When Our Hearts Cracks Open

We’ve all been there, the dream dissolves.  Suddenly there’s a doorway in life, it appears from nowhere and we unwillingly step through it and are left feeling bewildered and question whether the period of our life we were in was a fantasy.  The familiar things around us, the places, the impressions in our thoughts that in a flash take us into a moment we treasured. The transience of life is something that won’t go away, it’s seems like when we are born we have a sticker slapped on our bum that says “change is the only constant embrace it or suffer.”
All pain comes from attachment so say He the Great Buddha, his words were probs a little different but the essence the same.  My dearest friend and teacher once told me, “wherever there is pain there is clinging.”  At times it seems that wise words when we are in the state of suffering are almost offensive, insensitive, inhumane and lack in empathy.  But I know from experience the Sages who are our dearest of kin have placed them there within the scope of our consciousness so we can reach up to them when we are ready.
The Seasons
The loss of a loved one, whether it be through death, or the changing fortunes on the screenplay of life are always challenging but are critical and are a natural process.   I do know well that transformation or what I would call the alchemy of going from raw material to gold is a usual process and also when I look at nature that we are part of, without the changing seasons there is no growth, no flowering of the tree of life; there can be no symphony without each musician playing his or her part perfectly in time with the composer’s intention, if we decide to go off in another direction and attempt to play something of our own, there will be chaos.  And I am not saying we are puppets in the hands of the Divine, it’s more like we need to fine tune our instrument, listen carefully and be in harmony with ourselves and this harmony joins the Totality.
Being Vulnerable
Contrary to normal opinion, When the Heart Breaks Open it is safe, yes feelings arise that we may not like, there is an uncomfortable-ness about it. Being uncomfortable is not our favourite place as humans, we are standing on new ground or more precisely falling through an unknown area of space. The feeling of insecurity is usually perceived by people as an enemy.  If we have the ability to sit with it, to hold until the wayward thoughts and emotions subside we will see and experience something extraordinary.  If we become a slave to our thoughts and stay ‘in them’, suffering is a long experience, some people never recover.  If we are very gentle on ourselves, inquisitive and LOOK at the rise and fall of the sensations rolling towards us, we may notice that the perceived bee sting is not really there, it is the fear of the sting that we had, there will be sweet honey when its time.
Embracing Eternity
I am grateful for life, for love, for the experiences that have and will shape me. In my life which has had its more than normal quota of trauma and loss, there are days when I have begged for it to all go away, to just rest in the Eternal Silence that underlies all things.  But then I remind myself that the Eternal Silence is ever present, it’s closer than a breath away, I can go there at any moment, it encases all the Universes.  The mystery of life is too precious to run from and based on what I am seeing now my intuition tells me where I am headed is beyond my wildest dreams.
With a sense of curiosity I will say yes and give thanks to all that has been, is and what is to come.

Tilopa 2.0

The Yoga of Navigating a Mad World

I wonder why we hold back tears, the shame of showing emotions?

The world of ‘hold it together’, don’t let ‘them’ see your brokenness; men are expected to be strong, don’t be a wimp, all that stuff written by buffoons, those people who value worthless things. It may be that tenderness is sacred, and is something that needs to be treated with the utmost respect, in our private cave of transformation.
Weakness is something that is misinterpreted; the big, the bold, the haughty, the emotionless types, they often go for places of power; they can have them, by raising themselves up high, their foundations get weaker, their fall from (a lack of) grace is too common to mention. History only remembers the tyrants, and the wise men and women, each one of them brings a feeling of ‘who they were’ into the present and future. In them is a teaching on how to live our lives with dignity, to leave something sublime for our descendants, to add something of value to the kaleidoscope of humanity.
Out of Time with the Hustle and Bustlers
About two years ago, I was walking down a busy street in Melbourne. My version of walking, generally involves an invisible path about two metres wide, and the propulsion of my body in a forward direction oscillates plus or minus 27% from whatever I set as the average tempo. This sort of meandering I will admit can be annoying to others, particularly those who are in a hurry at peak hour. A guy flew past me, I think he had an invisible ute, a dog in the back, tonight’s grog in his work bag, a half eaten corned beef samich with tomata-sauce and a bit of yesterdays dinner on his shirt. Among the expletives were the words “surely it’s not too hard, can’t you walk straight.” A bit slow in my response, I will answer that now. “Well, NO?” It is virtually impossible, in the same way that a child or a puppy heads off in all directions, it is not one of my superpowers, I am busy with life, I am a dreamer, a wanderer of the stars in my head.  Musicians may hold a solid tempo in a song, but it’s the relationship to the beat that gives it the beauty; a poet may create pictures in the mind-space by placing ice-cream in the sky instead of clouds, an artist may omit lines but still be able to tell the story. If I become an android, please someone give me a heart transplant, my life needs feeling, swing, glitches and twitches, asymmetry, bumps and mysterious flavours. My clothes need wrinkles, my face the odd whisker that the razor missed, and sand in my bed is a necessity after I go for swim in the ocean, I love the salt stinging my skin; my tribe of monks dress in non uniform colours.
Lao Tsu, My Invisible Friend
The old sage Lao Tzu says, “Water is fluid, soft, and yielding. But water will wear away rock, which is rigid and cannot yield. As a rule, whatever is fluid, soft, and yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and hard.” I like this guy Lao, I walk through the busy city streets with him, no one ever knocks him over, he is too alert. I have invisible friends.
The constant straightening of the world around us may make the journey faster, the excavating of the rolling hills to run a ‘quick track’ through for the hordes to get to and from the cities, we lose the beauty of the curves of nature, we create a backdrop to move in, it resembles anorexic models who are showpieces of a form of still-framed beauty for those who suffer from extreme narcism who are hypnotised by an illusory image of self; flattening out what is enticingly voluptuous in nature, to rush to and from a designer box full of gadgets, to work places where many spend their days on automatic, watching the clock for any exit moments.
Comfortable Uncomfortable
The creating of a ‘contrived’ world and our addiction to its ingredients is deeply related to our failure to feel, to avoid a sense of realness and honesty. And the creation of a ‘spiritual fabricated Utopia’ is just a ‘virtual’ extension of this mania or dis-ease that hypnotises humanity. It is all about ‘running’, being ‘away’. And I am not confusing ’emotional indulgence’ with feeling, the former is an addiction, being caught in a loop of wanting a hit of the same ‘feeling drug’ because it’s comfortable.  Getting a little uncomfortable is what this is about; when we are in that vulnerable space, we allow what needs to arise release itself, those things that are calling for our attention. On the screen of life, the scenarios take centre stage and present themselves; our choice is always to face them when we are ready or have them arrive at some other time, maybe with more potency and baggage.
The Blessing
May there always be wiggles, may there always be women with curves and some naturally without, may there always be rolling hills, waterways shaped by nature without man orchestrating their pathway, may the wind blow our hair and there be little bits of leftover food on our face, the smell of a wood-fire stove cross our pathway, cracks in the pavement with weeds growing through. May we weep for what has gone before and move graciously detached into forever.

Tilopa 2.0

I found this article among my hundreds of articles and not sure if I have posted before, I am currently working on two longish articles, “will the Revolution Be Televised?”, and Music 

The Beauty of Defects

Alan Watts the Zen guy, is my hero, one of a handful of people who have taught me to be myself.  He was a great writer, a speaker and a phenomenal non-thinker. It’s not that he doesn’t think, it is just that his view is at polar opposites to the rest of the community regarding his relationship with thought. In reality (this five senses one that we agree that things are named a particular way) he is a great thinker, it’s his understanding of the ‘gaps between thought’ that makes him what i refer to as a ‘non-thinker’. He, like most of the wise, see ‘thought’ for what it is and allow it to do its thing, without being a slave to it; or even if he was temporarily a slave to it, that ‘slaveness’ has a use-by date and  I guess he would return to ordered chaos without a fuss. He once said, “there are no straight lines in nature”, or if he didn’t say that exactly, he would have meant to say it, or implied it.  Much of what ‘hurts’ the thinking part of us, comes from ‘straightening’ the world around us, if we come to terms with this, everything changes.
Rounding the Straight Bits
One of my favourite memories I regularly recall is from when I was camping. I am not a trekker, a ‘tenty’, a fisherman or seasonal vacationer; however, lying back in a dome shaped tent, the sounds of nature, the ocean rolling nearby,the smell of a wood fire, and my gradual adjustment to the lumps around me, and as I would settle in, there was a leaving behind  of all the things that are ‘straightened’ by the society we live in. The roundness of the tent ceiling relaxed me, it loosened the imaginary walls. We sort of hold ourselves together, working in jobs that are encased within the invisible barricade of a repetitious timezone, only to go home and look for ways of disentangling from it, and then jump back onto that timeline once again, prisoners of a matrix (not the movie). All these imaginary structures hold, or we ‘think’ hold us together.
The Ridiculous Shape of Life
One of the great mysteries and idiosyncrasies of the private school system is the desire for a sense of order that is humanly impossible. This insanity is best expressed by the zealots who chastise teenage boys for having their shirts out. It’s one of those ‘ just aint gonna happen’ things; unless people were to sew their shirts to the trousers, or dress them in monkey onesies, it is an unsolvable ‘non-problem’. Any parent who has had to deal with the nonsense detentions their sons were placed on, would understand this lunacy. People try and have a sense of order, the odds of having a roomful of kids eating chips and tomato sauce (US translation = fries and ketchup?) and not end up with the bulk of them wearing the sauce, is unreasonable. The problem is, we are constantly trying to fit life into a shape that is not just possible.
Entertain Me
We have become part of a machine run by madmen, caught in someone else’s dream, and we unknowingly have somehow been hypnotised into thinking ‘that’s the option we must take, as if we have an obligation to following a pre-written script’. Much of our suffering comes from feeling like a prisoner of a system that runs in the background, and out of fear of ‘the world will collapse if I don’t abide by normal way of doing things’, we find we are in conflict with what we are stuck in, and what we really want.  When what we really want is the space and time to work out ‘how to do things our way’ with a bit of guidance and support from others where need be. I am confident that this is the reason we humans run to drugs, alcohol and other escapism’s; the pressure of being out of sync is so strong, young men binge, hermits create cave apartments in a busy city, and the street-sleepers just give up and fall into a state of hopelessness. People don’t know how to be alone, to comfortably ‘do nothing’ and generally there is an assumption that all space needs to be filled with ‘head noise’, incessant thought.  This is the age of ‘entertain me’. Give me solitude any day, and I will enter the world when I am ready, I do not wish to take the world with me wherever I go.  I want the gaps between the musical notes and my heart to bleed when they emerge on cue.
When we buy fruit and veges, so many of us go for the ones without glitches, perfectly shaped objects that resemble still-life photographs by master photographers and artists. Cities are full of men in gray suits, dodo birds with numbers in their heads, involved in a world that is ‘about’ things, the movement of ‘invisible stuff’, things that hold the system together but in essence are part of the fantasy, the monolithic monster of dependence that eats lives and packs graveyards with the broken lives of unfulfilled dreamers.  Every now and then we are reminded by annual holidays to ‘get out’, to go and get our feet into the earth, sadly it often turns into ‘still frame’ holidays, picture book experiences that when we look at snapshots, we could replace our image with anybody else’s; what is going on is we are often seeking experiences of ‘how things are supposed to be’ and not something that is new, an unborn new; we run from what is ‘here’ to an imaginary better ‘there’.
One Size Fits No One
Our biggest problem with education is we train and squeeze information into children; they are empty, inquisitive, standing at the doorway of eternity looking out into forever. We stack children into an ordered list, the gonna-be-doctors at the top, and way down at the bottom the dreamers, the ones who sometimes don’t see the logic in things, the ones who will draw arms where we expect legs ought to be, or those who refuse to sit still.  And when we think about it, why should we make a child sit still if they want to move?  It’s like putting wooden shoes on someone to prevent their feet from growing, or tying rocks to a bicycle.
So WTF Are We?
Although philosophers, yogis and dreamers will have numerous responses to the age old “who am I?”, a simple response to one aspect is, we are feeling beings, even if we are ‘visual’, underneath the picture in the mind is feeling.  We may ‘feel’ with our eyes, ears, through touch or some say with our ‘heart’.  There is confusion in society, an assumption that the intellect is the master; the world we move in is the slave of the senses; bold men, bullies dominate, they have fooled everybody into believing their story of what has value; magazines and marketing media have told us what beauty is, the curves and the size of the body, what colours work together or are a mismatch, what music is acceptable and what foods are good for us, only to be replaced by a new marketing campaign next week.  We try and bring order to disorder, to put things to rest because we are uncomfortable with their presence, we as man are attempting to place ropes around the moon, the planets and fit them into our world, to have ‘our relationship’ with them, they did pretty fine with out us for years, now they are in danger because we in our arrogance may pollute them, or some maniac may push a button and annihilate this region of the galaxy.
Disassembling the World  As We Know It
I think if we loosen our belts a little (not in a fiscal way as they say in ‘political speak’), if we can stop trying to push the world into shape, things get easier.  Things, events will happen, it’s always our attitudes that make the difference.  People laughed at the hippies in the sixties, what they wore, but they laid the foundation a couple of generations later for businesses and offices to have ‘casual Friday’ where workers can dress like normal people (normal = not wearing penguin suits, unexpected objects, or white Anglo Saxons  not doing Indigenous dress-ups).  The gradual acceptance of the wisdom and ways of non-European white culture is a blessing, it allows us as a global community to have a ‘horizontal’ view of each other.  The British Empire and other hideous elitist empires had a method of dumbing down anything that didn’t fit into their criteria of measuring the world, these guys wrote the history of the world and embedded it into the subconscious of fertile minds of each generation.  They fooled everyone, completely stuffed everyone over.
Taking Back Our Power
Claiming  back the ‘world’ is the responsibility of all of us; by just being ourselves and not attempting to overlay what is not us, is the trick, to be natural and embrace our bumps, bruises, to accept the various shapes and see the unity in diversity.  And then ‘defects’ are not seen as defects, they are variations and new possibilities.  So much is tied up with Self Worth and Self Esteem, and it is based in others ‘story of the world’, it is not ours and we need to claim back our power.

Tilopa 2.0

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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

India, Death and Love

Life in the Senses
The smell of the bakery surprised me today, the one I have never seen, hidden away just down the street from where I have lived for a few years, maybe it’s in a back lane, it fires up just in time so I can wander by and taste its goodies in my thoughts.  The corner flower shop, it’s colors, bundles of heaven in soft fragile shapes making me think it’s spring in autumn, and there’s sun, yesterday the winds were distressing, almost a hundred miles an hour,  if it wasn’t for my coffee non-addiction pleasure and a need to break out of cabin fever, I would have stayed in, hidden under my sheets.  The beauty of the morning got me thinking, ‘why do we run?’

Death is Stalking
I grew up with death stalking me, it has taken years for me to settle into life.  I don’t know if other people have this ‘running from death thing’ but my life has been shaped around it.  India, seems to ‘do’ death better than anywhere else.  I have had a deep love affair with India; when my plane landed in the far south at Trichy over thirty years ago, I wept..  I am not what you would call a Indiaphile, a traveler, a passport stamp collector; my  experience is different.  Oddly enough I have always been more Indian than western, my only genetic connection is one I heard about recently from my Irish American based second cousin, she informed me our DNA traces us to Pakistan.  I saw a picture of India at about eight  and as a child said to myself, ‘I must go there,  my real fascination with the land of Bharat started at fifteen when I saw a newspaper cutout and the heading was ‘Jesus Lived in India’. Regardless what the facts may be, it was truth to me. This was a cue of how the future would be shaped.   India, death and who I imagine myself to be, are intertwined.

India on Our Doorstep
It is a great tragedy to the world, in the West, historians, intellectuals and academics have written the story of the world according to certain criteria based on a particular set of values and opinions.  Thank heavens for food and its secret hidden powers, fortunately Indian cuisine is desirable to many people.  We have a lot to thank the global chefs for, they have brought the flavors into our mouths; they are ambassadors who unify humanity, they do what politicians and mainstream religions can’t.   In the spaces where we go to eat these mouth-watering delicacies, on the walls hang pictures of Krishna, Elephants,people wrapped in cloth, the Moguls and while sitting knockin’ back a dosa or spiced tea, floating around the eating space is the sound of the sitar, the sarod, sarangi, tampura, tabla and musical notes that our ears have now become accustomed to; a scent of incense floating. India creeps up on us. In my case I dived in deep at a young age because death was chasing me, so I thought. Really death was my teacher tapping me on the shoulder and India was the classroom, its wisdom and very existence my textbooks.

Opposites Unpack
Each moment we are faced with two entangled opposites, mortality and immortality, being present and detaching.   When there is the ‘passing’ of a loved one, these two mysterious things knock loudly on our door and come in to sit for a while with us.  It’s uncomfortable for us, the fragility of it all; often we just click back into to ‘normal’ with a BIG piece missing, sometimes broken, or maybe philosophical. We can, if we have enough personal power use this time to ‘see’, (‘personal power’ means a type of stability, to be able hold steady against all odds, something that has been developed throughout our lives through extracting the wisdom from experiences, and ‘seeing’ means to use the totality of ourselves to gaze into something without prejudice or a limited opinion).  At the time of the passing of someone dear to us, we are at our most alert, on the edge of two worlds and if we can harness the waves of grief, use them as a type of fuel for transformation, a change will come about at a core level, even if we return to everyday life when the exterior is not much different; we will never be the same again.

The Beauty and Insanity of India
Death has been my teacher;  India and death seem to be intertwined; the world of Gods beyond the human form, their visits to the world, the rushing Ganges, a symbol of the flow of life, the passing show, the billions born into human existence, rolling through space-time. The insanity of a country with so many paradoxes, where the Dharma is at its heart; the Dharma, the endless unfolding natural law that sustains all, with it’s innate tendency towards supporting virtue, and I don’t mean the morality of the small minded religious zealots.   India with some of its hideous customs towards devaluing woman, and it’s not that it doesn’t happen elsewhere;  where is the respect for Sita, isn’t she in every woman?  India where the Ramayana was born, the epic tale of Rama, outlining the roles of all members of the community can play their roles to bring about a harmonious society. India she gave us the Bhagavad Gita, the Song of God expressed so potently, the arrival of the Avatar Krishna to save a bumbling humanity from itself, the prayers of the Saints and Sages heard, the Divine manifesting to its full potential in the world of the five elements. Krishna riding the chariot into battle with Arjuna standing on his shoulders, pulling on the reins of the five horses, helping those who support the Dharma in the battle of Kurukshetra, family members and friends against each other; reminding us it is our heart that is the battlefield, to overcome the part of ourselves that stands in the way of where we would be best to go.

Love Revealed
The giant orange tennis ball in the sky, suspended in space over the western plains, ladies in saris in the fields, their backs bent, natural yogis, like phantoms on the stage of life.  The sound of Bhajans, Kirtan, music for the Gods, little cymbals, drums and the drone of an harmonium moves across my thoughts. The words of Bhagavatam deeply ingrained in my thoughts.  When I set out to write this a few days ago, I was thinking about an article about how all the things of India do not represent Spirituality, how they get in the way of the view of the formless absolute and how they are just passing forms in the show. I was thinking how anything that presents itself in the world of shadows and light is an obstacle to self-transformation…..and here I sit entangled; I solved death years ago, but India still enchants me; her mystery, her beauty…. I often wonder why I was born in the West, maybe it’s a love affair from a distance. the deepest longing that makes me appreciate her more, like the master musician who waits for the perfect note to emerge from the Silence.

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