The Fourth Noble Truth

At the core of Buddhist Teachings there are some tenets that are called the Four Noble Truths. Although it may seem an unusual perception to some Buddhists, I see each one of the Noble Truths as complete within themselves and a doorway to transformation.

* I have written on the first three already and will add a link at the bottom of this article.
+
According to most Buddhists the Fourth Noble Truth relates to the PATH.  For this article I have borrowed some Buddhist text that seems to clearly define the modern understanding of the Fourth Noble Truth reasonably well.  In this article I will dig in and explore whether it is a great Truth, a real guideline for transformation or a control program used by those who wish to enslave humanity and add members to their club and dress them in their religious uniforms with a few added bangles, beads and statues.  If we don’t rip the Teachings apart and put them under the microscope we could end up wasting our lives and become a slave to dogma, renounce our family and friends thinking that ‘we know’ and they are ignorant and don’t understand.
+
Overview of the Fourth Noble Truth
“This path leads to the end of all suffering, if we avoid harming all other living beings, if we sharpen and focus our mind, and if we gain wisdom, each of us can reach perfect happiness, the end of all misery. The way to end suffering is to follow the Noble Eightfold Path namely:
+
Right Understanding, Right Thought
, Right Speech
, Right Action
, Right Livelihood, Right Effort
, Right Mindfulness
, Right Concentration”

Looking at the above that includes the Noble Eightfold Path, it seems reasonable at a glance, well intentioned, practical and useable in life.  However, I’ll jump straight out of the box and flip it around and bypass the End of Suffering for now. I have an inbuilt program that always says if there is something happening at the end, better check out the starting point, so let’s go to the BEGINNING of Suffering.  What causes this thing that we are all so scared of? It cripples us, people do the most outrageous things due to suffering? We know from experience that when it all becomes too unbearable people my harm themselves or even exit the planet.
:
Where Does Suffering Come From
If we look at all suffering, if it’s not physical pain we are feeling then it obviously relates to the mind.
+
When I look at the nature of the mind, the mind is essentially Empty, an empty canvas but it is populated at regular intervals by visitors, when I say visitors I mean ‘thoughts’, they come and go and by nature we cling to some of them.
+
When I poke around a little further I see that it is not just thought, thought by itself is like words in a book in a library waiting to be read.  This issue is our relationship with thought.
+
When I dig further I see it is the way that I or we get caught in thought that is the problem, we attach to it.  Attachment to is a word we will often see when commentators discuss Buddhism, the wise and also the slaves of dogma use it. This is quite simple really, if attachment to thought is the problem, we need to find ways of disentangling from it.
+
Thought rises and falls.  A very wise man once said to me, “where there is pain there is clinging”.  This is as bright as the full moon on clear starry night.  This is our quest, to work out a way to detach from thought as it rises in the mind-space.
:
Harming Others Harms Us
The Fourth Noble Truth reminds us not to harm others, I like this, all reasonably sane would people love and respect this attitude. We are interconnected, our air, our water, the sun, the fabric that holds the Universes in form is joined together, we move on and in it and we are bound Mother Earth, she shares her fruits with us, we can be part of her beauty or if we live carelessly, in time she will shake her garment and we will experience her very uncomfortable response to it.
:
Clarity
“If we sharpen and focus our mind”, I like this, when I read it I know I am on my home turf, safe ground and am not being led into a delusional concept, the underlying idea is for my awareness to look clearly at what is going on.  Many people are lazy in their thinking, garbage from the world around pours in from television sand movies, ads, screens, low quality food, intoxicants, people talking nonsense, examples of hedonism around us that create a sense of what is normal behaviour, intoxicants, just keep shoving it all in to the point where the mind-space is like a windscreen covered in mud, can’t see out and all you have to work with is what’s in the automobile, you can’t see out and have no idea where you are headed, chances are it’s going to be a wreck sooner or later.
+
The ‘W’- word 
“If we gain Wisdom”, that makes me giggle, I will withhold the belly-laugh as a courtesy.  Wisdom is something that does not come cheaply.  No book will give it to you, if you are fortunate you may get a hint from someone who has ‘walked-through’ into forever, you can’t get it from prayers … they may help bring life into order and a sense of positive trust may arise. There are a lot of gurus, monks and teachers who will always SAY they could deliver for you, but that’s not real, it’s not YOUIRS, there is a price to pay, your time, your money and even your freedom.  Wisdom arrives from experiencing life, this is no great revelation, the non-religious will know it better than the Sadhaks (spiritual aspirants).  Sadhaks have the ‘elephant in the room’ in the way, the very things they are doing or believe are the things that obstruct the view and are what prevents transformation.  I am not saying that Spiritual practice is useless, I am inferring that eventually it must go, beyond any doubt the elephant of Spirituality blocks the view.
+
The impression in the mind of ‘what it is’, ‘what’s on the other side’, ‘what the goal is’ is in essence the problem, what humanity is seeking is not graspable by thought; how can I state this any more clearly?  This IS the PROBLEM. Wisdom comes from doing the hard yards, digging in, facing life’s challenges and using THEM as the doorway.  And I am not using the Christian ‘pick up your cross and follow me’ approach when I say ‘hard yards’; I am saying people need to get uncomfortable, be pushed beyond the limits, BREAK,  go outside the safety zone; if someone doesn’t they will just be a slave to social consciousness.  Social consciousness and freedom are polar opposites, well not really opposites, they hate each other (joke). Freedom is in emptiness, non-clinging, whereas social Consciousness is about the ‘story of the world’.  The story of the world does not allow the unknown, the impossible, it holds everyone prisoner and says, “you are bound by my rules”.  Wisdom comes to those who dare to step out of the world.
+
Slaves of the world always say, “I will never know”, they create their own thought prison and limitations.  They assume because they see the unknown as a challenge and unknowable, that nobody else is capable of making Known the Unknown. Wisdom is not static, it unfolds moment to moment, like a flower; it moves like a kaleidoscope it responds and makes decisions on the fly, it is a living intelligence. It is not a bundle of ‘truths’, information or practices, it’s alive.
+
“Each of us can reach perfect happiness”, sounds good, people have a sigh of relief, hope for the hopeless, water for the thirsty.  Let’s turn this on its head.  If we are not vigilant we will lie down.  Not all but many of the Sages were great warriors, both in the world and they also fought the battle within. When people get a PROMISE of FUTURE HAPPINESS, it’s really a warning, sure you might get happiness but it must be NOW.  Freedom is NOW. Reaching, reaching, always seeking fulfilment at some stage Utopia, Valhalla, the Kingdom of Heaven, the Mystical Promised Land.  Any desire for it IS the obstacle.  It creates the separateness, a sense of unworthiness, the concept of imperfection. I’m not making this up.  This is true.
:
And End the of All Misery
They tell us, “The way to end suffering is to follow the Noble Eightfold Path namely:
Right Understanding, Right Thought
, Right Speech
, Right Action
, Right Livelihood, Right Effort
, Right Mindfulness
, Right Concentration.”

And there at a glance seems to lie the solution and as many of us know within a solution there possibly also is the problem.   When there are a lot of ‘rights’, suddenly with it comes the ‘wrongs’, if we are not cautious we can end up living unnaturally.  What I do like about Buddhism is it is often referred to as the Middle Way.  It implies moderation, keeping a balance between indulgence and abstinence;  like people on a Macrobiotic Food Diet, eating from the middle of the food range, a stable diet MAY lead to a balanced mind-space, clearer thinking and by this I mean not getting pushed around too much by the ups and downs of life, I do not imply not having feelings. And I am NOT confusing feelings with emotions.
:
Too Tight Too Loose
There is an old expression about a string needing to be the right tension, if it’s too loose its an issue, if it’s too tight it will snap. The tightness and the RIGHT-NESS is where the power mongers come in, this is where they enslave.  Traditionally nearly all communities hold people prisoner, it’s not intentional it’s just the way societies work, ‘what’s normal’ is a subconscious program. When kids are born, immediately the world takes shape, their opinion is being formed.  The real issue is in most cultures there are power-monsters, religions are in bed with governments, sometimes literally.  Those who dominate politics have their hands in the pockets of the money men and the three way relationship is completed by the religious ‘elite’.  Not always, there are great Buddhists, humble, sincere, kind, they live their teachings, are they free? In most cases NO, don’t kid yourself. It comes down to whether you want to be educated by good religious men or free men and women.  This is a question any sincere Spiritual aspirant needs to ask. A good religious or spiritual person may help you live a wholesome life, tell you the story of what God is or isn’t, give you a set of tools, give you hope that in the future there is freedom, but IT’s NOT IT!
+
The decision is already made regarding whether an aspirant wants to be led or controlled by a religious tyrant, this answer is easy for most.  However there are people who are naive and have difficulty discriminating, good members of the community need to keep an eye out that these people are safe. We can’t think or make choices for others but we can ‘flag’ problems. Tyrants are always seeking the vulnerable and strange as it seems the vulnerable are at a deep subconscious level seeking the controller; supply and demand.
+
What the broader community doesn’t realise is that every Sage, Buddha, experiencer of Christ Consciousness, Siddha or Mystic does the work until the last moment of their ‘imaginary’ incarnation.  Although extraordinary things happen around them, the game, the dream continues until the last breath.
+
What mankind calls Suffering is nearly always there, it’s a persons relationship to it that makes the difference. Any idea of a Path implies ‘movement away from what one is, which in truth is the Buddha itself.’
:
Tilopa 2.0
*
Further reading

First Noble Truth
Second Noble Truth 
Third Noble Truth

Getting Rid of Spiritual & Religious Tyrants

We live in a wonderful time in history.  When we look at the news all seems bleak, those who are behind the news media like it that way, fear porn, carnage and misfortune to entice, a feeling of lack, hopelessness, warring political factions, low level corruption exposed, chaos, all peppered with tantalising ads and the occasional feel good story to have you believe they are good guys, touchy feely and they care … it just keeps coming from all directions… misinformation and nothing short of subliminal mind control.
:
Nope We are Not Buying the Product
There are those of us who are highly intelligent, not just blessed with ‘intellectual-smarts’, there are people who are meek, intuitive, gentle but powerful in the sense that they see through the world of smoke and mirrors, many of us have a clarity of mind as we watch daily something extraordinary emerge from behind the scenes.
:
For two thousand years in the West and much longer in the East we have had petty tyrants who have controlled communities through religion, spirituality, false gods (no I haven’t stated there isn’t something sublime that holds the fabric of the Universes in a sense of order).  These tyrants and their lackeys have placed themselves for their own comfort and agendas between God and man. These hideous miscreants have used their positions of power to abuse children, young women who sought god or enlightenment and anyone who is vulnerable, they have in the past and still prey on the community to satisfy their own needs, fill their nests with a bounty made from the sweat and hard work of others.
:
Across the globe we now have a movement in the consciousness of humanity who are stepping up and saying ‘game over’, people are standing up and claiming back power.  In Australia we have had what is called the Royal Commission into the Institutional Response to Child Sexual Abuse.  I like thousands of others, brushed myself down, scraped off the cobwebs, stood up straight, held myself together just long enough to put my invisible helmet on to go to battle…with tears streaming down my face hidden by sunglasses I jumped on a Melbourne tram, walked in to testify at the Royal Commission about crimes committed against me as a child by adult men of the Catholic Clergy.  As my wonderful dad said to me, “son this has gone on for far too long, someone has to do it, I am proud of you, you are very brave”.  Those words carried me through the door, into the lift then into the room to meet the Commissioner who so nobly sat through my testimony as she had for many others.  I went alone on this day as I did not want those who loved me to hear what I had to say, I had a few tokens of power and very organised documentation to carry me through the day.
:
It’s not just about Me
For those of us who spoke, it wasn’t just for ourselves but for those who were incapable, some suicided, some are in mental institutions, some live on the streets and experience more heinous crimes daily, people forgotten by society, those with addictions and for those gentle souls who wanted to speak but were too broken and just walked away.
:
The Unconsidered
Here’s a problem that is often missed by many people.  When there is child abuse that is carried out and hidden under the umbrella of a religious institution there are additional complexities.  All abuse has a shadow of some sort that follows people through their lives, this is obvious to anyone with even basic intelligence.  However when ‘GOD’ is involved, there is a type of entanglement that keeps the experiencer of the CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY (lets call it what it is) intricately bound into a web of thought. We humans are born into cultures, we’re Italian, Bhutanese, Ecuadorian or whatever; we understand that with this comes a way of doing things.  We might meet on Fridays, drink wine on Sundays, watch the Football religiously, eat gherkins, chilies, all these things are hardwired to our sense of normal.  I remember as a kid in kindergarten looking at the Italian kids eating their lunch, I was a white-bread thin sliced sandwich kid; the boys with the funny accent had sandwiches half the size of their heads, jam packers with weird stuff. For me, diving in the surf, salt on my skin, getting over browned by the sun that I felt proud to look like my Maori ancestors.
:
Cultural Idiosyncrasies
I am painting the picture of ‘normals’, things we don’t give a second thought to.  Me I am a psychic who doesn’t do fortune-telling, I just stare into space like the ‘Men Who Stare at Goats’, it’s my normal but ridiculous to others. My dad was a great singer, I thought everybody had a playlist in their heads 24/7, it wasn’t until I was 40 years old that someone told me it wasn’t true, I am not joking.
:
When you are part of a religious community, organisation, cult, sect, or even a wonderful group of kind but totally deluded people who all where purple Nikes, there is a ‘creep’ that happens.  I have seen it many times. A newbie turns up very raw, they walk in with their jeans, T shirt, pair of hipster boots, a tattoo or two, a rucksack, bright eyes and an inquisitiveness. The calendar pages flip fast, the months pass and before you know it they have gone ‘full native’, they own a statue, a set of beads, are all but ‘speaking in tongues’ in a language unknown to ‘normal people’, just one stop of owning a camel or riding an elephant through the streets to the local mall.
:
The Power Junkies
The top of the hierarchies in religious institutions is where the hideous tomfoolery can be pointed back to.  There are people who place themselves there, maybe just maybe some sincerity when they entered into their quest to explore the answers to the Cosmos, stare at their navel, or to make sense of ‘what is the sound of one hand clapping’ or they liked the freedom of dancing and singing throwing their arms in the air or hitting a bongo.  But rising to a place of power and being indoctrinated into warped ideas about ‘what is or isn’t normal sexual behaviour’ by those who wish to turn healthy people into eunuchs, the suppression of natural desire seems to get a little much for them and they seem to have intervals of brain spasms and inflict their mixed up concepts on the vulnerable.  And due to their being in a position of power when they are exposed, their side-kicks and bum-lickers rally around to protect them because they are doing ‘God’s work.’
:
Men Dressed Inappropriately
And here’s where it becomes difficult for experiencers of the crimes of the BLOKES in DRESSES with their mala-beads or crosses around their necks.  Over many years the indoctrination is so powerful, unquestionable even, their victims have subconsciously placed these hideous miscreants between God and themselves.  There is an assumption deep in the being of the victim that by stepping up, coming forward and triggering the healing process that in some way they are BETRAYING GOD. Even though the experiencer of the crimes is fully aware at a surface level that these abusers are NOT God’s representatives, the mental wiring is so entangled it becomes all but impossible to separate ones own relationship with what God might be from what one has spent their life believing.
:
Claiming Back
When I testified at the Royal Commission, afterwards I had a casual conversation off the record with the Commissioner, I said to her, “If you want to solve this, you need to forget God exists.” She understood what I was saying.  And this is where the healing lies, this is where the disentanglement begins or becomes complete.  Victims of sexual abuse that happened in religious or spiritual institutions need to reconsider what God may be.  A person may burn their prayer books, throw away the beads, buy new clothes, get rid of old friends, never go back to the church or temple.  And I say this as a man who is not an atheist who spends most of his days immersed in the world of there Spirit.
:
Aaaah Freedom from the Known
In the cafe wear I write there is a young child drinking a baby-cino, the smell of coffee reminds me I am alive and the gift of creation is wondrous thing.  The flowers on the table are sort of scarlet coloured, people have sparkly eyes, the sky is blue, it’s sunny and I feel its warmth on my skin.  Within the presence of all things I feel the tingle-of-foreverness, some might call it the Divine Spark, there is a hum.  I am a free man, I do not need the petty tyrants to manage God for me, to tell me what I must do in order for me to be a part of what surrounds me, to make closer to what I live and move in, to dive into the depth of Silence, to wander with the Sages who are my closest of kin.
:
The world is changing and as a community we are going to bring those religious and spiritual MotherFUCKERs down and make them accountable for their crimes.
:
Get up, stand Up!
:
Tilopa 2.0

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

The Selfie and Self Realisation

We live in a time where many of us freeze-frame ourselves wherever we go. This is me at the Opera House, I’m now standing in front of the Taj Mahal, behind me is 100 mile beach, me eating a gluten free sandwich with Tibetan parsley, me with a coffee cup in the back streets of Kathmandu, me standing next to Jim Morrison’s grave smoking a doobie.  So many opportunities for us to place ourselves in sacred spaces and hide the view, we trivialise life and turn the magnificent into something about ‘us’.
:
Feeding the Problem
I was walking down a trendy Melbourne street in my normal fashion of not being able to go forward in a straight line for more than two metres when I noticed a young mother with a child of about three or four years old. They were taking a selfie outside a shop, no big deal really, after the ‘shoot’ the mum showed the daughter the pic on her phone and the child smiled with natural excitement.  It’s normal to take photos of our kids, nice mementos for future dialogue when kids are older.  However it got me thinking.
:
Who the Fudge Am I?
When we look at the human dilemma of ‘who am i?’ and all the other questions about the mystery of life, it would be reasonable to start to question how we arrive at conclusions of who we are.  For starters, at birth when the stork drops us off at the hospital, natural birth centre or cabbage patch, we arrive and immediately there’s a lot of hoohah about the new kid on the block, it’s a boy, it’s got too much hair, it’s beautiful, it looks like a monkey, it’s a Buddha, it wont stop crying, what do I do with this thing? omg I’ve got a baby.  This little person thing gradually gets defined by those around it as it moves along the arrow of time; from the very beginning the flow of external data writes to the subconscious memory bank and the kid learns who and what it is.
:
I’m Not Just a Bunch of Banana Sundaes
I like to think  a little broader than the skin that holds all the bits in. For example I know the water running through my being has arrived from the outside, the clouds, the rain, glug glug down the hatch, what was once falling from the endless heavens is now in my being. The food that grew in Mother Earth transformed inside my body and is now reflected in the texture of my skin; the sun, the air, the whole of nature has allowed me to be here, wherever here may be, this body-being that I use as a vehicle to move through life’s experiences is not out on its own, it is part of a series of processes of living nature (not rocket science).
:
Not Sure Who I Am
Many people in my family have changed their names, this has always amused me; I guess it was only fitting that my parents would give me a name at birth but never use it, they called me something else from day dot, I have never used the name on my birth certificate apart from when I’m startled into an ‘oh that’s me’ when it gets called at the doctors;  and then by a weird series of events I ended up with yet another name ‘Tilopa 2.0’ that I use now.  For me, I think this name change thing is not by chance, it has been a critical aspect on my journey of understanding the mysteries of life. It got me thinking ‘who the fudge am I? We humans love to name things, the concern with naming is as soon as something is named it is filed away in the memory banks, we humans assume we know lots of things but often we just know the names and very little information about things, it’s not until we enter into something that we really know it, the rest is just a story. We are a panel of experts who know about things that we have never experienced.
:
Getting Out of the Way
Transformation comes about by undoing.  In education there is a filling up; and I am not knocking the gathering of information or the development of skills, I am a teacher and also love learning new things. The process of experiencing deeper Awareness works in reverse to education, a different set of rules applies; this is why academics and intellectuals have so much trouble with consciousness and out of the ordinary things, they don’t have a column in their database to include ‘other stuff’.  And this does not mean that a sharp intellect is a problem, personally I find it useful for analysis and discrimination; in my case a sharp intellect is extremely beneficial for me to compile the extraordinary into something that vaguely makes sense.  A bit like a cup full of sea water gives an example of the texture of the ocean, it won’t tell us much else but it hints that the salty water exists.
:
A Montage Called Me
As we move through selfie-moments and stream them live in real-time to the social cyber-world, a chorus of onlookers joins in to the story of ‘who we believe ourselves to be’. That sentence may seem a little odd or over the top but when we come back to the core principles of Buddhism or Jnana Yoga  or knowledge of Self, (a simple definition of Self =something more expansive than the body and its environs) we know that Emptiness is at our core, as we move through life, in our thoughts we are defining who we are such as ‘i am a doctor, an idiot, a genius, i’m fat, ugly, a nice guy’, all sorts of labels.  When we look very very closely and give it a lot of thought, we see there is nothing solid that defines us apart from the body we drag through the 3D space of the world, the ‘me’ is constantly in motion, the molecules are churning, dancing in space.  It is space, the ‘field’ of creation that is consistent and also our ‘intention’ that projects into space. A selfie temporarily defines us, when we give them too much focus and stream them endlessly to the world, we are falling deeper into the abyss of  mis-identification and move further away from what we are.
:
The Age of Not Me
The time we live in is an age of self-obsession and there needs to be a certain amount of awareness that we are ‘not what we imagine ourselves to be’, the image that we are creating and reinforcing plunges us further and further away from our core nature, the Emptiness.  This word Emptiness is not what it seems, it is living, it is at the heart of all creative potential, the blank canvas of life, the Silence that the Universe sits on or in and we need to get out of its way.

15781612_10208906586366602_5339116318863610418_n

Tilopa 2.0 on his balcony

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

The Yoga of Being Kind

We are born into societies where we are educated to ‘fit in’ and also stand out, to be seen a little bit above the rest; ambition is supposedly a virtue to some and something to drive us onward to a wondrous destination and do the clan proud.
:
The Stupidity of Being Better Than Others
In our quest to rise up, we often find ourselves accidentally casting our shadows over others; life sometimes resembles two ‘suits’ fighting it out to win points in a legal case. Earth man has a tendency to adapt the ‘survival of the fittest’ attitude. When we go to school, once all basics are sorted, we find ourselves in the situation where we are taught how to do things, to retain information and then deliver something back to the teacher, our work is graded and compared to the other children.  All smiles for those who ‘got it right’ and a feeling of lack gradually develops in those who just can’t make sense of it.  In the middle a lot of others make up the numbers.
:
When we move out onto the sporting field, ‘faster’ is better, ‘slower’ means you need to try harder, be a better version of your current fastest,  meanwhile the Road Runner flies by while you pant for breath, your legs that are possibly 1/6 shorter than you’d like them to be, the appendages resemble helicopter blades going in any way but the direction you want them to. The ‘sporty person’ finds a senior position in the pecking order and scores points on the subconscious ‘way we evaluate people’ table.
:
The King of Nothing Syndrome
It may start at a young age but we begin to see ‘the survival’ techniques kicking in, thugs bumble and push their way through the micro-community they are part of, some day the victims of their thugi-ness may find their way to senior positions of government and live out their revenge on an unsuspecting community.
:
Others have the knack of acquisition, they take the hunter-gather thing to new heights, drones do the gathering and hunting for them, the accumulation of ‘too many things’ becomes a yardstick on how THEY value themselves in the society they are part of, and other poor innocent bods believe that because someones empire is bigger than their own, it must be a better way to exist, so then they chase an empire of objects and in their failings, develop a feeling of worthlessness with an attitude of ‘life is not fair’ and suffer emotionally…… let’s go another way.
:
Getting Off the Wheel of Life
The clouds overhead look ominous to some; the gardener within was hoping for rain today, the sun had scorched the garden bed, the wind had blasted and bashed the budding plants around, I was thinking ‘sprinkles from the heavens would be a bit of a blessing’.  We can learn a lot of nature, that’s a very old common adage; Alan Watts gave us a reminder ‘there are no straight lines in nature’, I will add ‘apart from the horizon, if we look from the sky we would see it’s curved’.  Many of us would remember school assemblies,  kids standing in line, every so often one would faint, or a fart may break the silence and great chaos cuts loose.  I am thinking that the tighter the school environment, the more a person becomes a slave to the system, some push ahead with tenacity to be the leaders in our social structure, but they are still insiders, it takes a lot of work to undo our programming. Communities don’t usually like outsiders, they are a threat.
:
Getting Outta Here
Lao Tsu, Buddha, Jesus, Chang Zhu all rewrote the destiny of man, although people build religious cults around their words, they changed humanity from the inside.   They did not compete, they walked in the opposite direction to the rest of humanity, this in itself is a great teaching.  They broke through into new areas of thought, or more specifically ‘thought-less-ness’.  There is a tendency for the followers to focus on their words instead of the way they lived, Emptiness is at the core of these great men, it is easily missed. When we look at humanity, people prefer ‘fullness’, even if it’s a big bucket of crap, they are more comfortable with the pain and familiarity of the known than the potential of an unborn future, the unknown does not seem safe, it requires courage and trust.
:
Win at All Costs

By inherited nature, humans compete all the time, being aware of what is healthy competition and what is debstabilising for others and what ‘weakens’ us is critical, i didn’t say damaging I said ‘critical’. When we are unnaturally competitive our values can go out the window and we make excuses for our actions, any excuse will do.  To have some kind of peace we justify things and point the finger away from ourselves and target others. When we take the time to think about how we treat others we can gradually over a period of time bring about some type of transformation in ourselves that will help us relax a little; relaxing doesn’t mean being ‘sloppy’.  All the mantras, wisdom, teachings are meaningless if we lack empathy and kindness, a softened heart is the fruit of all Spiritual practice and explorations into Emotional Intelligence.
:
Every Moment Zen
Every day, every interaction we have with others puts us in a situation where we have choices.  Often the smarter we are, the greater the expert, the bigger the empire and the higher we are in a hierarchy, the more chance there is to be disrespectful to others, flippant, dismissive and lacking in understanding, our value systems can get skewed, and of course there are wonderful people at all places in the community but the quest for success can cloud our thoughts and we close down a little.
:
As a musician I am constantly in the situation of having to leave my opinions out of things relating to music.  After many decades of honing my craft I am inclined to be critical to the point of annoying and wanting to ‘fix’ the music around me. We all have parts of ourselves that require work if we want to live happy lives, I am aware of where much of my work lies. Where this article was always going was to point out one simple thing, and it’s an ongoing process that constantly arises, ‘it’s better to be kind than right’, we know if we are well informed about things, and whether we have a great skill, we don’t need to prove anything, it is our actions and the way we treat others that counts. I think the process of softening takes our whole life, till the moment we pass into another part of foreverness.

On Your Mark Get Set…Stop

There is an old story that comes from the Indian subcontinent, it seems to define human nature, the craziness of the thoughts that fluctuate with intensity in our mind-spaces.  It is said that if you give a monkey a ladder it will run up and down all day; this analogy is often used in explaining how a Mantra works in controlling thoughts; whenever the mind wanders, step back on the ladder. Without going into detail, as most people would know, a Mantra is a word or phrase repeated in meditation to keep oneself busy.
:
The nature of thought is to hop, skip and wobble; each thought particle is a bit like a piece of driftwood travelling from one side of the ocean to the other, going nowhere in particular, encountering mammoth waves, getting dunked, resurfacing, floating calm for a while, only to be lashed against the rocks and maybe end up on an empty beach.
:
The Boat Into Eternity
My father made a driftwood boat when he was a young man, it sat on a sideboard and sometimes on a table in our house as a child, it always intrigued me, how something that nature ‘threw out’ into the vast world would end up as an ‘artifact’ far from where it began, it was my teacher.  It had a dryness about it, with only a small cut of a saw and some mild reshaping it became something of curiosity for me, it taught me how to dream, how to see through the solidness of the world around me and to find value in what people may discard. It showed me beauty is in our imagination, and how ‘what is left out’ can give something its shape, in the same way that a great musician  understands it’s the silence, the space that gives the beauty to sound; it is the backdrop of the heavens that allow us to dream of the distant stars as they dangle on the backdrop of forever-ness.
:
Mooring the Boat
Coming to rest seems like the goal of many people. This is a reasonable quest. There is much confusion going on in the Spiritual circus of the world.  There is the idea of seeking a peaceful mind, a restful place either here or beyond is perceived as the goal, and although there is a partial correctness in this, it’s just a piece in the larger picture of the cosmic game.  It is true, the need to tame the raging bull of the mind , without giving some attention to all the wayward thought, it is difficult to function.  However, if we use the analogy of the boat, it is something that takes us to our destination, and when it comes to the Spirit, the port of arrival is always ourselves.  So where to from here?  Is that it? So what we were seeking was ‘stillness’?
:
The Uncarved Block
Where we are going is forever-ness; our dreams shape the un-carved block.  The idea that our destination is written in the palm of our hand, that God has work for us, is rather spiritually pubescent when it comes to the big picture.  I am not denying the existence of an Underlying Consciousness that drives the Cosmos, I am just claiming it back from the doctrine-smiths, the religious zealots, those control freaks who dis-empower humanity by using the lives of great men and woman as a foundation for belief systems and ‘story’ of the world, they then enslave humanity with their religious concepts.
:
Coming Home 
When the boat comes into port, then we are in a new country, one where we can begin a different dream, we leave behind what we knew, let the past sink like Atlantis in the depths of the ocean or hidden under the ice in Antarctica.
:
We are always running on automatic, forgetting to question many things, we fill in the endings of the story by habit.  On your mark, get set…. stop.  Let’s go the other way. When we look at the chaos of the world it becomes reasonably clear that what has been going on just doesn’t work.  There is great potential in things that we discard if we just look at them differently.  Like my father’s driftwood boat.  I will give thanks for what others have forgotten and find beauty elsewhere.  This is the essence Yoga.

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

Earth Changes – A Common Sense Approach

Most of my life I have been preparing to ‘go’, not in a normal ‘death’ sense where a person has that sensation of ‘giving up’ and wanting to escape pain, to evade life’s suffering because it seemed too much; it’s something very different. It would be easy to say that maybe I read too much Bible doomy and gloomy as a kid and inherited the attitude of ‘anyone who loves his life will lose it’, a quote from a very poorly translated Christian scripture that makes people feel extremely paranoid and scared of life it’s not that. However it would be easy if there was no further investigation to be dismissive about anything relating to the subject of Earth Changes.
:
Let’s look at our world
Generally the broader community is very uninformed or is looking away. Our history books and news media gives us a paint-by-numbers view of the world and bypasses a lot of the quality stuff, this keeps a lid on new knowledge that challenges the story of the world as we know it.  Many people don’t even realise that classical physics has been updated by quantum physics. If you are interested in Archaeology you’d have an idea that there are new finds on a regular basis that don’t make it into the mainstream media, remains of mysterious civilisations every so often are popping their heads up from under the earth.  If you are science or tech savvy, or watch TED you may know that Satellite Remote-Sensing Infrared is now being used to map the subtle changes on the surface of the earth, it seeks out irregularities that would be missed by the eye with the more traditional methods of research and excavation, it puts a few brakes on the endless intrusive digging that is both time consuming and unnecessarily potentially destructive.  There are long lost cities, relics and civilisations under the ocean off the coast of Japan, India, the Bahamas and other places, complete with an equal amount of fantasy and plenty of debunking.  Regardless of who was here in the past, what they achieved and the stories about them, real or imaginary, it would be unreasonable to say there had not been any well developed communities  who left a trail in the sand, there are things that ‘just wont blow away’, these time capsule things remind us of their existence, our temporariness and it creates a challenge for us to update our history books and also maybe we could even reconsider the myths and legends of what was previously perceived as backward cultures. Many of these ‘backward’ cultures did a great job of fitting transparently and comfortably into the Eco-systems for thousands of years; some mysteriously disappeared… well it is a mystery to us when we try and make sense of them now.
:
Possible Futures
We keep hearing dooms-dayers talking about things such as the world is going to shift its axis, movement of the magnetic polls, tsunamis, we could get hit by a comet, some say we’ll fry, others say Northern Europe will freeze over, if that’s not enough to fill senior nappies then what is?  Are these people total nut-jobs?  Why can’t they just enjoy life like everyone else?  And then there are the conspiracy theorists, we better throw them into the mix.  Some say the ‘elite’ are building spacecraft to vacate the planet and the worlds financial resources have been stolen and channeled into their projects because they know what’s coming and there are underground cities. Stargate people say the elite will be stepping into other worlds without us and then there are an endless array of Jesus possibilities. He’s arriving in the clouds, grabbing those who did the right thing and then heading off to somewhere else, the chosen ones near their Beloved while everyone else eats hay.  So what can we make of this?
:
Lots of Ways to Die
We don’t have to think back too far to see there is instability. I am reminded of years ago when I was in Nepal a women said to me, “these tourists are crazy, they don’t realise there is a jungle out there, they think just because there are a few tourist restaurants and shops they can wander off anywhere and be they’ll be OK.  It’s not safe, there are tigers out there”.  Strangely enough, that was an eyeopener, it pointed out to me that just because we can ‘frame’ things a certain way, doesn’t mean that we have control over nature, we are in many ways vulnerable.  In 2004 we had the big tsunami, there were three hundred thousand deaths. In 2005 there was Hurricane Katrina, it wasn’t way off somewhere in a remote desert, it hit New Orleans a city with 370 thousand people.  Then we had the earthquake that triggered the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant accident, it polluted the oceans, killed people, created devastation, a combination of nature and man-made problems kicking our asses, we know the impact and flow on will affect us for centuries.  And yes there is a shift in the magnetic poles, apparentl this is a normal thing for this planet we live on, I don’t think we need to develop pole paranoia, but when we do a little looking around, we can conclude it’s not too far fetched that a magnetic pole shift could disturb a lot of things.  The coastlines are moving, some people invested their money in building mansions overlooking the sea, they never considered that their palaces would one day be uninhabitable.  We can look back to the Chernobyl accident which was a human stuff up and while on catastrophe I may as well mention the devastation in Syria, in 2013 it was estimated there were at least four million homeless. There is also the whittling away of the Amazon Rain Forest and let’s throw in the Greek Austerity Package and the economic chaos, I won’t even start to point the finger at who and why, this would be a totally different discussion but it is  yet another example of the mad fragile world we are in.
:
What’s Your Salvation Package Flavor?
Often when people talk about Earth Changes there’s usually some type of religious or spiritual banter that goes with it. Some reckon a God Being is going to save the day or in other people’s versions of the ‘truth’ the ‘Chosen Ones’ are going to magically ascend into another state of consciousness, while those left behind will suffer the fate similar to Lot’s wife (a character from the Bible, her hubby told not to look back, else she would turn into a pile of non-Pink-Himalayan Rock Salt … and curiosity got the better of her).  In this frail world it’s easy for people to get caught up in fear and to create a ‘redemption pathway’, a feeling of hope for the future-life and trust in what they believe to be God’s promise, in their thinking they become ‘one of the elect’ who will survive the tribulations, fire and brimstone.  Some are so confident they are not concerned about the world around them because it’s going to be totally trashed soon anyway, so what’s the point? And of course there are the millions who are comfortably uncomfortable and confident that Global Warming will impact on multiple aspects of life on the planet, their bottom line is if we don’t take a left turn or if there’s no intervention we and many of our animal cousins are going to be part of Planet Earth’s history, not future, so it seems.
:
What to Do? 
So what do we do with the predicament we are in? Whether we are scientific about it, devoutly religious or one of those who are arrogant enough to refer to themselves as ‘the faithful’, not even realising it implies that members of other faiths are not perceived as faithful, a disciple in a pyjama wearing whacky cult, a New Ager waiting for some type of transformative redemption or we may just be an average social network user being bombarded daily with pictures of polar bears sitting on large ice blocks in the Arctic or a subscriber to the alternative news site that covers crimes against humanity happening from one side of the globe to the other and end up confused because at times it is impossible to work out who on earth are the good guys and have become so cynical we assume that everything on the mainstream news is propaganda with an ulterior agenda and maybe there are alien lizards ready to gobble us.  Regardless what ‘take’ is on it all. it’s not looking pretty out there. How can we live?  Do we just dumb ourselves down with drugs, alcohol, lose ourselves in a maze of objects, chasing sensation after sensation, stuffing more exotic food in and fill our worlds with digital bling?
:
So what happens if there is a break down in society, what happens if the electronic grid goes down, communications networks fail?  Have you ever been locked out of an apartment because someone has vandalised the electronic security of the building? That gets annoyingly difficult, particularly if you live on the sixth floor like I do.  Our fire alarm gets triggered every so many days and dozens of people end up on the street in their night gowns, people holding babies looking confused.  Have you ever been in a situation where the transport network suddenly gets interrupted and stops, you’re stranded?  People get feisty, really irritable very fast. Or have you ever been in a bush fire or flood? The shelves on the supermarket empty out rather fast, baked bean share price peaks overnight, people suddenly become rather self centred, it’s every man for himself until the calm sets in and the community works together in a school hall and acts of kindness start filtering in from those outside.  Have you ever lived somewhere where the water has become undrinkable or the power goes out and everything starts to freeze over, when the cold starts to hurt your bones?  Or if you lose your ID and can’t do anything because the ‘system’ won’t let you, you don’t exist.  Or have you been alienated, an outsider where it’s impossible to do basic things? This all sounds a little depressing, but most people who have been on the planet a while and traveled would have found themselves in crisis states of various levels resembling some of the things mentioned here.
:
Let’s Look Ahead
We know from experience that people can be a little difficult in times of crisis; it brings out the crazies, and we also are well aware there are kind people on the planet who carry out phenomenal acts of bravery, they may even lose their lives trying to help others.  And also we have all had religious people shoving pamphlets in our faces or knocking on the front door attempting to save our souls because it is their understanding of ‘truth’ and like the Blues Brothers they are on a ‘mission from God’.  In times of a great Earth Change calamity (pick your disaster here, we have a few options) these people are going to come into their own; “we told you, we warned you, the Lord, He’s-a-coming” ; there would be great chaos and this would be seen as the final window of opportunity to ‘do the Lord’s work’. With fire and brimstone at the doorstep (or other option), if that’s not convincing, what is?  Temporarily it’s a fair argument in moments when the world we know around us is destabilised.
:
The World Ends Today … Nahh it Doesn’t
I think this last minute evangelising needs a little consideration, I see it as a given, it’s definitely going to happen one day somewhere; I consider there to be some serious problems with that attitude. A religious or spiritual man and I use the word religious here as meaning ‘someone who follows a set of principles that are virtuous’ (I will exclude the word ‘morality’ as it has other connotations and changes from sect to sect) is not rooted in fear. Fear is natural part of human nature but having it as the foundation for a relationship with a God is something I would seriously question. From my window, my understanding of the Underlying Principle that sustains the Universe is, it is benevolent, nurturing, not something to cringe from, but I best not get caught up on detail and personal preferences and flavours. Real religion or spirituality or however you care to define it is about NOW not just about the ‘future life’; I see that evangelism may have a weak argument for last minute recruits but if we look closely, there is some substance missing.
:
Finding Integrity and Humility
When we attempt to live with integrity, with empathy, with compassion, we leave a trail of beauty throughout space-time; it reaches into the depth of our being, spreads to the world around us, back through our past and way out into the unborn future; it is constant, it may fluctuate but it has a solidness about it.  What I would define as a religious or spiritual man (woman or other) is somebody who dips into the well of the wisdom of life, seeks it out and attempts to perceive it in those around him and extracts the ‘juice’ from the experiences he passes through. Exclusive religion and spirituality has a bad odour about it, it has a temporary hypnotic euphoric feeling but it is insular and separative.  To be in a crisis, in a serious Earth Change moment of some type and not find our humility, to not understand and embrace a suffering humanity and instead, to consider oneself as God’s spokesperson, someone to correct the behaviour of others is extremely arrogant; I do understand that a religious fundamentalist would disagree. People have the whole of their lives to develop a deep understanding and live with integrity; the idea of at the last minute attempting to convert people and save their souls is totally missing the point and is elitist.
:
Caught in the Mouse Trap
In a time of Earth Change of any type, there would be those who are incapable of doing anything else apart from complaining, surrendering to fear and grief, this is understandable considering the lifestyles we all lead, we’ve dumbed down our relationship with the ‘living being we are a part of and move in’. Our micro-worlds are often controlled by remotes; some of us eat food ‘nuked’ in the microwave, devoid of nutrition; mechanical automated objects do everything for us, we are ‘away’ from nature, the earth and we move in a fabricated world. City people as a rule fit the model a touch more closely than country folk.  For many, everything is push button and there is movement from one air-conditioned space to the next, we eat out because it’s convenient, forgetting that what goes into us creates the ‘future us’ and we imbibe the feelings of others and whatever chemicals and garbage may be in the food.  Cities are full of people shuffling numbers and papers throughout the day, it’s the information age, so many of us are dealing with virtual objects, things that aren’t real or solid; lifestyle is based around consumer culture where money gets us what we want, “just keep it comin’ baby the old one’s not good enough”; even those with limited funds buy cheap pre-made food and accumulate piles of useless junk (says he with a dozen guitars); the world of objects is bulging at the seams. Is it any wonder that the living being Mother Earth would object?  Of course, if and when the ‘compost hits the Earth Change fan’ a person would seem overcome and bewildered, things would suddenly be ‘TURNED OFF’. Our dependencies would be screaming at us saying ‘feed me, gimme gimme gimme’. EVERYTHING would collapse.  Am I paranoid? Straight ‘no’, I am quite grounded. Whether a person be a scientist, a religious zealot, a doomsdayer or an off-the grider-bunker-hippy, we are in serious strife.
:
What to Do?
Based on the various sources, some true and others that may be a fantasy, if we see or can assume what may be coming to the world around us, how do we prepare?  Do we need to go ‘full bunker-man’ with Elma Fudd complete with shotgun in hand? Do we just lie down? Do we really need to do anything?  Will signing up with a religious group and hoping we get it right be enough?  Will the spaceships come and take us to inner-earth, then to outer space and other dimensions?  Or if there were another Ark, with so many pairs of species who might eat each other, will there be room for us, will we be on the list?  Is there enough space for us?  Or shall we just let things be?  Or is it better to go full native? Are we chosen? Have we done enough for a God to say, “yep take that one, hop in the right queue”?
:
Losing Control
Have we lost control of our lives?  If we look around at the lifestyles and dependencies we have, in most cases, the straight answer is ‘yes’, this is undeniable in many cases. There are attitudes of ‘if it is coming, why bother anyway?’, and ‘I just want live my life and not worry about the future.’  Although the approaches can’t do anything so why bother? and live in the ‘NOW‘, are both reasonable responses, of the two the attitude of live in the ‘Now’ has the foundation of something worth exploring if we are sensible about it. I consider ‘can’t do anything‘ to come from a dull mind, and in a way represents how a person already lives, it lacks the wonder of life. Life’s experiences lead us to wisdom; if we were to scale things back and have ‘gratitude’ for anything, maybe it’s ‘life’ itself that we need to give thanks for, there is a wonder in our very existence, and incredible potential in the hidden unborn future.  What if older civilisations that lived on just said, “I’m finished, I give up?” As I have had serious trauma in my life, I know that at the other side of it, beyond despair there is a place  we get to when the grief subsides, it is glorious.  And that is why I consider it important to not have an attitude of ‘lie down’ and give up.  Trauma and grief leads us to a place to readdress everything, how we live, what is important, how to ‘drop’ things, how to extract the flavor of life when it seems hopelessly empty and dry.
:
Rethinking Living Now
The ‘Living Now’ idea has a lot of flippy-floppy New Age connotations; if a person doesn’t dig into understanding this phrase from the pseudo-New-Age dictionary properly, it can turn into something that a person pulls out of his or her pocket when needed and may not have a lot of substance; much in the way that people say “it’s all God”, or “it’s about Love”.  ‘Now’, does not mean no future, to have no creative destiny; in ‘Now’ is gratitude, respecting the present,  and I don’t mean just staring at flowers and over-checking out the details.  It is deeply entwined with letting distraction subside, embracing what is possible and disregarding and accepting what is happening that we cannot change.  An example of something we cannot change would be, if our loved one moves on and doesn’t include us as part of his or her life, there is no need for us to dream what will never be; we can do our natural grieving but still allow life to unfold as it will and develop ways to keep our thinking in check; nor is there a need to keep running back into the memories because we are unknowingly addicted to suffering.  Living with an attitude of ‘Now’ eradicates the unnecessary meanderings in thought and in the clarity and space that is created by not being a slave to our wandering thoughts, creative possibilities come about in our future when we detach from the unnecessary things filling up our thought-space . The nature of thought is activity and its fruit is the ‘world we move into and through’, a useful underlying life-principle is to redirect the thinking so that what we do have control over takes shape in a manner that is beneficial; if we don’t address what I would refer to as ‘unnecessary thinking’, what we create in our future comes from our old repetitive subconscious thinking patterns.
:
Dumbing Down and Giving Up
Where the ‘dull mind’ is at fault is it cannot see a positive future, it sits in the ‘known’, wallows in it and uses what it knows, what I call its ‘Story of the World’ as a benchmark for all experience.  I am always fascinated and inspired by those people who can see a business opportunity in anything, they see hope where others miss the potential.  The (late) comedian George Carlin once did a skit about ‘nail two things together that have never been nailed together before, and someone will buy it’.  If you ask two electricians who have different personalities, ‘is there much work on at the moment?’, one will say, “it’s coming out my ears”, another will despondently respond, “nothing doing” and proceed to tell you everything that is wrong in the universe and it will probs include a list of health problems, a bit on politics and how stuffed the world is.  This in itself tells me that the experiencer in some way has a lot to do with what unfolds in the world around us that we move in.
:
Getting Off the Grid
Do we need to go ‘off the grid’, to get out and not be a slave to the system that locks us in?
What do we really need, what are the essentials? Clean water, food, shelter, warmth and a few sticks to rub together to keep us warm and yes companionship and chocolate, coffee and plenty of guitar strings. Someone said to me “if you set up something, surely someone is going to turn up with a gun and take it from you”, maybe, but my mentality is not centred around Mad Max and Hollywood. When I walk out my door I don’t expect to get run over by a car, but I know that it does happen.   Personally I see a potential in the future even if Earth Changes (what ever version) were to arrive.

The world we know is changing, we need to consider this seriously if we value ourselves, our loved ones, where this will lead us, OUR future yogi already knows, being a slave to fear is not what we need here, it is our creativity and sense of brilliance that needs to kick in.

More Future Yogis Articles

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