Yoga of Edible Weeds

I remember reading a short parable in a Zen book years ago, it went something like “To Weeds, Flowers are Weeds.”  We humans like to discriminate, we go to the fruit market to buy fruits and vegetables, most of us are unaware that around us, many of the weeds that we pass by are edible, they haven’t made it to the great hipster worshiping status that kale has, but they are just as nutritious.  And yes the ‘disclaimer’, we need to know the difference between the munch-able  ones and  those that will put us in a hospitable bed.
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Keeping the Community Clueless
Here is one dictionary’s definition of ‘weeds’: a valueless plant growing wild, especially one that grows on cultivated ground to the exclusion or injury of the desired crop.  The word ‘valueless’ is something that catches my eye here; the reference to ‘valueless’ clearly defines the culture we are a part of, it’s a Biblical ‘wheat and chaff’ attitude.  Anyone who has traveled in the 3rd world will notice the way that objects are recycled and reused in the most extraordinarily inventive ways.  The 3rd world to me means,  ‘countries rich in resources and ancient culture which are being robbed by multinationals where the residents are being tricked into thinking and acting like Europeans’. Weeds are possibly one of the best kept secrets in the world,  in a way it’s a bit like all those people who run around everywhere looking under rocks for God, missing the obvious.
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One of the major factors that defines the supposedly intelligent human species is discrimination,  our ability to reason and make what sometimes are described as informed decisions.   However, when we dig into things we may find that our ‘informed-ness’ comes from a long line of programming, what we ‘know’, we take things for granted, we have curiosity but are entangled in numerous quests for wealth, position in the community, to look right, to fit into an insane world, to be our best version of ordinary; if people are too unusual they are treated like weeds, discarded and given the chop.   I am reminded once again about the sage Ramakrishna, he was a great man, his student Vivekananda helped bring an awareness about Vedanta to the West.  Ramakrishna was curious about a church in India, he tried to peep through the door, because he looked like a beggar, ‘a weed’, he was chased away.  The Catholic faith apart from being a Jesus worshiping institution that self righteously places its clergy between God and man, has many persons they hold in high regard, Saints and Sages, some real, some charlatans, some pedophiles, and here at the doors of the place of worship in India they chased a great sage away; they missed their moment.  It is easy to forget what is important and waste away our days with trivialities; filling our minds with violent movies,  petty dramas, useless bling; life is rich but we often seek what has little value, we stuff our beings with lifeless food. Food has become a form of entertainment to many of us instead of being something that ‘makes us’.
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Isolated in the World 
We live in bubbles now, the buildings around us are almost like incubators that protect fragile newborns. Air conditioned spaces; we’ve poisoned the air outside, the ocean, the earth is littered with our throw-outs, and there is also space junk. There would be plans to ship our waste to other planets ASAP if it currently didn’t cost $22k per kilo to complete the process. Here back on planet Terra, we have the disharmonious noise of the city; people yelling to get above the poorly designed acoustic cafe spaces, environments are usually only designed to look swank or hipster;  the sound of musicians who can almost play their instruments adequately, oozes  out of the HiFi system at an uncomfortable volume, it all reminds me how far we have moved from nature.  Mother nature the majestic Being who holds us; we build structures to protect ourselves from her, we isolate ourselves and keep at a slightly uncomfortable distance; we have disinfected the area around us to the point where nothing wants to live near us, the microbes say ‘we are outta here’. We wonder why there are hyperactive children, the youth are addicted to agitation, energy drinks  supply regular doses of legal speed, and sugar fries the brain.  Our feet don’t touch the earth, we live with stress and anxiety as a ‘normal’ and crave silence, nature’ s abundance and are magnetized to the wheel of ‘life as we know it’, slaves to a story of ‘how we believe things must be’, entrapped in systems.
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Transient Trance Life
We have evolved into a species who are hypnotised into living out our days as if we had no other choice.  A version of other peoples lives is streamed to us live through the electronic social media grid, we eat the info that comes to us as if it is more important than our lives, our experiences, we ruminate over it, it dominates our consciousness.  To say we “have lost our way” seems fair, if not obvious.
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There is a need to ‘come back to ourselves’, to become educated about the world around us, to understand how ‘thought’ sidetracks us; to see the value of weeds and waste-able stuff.  We may have to just slip off in another direction when no-one is looking while the world is building empires and gathering fools gold; and  leave the world where people know ‘a lot about nothing’, where trivia and bling steal the limelight, to seek what truly has value.
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Tilopa 2.0

 

The Yoga of Contemporary Nomads

The world is not so solid, pondering this could easily bring about a change to the way we live, it may impact how we feel about things, we can loosen the strings that tie us down and head off on a new journey.  It’s an unborn future in every direction, our destiny is the horizon which moves away as we step closer to where we think it is, the Universe unfolds as we move through it.
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Wanderers Wayfarers
In a way, many of us have become nomads; family structures have broken down, we don’t all have the ‘traditional’ home to go to, the village where we may have grown up has become part of the urban sprawl, where we used to play there is a supermarket and other blingy shops full of slightly useful objects; the stream morphed into a drain and graffiti reminds us that peoples thoughts are screaming to get out, even if it looks like gibberish, humans  struggle with the noise in their heads, it’s city-stress-syndrome.
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Many religious people are very challenged now, they try to fit the world around us into models that they are comfortable with, however it’s like the bottom of a bucket dropping out; family units are shattered; the dog, the couple of kids and a picket fence are no longer the standard; single mums and dads, mix and match families; gay couples; introverts living out ‘alone’ lives in the city, homeless wear their experiences engraved in the lines on their faces, strangers live  next door, people die and no-one notices, they just slip into other parts of the bureau of statistics database, life moves on.
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Flipping it Over Concept
One trick I have mastered in my life is the ability to turn what looks like disaster into something that is fruitful, nurturing and abundant. This is not something that happens instantaneously, it comes later after the chaos settles.  When we are in crisis the waves crash down on us, we hold on for dear life; but I am reminded that there is always a calm ‘centre’ even if thoughts are wild, even if despair is about to break us, something looks out at the show of life and almost mockingly says “is that so?”  Pema Chodron the western Buddhist nun  has an expression, “learning to STAY”, one way this translates is the ability to ‘hold’ oneself, not to act, to ride it through, to trust that in some way things will sort themselves out.  Once we are past our dark night of the soul, we can recycle our experiences, extract what is of value and head into new territory.  It is quite normal to feel deep emotions and feelings in response to structures coming apart, but we have a choice on whether we make it a problem or not.  I choose the latter.
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Beyond Chaos Theory
What may look like chaos to us, if we dig into it we can find something glorious. This breakdown of the community around us can lead us somewhere quite unexpected, if we can get past the feeling of ‘everything is broken’, life becomes interesting; a dull mind won’t be comfortable with change, sharpening our thinking and attitudes is something worth pursuing.  From the view of a Jnana Yogi (simply put: non dualistic perspective that everything has a glue joining it at the middle) the world is held together by thought, this idea is in conflict with what most people think; there is no way I would push it as a philosophy, to me philosophy doesn’t mean much, changing the way we view things is where wisdom lies.  Unlike some other yogis of the past, I am hesitant to say ‘the world is a mirage’, there is a lot of baggage and misunderstandings with that phrase, it’s not quite right.  It would be slightly more correct to say “every molecule is in motion and it’s only there when we look at it, or name it” it has a sense of ‘there-ness’. Things are named for convenience, we have a common language that allows us to reference moments on a timeline; but really EVERYTHING is in TRANSIT; and this is where freedom lies.
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Freedom is the ability to detach from our story of the world, to dissolve what has gone before and allow the ‘new’ to emerge.  With the breaking down of traditional family structures there will be turmoil, great confusion, questioning arises,  the ground beneath us fractures and if we are alert there will be a type of seeking, a search for meaning, and without giving the game away, that does not necessarily mean there is meaning, but the need for stability and understanding takes over if we have a certain amount of personal power and don’t indulge in our brokenness. When we indulge too much in ‘thinking about our response to a problem’, our thinking processes freeze up. Communities, the human civilisation we are part of is hypnotised by belief and self imposed limitations; the breakdown of the traditional structures although painful is the very thing that may bring about the change needed in the world. And saying this I am not opposed to community whether it be old or new, it has taken me a lifetime to learn to value ‘community’, and community is not necessarily what we assume it is.

Urban Gypsies
We are a community of nomads, wanderers; some say we are on a journey from ‘self to SELF’, from unknowing to KNOWing, personally I wouldn’t want to complicate things with philosophical fantasies, it’s a sidetrack and moves us away from ourselves.  Most religion and Spiritual practice moves us ‘away’, we chase ourselves.  The idea of reaching a goal in the future is part of the great play of life, the labyrinth of ‘becoming’ is endless.
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The beauty in the world fracturing is it is like an egg cracking, if the bird laments the loss of the egg, it may forget the baby chick.  New birth comes from change and ALL our suffering comes from failure to embrace change, to want things to be as they were or the way we want them to be. The less solid the world is in our thoughts, the greater potential there is for going past the limited known.  When the world we know breaks down, we are forced to either die, whittle away or look for other ways of doing things.
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What on Earth can we do?
So how do we approach the world we live in when it breaks? How can we find that thing, a sense of belonging, the NEW community we need that will nurture us?  Although the answer may be different for each one of us, there is one commonality,  that very thing is by saying ‘yes I accept you as this’, ‘I embrace you regardless of our differences’.  It is deeply programmed into human nature to not like.  It is okay to feel uncomfortable with what is outside what we accept at this moment.  However, it is important that our hearts crack open a little more each day, and we move at our own pace.  People come and go in our lives, each moment is precious.
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Tilopa 2.0

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

Real Yoga and the End of Maya

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tilopa 2.0

The Wisdom and Freedom of the Wind

 

Most of us would have dreamed that we could fly, craving the freedom of not being bound. We are ‘supposedly’ stuck in a body and have a love hate relationship with our senses, we enjoy the tingles, textures and flavors, then in those moments of pain and sickness we crave an escape; man fears death, and understandably so, the ‘unknowing’ for most is more frightening than the known.
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The Wisdom in Nature
The Wind does things differently to most humans, it embodies much of what I think we need to know. How to live with detachment is in the Wind Being’s teaching, how to not cling, to be loose and flexible; it has a way of making adjustments, it side-steps objects, dances with pieces of paper… floats colorful leaves, leans trees over and stretches their spine, reshapes hairstyles, bounces clouds and gives birds something to push against or use as a power booster.
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If we can escape our thoughts from daily troubles, trivia and distraction, get ourselves out of the limited chaos of the play of life, we can
be the wind, develop many of the same attributes. The wind is on a backdrop of the endless sky, and the sky is a part of the Greater Mind that encases everything; the endless forever is inside and outside of us.
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Eternity Now
In the magnificent book Tales of Power by Carlos Castenada, the follow up to masterpiece Journey to Ixtlan, Don Juan says to Carlos,
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“I’m going to utter perhaps the greatest piece of knowledge anyone can voice. Let me see what you can do with it. Do you know that at this very moment you are surrounded by eternity? And do you know that you can use that eternity, if you so desire?
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There! Eternity is there! (Don Juan pointed) All around! Do you know that you can extend yourself forever in any of the directions I have pointed to? Do you know that one moment can be eternity? This is not a riddle; it’s a fact, but only if you mount that moment and use it to take the totality of yourself forever in any direction.
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You didn’t have this knowledge before, now you do. I have revealed it to you, but it doesn’t make a bit of difference, because you don’t have enough personal power to utilize my revelation. Yet if you did have enough power, my words alone would serve as the means for you to round up the totality of yourself and to get the crucial part of it out of the boundaries in which it is contained.
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Your body is the boundary I’m talking about. One can get out of it. We are a feeling, an awareness encased here. We are luminous beings and for a luminous being only personal power matters.”
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On reading this text of Don Juan, our thoughts and or logical way of processing information could easily head off into a story about whether he and Carlos Castaneda’s teacher Don Genaro were fictitious, some may even ask “does one’s guru say something similar”, or whether our understanding of God and scriptures confirm such a view. We love distraction, ‘away-ness”, when we encounter wisdom, often there is a tendency to make excuses, to look for fault in it; the false sense of ‘I’ is challenged, the false sense of ‘I’ has no substance, it is just thought, and always wants to remain centre stage, all posers do this. People talk about there being an ‘ego’, from my perspective this idea of an ‘ego’ is questionable and is not so important; it is easy to sort if we look at the first line of the Dhamapada (the sayings of Gautama Buddha), if we are astute and look closely at it, without a fuss the text annihilates the concept of the ‘ego having real substance’ in one swoop. Although there are many translations of the Buddhist text, the one I prefer says, “All you are is all you have thought”, it takes care of that ‘ego’ thing, it dis-empowers the false notion in one swoop, leaves us empty and can remove much of our pain and self-obsession, once we know this truth there is nothing to hold on to. And it’s ok, we won’t collapse, we are the experiencer and in a similar way to if we were sitting on the beach watching the tides slowly rise and fall, knowing there is an order in nature, we can trust that the ‘thoughts’ that are on our screen of life which construct the sense of ‘I’ do not hold us together, we can function quite nicely without them. Really, the image of who we believe ourselves to be is just a story, a very convincing one because it’s familiar, it’s uncomfortably comfortable, it’s like a permanent set of clothes that is glued on and wrapped around us and creates limitation.
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Detach Detach Detach
There is a great similarity between the fluidness and elasticity of the wind, and a person who does not cling to thought; although the idea of detachment is often associated with Buddhism or Taoism, it’s not, it’s universal in nature. The idea of ‘not sticking’ to things is a core principle that belongs to our inbuilt intelligence and does not require a religious philosophy for it to flower. Both Buddha and Lao Tsu (Taoism) obviously moved with this fluidity and have tapped into this type of intelligence, the ‘isms’ came later and there are numerous wise people historically who have managed to see clearly the affects of ‘attachment’; nature is our teacher and it is not rocket science nor does not require any great intellect to see such a basic thing as the trouble of being ‘overly attached’. If we can quiet our thinking a little and look clearly without too much judgement, a gradual transformation will come about, and I guess when the penny drops for some, it may be a quantum leap for some.
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Someone who continuously detaches from what presents itself in their thoughts and has the flexibility to move around obstacles, to have a type of adaptability that resembles the wind will be open to new experiences and not bogged down with old limited worn-out thought. A lightness of being is something worth aspiring to. It can be complex for some of us because information is ‘hard-wired’ into us and we are addicted to ‘what’s wrong with the world’, chasing rainbows, how to be ‘a better person’, how to fit in, not offending people, how not to be ‘hurt by people’; there are so many hooks that prevent us experiencing the wonders of life, and when we look at them we will see they are mainly ‘thought constructions’. And that is why coming back to and contemplating“all you are is all you have thought”, it will loosen the glue a little and help us to disentangle from destructive thought.
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The Beauty of Emptiness
What we can do is practice ’emptying ourselves’, lying down, no we do not need to sit like a Buddha statue. Emptiness is about annihilation, getting rid of all concepts and abandoning the known. The problem with the ‘known’ is it is most probably wrong, it’s just a story, look at the trouble it has got us into. When we lie down and empty ourselves there are no boundaries, there is no tomorrow, no past and I will go one more level than the new-age-flippy-floppers and say ‘there is no Now’. Now implies that there is a central point holding itself together; we need the bottom to drop out of the bucket, the water to run everywhere. When we routinely practice ’emptying’ it gradually creeps through our being and we begin to realise that the body is ‘inside us’ it is not outside, the stars, the galaxies are inside us. The body is a container we use to experience the world around us, it is only a small part of us, we need to care for it and treat it with respect but ultimately our nature is closer to that of the wind; then when the storm blows in our lives, we can find a type of invisibility, we will have the flexibility to move through it because we understand as the wind does that ‘everything is in constant motion’, that we have the knack of getting through or around whatever presents itself.
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There is not only beauty in nature but wisdom, nature can become our guru.

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

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The Tao of Not Naming the Universe

All, or maybe most of our problems come from wanting to place things in the Universe where they are not or wanting to remove them from where they landed.  If we can sort or at least understand this problem, then the chaos in our thinking ‘softens’ and ‘thought’ becomes easier to manage. It is our ‘hardness’, rigidness, tightness that is stifling and leads to pain.

Thinking Scattered Across the Room
Someday’s it’s as if our thoughts have been put in a blender or I could offer an even better description.  Remember when you were a kid and someone said, “Do you want to play a card game?” and you go “Yep” and they say, “Let’s play fifty-two pick-up” and you go “OK”, then your world suddenly goes temporarily out of order as you watch them throw the cards in the air and they land everywhere.  That’s what thought is like, there is a similarity to the cards on the floor and the disorder in our thinking.  We have a rough idea about the ‘elements of thought’ in the same way that we know there are hearts clubs, spades and diamonds on the cards but the lack of order is where the struggle seems to be.  We humans are constantly wanting resolve, to bring order into the world, to align things in an effort for our minds to be at peace.  The great teacher of life Lao Tzu hinted at this when he said, “The nameless is the origin of Heaven and Earth, the named is the mother of myriad things”;  it may not seem obvious at first but in this text from the Tao Te Ching there is something there that is worthwhile for us to unpack, everything is always waiting for our wisdom to kick in.

The Naming of Things
We live in a world of descriptions or better said,  we apply descriptions to the world we experience and move in. This ‘naming’ allows us to place things where we like them and then we can go about the business of everyday life; when we are ‘uncomfortable’, it may be because our thinking can’t file something in the right place.  When my oldest boy suicided some years ago, like every parent who has been to this precipice, I struggled, it was like having raw chili rubbed into every molecule of my being, when I thought of his death it was unbearable, debilitating. But then magic happened, something that I am exceptional at is ‘magic’ (I would describe it as the art of deceiving the observer).  As the observer of my own life, I managed to reshuffle my ‘naming of things’ and said to myself ‘he passed over’, this masterpiece of thinking, ‘wisdom-magic’ allowed my son to jump to another part of the Universe.  Regardless whether my beautiful son now moves in a new form or is in deep rest within the glorious Emptiness of Being is not so important here; freedom came about by a tiny adjustment in my ‘thinking’, without this, if I had stuck with an old worldview my vision of my universe, it would totally disempower and destroy what I sometimes refer to as ‘me’.

Renaming the World
When we fall in and out of this ‘love’ thing people speak of, we bring to it a story.  In the society we live in now, it has become more complex, there are now numerous descriptions on how we relate to each other.  Even children have labels for friends ‘my besty’ and then suddenly the child’s besty does something, whether it be knowingly or unknowingly there  will be a version of heartbreak.  No longer is the ‘besty’ fitting the model that sits in the thinking of the child.  What normally happens is we as big children have some type of ‘subconscious order’ of how people fit into our lives. Our besty stuffs us over and then it’s, “ok, alright,  I never saw that coming” and there’s a game changer;  depending on our smarts and ‘Emotional Intelligence’ (that mysterious-wisdom-thing we have built up through our lives and sometimes does a runner when we most need it), we ride the waves of change and settle on new descriptions such as ‘ex-besty’, ‘they who cannot be mentioned’, ‘dickhead’,  ‘ouch, do not say that name’, or ‘gee i miss that person’.

Wait a Minute
I think of all the skills things that are required to navigate life, it would be ‘patience’ and I do not mean the patience of inaction. There is an Indian word called thamas, it implies dull or inactive; no I don’t mean that type of waiting, there is another word from the Indian dictionary that is better to align ourselves with, it is called sattva.  Although there would be many descriptions, I will simply say it implies harmony or balance, not being over-excited nor dull.  From my experience and also from  watching everyone else get more deeply entangled in chaos, confusion and sink deeper into the quicksand of life, this skill of ‘waiting’ is the one most needed to be nurtured (non-rocket science moment here). When we don’t wait, what happens is our story of the world, our understanding of how we imagine things to be gets in the way and we act on impulse.  If we are not cautious and we lack patience we end up placing things in our universe at locations where they don’t really exist, we make decisions that lead to pain for ourselves and others.

Un-designing the Universe
If we want relief from unnecessary suffering, what we need to consider doing is to readjust our thinking, to expand outside ‘our known’, to allow things to emerge on the screen of life that we have never considered, seen or experienced before.  And this is where freedom lies, it comes about by gradually disintegrating our ‘story’ of the world, by disempowering our limited view of the way we believe things to be, or expect them to be.  Emotional pain can gradually dissolve without a fuss if we start to get rid of the labels that divide us, those ones that imprison us, that disappoint us when we find out that what’s in the packet is not what we assumed was there and just let things be as they are without ‘our story’, without putting our desires and outcomes on things and situations that are totally out of our control, things that are placed ‘elsewhere in the cosmos’ and not at the address we assumed them to be; what comes about is a natural detachment and thoughts that may trouble us will fall into Emptiness.

Love Knocking at the Door
One of my super-heroes, the sage Jiddu Krishnamurti,  once said,”Only the free mind knows what love is“.  Love is a little frisky, when we try and hold it, it runs; when we try and define it, even the great mystic poets Kabir, Shams, Rumi and Hafiz are lacking in words, they point to the beauty of the moon and it’s up to us to go there. But when we soften our thinking, something extraordinary happens, it, love comes through our door and lies with us, comforts us, touches our being, wraps its arms around us and holds us until we fall into a divine forgetfulness once again and wander through the corridors of space-time in wonder and awe.

Tilopa 2.0 (13th April 2016)