The Yogis of Obsession

We’ve had enough years pass for the word Yoga to comfortably settle into the English language.  Yoga means something different to each individual, depending on one’s depth of experience the understanding will differ greatly. Yoga product markets have emerged, some flexy-bods are living the dream with their small businesses, others are in an infinite loop running back and forwards to Bali, Rishikesh or California to upgrade their skills; and many of us are well aware of quite a few supposed Yogis or Masters who came over from India to become household names in the Spiritual and what now falls under the title of ‘alternative lifestyle’ scene, some turned out to be villains, criminals even, type A personalities and abusers; others were or are sincerely humble and loving. There are also the handful of Sages and Yogis who have gone about their business unnoticed behind the scenes saving humanity’s butts.  And of course there are those people who just love their mat.
Pic-a-nic Baskets
A lot of humans would know my hero Yogi Bear and his sidekick Boo Boo his ever loyal companion.  Yogi has a fascination with picnic baskets, other peoples. I don’t mind a picnic myself, scones, jam and cream or for my vegan friends we have options of not-cream, not-scones and a not so scrumptious non-jam alternative.  What I always liked about Yogi the Loveable Bear was his understanding of unity and sharing, it was beautifully expressed in the fact that he considered other people’s picnic basket content as fair game for him to participate in, it’s just most people hadn’t yet got to his level of understanding of what’s yours is mine.  All jokes aside, where I am going is Yogi lives life to the fullest and is at the polar opposite to those who practice asceticism. Asceticism ranges from severe to really messed up.  Being rigid is a long way from the over popularised Zen concept of ‘Be like a Hollow Bamboo’. A wise man once said to me “a spontaneous man (woman or other) is a liberated man.” Although this came from the wisest man I ever met, I won’t over think or delve into the idea of how people struggle to relax, the contradiction is obvious.
We hear so many versions of what yoga might be, I will bypass the lot and not waste time with philosophy or hypothetical concepts. I am from the Yogi Bear school of Yoga and in the same way Yogi perfected and refined his snatch-n’-grab the basket skills, I have spent decades on my invisible-mat fine tuning and digging deep into and beyond the core of my being. I prefer bananas to asanas and it’s not that I think body-yoga is useless, it’s just not my natural tendency, there are people on the planet who don’t eat ice-cream or chocolate, bless their suffering souls, I do and the more crumbs on my face the better. Fortunately most of my friends do the body yoga stuff,  I have a resource available and they would be more than happy to tell me about it if I ever became interested.
Yoga Means?
Here is the dilemma. We know we are all connected at some level.  You may have an inkling that there are great Beings in Inner and Outer Space. Those Beings would all un-dividedly say in unison that the only thing separating every Being is thought,  a person is always welcome to complicate what yoga might be but this is the essence of what you need to know whether you believe it, like it or not.  Yoga is about unity and separation is the issue. Often the word Yoga implies DOING SOMETHING to fix the dis-unity. But here’s the issue and where it gets weirder, THERE IS NO SEPARATION, to understand that, go back to the idea of ‘separated in thought’. Obsession with a mistaken identity is the problem whether you think you are a yogi nor not.
The Age of Me Me Me 
We live an a fascinating time.  If I was to time-travel back to being about fourteen years old and looked along the arrow of time into the present, my bold smart-ass younger self would quite outspokenly say with a lot of bravado, “people are pretty up-themselves”. The ‘up yourself problem’ has come about because of an identity crisis. People don’t know who they are, more specifically they think they need to be someone or something special; the ‘no snowflake is the same’ analogy just isn’t potent enough because the disorder of needing to be somebody is very, very deeply ingrained. People want to add colour to the snowflake, bling, bells and whistles and say, ‘it’s all about me’, not recognising the sublime diversity of each snowflake.
EGO, What Ego?
Strange as it may seem I don’t include the word EGO in my vocabulary, I only use it in conversation as a reference for those who consider it to be a reality or truth, which seems to be most people, therefore any accusation of ‘he or her has a big ego’ doesn’t hold any weight in my world, it’s meaningless because it’s a judgement call based in untruth.  The supposed EGO thing is just a bundle of thoughts and the central perceiver believes that the combined ideas it perceives about itself is a real identity. So for me the ‘up themselves’ issue is not about EGO, it’s very different, it’s about projecting an identity onto the stage of life.  People measure the mental projection against other projections, a lot of sub-conscious calculations go on and then the individual places him or herself into a hierarchy that is not really solid, the ‘virtual hierarchy’ is in constant motion depending on who is present, who it relates to and how the individual is feeling. It’s all conceptual.
Social Network Imagery
If we were to dig around social networks  and see information or profiles relating to YOGA we will end up with an endless stream of images of healthy looking bodies in leotards stretched into poses that remind us of cheetahs, big cats and other types of animals, maybe a Buddha statue carefully placed, an OM sign, a Byron Bay tan and a feel good wisdom statement.  To some people this is perceived as a problem; a lot of my friends resemble that model and are deeply embedded into the yoga community, it’s really no big deal for me, however I do know there are those who would say ‘POSERS’.  But the underlying idea for many of these practitioners is often “I take care of myself, I feel good, I want to look good, am running a class in healthy lifestyle, I’m pushing forward”, in all honesty there really is no big problem with that.  However, where the issue lies is that if the onlooker perceives that ‘model’ to represent yoga, spirituality or health and they desire to be it and are incapable of ‘looking or being that way’, then Houston there really is a problem.  If we jump across to another community, we know from experience Hollywood is full of show ponies, at one end we have celebrities that wouldn’t waste their time to talk to a person that they didn’t see as ‘their equal’, they are TRULY up-themselves; at the other end of the spectrum we have some people who may be glamorous, visually beautiful, stylish and very kind, they may serve the community in ways that no-one would even know.  Looks are deceiving.  My ‘teacher’ was really badly dressed but he had the deepest most beautiful eyes that could see into forever. As I came from a family where being nicely dressed was normal, my teacher’s attire was in itself something that was not only humorous but it required a lot of rethinking and adjustment of my world view.
To Obsess or Not Obsess
I will go back and focus on the title of the article, I am writing about the Yogis of Obsession.  Obsession is more about the times we live in than Yogis. People are struggling to find a place, to be noticed, to make money, to have a sense of self-worth in communities that from birth place kids on the back foot where there is an underlying program running in the background to ‘get out there and do it, make us proud, one day you are gonna make it and show everyone that you’re special’… better than all the rest.  This spills over into all areas of experience, however because Yoga (what I define as the Unity of All Consciousness and Emptiness) and what we see in the world around us are at 180 degrees to each other, the topic of Yoga is the perfect example to pinpoint the problem we are faced with; in truth the underlying issue is the deer is seeking the musk inside itself, the dog chasing its own tail, the SEEKER is the SOUGHT. People are trying to become what they already are, in this quest there is an accidental denial of Divinity. The common ‘narrative’ is that God, the Self, what you are seeking is more wondrous than the experience you are going through. In social consciousness there is the unspoken idea that things must be better than what’s happening now if it’s God or the Self we are talking about. I am in no way implying that there are not phenomenal things happening outside our known scope, there are, we are Multi Dimensional Beings and the brain filters out what is beyond our ability for us to cope with but EVERYTHING whether it be other dimensional or the known is still in the world of form or some type of frequency which essentially is a combination of Consciousness and Energy.  It is ALL an expression of THOUGHT.
Making Sense
If we are serious in our quest, we need to come back to basics and find a ‘leveller’, something to bring about common sense, real humility (not exhibitions of devotion or public displays of service), to ‘rework’ the VISION and STORY of what Yoga is and who the Yogis are.  Firstly it needs to be clear we are ALL in a constant state of Yoga. And with that idea as a foundation then the obvious implication is we are all Yogis; not just those who get up early and do stuff, chant, do Japa and mantra or look funky in leotards. We need to understand fully that the great Godmen and Godwomen have ALWAYS incarnated into all areas of the community both historically and currently.  Rama was a king, Buddha was a wanderer after he let go of his Royal duties, Jesus was extremely poor, we know he learnt carpentry and also did many things from sixteen years old as he travelled the world before and after his moment on the cross; look at the life of Joan of Arc, Arjuna was a warrior, some of the Sages live on the street in the ghettos, others hold down 9 to 5 jobs.
I am a different type of Yogi, I don’t steal picnic baskets, I don’t stand on my head or salute the sun or even own a mat. I know beyond any doubt that I am a part of the Totality, that my God molecules are no different in their nature than any Being that will ever Be and I know that the underlying Emptiness, the Super-Consciousnes is my foundation, when I disintegrate myself in deep meditation that this Silence that sits beneath, beyond or within all is my core Being.  But I am not obsessed with it, I may be obsessed with expounding the gloriousness of Yoga and by that I mean the Totality or even obsessed with unfolding my life’s tapestry into foreverness.  I am not a seeker, the sought is found, never distant, it is HERE NOW.
A gentle adjustment is required, a slight movement in thinking and disentangling from the bundle of thoughts that define themselves as the self,  the little obsessed self that is forgetting who it really is, the one that runs in circles to achieve Yoga or some type of union with the ALL. It already exists, there is not a place where the SELF is not, it unfolds the creation beautifully and looks out with our eyes and feels it with our Being.
Tilopa 2.0

The Yoga of Time

If we momentarily jump off planet Earth and leave behind our addictions to food, emotions, petty dramas and desires, then move out into forever-ness, way beyond the Van Halen Belt, under the moon, over the stars into deep space, suddenly we have a dilemma.  The one that most travelers are concerned about, ‘What time is breakfast?’
The Dilemma
This question although trivial to anyone who is curious about ‘the meaning of life, what’s out there? what happens when we die?’ is more important than we may at first realise. Sure, if we’re hungry we need to eat, but when?….  STOP…. suddenly there is no sunset to remind us when it is normal to be hungry and to fire up the wood stove, no beauteous sunrise that we promised to greet on so many occasions but missed because our pillow and blankets were too cosy, that expanse of colour is gone, someone stole our horizon which included the setting sun that we are so familiar with and take for granted.  On our journey as we passed through vast areas of space, our devices bummed out,  we have no yardstick to know when lunch is arriving either, our methods of measuring are all gone.
It’s Time 
Time is defined as the fourth dimension by some, not all scientists agree on this. How it is defined may or not be an issue, but if we explore time, we can get a deeper understanding on how we fit into the cosmos, or possibly how ‘we’ may not.  We strike a problem as soon as we are out of the ‘zone’, when our sun becomes just a sparkle in the heavens, lost among the millions of others, our reference point is gone, it’s a game-changer.
The Annoying Sound of the Clock
Life is humdrum for many, tick-tock, tick-tock, there is the attitude of ‘we are born and we die’ and often develop a type of an anxiety to do a lot of things between the starting gun and finishing line to get us to the point where we are eventually in a position to do nothing, or should I say as little as possible, to sit back and enjoy life.   And when we get there, we are far too old and wrinkly to do anything, we are dull, tired and want cushy-ness. Near the ‘end of the life stream’ people almost demand comfortable lives as a right, the reward for hard work…. but TIME, time is ticking away. Time can become the enemy.
Nothing is Important
One thing that appealed to me a long time ago was the idea of dropping into a meditative space as much as possible, not as an addiction but a little like craving chocolate biscuits.  I like this word ‘dropping’, if we get it right, everything else stays up and out of our way; thought may do its thing, chatter chatter, nonsense, gibberish, serious stuff, all those problems spinning around but we are oblivious to its movement. The option of getting away from it is a great relief; we know that a-lone-ness can be beautiful, this is not to be confused with loneliness.  Loneliness is about feeling disconnected from the world we move in, but a-lone-ness relates to oneness,  to feel the presence around us, to find a place in it and we at ease with the spaciousness, a completeness without over thinking.
When we are in a state of a-loneness, time is not relevant. The old enemy of man is gone. Maybe it is worth considering the importance of a-lone-ness, it is not bound by the restrictions of time, the points A to Z and all the intervals in between are no longer master over us.  If something troubles us, we may be its slave; it would seem fair to say we are a slave to time, human beings have a use-by date, only so many minutes, hours,  days, months, years, tick….tock….tick …. tock…..going…going…gone, pushing up daisies, violets and edible weeds.
Lost in Space
One thing in our busy-ness that we forget is where our planet is.  We do know there are relationships between the sun, and various other objects in our region of Deep Space that follow a particular pattern.  Our planet is bound by a set of rules, mathematicians, astronomers and physicists try and describe them.  However, when we stare out into forever-ness at the wonder, we can feel a little insignificant, suddenly the ocean that so often made us feel quite micro compared to its macro-ness, shrinks in comparison, this giant floating rock with its seven billion human inhabitants resembles a kids marble.  When we look at the big picture, the enormity of it is humbling. Humility is a good thing, it is not about cow-toeing to some bigger more important thing, humility reminds us that everything is part of the greater whole, it shows us our inter-dependence, this is real humility, when we say ‘ I love and need you all’.
Meditation can mean a lot of different things to people; some people build business and empires based on it, they dress in white or saffron and create their own designer Spiritual culture; others go quietly about their business, a religious extremist may say, “it’s the work of the devil” and head off into the land of Biblical quotations from Daniel or Revelation;  there are a lot of flavours, some tasty and others poison. Maybe it’s good to discuss meditation and try to bring about some type of common sense.
The Universe is in Meditation
The relationship between meditation and ‘no-time’ is important.  If I were to say the whole cosmos ‘sits ON or is IN meditation’ I would be getting a lot closer to defining the ‘nature’ at the core  of what I could refer to as ‘our Being’, also I am implying it is what’s at the heart of EVERYTHING.  Man is pompous and often considers himself as the pinnacle of all creation, man has endless untapped potential but instead is violent, selfish, arrogant, haughty, wasteful, insensitive and in many cases lacks in empathy and compassion. Leaving those thoughts aside and coming back, we can dis-empower time and look death in the eye, this is a critical quest.  I can comfortably say that one of the goals of life is to ‘take the sting out of death’, to dis-empower it, the doorway is time-less-ness.  Some of the real yogis say, “the moment of death is like a thorny rose bush being pulled through our bodies from toe to head.” OUCH!  When we sort time, death will no longer be an ogre, it can be put in its place, instead of death putting us to rest, we turn it around and put death to rest.  We are fearful, everybody is running and hiding from death, it is chasing us, we dodge it every day, Don Juan Mateus told Carlos “it’s always there 18 inches behind your left shoulder, stalking you”, we do all sorts of things to distract ourselves, in an effort to guarantee things will be okay and put the wayward thoughts to rest we create religious philosophies or find ones to agree with, temporary solutions to shut the thoughts up.  It is the unknowing that scares us; most people want the promise of a ‘future me’, something similar, maybe better, we want assurance that we are not insignificant, all is not in vain. In truth, we are scared of ‘nothing’ and want to be something, we want to fill the space with ‘me’ to feel RELEVANT. If we sort this we are on new ground, the dragon is slayed.
The Everything and the Nothing
It is Silence, Emptiness, Timelessness and being comfortable with the ‘space’that makes a difference.  Many people are uncomfortable with quietness, they feel safer with ‘head-noise’, even if it’s a little disturbing, it’s familiar.  When we are in deep meditation there is no time; anyone who has been there will understand that five minutes could seem like an hour, or two hours could be perceived as a few minutes. Time dies in meditation, we die in meditation, our bodies and the world around us are constantly being remade, the molecules reshuffle into what we believe ourselves to be.  Religions have made a mockery of wise men with their nonsensical rhetoric about what God is.  St Paul said “I no longer live, every day I die in Christ”, this is not frivolous biblical jargon. Religious people, particularly the scholars make all sorts of commentaries on this, many are just emotional Christian fantasies; but Paul and I are talking about the same thing.  Among Paul’s writings which were twisted and used by the church to make the masses subservient, there are some gems. The Ocean of Consciousness has many names, it is not going away, eons will pass, civilisations will come and go throughout the endless living cosmos but Emptiness is constant, as is the spark of life which I would simply call Consciousness. Understanding  or better said contemplating, ‘Emptiness and Consciousness can put a lot of our philosophical problems to rest, the search ends here and life begins.’  The quest is over when we stop running, time is about ‘running’, even if it is following a zig-zag pattern, all motion is moving away from our centre, and our centre is outside time.  Time is INSIDE us.
In the uncomfortable-ness, many people run because they are faced with themselves, it means having to come back and deal with the problems, the fear of not-knowing, the frailty of life, the vulnerability, the petty problems that when we are faced with death have no substance,  but outside time in Silence there is resolve, the show of life rises and falls and a part of us just says, ‘is that so’.
Tilopa 2.0

What isn’t God?

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

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

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The Trap of Karma

As the mystical East has gradually seeped into Western culture, it has given us many gifts, ways of managing thought through meditation, numerous yogic systems that cover all areas of our being from the inside to our most exterior visual particles; Sacred texts from outside time with their tales of entities in their flying machines from other worlds and planets, well sculptured wisdom,  the accumulation of trillions of hours contemplation on our core nature, and the ‘Nature of Being’ in general.  Such glorious things full of truths and a very fertile field of misconception.
The Upside of Karma
In the West we have ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you’ deeply ingrained in our subconscious, even my atheist friends would give that a social-media ‘like’.  But when we imbibed ‘Karma’ into our vocabulary, we obtained a new tool for not only putting our thinking and feeling of vengeance at rest, we also ended up with a little guy who sits on our shoulder and says, “Yeah, nah, yeah, better not do that”.  We acquired another filter, a brake for the wayward thoughts, and to keep the ‘wild horses of the senses’ in order, to add a little restraint by thinking ‘nah, it’s going to hit me hard on the rebound’.  Karma is useful for keeping the community in check.  We don’t need to dig around too much to see it is a core principle of Hinduism and Buddhism; it’s likable at best, but it does feel like a tsunami when it ‘hits ya’.
Karma Sucks

Oddly enough I am not big on Karma, and I don’t mean that I don’t wish to experience the affect of karma slapping me with its backwash for my supposed ‘misdoings’.  It’s not that at all; getting paid a fair price for your work or for the avocado crop is reasonable in any mans language, and if you stomp on someone’s tulips, the idea of a ‘fair is fair’, an equal response is OK.  There is something else, and I call it the ‘Karma Trap’, and will attempt to articulate the hidden issues.  If we don’t address it at some point, we will be stuck on the wheel of life forever.  As we know at the heart of the Buddha’s teaching is ‘what causes suffering, how to get rid of it, and getting off the wheel of life’, there are  other tenets but these things are the main focus points. There are many interpretations of these core ideas, and I think it is good to see diversity, even if the meaning of them is somehow misconstrued, at least people are thinking, and so long as it doesn’t delude a lot of others, thinking for ourselves is better than blind faith; sometimes concepts are just markers in someones evolution, by eventually seeing the flaws in them, they become a lighthouse for others. Blind faith only strengthens untruths or partial truths; blind faith may carry us for a while along particular pathways of our lives, but ultimately things need addressing eventually.
Going ‘Round and ‘Round
Does it ever stop? This karma thing, it does seem like an endless audio or video loop; same, same then back to repeat from the start again?  If we read the scriptures,  the ones from the supposedly mystical East, we will find references to the ‘Guru’ taking away our karma; other texts will say, “if we do enough Karma Yoga (service to the world around us) it will dissolve”, or “if we do Japa (repetition of the Holy Names of God) , eventually things will be OK, rest assured you are going to make it”.  Then there is Jesus, if we look at His life, some people will say from their perspective, he absorbed the ‘sins of the world’. One of the translations of what Buddha said, goes something like, “All living beings have actions (Karma) as their own, their inheritance, their congenital cause, their kinsman, their refuge. It is Karma that differentiates beings into low and high states”.  We don’t have to look far for attitudes, wisdom and PARTIAL truths about karma.
The Limitations of the Questioner
Recently I watched a very good question and answer live-stream session online, it was facilitated by a man from America with plenty of experience with ‘things of the Spirit’ from the Indian tradition, and from life in general; his answers to the questions were all sensible, suitable to the level of understanding of the questioners.  But “here’s the rub”, a questioner will always bring to the table their story of Spirituality.  A question is often but not always, being asked according to a limited understanding, it’s like a child saying “mama, how come you are so big”, we know from experience that the mother may not be tall, everything is relative to our individual perception, from the lens we look through. Usually, unless it’s J.Krishnamurthi,  Nisagadatta, or someone with an extraordinary depth of experience, the (supposed) Guru will say something that will put the thoughts of the questioner at ease.  After the question is answered, the questioner may walk away with something to work with or may even have their problem resolved, their thoughts will come to rest for a time.  Personally, if I were given the answerer’s-seat, the questioner would not be let off so easily, things of the Spirit are serious stuff, it is not ‘cafe society chat’, or like going to a doctor who looks into the eyes of a patient with a feigned sense of caring, and gives a bottle of  colored aspirin; we could die any day, it may be someones last day on earth.  If we start to dig into the questions, in most cases there will always be sensible answers for them, but the parameters of the questions will be confined to a limited view, a story of what that person ‘believes God to be’, or is based in linear-thought, this means “if I do this, this and this, eventually my result will be ‘whatever'(you fill in the gap there)”. The world spins around, sunrise – sunset, repeat; and the ‘arrow’ of time goes from A to Z, with milestones on the way.  There is another way, and this is closer or in line with  what the great Jnana Yogis would say. We will look at karma through this window and not through the one people are familiar with, the ‘user-friendly’ version that they like to hear, are attached to or have built their lives around; we are going elsewhere, if not, it is a waste of time writing on this subject; adding to the ‘old story’ is meaningless.
Question Everything
So how do we put an end to karma? Is it possible? Is it true what the Sages and great scriptures say? Is it absurd to doubt what people say is Truth?  I think we need to stop and think a little, put a limiter on the ‘yes, yes, true, true I believe it, the great ones have said it, so I must follow’ and absorb it into my thinking because it sort of fits with ‘what I know’. That type of thinking is fair, it shows dedication and devotion, but it is dangerous. We don’t need to take it on; and no we are not betraying God by questioning the validity of things.  Any God worth anything would love the honest-seeker.  When a child asks the mother, “Why mummy, why?” , the mother is patient,very  understanding and is delighted the child has an inquisitive mind, it’s a healthy sign of growth.  If we just keep gathering information and stacking it up as a belief system, we become secondhand human beings, dullards…. great minds come out of questioning, by saying, ‘I want to be sure, I will test it myself, I have doubts, I don’t believe you, I am not a slave to limited social consciousness.” We need vibrant minds.
Do we as individuals who are not deeply entrenched in Eastern traditions have the right to question it all? It is Sacred to some.  And also, those who are born into those cultures, do they have the audacity to challenge those who have gone before, their forefathers, the elders, the very core of their traditions ?  Absolutely! We do not need to play ignorant and hand over to others, this is not necessary; we are far greater and wiser than we think, we just need to move aside what is in the way .
The World is Flat to Some People
We as a species, the greater community are what I call Flat-Earthers, we get stuck in social consciousness, we stay there for a long time and it takes a lot to change the ‘normal’. There are a number of people who are back in pre Pythagorean thinking who still consider the earth is flat, or have recently, due to viewing a very unscientific youtube video, altered their understanding about this beautiful rock spinning in space and assume that we have been duped and the planet is really flat; we will let these people be.  ‘Flat-Earthing’ is also applicable to ‘karma’, there are various things that people assume to be so; things, opinions become part of communal-thinking and are often not questioned, this can be a problem.
When we look at ‘karma’ closely, we will see a number of things.  By ‘learned nature’, we are very judgmental people, the biblical ‘eye for an eye’ revengeful god is often waiting to raise its hideous head; in the minds of some people,’karma’ can very easily become one of the ugly god’s arms, or cerebral tools for ‘smiting’ the evil doer.   Humans as a rule, love to see the bad-guy get belted, Hollywood has built its fortunes on this type of thinking, the movie empire-monster in its quest for trillions of dollars and to control / influence the thought of the common-man, has quite regularly made villains out of good people, glorious cultural groups have been vilified into being the enemy of white America. ‘Karma mentality’ for many is running in the background like a software program, when someone stuffs ‘him/her/other over’, the software kicks in and says “karma gonna get you asshole’, then they go about their business, a slight throb from the pain of the experience but there is a moving-on because ‘karma will fix it’. There are many aspects to the subconscious karma software; it is used as a moderator in our lives, this is good, yeah nah yeah, maybe sometimes, but when we grow up, or better I say ‘forward into the future’ we see something else. Having the ‘karma brake’, we are more inclined to think, “mmm bad idea, if I do that, the tsunami will get me if it’s real bad, or if it’s a moderate misdeed, the ‘dumper’ on the shoreline may knock me over and the salt water and sand will get in my bathers and not be overly pleasurable’.  I did previously say ‘forward to the future’,  the ‘us’ that matures and is wiser, does not require the karma software to moderate our behavior.
Jumping out of Linear Time

We are bound in space-time, and this is the problem; we naturally have a linear mentality… doctor spanks us when we are born; when we pass-over, our loved ones bring flowers and see the good in us that they often missed as we became over-familiar and our sparkle was hidden by the mundane of what the insensitive call ‘everyday life’.   Just on the other side of death, some believe is that moment when life’s experiences get tallied, and a direction is decided upon…  one guy at the gates of Valhalla talking to his buddy says, “what we gonna do with this one?”, his co-gatekeeper replies, “It’s borderline, send him back to planet earth to sort stuff out”, it’s a very good playground for transformation, there’s plenty to do around here.  Is it true? It doesn’t really matter to me in the scheme of things; let’s look closely at this.
Instant Karma

We were talking about karma, the thing mentioned in John Lennon’s “Instant Karma gonna get you” song, and in numerous Buddhist and Hindu texts, we know it has a lot of baggage, as we also have; and many of us feel it is probably true; the logic is, there would need to be a sense of order to maintain balance in the Omniverse we move in, observe and experience, it seems fair from a limited view.  I started this article challenging the idea of karma.
Here’s the issue, and I will go straight to Buddha, he’s always moderate and sensible.  As mentioned already, the core of His teaching is about what causes suffering, how to stop it and how get off the wheel of endless rebirth.  If we solve that, then karma takes care of itself.  The Jnanis (the yogis of seeing the unity in the diversity, those who see the roots of the tree growing into everything, and the ground it sits on) will always remind us that ‘movement’ is movement away from ourselves,  a ‘going away’ from what we are.  Buddha was a Jnani, the Buddhists may disagree, if they are busy being Buddhists they will; Jesus was the greatest of Jnanis, the Christians will disagree, they are busy wanting Him to save them and are caught in the crucifixion instead of rolling away the stone and letting Him go free; the resolve to all problems is Jnana.  Some translate it as ‘knowledge’, that’s a misleading interpretation.
Karma is Going Nowhere 
Karma implies movement.  With the karma viewpoint, the world is seen as a flat-line of experience, it goes in an order that may suit an accountant, a statistician, it may even be close to the thinking of the world of classic-physics, or in a way resemble an ordered database a little . With a ‘karma view’ we are always measuring, always wanting or chasing something in the future that is better than what we already have or is equal to the ‘accumulation of our goodness’.  Living our lives like little kids, be a good kid and mummy or daddy will give us a lolly.  This is so childish and has zero to do with spirituality and is indoctrination.  We end up turning God into a big parent, someone or something that is waiting or wanting to adjudicate on our every action; it is fear based.  This God is nowhere to be found apart from in our heads; I am not trying to kill God. This ‘God thing’ will exist without my opinion.  I remember a great Sage saying to a friend of mine ‘God is very big’, he repeated it a number of times to my friend.  When we have a small view of what God is, we put limitations not only on God but also on ourselves, our potential and we associate with small, safe beliefs.  If we are always ‘adding up points’ , we will always be in strife; when are there enough points? When will we be good enough?  I won’t even blink when I say this, but the answer is “never”; God in this case becomes deeply ingrained with our feeling of self-worth.
Getting off the Main Highway
Even if the the flat-line jumps in and out of bodies from lifetime to lifetime, it is still a small view.  What’s happening is a person is extending the ‘womb resident-baby-child-teen-middle age-getting wrinkly,  put me in a box stages’ beyond the parameters of the body and making a longer string into other time spaces.  The worlds we move in are not linear, they are imaginarily linear, we make it linear because it is easy to manage, it fits into our story of the the world, the tale of man is written by idiots and very few question it. The question when it is asked is often answered with somebody else’s story of God.  It must be thrown out the window, we need to be insecure, shaking, fragile, unknowing, unhindered by the thoughts of others, until then we are attached to belief systems; attachment is the great obstacle.
For Every Action There is an Equal Thought
Confusing the idea of ‘for every action there’s got to be an equal reaction’ equals ‘karma’, is small minded, this is the major problem.  We are bigger, much larger than the body, sublime, wondrous; and we are not bound by the body, it is ‘thought’ that binds us.  Knowing that the problem is ‘thought’, takes us into other areas, it leads us into understanding consciousness, and a quest for seeing the construction of the world clearly. The world is in constant motion, it is not static, it is only still when we look at it, then it’s off again.  Seeing this reordering, is the beginning of the  end of the limited thought. Everything rests in Emptiness, it all comes out of the living Silence and is always present.
By stepping out of the world of ‘karma’ does not mean ‘do what we like’, there is a responsibility,  knowledge brings about obligation, but not in a forced way, it is common sense.  When we see that everything is from the same tree, we don’t poison the tree, we nourish it.
To Be or Not to Be
We have a choice, we can stay with karma, the path of endless becoming, always seeking, never being good enough because we don’t have enough points to get the golden handshake of God…or we can let go right now, this takes courage, this means that everything we have ever believed to be true must be sacrificed.  This is the crucifixion of the self.
Tilopa 2.0

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The Yoga of Ouch

Lots of my friends are Astrologers, some real ones and others are just sh!t scared of Mercury in retrograde, and every time their technical incompetence gets in the way, they blame the planets.  I am not big on astrology but I love the stars and solar orbs, I don’t think they are overly interested in any of us, our self importance is usually the big problemo.  By nature, as human beings it is difficult not to feel important or suffer from its inverse, a lack of importance, we are educated into a self of ‘I’ from birth.

Discipline Without the Big Stick
Many of my buddies are yogis, and yoginis, I admire their commitment to task, getting up at silly hours of the morning and tying their bodies in a knot, spreading their ‘feel-goodness’ and creating harmonious spaces where others feel ‘washed’ when they pass through, the world needs playful people; I love and need these people, the woman I love is one of these.  I am very self -disciplined, this ‘disc’ word is at times my friend and has also bitten me on the bum quite a bit. Some of my buddies are extraordinary musicians; their skills came from a lot of clever work, and this requires going without certain things and immense attention to detail, they are all ‘d’ word people.  Not to be confused with the other discipline, the big stick type of ‘d’ word, that only creates frustration.  The trick to life is to ‘find something that is good for us, and get addicted’.  Knowing it, the addiction is a ‘path that leads nowhere’ is critical; all paths lead away from ourselves.  This view is contrary to most of the schools of yoga, but that’s not my problem; when you understand this, the real ‘work’ starts, the ‘work of undoing’.  Addictions are good, however it is important to see them for what they are, temporary safe landing places in space, caravanserais to let our camels rest until we can let go.  If we treat them incorrectly (no not the camels, the addictions), they will get in our way and block the view of the lens we use to perceive the world.

The New Yoga of Future Yogis
Apart from being addicted to playing music, I am from a number of streams of yoga, slightly off the mainstream, although much of the work by the great teachers of these yogic schools that have nurtured me, are regularly referenced by the more common yogic pathways and schools of thought, often those people from other streams don’t really have an understanding of them…. however, there is another school of yoga that we all know well, one that we are initiated into at birth.  As it has never been defined properly, I hereby dub it as the “Yoga of Ouch”.

The Mindful Swordsman
I remember reading a Zen story years back, I will tell it a bit differently than how I first heard it:
There was a young guy, wanting to be taught the fine art of swordsmanship by a great master.  He felt quite broken for a period of time.  He made a commitment to his path and decided to leave home to live near the dojo; instead of going straight into the group of young wanna-be sword masters as would be expected, the great teacher gave him the job of working in the kitchen.  He was distressed and his disappointment knew no limits; what was helpful was he had the virtue of forbearance, and accepted his lot of chopping carrots, carrying water, testing the soup when no one was looking and saying quiet prayers over the meals so that anyone who ate the food would be blessed.  One day when he was dreaming and looking out of the window and automatically going about his kitchen-ness, the great teacher sneaked up behind him and jabbed him just under the rib cage with a wooden spoon, although it was soft, it was just enough to startle him back into (supposed) reality.  As he turned he saw a fleeting shadow and the slight flicker of a robe pass through the kitchen door and disappear into emptiness; his apprenticeship as a swordsman had begun.  From then on, every moment he had to be alert, knowing the teacher may arrive with an almost fatal blow when he least expected.  Like a true Master, his every day life became his swordsman apprenticeship.  He eventually emerged as the greatest swordsman in the land. “Yay!”

We can wander through life in a semi-conscious state like somebody who feels they are a slave to their lot, wanting air-conditioning to permeate everything we do and feel. Lukewarm, not overly hot or cold, “not too much hurt please”, the rhythm of life must suit ours; and people better behave how we want them to, if they don’t, then one of our many ways of resolving the blow to our rib cage will come into play…this can be disastrous.

Here Comes Ouch Again
The world goes ‘ouch’ on a regular basis. When I dig into the catalog of spiritual tales embedded in my subconscious, I think of Shakyamuni the Buddha.  His father a king, spent years of his life protecting the young prince Shakyamuni from the world.  His papa had an agenda, the Royal Astrologer had foretold his future as a renunciate, this led the king to create a wall around the young prince’s life both physically and emotionally so he would always feel happy and content, lost in bliss and never explore the normal set of experiences we all traverse.  As many would know, at night the future Buddha sneaked out and saw the world of suffering, this became a puzzle/challenge for him to look at and ultimately resolve.

Slaves of the False King
The false-king with the crooked crown lives within all humanity, in each of us. There is a part of us that wants to look away, something that is scared of entering the world in its rawness.  Some of us were over or under parented, and many of us are guilty of doing the same as we try and help our children prepare for their future life.  Ultimately, we and others are faced with the normal gamut of emotions and experiences, they are not going to disappear, they are going to be there whether we push them down with drugs, alcohol, sex, too many belongings or other diversions, addictions to digital trivia, sports or keep ourselves busy with things, even valuable obsessions.  Life slaps us.

Run Run Run
We are  all ‘runners’, avoiders of feelings; unless we are one of those New Age touchy-feely people who dramatise the ingestion of every grain of sugar, accidental/intentional addition of a pinch of MSG to an Eastern meal, or get stuck on the fact that someone didn’t say ‘thank you’ for something trivial; some people have done far too many workshops with self-centered people in leotards or have been schooled by ridiculously over-emotional people.  By understanding ‘running’, we can resolve a lot of issues in our lives, in fact at the other side of it, is what we are probably looking for.  We place everything in the way, and then we define the ‘us’, the ‘me’ as the ‘relationship between the experiencer and the experienced’; we believe ourselves to be the combination of everything we have gone through in our lives; we have unconsciously cultivated an imaginary personality.  If we look closely, we see we can go from Sage to ignoramus within a split second; if we are astute this leap in character change will catch our eye; a dullard will miss it, but it ought to be of great interest to anyone who is alive and thinking.  By seeing the extremities in this lightening change in the personality, the questioning mind would automatically start to ponder, ‘Who am I?’, the dull mind misses it and lives out its days in confusion, goes about its business with distractions and petty addictions.

The Beauty in Dissonance
‘Ouch’ is OK, ‘ouch’ is not our enemy.  I think this is where most of us go wrong, we misunderstand experience and want to pad ourselves from what doesn’t feel OK; we attempt to put something we perceive as ‘good’ in its place.  As soon as the world ‘hurts’ or anything from left-field arrives through the left stage door, we bolt towards the right door.   In music we have harmony, consonance and dissonance, if there are only ‘pretty’ notes, the music becomes very bland; like a shopping centre where everything is ‘nice’, or one of those religious groups where everybody is sort of smiling to make new-comers feel welcome; we need diversity in life to be able to extract wisdom.  Wisdom comes from emotions, emotions come from DIVERSE experiences; those experiences may not be safe ones.  We have a tendency to chase away what is ‘not nice’, feels not so good’, ‘big hurts’, all the things that we decide are not OK, we want to get away ASAP, as quick as possible.
At Peace With Ourselves
By understanding the Yoga of Ouch, we can begin to live, not to run, we can re-enter life. By knowing everything is in constant flux, in motion, we can learn to be at peace with change and allow ‘what is going on’ to have its time on the stage of life,  we do not need to cling to those experiences either, they will pass.  Until then,  if we are not present, we are chasing apparitions about what we believe ‘ought to be’, we will be ignoring the gifts of the varied emotions that lead us to our wisdom;  from wisdom comes a deeper experience of life.
Tilopa 2.0

The Yoga of Water

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tilopa 2.0

Please note … guest writer coming soon to the Future

the Essence of Yoga

This is one of the many articles I have written on consciousness
It looks at the essence of yoga, from the perspective that relates to thought and has nothing to do with the various ‘body’ yogas

Yoga means union
it implies doing no-thing
any doing is dis-union
yoga is the fine art of not-doing
whatever we ‘don’t do’ is yoga,
it unfolds by itself
it is about disintegration
the process is like leaving a lolly on your tongue and saying ‘don’t eat it’
just letting the flavour melt into you, this is the attitude required in what people refer to as yoga and all other sadhana /spiritual practice
the removal and leap-frogging of the imaginary sense of ‘l’ is required but the approach we take needs to be like watching a baby tiger cub, it may have a little bite, its teeth may be sharp but we know it is not so troublesome. And so with thought, as it emerges, its fierceness can be treated like the cub, it may be cute and slightly dangerous at times but if we are detached and keep the right distance, it can play and do its thing without too much involvement on our part.
There is only yoga, all else is ‘play’, theoretical speculation and meanderings of thought made temporarily solid and frozen on the screen of life.

As when the great sage Ramana Maharshi once answered the question of a pilgrim in earth space-time ‘well if we are the Self, why do we do this stuff?” … his reply turned the Universe on its head, Saraswati played sweet sounds on the Veena and the well-fed chubby Buddha did a belly laugh, he replied “to purify the mind”.
This answer could be a signal for some to ‘do more’, but it is his way of saying , don’t move away from yourself and try and BECOME something, don’t try and achieve and merge with anything or attempt to reach God. This will only create a separateness, and you are running away, the harder you try the further away you go, better flip that skateboard around 180 degrees. Purifying the mind, is not implying that the mind-space is full of dirt, it is not impure and this not to be translated as there is a need for repentance; it’s really just a way to loosen the things that are in the way and blocking the view.
‘Yoga’ takes a new pathway, dons a new outfit when we see that it is constant, always ‘full’, the sublime Super-Consciousness, everything is a manifestation of the Ringing Radiance; when we fully understand that there is nowhere to go but here, the seeking stops and we arrive at where we always were, we were just dreaming.
we don’t ‘do’ yoga,
Yoga does everything
and best we get ourselves out of the way
Tilopa. 2.0