil in a burner can scent a room, the potential of the wisdom of water is not bound by its size; its very presence  is enough, it’s in the drop; the ocean can come to us.  Water is always ‘giving’, that is why we can learn from it, it gives, it swerves, it takes on what it associates with, it’s beauty is in its purity like when it flows from the Himalayan mountains, potent in its unity, the rolling Ganga.

The Pure Liquid
The water brought death right to the seashore where we were playing, that in itself is a teaching.  I am not sure whether I have genuine a fear of death any more. Either way, my response no longer matters so much nor troubles me; it was something I walked with every day for many years, and was probably because my goal had always been about ‘getting out’, stepping into forever-ness. My issue was more about fearing that maybe I wouldn’t reach the goal, it was crucial that I ‘be’ a man who could walk in the company of Jiddu Krishnamurthi, Ramana Maharshi, Nisagadatta, Kirpal Singh, Shams, my superheroes bigger than Batperson and Superperson.  I now see it wasn’t so much about death at all, it was more about integrity of being.  Initially, I used to relate the journey to the after (human) life, heading towards the ocean that holds all things; my focus was on the totality, not seeing that the water in the bucket is the same as other water.  If we were to look at the scriptures, the philosophers and dreamers, they imply a merging of the small with the large, the river to the sea; for me this is not it, I don’t really think like that, I go the other way.   Even though many times in my formative years I heard the story of the drop of water and the ocean,  I had been chasing the ocean and never seriously considered entering it through the drop;  I was looking away instead of trusting that everything I needed was right here.  We are made of water, attracted to showers, puddles, tin roofs pattering with raindrops, sea shells singing; and hey, coffee consists of water and although chewing beans is delicious, it’s better wrapped in fluid.

The Satori and Samadhi Trap
When we first start to enter the great ocean of Samadhi  (deep mindlessness), it may seem delightful, to many it would be a surprise to hear it might also be like a scorpion sting; or for some, initially it is a bitter potion that gradually steals everything you held close to your heart;  the totally of what we consider as ‘us’ breaks apart; trust me on this one, the lot is going to shatter, this is a ‘given’, so don’t be fooled by the smiling pictures of happy swami people, that’s Hollywood, or India philosophy spam marketing… but it’s ok, it changes shape further along the timeline, the waves settle.  Many people get caught in the initial Satori experience, the ‘awakening’ state, they milk it long after the cow is dry; they set themselves up, the robes, the incense, the books, the pictures, people bowing, micro communities, the gatherings, blissful smile, shoes off at the door; poor pitiful souls; this is nice but it’s nonsense, it’s a bit like playing three chords on a guitar and calling yourself a musician.  If people with a genuine depth of experience are not outspoken, the trail of casualties and tragedies is going to blow out even wider.  All those gurus screwing the pretty vulnerable women – staring into their eyes pretending it’s a spiritual experience, taking the money of divorcees, fiddling young boys; people wasting their lives with narcissists who pilfer the treasures of great traditions and build a private empire with them.  Let’s face it, it is worth having a little common sense here, and carefully investigating who might be the charlatans under a delusional spell; it is quite easy to  research these days.  People who are trapped in an ethereal euphoria always minimise the abuse of power, they cannot see the trail of deceit because of the spiritual fantasy, they confuse their mild ecstasy with someone who says the things they want to hear or believe to be true it’s escapism from the pain of life.

The Half Baked Cake
The experiences that many people have, are no doubt genuine, something has gone on, I would never question that, it’s not my business, but often they get lost in the exhilaration.  When people take their Satori (awakening) or Samadhi experience into the marketplace prematurely, quite often many naive trusting bright-eyed-bushy-tailed followers will get totally stuffed over. I have mixed feelings on whether the stuffing over is always intentional or if it’s more about immaturity.  There’s a certain amount of energy/power which comes with various experiences, and people paint themselves into corners they don’t know how to get out of. The lies get bigger and everyone gets hurt.

There is No Mountain
I used to live in the mountains, I had gone through a bit of a leap in my consciousness. I had to ground myself by going to the city, my world was disintegrating, I was quite young, twenty three.  We all have experiences when we start poking around in super-consciousness, it’s a version of normal, it’s no big deal unless you make it a big show.  I guess I am writing this because some people don’t know how to deal with the experience that goes on in the field of ‘consciousness’. The world although still there, at times becomes a little less solid for a while, this is only an elementary stage on the journey of self-transformation.  Actually it is not so much a journey, it’s more like sitting on a train and throwing all your bags out the window, the surroundings change but you are still in the same spot, it just looks and feels a little different, at times a bit misty, and like phantoms are playing roles.  It would be fair to say there is a ‘gate’ we go through, it is not a final destination, it’s the beginning.   By saying this I do not wish to create an impression that this ‘gate’ is a necessity or common to all or ought to be a goal,  it is still within the ‘known’ on the screen of life and ultimately it will lose its over-importance; it can be a milestone to some.  Spirituality is about losing self-importance, being nothing; if we are ‘something’ it’s always going to get in the way, the guruness gets in the way, the purity, the sadhana, the altered-experience is going to block the view, it all becomes a new chain.

Stealing Our Life Blood. 
We live at the tail end of a fragmented civilisation where there are many petty tyrants, boof-heads who are in the way of themselves and others; they are overburdened with self importance, they dirty the water; they see themselves as the ‘centre’, this is the biggest error a human being can make, not knowing that the ‘centre’ is everywhere, whether someone is a tyrant or not, it’s the same problem.  These mad men wish to control the flow of our water, to deprive communities of what is essential for the human body to function in this world of the five senses and coffee, it’s a necessity for all life on this big emerald colored rock floating in space.  Not only is their manipulation of this life giving substance disturbing our well-being; the mother earth, that wondrous living being we move upon also suffers.  This situation shows us how far we as a species have moved away from what is truly of value, when we poison the life-blood of our world, and others, we have lost our way.  These men, the tyrants who manipulate wealth and resources, hold too much power over a spellbound humanity,  they have become the false Gods.  They are ruthless, they experience a type of sick self stimulation by acquiring what is not really theirs, everything is for their empires, their kingdoms, they gather power by disempowering others.  In their taking, their lack of compassion, empathy and anything virtuous, they poison the world. They do not reflect the wisdom that is hidden in water.  How we treat others and respect the world around us is a benchmark of where we are at;  when we lose our compassion, our sense of care and sensitivity for the very Being we move in, we need to start again.

When we watch the water we see how adaptable it is, it is malleable, it bends when it needs to, it takes on new forms, it works it’s way around things,  we can learn everything we need to know from this glorious element of nature, it is a much better guru than most you will encounter.

Tilopa 2.0

Please note … guest writer coming soon to the Future

Overthrowing the Guru

Welcome to the Spiritual Circus
When we look from the outside at what is going on in ‘spiritual’circles, it would be very easy to say, “these people seem mad”, rest assured it’s madder than anyone would imagine on the inside, and I don’t mean on my inside, I mean within the walls of the ashrams, the monasteries, the yoga schools and the retreats, it is insanity.  However, we live in a very mad world, so why should madness stop at the ‘supposed’ gates of salvation?

There is a type of elitist arrogance in religious and spiritual groups that is often referred to as ‘separating the wheat from the chaff’, it comes from a biblical passage about the end days; it’s the core of the ‘us and them mentality’, the saved and the lost, it’s a prepubescent attitude that can linger and be passed from generation to generation, or from the guru to initiate. Let’s leave that aside now that I have normalised the environment.

Hook, Line and Blinkers
By nature, humans are easy to sell to, if you do it right, people will buy anything.  The classic example is the dummy in the window, a person wandering down the street,  looks through the glass, a desire emerges, imagines themselves dressed as the dummy, thinks ‘wow I will look better than that’, goes into shop, walks out with a spring their step, new outfit in bag.  This is very similar to what happens when newbies first find some type of perceived pathway out of pain, heartache and chaos of life. Because of a natural innocence and naivety with spirituality, people often don’t know how to act in a spiritual group, it turns into a monkey see – monkey do, instead of being oneself.  And this is where the trouble starts.

The Sanity of Skepticism
As a long term Ufologist and OOBer (out of the body traveler) it would seem odd for me to say that if you are interested in religion or spirituality, get yourself a friend who is a skeptic.  A skeptic will fast track you through all the nonsense, and on condition that your new skeptic buddy is not an extreme fundamentalist skeptic or very arrogant and condescending , he or she will probably ask the right questions.  Because the honeymoon stage of any new spiritual group can seem euphoric to most because of the new friends, supposedly liked minded seekers, happy people, revelations, the open arms, the feel good quotes, the challenge, the hope of a glorious future; it is critical that the new hot-air-balloon that you have hopped aboard, has a few sandbags to allow a descent back to earth.

Being Well Informed
I have been around a number of cults and sects, it started early in my life as I wanted to be a priest, fortunately I realised ‘that’s not it’,  I stole back Jesus from the Catholic clergy abusers, headed east, and into the mystic doctrines instead. Being well informed on doctrines, scriptures and approaches for transformation made it reasonably  easy to see who was just doing ‘dress ups’ and had hidden agendas, and who could push the visitors through the doorway of foreverness.

Overtaking the Teachers
So where is this going?  As I have been a musician for most of my life,  one thing that was critical has been for me to find my own music, to get inside sound, to get an understanding of how it all works and to abandon the idea of ‘being or playing somebody else’, and to some degree, to disregard the known.  This attitude is something that I consider important when dealing with the sublime subject of spirituality.  When I was about twenty years old I studied guitar with a great musician and he said to me, “I don’t mind if you go past me”. This statement and pass-out to freedom was a great gift.  And this is an attitude that is worth considering when it comes to spiritual teachers, gurus, masters or anyone who has sat a crown on their head in the spiritual empire.  Ultimately we need to go past them. Dependency is the enemy of the spiritual aspirant; it would be very easy for people to start throwing scriptural quotes in my direction in response to this statement.  I did have a great teacher, I owe him a lot;  his death was a major milestone in my endless transformation, it meant I had to put into action everything that I had remembered, this was not comfortable, I had to become responsible for myself.  But we don’t need somebody to die, for us to die to them.  And dying is what this is all about.

Death of the Known
The process of meditation is what I would call the drinking of slow poison. Generally if we think of poison, alarm bells go off, images of sickness, a slow and painful exit from the body, a lot of sweating, gasping for air as we squeeze the last words out of our being.  OK, let’s change our definition of poison to it being an elixir, something that pilgrims have been seeking for eons.  In meditation everyone is equal, in the Silence there are no show-ponies, there is no feet kissing of gurus, no bowing or prostrating, there are no phantoms, by understanding this, a lot of unnecessary stuff can be dumped.  It is important to not confuse the world of forms and sensations, or any real or imaginary spiritual hierarchies with where we are going, or more precisely, with what is at the core under our awareness. In ashrams and monasteries there is a tendency for the ‘been here longer, know more’ attitude to exist, this structure can be a little delusive because the newbie may use a more ‘senior’ member of the community as the model to shape themselves on.  The ‘disciple mannequin’ is then the point of focus and what happens is the newbie takes on the habits of someone else, thinking the accrual of habits is development.

When the Guru Stuffs You Over
So what if not only the ‘senior’ monkeys have got it all very wrong, but the guru or teacher themselves, they may be a schyster; people are giving up not only time, but are placing some sort of future life importance around someone who has gotten it total wrong or may just be a control freak?  What to do?  This entanglement is dangerous, it may even cost us our friends, family, money, our thinking, our precious life.  We see this all the time, betrayal, abuse of power, sexual abuse, misappropriation of monies, the building of empires at the expense of others. There are a trail of corpses on the guru trail, there have been numerous tragedies where there has been betrayal; if one were to say “the Spiritual Path is treacherous”, it would be correct from the point of view that a great teacher is rare. Personally I think it is important for everything and everyone to be become our teacher, as life emerges we can savor the wisdom

Growing Outwards
I had the greatest of teachers, this gives me a good window to look through that allows a certain amount of empathy.  I get this ‘teacher thing’, I understand the feeling of obligation that people have; the hooks, the feeling of loss when it doesn’t work; the strings that are similar to being in a family.  This relationship being like our families, may be a clue to how to navigate in, through and out of the many spiritual and religious groups we may encounter.  With families, we are born into an environment that allows us to grow, we don’t have a choice, in some cases we are nurtured, cared for, guided, but there are situations where people are in fear, are bullied, feel worthless, dis-empowered. Regardless what the family structure may be like, we do know that good natured, well balanced people come from varied family backgrounds.  My dearest friend, the man who was my teacher grew up in an orphanage, but he morphed into the wisest man I ever met.  With this in mind, if we can learn to take from our family backgrounds and grow into versions of self-reliant independent thinking, emotionally intelligent people, we can also ride through the various ups and downs, wisdom and insanity of the spiritual circus and not get ‘caught’.

Claiming Ourselves Back
What I learnt from my teacher, and this was from the very first meeting, was to start letting go of everything that was in the way, from the outset it was critical that I let go of him, I had to come back to myself and get rid of everything in the way; to see the teachings, the gurus, the experiences as something on the periphery and secondary; to not have anything in the way to block the view; and ultimately that anything else was ‘looking away’.  When we are lost in the drama of cults, religious institutions, gurus, practices, spiritual teachings, they sit between us, or more specifically they create a division; where we need to be is in ourselves (not totally up ourselves with some story of spirituality), all these things create ‘another’ and are things that are rising and falling on the screen of life, just consciousness and energy.

An attitude of ‘not betraying God, our guru or teacher’ by claiming back our power is critical.  The Universes we move in are benevolent and it is our playground, we are not its slave, and freedom is in coming home to ourselves, not moving away.

Tilopa 2.0