Embracing Fragility and Vulnerability

The societies we live in are crazy; and that is an over generous appraisal on my part.  We inhabit fractured communities on this wondrous planet, all disconnected from each other and the Eco systems we are intertwined with. The Earth is a living being who unfolds her beauty in Spring, in that season everything has a freshness and bounce in its step; in Summer the hot sun in the desert burns the Earth, only the strong survives but life abounds behind the scenes; Autumn drapes her fabric, colors unmatched, her beauty steals the heart of the onlooker; the bitter bite of Winter has us rushing for soup and wood-fired pizza and diving for cover under blankets. Underneath it all the canvas of the Living Silence maintains its equipoise hidden from all.
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Man and His Mad Agendas
Man has his missions to the Moon, to Mars; his agendas block, straighten or redirect the river, he flattens the hill to extend suburbia into native grasslands, in the process he makes his beloved brothers the animals homeless. Man in the news media tells us of the worst of human behavior and then gives a moments reprieve with trivia, celebrity bling and sport, dumbing down the masses, the man in politics supports the systems to keep everything just out of reach to break the back of the community, people become dependent on the broken system, one that was never designed to nurture it.  Politicians are meant to serve the people not control them and implement hideous agendas.
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The Empty Sky
The Buddha Mind does not belong to Buddhism, it is homeless like the biblical Son of Man having ‘no place to lay his head’.  The sky holds without holding, the Buddha Mind encases all that arises in it, lets it fall back into Emptiness, neither owning or disowning. The man of a lesser god judges, he doesn’t know the great Tao encases the play without a fuss, everything rises and falls into space, empires come and go.
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The world at times can push against us, our fragility can scream, we feel as if we are going to break.  If we have read the Zen classics we will know it is the hollow bamboo that bends in the wind, it is in Emptiness we find peace. We have seen and learnt war doesn’t end in peace, there is no relationship between the two. War is about two false concepts that have nowhere to go, they bash against each other, in a way enemies deserve each other, it’s a love hate relationship, love ones own opinion and hate the other. Peace and emptiness are essentially the same, neither of them DO anything, peace is always relaxing into itself, Emptiness is the canvas that holds the universe.  War is the fruit of those who don’t understand their innate nature and inter-connectedness.
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Coming Apart
In those moments when we are most vulnerable there is a natural feeling that we need to protect something, and this is a logical response.  But if we take some time to look closely we will see we have an IMAGINARY identity. We are educated into thinking a particular way, to have opinions, to make them known seems reasonable, to stand up for ourselves, some say our views define us, it makes us feel relevant. However, in an aggressive world those who can yell the loudest, be the biggest trickster, articulate ‘on the fly’ better than others are always the champions. It doesn’t mean that those people are wiser or have better world views, they are better salesmen at selling their version of reality. When someone feels like they are not heard, an internal argument lingers long after a discussion, it eats away at them. The assertive views of others can be like arrows that shoot through the aura that surrounds a sensitive being.
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Unbeknownst to many, the Sages don’t actually mind what people think or believe. This is because they have nothing to protect, when required they state what is there, what they see and is beyond doubt in that moment of timelessness, there is no conflict with the world.  Why argue with a rock or a doughnut, why go into conflict with somebody who looks through a tiny window and can’t see the whole landscape, who doesn’t know their place in the tapestry of foreverness?  The winning of an argument is for drunk men, politicians or philosophers in the park, slaves of soap box wisdom. The philosophers aren’t usually wise men, they are smart men on the way to being wise, critical thinkers, they have opinions, they are speculators not experiencers, they are at the middle or beginning on the journey of transformation. Opinions get in the way of super-consciousness
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The Eggshells of Life
Fragility is a good thing if we know how to work with it.  An eggshell is a protective layer, under it is a new life.  The trick with the fragility is to know how to use it, to know when to crack the egg open.  The new life that emerges when cracked will be vulnerable, will require some tender handling and protection.
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So how do we work with this, how can we be fragile, extremely vulnerable and still feel safe? How can we navigate harmlessly through a world full of what seems like predators, through the chaos of life on Earth which is at war with everything around it?
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Nature is a wondrous thing.  If we look around us we will see the trail and reminders of billions of years of existence.  The stars with their mysteries, we know from research by astronomers that galaxies are in the making; planets hang in space like the baubles on a Christmas tree.  When we look across the mysterious world we see Jonathan the 183 year old turtle who lives on the island of St Helena, he and his relatives have over time developed a shell to protect their tender bodies. The cactus in the desert with its prickles telling everyone to stay away; the birds wings give them an escape strategy and the chameleon saying ” I’m not here, you can’t see me”.  If we are sharp in out thinking and have the ability to look clearly at the world around us, I mean the world MINUS man, although we will see a pattern that resembles survival of the fittest, we will notice multitudinous species that have managed to navigate the ensnarement’s and the trial by fire of life.  In this vision of the world around us we can find wisdom, it becomes our guru.  Man has intelligence, he may come out second best when wrestling with a tiger but if we look at the worlds population of 7.5 billion people, the human entity is not doing too bad in the survival stakes.
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The Invisible Glue
There is something odd that happens to humans, there is an attitude of wanting to hold ourselves together, it’s not just about self preservation, it’s about our IMAGINARY self. Sure we have a body, it goes ouch ouch if we are silly enough to ride a bicycle with our eyes closed or if we get dumped in the surf by mistiming a wave, that’s a normal response.  But the vulnerability and fragility that I am talking about is different.  We may have a strong body and still feel fragile emotionally, we may have enough money but feel a sense of lack, we may present with wonderful social skills but still feel like we don’t fit in.
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So what to do? How to be free from the vulnerability and fragility? I know from life experiences that regardless what has gone on in my life, I am still here, my awareness is still intact, my bruises have come and gone, my heart has healed.  I have navigated decades, quietly slayed the enemies as they have blocked my path, met and danced with the ghosts of loved ones who have passed over, stood on the precipice and looked out into foreverness and felt totally insignificant, raised myself above things that would have normally broken most men and survived against all reasonable odds, and this why I write.  I understand beyond all doubt that the rise and fall of events on the screen of the world doesn’t ‘touch’ the observer of the passing show, the wondrous mystery of life.  And it is not that I don’t feel, do I feel? YES, my heart bleeds daily. But I understand that feelings and emotional responses are part of their own world.  Regardless what presents itself I continue to rest in the Silence; when I remember I jump to the part of myself that observes the events of my life.
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Awareness
Learning to ‘jump’ to different parts of ourselves is something we can practice.  It comes about by watching the movement of our feelings and emotions when we are alone.  It is the same process that some people use in meditation.  Taking time out to do this will change our lives, it teaches us to know when to enter or retreat in an unemotional way.  We need to be gentle on ourselves, we won’t always get it ‘right’.  We are learning to tame the dragon, not to slay it.  Understanding ourselves and being kind to ourselves is important.  Accepting that being vulnerable or fragile is the natural order of things, it teaches us to walk gently among others, when we are gentle on ourselves we learn to be a little kinder to others, to see their vulnerability, to know when to step back.
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Everything has a place.  We do not live in a world where ‘only the strong survive’, this comes from a militant mindset.  The gentle, the vulnerable, the wise have survived for eons, they are our teachers.  I bow in honor of you.
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May all Beings Be Happy

To Love or Not to Love

Out of Emptiness emerged something extraordinary, a sense of awareness of being.  Wise men, fools, dreamers, the religiously arrogant, philosophers, liars, poets, mystics and sages have written much between that (imaginary) first moment way outside time when the awareness said, “something is doing something.”  We shall let all beings have their story, leave them be and attempt to come into our present state of awareness.
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An Uncluttered Present
This present, the supposed NOW that some people speak of is colored by the past. The experiencer has a history, deep in the subconscious and expressing on the screen of life as we know it is a story of who we are, concepts about the way the world works, the possibles and impossibles.  If we are clear that generally the NOW that many people talk about has baggage, there will be a slight shift in awareness, a deepening, we will be more inclined to stop for a brief moment and not just scroll past it like we do with social media posts.  If we robotically say Be Here Now and make assumptions and think that we have it sorted, it is possible that the flippant attitude that we apply to many of the other things in our lives will once again prevent us from digging in.  Constantly abandoning the past is something that can be done, it may be gradual, for some it may come as a quantum leap, there may be a light-bulb moment, it’s then that the work begins.
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That Elixir
By nature or better I say by habit, we are continuously calling up what we know, all those things that have impacted on us emotionally and also our understandings / conjectures about the reality / the world space we move in.   As humans, due to the cultures we are born into we have subtle prejudices. These ‘knowns’ are what stand in the way of LOVE.
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Love, that old word that has more definitions than a caterpillar has legs; love, that thing that people seek changing partners like an evening at a square dance in a country hall; love, that elixir that brings fierce looking grown men to their knees to weep buckets of tears; love, that wondrous misinterpreted something that is elusive as the quest for what God may or may not be.
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About ten years ago in brief a moment of ecstatic-ness I wrote on a blog post:

“LOVE, has no boundaries or judgements. It embraces the totally of all things born and still unborn. It waits patiently for us to take her hand and follow her to our greatest potential, it forgives our shortcomings and speaks quietly to us when we need her most. Love creeps through our life often unnoticed but catches us as we fall. Love is our only true friend, our faithful companion that walks with us from age to age, beyond the graves.” 
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Also the great sage Shams teacher of the Mystic poet Rumi tells us:
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The chemistry of mind is different from the chemistry of love. The mind is careful, suspicious, he advances little by little. He advises “Be careful, protect yourself” Whereas love says “Let yourself, go!” The mind is strong, never falls down, while love hurts itself, falls into ruins. But isn’t it in ruins that we mostly find the treasures? A broken heart hides so many treasures.
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In those words there is plenty to ponder.  Indulgent romantics will focus on the ‘broken heart’ always licking their wounds as if the world owes them something.  A Buddhist will remind us that attachment is our enemy.  Alan Watts, a great carrier of Zen to the West will echo the words ‘let yourself go’.  Shams wakes us up to the fact that the world of the mind and that of love are in contradiction.  Great men and woman know that we can only be a slave to one.  Take your pick, the mind or love.
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The Unknowing Mind
The mind likes to think it knows everything, it prides itself on information.  Love knows nothing.  Love dives in boots and all, it takes chances, it always stands on the threshold, right on the edge of the precipice.  Some people say love and hate are opposites, it is not hate that is the opposite of love, it is fear.  Fear is the gateway to love.  Fear must fall, it has no place in the world of love apart from being that which dissolves itself when love ultimately flowers.
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Love is Grand
When love becomes ‘personal’ it has a wondrous place but let’s move away from here, not because it has no value, self-indulgence only holds a small spot in the universe, we need to think big in the same way that the beings on this planet are only a dot compared to the other intelligent civilizations in the cosmos.   As confusing and as misconstrued as the word ‘God’, love has its interpreters and impostors.  The holier-than-thou religious babble nonsense about love, meantime looking down on their brothers and sisters, out-casting them with their hideous doom and gloom prophecies, and there are those New Agers who delight in ‘one day karma will get them back’, fully forgetting their own minds are filled with hatred and spiritual elitism.  Their version of love is poisonous, it has conditions, “be like me” and we can add to it “if you don’t, my God will get you you evil wretch”.  They fully forget the journey that got them to their present.
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The Alchemy called Life
On the journey into and through love there is accountability but it is not revengeful, it is self-perpetuating.  The great Gods, the word God here translates as those Beings who have journeyed out of original consciousness ions ago and learnt through experience, climbed out of the states of slumber and forgetfulness and become wondrous creative Beings with understandings that are incomprehensible to human intelligence, these great Gods do not have judgement.  They have patience, the virtue of acceptance of the diversity, they know that to get to be the extraordinary Gods that they are is not instantaneous, it is a trial by fire, it is alchemy, removing the gross metal to reveal the gold.
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Returning to Ourself
If we come back to ourselves and ask the right questions.  Who do I hate? What makes me feel better than others? What behaviors of others do I despise? Who do I look down upon? Why is my tribe, caste or social class better than others?  Why is my spirituality more pure and enlightened than others?  Do we see others as a lost cause and trailer trash? We will start to see how much love we have, when we hold the mirror up we will see our shadow and start to see that our love is selective. We can quote scriptures, speak in a manner that sounds pleasing to others, eat the ‘right’ foods, be part of animal liberation movements and do a lot of things that put us into the nice guy category but it’s an incomplete model of love.  Love is much deeper than this.
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Love is there in tenderness with our beloved, sure; it is in our empathy when something wells up inside us and we go past our normal limitations to help others; yes we have it for our families and pets.  But it is more.  Love is in acceptance of what we don’t like, learning not to despise the wickedness of human nature, and that doesn’t mean to delight in it, it is in understanding that the consciousness that underlies the totality manifests in ways that are incomprehensible to us.  We are quick to judge, often forgetting the path that leads us to now, not remembering that we have a story, that we were at some point whether in this life or way back in time in some other place we expressed in ways that were not kind, we betrayed, we hurt, we put ourselves first, we have added to suffering of others.  Love allows other things to be and that does not mean we have no boundaries in our lives and have a form of idiot-compassion that makes us say yes when the best solution is no.  It’s not just in our actions, it’s about our thoughts, do we vilify others just because they are different, because their wisdom is a dormant seed in their consciousness, that due to the experiences in their lives closed themselves down which lead them to actions that reflect a lack of self care or anger and animosity to others.  Is our ‘I am better-ness’ arrogant?  Are we at times the thing that we hate?
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Love arrives in a very strange way; it is common to hear the words “we cannot truly love until we love ourselves fully’; maybe not fully, that type of thinking leads to a feeling of worthlessness, never good enough, it creates an inverted ego.  Neither the ego or its upside down I-hate-me inverted twin have substance.  There is an open secret that we know but forget, every moment is new and this is an opportunity for new growth, the past season is over and although the winter may have been bitter, the autumn of our lives had a mix of joy and misfortune, the spring of new potential constantly remerges and there are new beginnings.  We can abandon our past and extract the wisdom of experience and wander with dignity into foreverness, touching everything on the way with kindness, creating a trail that brings joy to others where possible, being gentle on the world around us.
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I awake to a new day
Although the unborn is unseen out of view
I trust in the benevolence of the Universe
I am gentle, in this is my strength
I can bend and adapt to the changing fortunes that emerge
I am an embodiment of everything I have ever dreamed to be
I walk with dignity into foreverness

Tilopa 2.0

 

Jnana Yoga – Unthinking Ramana

The great Sage Ramana Maharshi was always advising his visitors and students to ‘come back to ones deeper self’, these were not his words but this is partially the essence of what he discussed. He reminded us to stop running into the world and getting caught in the trap of things that sparkle and shine and turn the attention to the awareness of what is behind the experiencer of the world/s, to escape the mousetrap, the room full of mirrors with distorted images.  Often Spiritual aspirants and philosophers translate Ramana’s perspective of what some would erroneously define as reality into what they think he is saying.  As we are attempting to discuss something that is outside our normal way of thinking, it does seem obvious that it would be easy for there to be misinterpretations, or more specifically there are many misassumptions made.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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’?
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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.
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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.
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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

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.
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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’.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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 .
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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Tilopa 2.0

Home Future Yogis

 Yoga of Self-Awareness

Thought provoking Article by guest writer – Arizona

“Meditation is one of the greatest arts in life – perhaps the greatest, and one cannot possibly learn it from anybody.  That is the beauty of it. It has no technique and therefore no authority.  When you learn about yourself, watch yourself, watch the way you walk, how you eat, what you say, the gossip, the hate, the jealousy – if you are aware of all that in yourself, without any choice, that is part of meditation.

So meditation can take place when you are sitting in a bus or walking in the woods full of light and shadows, or listening to the singing of birds or looking at the face of your wife or child.”

  • Krishnamurti, 1979
“Can you teach me meditation?” Um, no. I can create a space where you are sitting quietly, calmly. I can ask you to observe yourself. This is all I can do for you.
How does one watch oneself? Self-awareness is a key distinction between people, a distinguisher of people. One who is self-aware has great power. That person has the power to change.
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The Angst of Self-consciousness
Self-consciousness is an interesting term. It first emerges in the teenage years, as a name for that awkward feeling when you think people are looking at you all the time. The post-pubescent paranoia that is part of growing in to a new body and exploring a mind newly shaped by those funny molecules that trigger all sorts of primal and reactive behaviours far beyond the impulsiveness of a child who cannot think past the present moment to future consequences. So much confusion about the ‘why’ of other people’s behaviour and reactions that obscures any ability to question or understand one’s own behaviour, and limited availability of a reference point or baseline in the changing landscape. Embodying. Embo-dying. I wonder what the prefix ‘embo’ means. The -dying part seems apparent.
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It seems a long path to self-consciousness from there, of being aware of, conscious of, the true nature of the self. The path is self-awareness. Awareness of one’s own behaviour, reactions, patterns. One needs a perspective to view this from, which is where the detachment part comes in, as well as embodiment. These seem contradictory but are in fact complementary.
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The Proper Order of Detachment
I see many who are not aware of their bodies. I think this often comes from abuse, which takes many many forms. So many people are their own abusers, in addition to those who have been subjected to violence of any kind at the hand of another. Detachment-abuse-detachment cycle. A denial that something hurts, a denial that there are consequences for self or other. Denial-detachment, instead of complete awareness-detachment. Detachment needs careful definition, and careful ordering. Care and love totally. But do not be attached to outcome and reactions. If detachment arises from not caring about self or any other, a natural detachment to outcome will arise but there will be little awareness of reactions; self-awareness is not forthcoming. If total care and love are present, but also attachment to outcome, again the reactions come, and fear of the future.
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Embodiment through Asana
This is where a yoga asana (asana = a posture adopted in performing yoga) path has such value to those who are disembodied and not-caring-detached. If one is not aware of where, in space, one’s arms are, or one’s head, how can one be truly aware of oneself? By gently revealing to a person how to feel into a body, how to use every muscle to locate limbs, torso, neck and toes, this awareness forms a solid foundation for more introspective observation. Further revelation of what causes physical discomfort in the body, where one’s limits of range of motion are, and discovering the link between thought, belief and physical movement is the next piece of the puzzle. It is a gentle empowerment, realising that thoughts can be chosen, that thoughts impact on the body, and that the body can and does change. The desire to harm oneself or perpetuate self-abuse falls away as the body becomes fully inhabited with awareness of sensation and proprioception.
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Self-awareness
Self-awareness arises through observing the impact of external factors on the state of the body, and therefore the mind. The more engrossed in asana a person is, the more that person will notice the effects of external factors such as a heavy meal, a cup of coffee, or a heated conversation on their asana practice. Life is a constant experiment in understanding this link between the external environment and the body. Eventually the penny drops – these external factors affect the mind which in turn affects the body. The asana focuses the mind on caring for the body by being aware of what impacts negatively upon it, be it external factors or from within the mind. It is this crucial first step of caring for self that allows total care and love to radiate outwards into the world. Awareness is therefore necessary in order to allow the external factors to be perceived and their impacts upon the body/mind to be appropriately filtered or managed. This sharpened awareness, concentrating fully upon each thing that is encountered, is the meditation that Krishnamurti speaks of. From there, one has the possibility of becoming aware of the impact of one’s own behaviour upon this external environment.
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Who is in control?
It is a natural progression from there to begin to observe the mind. Through the asana, it becomes apparent that the mind impacts on the body, and that the body is under the control of the mind. But who is in control of the mind?
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Oh that’s quite a question.
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 by Arizona

The Yoga of Being Gentle on Ourselves

It’s a Crazy Mixed Up World of Men
There is madness in the world of men; economic growth, a push for getting from point A to B at a faster rate; okay, so what to do when we get there?  Making more money by giving less to the community; buying houses for babies so they will be ‘set up’ for the future, but forgetting the people around us are homeless…. what if the children become gypsies, nomads with invisible camels, wanderers and wayfarers, roaming Buddhas?   There are guys in suits, and stern looking power dressing women who model themselves on the worst of men, they struggle to get ahead in an insensitive arena of male mini tyrants; the cold stark air conditioned buildings with plastic plants, people shuffling papers and balancing numbers, lots of ‘doing’; children in daycare with strangers while their parents micro empires rise, and so often it falls in chaos as the family members don’t get to experience each other, overworked and too busy to appreciate the extraordinary meeting place called intimacy.

AS A SPECIES, WE MAY HAVE LOST OUR WAY.

The Spin dryer of Thought
Yesterday I hit the edge of despair.  This is not really a big  problem for me as my ‘Future Yogi’ (the part of me that lives outside time) looks at the experience and reminds me to change my point of perception, to stop and watch the play of life.  What was troubling me was, I am under pressure to deliver the fine details in a written testimony to my solicitor regarding crimes against humanity that happened to me as a child.  As I need to enter the memory of the experience so the legal team can proceed with my case, I got the wobbles, for a brief moment I was lost in the space-time tunnel.  It felt like I was in the spin dryer, trying to stop the emotions from jumping out and flying across the room.  My son was beautiful at this moment, and I understand why we chose each other as parent and child, he just said, ‘dad, is there anything I can do to help?’,  I said, ‘no, just saying that is enough’.  And I know from experience, I can usually sort things myself, nobody needs to do anything, it is knowing there is someone there that really counts.  So I decided to be gentle on myself.

The Warriors of Thought
I was too serious to do my usual therapy, the fine art of holding up my left arm and tickling my underarm with my right hand; this often works.  But these things I am dealing with are crimes against humanity, abuses of human rights that I have experienced.  For most people the heavy artillery would need to be called in, psychiatrists, meds, medical teams, guys in white coats with expressions of concern embedded into their wrinkled foreheads . Being the ninja that I am, I understand that there is always a point that holds everything in balance, there is a centre point at the heart of things.  If we can locate and manipulate that very fine whatever-thing that everything depends on,  the most powerful enemy can be defeated with a minimum of ease.   I know the greatest enemy of man is ‘thought’, knowing this gives me a starting point, I have an advantage, all enemies are already defeated.  If my problem is thought, there is no need go into battle and create more turmoil, things will just get broken.  A true warrior brings about peace with the least harm possible.   The dull, the bold, the buffoons will destroy the landscape, there will be carnage, collateral damage, everything gets stuffed over…. a wise warrior enters and leaves without anyone even knowing, while the villagers are sleeping, we come and go adjusting things to bring harmony, I took this path as there is no other one worth contemplating. And here is that path…..

The Ever Changing and Emerging Unborn
I love learning; the new, the fresh, the potential unborn, that’s where all the possibilities are. I am a musician and was gifted with the greatest teachers, masters of their craft.  One thing that these brilliant beings reminded me of was, we can always go into new territory, even if the terrain looks familiar we can take it out further, there is something we can extract and use.  I decided to learn a simple raga and play it on one of my beautiful guitars, (a raga is the underlying foundation of classical Indian music tunes), the guitar was in an irregular tuning, this requires additional thought and focus, and I was also playing in a different key, another set of notes than the original.  What this meant was I had to translate everything I was doing.  Although what I mentioned may sound irrelevant , or out of context, the underlying idea was to keep my mind active, to distract and create some new neural pathways instead of digging deeper into the ones that no longer serve me, those old ones were hurting, they were smothering me with emotions.  These ‘new pathways’ is where we can disable some things, ward off those arrows of life that seem like they will destroy us. If we want change and healing, we must take charge of the process, else we will always be a slave to things that no longer exist.  Things happened, true, they are in our past, they will have an affect…WE DO NOT HAVE TO LET THEM DEFINE US, to derail us and steal the joy from our life.

Healing is an Inbuilt Thing
I am confident that healing can come about naturally, this may be contrary to the ideas of many health practitioners, honestly I am not sure how others feel about this. From experience I know to ‘back myself’ to trust what works for me, regardless if someone says it’s impossible.  As musicians we get to play with many different people of various skill levels, and lots of things are not said at times.  I will use the example of everyone in a band being told before a music session starts that a piece of music has been changed, except one person was not informed.   The tune starts,  everybody else ‘in the know’ starts playing; the musician who hasn’t been informed looks momentarily puzzled, he has a number of choices: get upset and walk out, play the wrong music just to be annoying, or just listen and feel what is going on and call on the skills in the musical toolbox and adapt. Life is a lot like this; if every time something happens, we respond in a manner that is against the flow of what is going on, we will always be running, missing life; if we decide to struggle against what is going on and do something that is ‘never going to work’, we will suffer.  But if we are sensitive enough and trust the inbuilt wisdom we have developed in our lives, it will be less painful, we can navigate safely, slay the paper tigers and imaginary dragons who roam around in our thoughts.
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I say what I say from experience. I have learnt to be gentle on myself, to face what in many cases probably should have broken me, but I treasure my life, an adventure not to be missed or treated with disrespect.  We are creative beings, the past is gone, never to return.  By ever seeking the new, the past recedes in the rear-view mirror of life.
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When I struggle, all I need to do is to think ‘be gentle on myself’, the world around me softens.
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Tilopa 2.0

Silent Love, Meditative Bliss

Thoughts on what keeps us connected, yet keeps us from connection; experiencing love in silence and in the silence, as the goal, focus or locus of meditation.

Silent Love, Meditative Bliss is a very thought provoking article by a guest writer

“A meditative mind is silent. It is not the silence which thought can conceive of; it is not the silence of a still evening; it is the silence when thought – with all its images, its words and perceptions – has entirely ceased. This meditative mind is the religious mind – the religion that is not touched by the church, the temples or by chants.
“The religious mind is the explosion of love. It is this love that knows no separation. To it, far is near. It is not the one or the many, but rather that state of love in which all division ceased. Like beauty, it is not of the measure of words. From this silence alone the meditative mind acts.”
– Meditations, 1979
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Meditation is love
At that point, two worlds collided. Bliss as the love goal, silence as the meditation goal. I had not connected meditation to love, as love, connectedness, silence. If there is no separation, there is no need to speak – to whom are you speaking? In moments of bliss, there is no need to speak – what needs to be said? In moments of connectedness, the mind is still – what more do you seek? When the mind is still, there is no need to speak – what words can form in stillness? In moments of bliss, there is connectedness.
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The Obstacle of Disconnection
The many tools of meditation are a menu for the individual to choose from, flip through them until one resonates and you make a little progress, see a glimpse of what is possible or frighten yourself and move on or retreat. Some days might be days to count your breath, others might be days where the ringing sound is so loud that you can’t not focus on it. What I’ve seen is the obstacle to many people to exploring meditation or even stillness is the thought of being alone in it. It’s the prospect of realising that we are each ultimately utterly alone in this world, endlessly separated by the fact of being the only inhabitant of one’s assigned human body. Many people cannot bear silence, cannot sit still without fidgeting, cannot be comfortable with the thought of not having their comfort-phone-of-connection in their hand. Stimuli simulates connectedness, and we’re all addicts.
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Love as Silence
But in this thought – the explosion of love as silence, no separation and meditation – is a precious key. It’s utterly motivational – who doesn’t want to feel connected? And if, in that connectedness, stillness of the mind is possible, the rest for the mind can arrive, the brainwaves relax which is so healing for the whole being. Who doesn’t want to experience healing? And if, through that healing, more experience of connection in possible and love arises, or perhaps the experience of love that is essential human nature is revealed to you. Who doesn’t want love?
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The Obstacle of Possession
Love is often misunderstood, mistaken as possession which is not love, opposite to it perhaps. A bad experience or two with this unfortunate impostor and many swear off love forever, closing the heart. And thus arises the obstacle to connectedness. It hurts to think about being connected, because the pathway to love requires each obstacle to be examined and gently placed aside as irrelevant. The prospect of sitting still and examining each obstacle is frightening, particularly if one believes that the goal of stillness, of meditation, is an endpoint in which we are each utterly alone. The motivation for such thinkers is to retain each and every obstacle because the perception is that these obstacles are the safe walls that keep us close to our experience of what we thought was love, the experiences wherein the hurt arose that created these obstacles. But that’s a mistaken belief. In fact the ultimate goal is love, is connectedness, to know what that truly is, and it resides on the other side of any thought that creates space or distance between you and any other.
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Love is the goal. Love is all you need. What is keeping you from it?

By Guest Blogger – Arizona

Not This – Neti Neti

The Endless Unfolding
The Ocean of Consciousness unpacks itself and rolls across the Multiverse, in the same way a painter splashes paint on a canvas, flicking the brush around in a detached, almost uninterested manner.  There are numerous forms coming and going on the screen of existence, most may never be seen and their presence will be felt from within themselves, only known by the internal pulsing, like a heartbeat we hear when we sit in our silence. No-one there to ‘name’ what presents itself or to add a ‘story’ or give any type of meaning or understanding to the ‘what is’.

Self Questioning
“Neti Neti” is a form of Vedic Inquiry, it is used by those exploring the Yoga of the Self to negate anything that presents itself in consciousness. The loose translation of it would be ‘Not this, not this’.  A simple example would be if a phantom appeared in the mind-space of a meditator, a God, a Master a great Yogi,  enticing him or her into an experience of some sort, the experiencer would use the phrase “neti, neti” to detach from the passing phantoms.  It would be done in a manner without a struggle, gently pulling ones attention back into the underlying emptiness.

Misunderstandings
This ‘detachment’ is at the core of Jnana Yoga, the Yoga of Knowing, or in truth would be better to be called the Yoga of Unknowing. There are many misunderstandings regarding Jnana Yoga.  In the same way that if you give a musical instrument, a hand made lute to someone who doesn’t understand how to play it, they would make strange sounds that don’t really resemble music, such is the fate of Jnana Yoga, the Yoga of Being at this point by the populace in space-time.  When people interpret Jnana Yoga who  come from other forms and traditions of yoga such as Bhakti  (the Yoga of Devotion), Karma Yoga (the Yoga of doing good stuff to sweat off all the supposed bad deeds and balance the account)  or those who come from any other practice,  all these others look through a window that has their own set of rules, visions and understandings.  To be quite clear, I will say it’s the wrong set of eyes.  And also there are those who are exploring Jnana Yoga who start to intellectualise the process and create a philosophy instead of being able to speak from a depth of experience, it all goes skewiff.

Making Sense
One of the very common pitfalls and misunderstandings of Jnana Yoga is there is a tendency to ‘run’, to attempt to transcend life, to turn things into an ‘us and them’, a ‘spiritual and a material’, as if spirituality was an island and everything outside of it is evil, ‘it’s gonna come and steal your fruit and veges or eat your porridge, it’s coming after you’; and if ‘life’ grabs you, you will be lost in the tunnels of time forever, a slave to delusion.  If we are serious about spirituality, we need to stop this nonsense and bring some sort of order and practicalness to it all; claim it back, do ‘our thing’ whatever that may be, and leave Jnana to its rightful owners instead of everybody having their tuppence worth about something that is outside their comprehension and field of experience, in the same way that a brain surgeon knows his or her area of expertise and stays out of dentistry, and does not attempt to use those annoying sounding drills on their friends and family.  Christians need to take back Jesus from the church, in fact all the faiths need to get their statues and baggage out of the way, it only interferes with the transformation process of the individual; without moving things out of the way, it will just reinforce the walls between ‘supposed self’ which is just thought, and Self… and i use the term Self with great caution, a word which has a lot of erroneous interpretations.

Not This, well What Then
Firstly and maybe mostly, the Universe is not our enemy,  I think this really needs to be addressed.  I have grown up around and in a number of so called spiritual communities; the division between ‘material’ and ‘spiritual’ seems to be a ‘constant’ that presents itself far too often.  In Buddhism (and I must state I am not a Buddhist), there is a leaning towards a middle-way, something that has a self discipline that allows life to mingle with practice, this is healthy. Having said that, any ‘ism’ will have zealots, we will always be able to identify them because they fit closest to the ‘ad’ and tick all the right boxes.

Misunderstanding ‘Not This’
When we take ‘not this’ to the extreme, we may find that we put ourselves in the situation of trying to walk on water, to live a life with a fear of water, as if we will drown if one drop gets on our skin.  It’s a bit like being chased by a dog across the heavens, avoiding its bite, not realising that it’s a tame puppy, or a shadow puppet. When we stop and look at the beauty around us, and give thanks to the rising sun, the chubby smiling faces of kids, savor the chocolate, or the kiss of someone tender to us, when we watch the colors of spring and autumn, feel the joy of someone overcoming something against all odds, watch a shooting star or an otter playing around…. when we stop to feel these things, then we have come home, heaven and earth are in balance. If we continue on ‘running’, separating heaven and earth, we will lose our spark, a withered vine, no grapes, a barren vineyard will be what we move in, tasteless, barely alive.

Dumping the Gods
Where we get into strife is ‘clinging’ to something; wherever we go, bringing the past with us, like a bag lady with her bags stacked on a shopping trolley; dragging our ‘story’ that we have left behind with us; swallowed and a slave to our acquisitions.  If we want life, the bitter and judgemental Gods need to be put out with the garbage, buried as landfill.  False Gods and their hypnotised followers are often life haters, they create a vision of how they think the world ought to be and pollute it with their ‘unnaturalness’, they push against the flow of the river, they train people in fearing life and pass it on generation to generation.  We do not need these people telling the world what is wrong with it and offering salvation and liberation.  With an alert questioning mind it is easy to resolve most things, to bypass what is not needed; most morality is ugly, it is not virtue, it is not integrity, it is fear and control based. Virtue unfolds in acts of natural kindness, tenderness to the world around us, by softening and trying to understand ‘our’ differences with others, constantly ‘giving in’ without submission to selfish agendas, by looking outside our square and attempting to make sense of the pain and needs of others and allowing them to be.

The Art of Neti Neti
Neti neti,to me is the ‘practice of constantly abandoning’, of letting things rise and fall in our consciousness with an attitude of ‘is that so?’; it’s a way of arriving at a form of constant unfolding peace.  Trying to define the ineffable is the job of madmen, not the Divine Madmen, the other ones, the ones who miss life and try and package the universes into a bucket, it just ain’t gonna fit, we don’t need their help.  The poets can point in the right direction, the quantum physicists can write formulas to imply the nature of ‘things’ to help break down traditional thinking that imprisons much of humanity. The lovers smile and the poets dream, the musician pulls the strings that touch the heart of the listener, children laugh, and the camel spits…. ahhh the beauty of life.  It is “not this, not this”, but if we allow it to have it’s moment on the blank canvas of the universe, to do its thing then take a bow and move on, then we are not bound.  Heaven and Earth are in order, and I am grateful.

Tilopa 2.0