Opinions Get in the Way

Human beings are an odd species, the ability to discriminate is a great skill and some would even say it is this that separates man and beast, however I know a dog who is very discerning, smarter than the average human.  Another thing about the human entity is the deep emotions that can drop a person into despair or make him or her weep when a child wins a sports trophy, a team wins a final or if somebody has a personal victory against all odds, we take these things for granted.  Those people who have done their research properly about things Alien or from Outer and Inner Space know full well that humans have certain characteristics that many others don’t.  Some space civilisations are so advanced technologically, on their journey of evolvement they have all but bred out emotion in their quest for excellence in specific areas; their bodily forms are adequate for their lifestyles, some have big heads and tiny bodies with minimal or virtually no muscle tone, some have no ears because they didn’t need them any longer and others survive on various gases or light forms.  There are many that would not survive a moment here without a breathing apparatus, in the same way if humans go too fast or far into deep space they would get turned into jelly;  there are others whose bodies are similar to human beings such as our friends from Alpha Centauri (who are closely aligned with the Venusians who met behind the scenes with the Governments in the 1950’s),  if you looked closely at their bodies you’d see areas that are designed to protect them and so they can function comfortably in aquatic and gaseous environments.  This diversity is no big deal really, simple as:
1) There is life on other planets.

2) There are many beings in each of the other worlds and planets in the same way that Earth has numerous species sharing the environment

3) Species adapt, evolve and develop a body to suit the world they move in
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If it’s Convincing Enough, Humans Will Believe Anything
The fascinating thing about humanity is the human being is not really over scientific in the way he/she experiences the world.  There is an assumption that because we have been given information that most people agree on, it must be fact.  Think carefully about that last sentence and you will understand the problem, your brain might just light up like a pinball machine when the coin drops; when you understand the implications that our world is built on assumptions you will begin to be able to dismantle the untruths that create the human prison house that inhibits mankind.  Essentially there are many agreed upon untruths.

Rewiring our Vision of the World Around Us
A wise man or women must always be prepared to be wrong about everything. I like the idea that in a split second we have the ability to go from being a genius to ignoramus and back again; it’s very humbling.  Being wrong is okay, I don’t mind being wrong however I am adamant about what I know if it’s based on personal experience, I will stand my ground on things that have come out of going through various processes and have eliminated doubt. And that does not mean I am not open to new information, it pours in every day at lightening speed.
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Kids are interesting, we’ve all been there.  A mum says, “don’t touch that, it’s hot”… the sound of a howling child fills the neighbourhood.  On the other hand we have the situations where we are told there is a God, depending on how severe the indoctrination aka upbringing is, a person may run through their life doing rituals, saying prayers, doing all the ‘right’ stuff that God wants.  When something happens that is not so wonderful, some people who have been shaped by the ‘guilt ridden judgemental church’ even think it is a punishment and go about their business not even questioning option B, C, D or other. Let’s go there.
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So many of us dress the same, it’s a follow the leader mentality. In a world of petty tyrants and bullies this is understandable because ‘fear’ holds the power over the community. Fear is useful, we see a tiger in the wild or in the world where I grew up a shark in the water is more common, often they are minding their own business but sometimes lunch is their business and there’s no need for me to go into detail.  Fear is a very normal thing but there is a world of paper tigers and paper mâché dragons that have people spellbound.  One of the great monsters that I will call The Fear of Change Dragon keeps people on a repeat loop, it’s safe to do the same thing and not step out of line.
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The Dreamers and Forgetting the Known
From my experience of watching the world, people and their behaviours it seems obvious that brilliant people, the dreamers, the wayfarers often come from the left-field.  What I mean here is in many cases they didn’t fit in, they were on the ‘outside’ but managed to turn the fruits of their experience into wisdom.  There are others who didn’t survive the journey.  There are many things that impact on how a person navigates it all but I do think that it is the OPINIONS of OTHERS and how they ‘stick’ to a person that makes the difference.  If a person does not have what I would refer to as enough ‘personal power’ then they will crumble because the dominant world views of others will be given a much higher degree of importance than personal experience.  An example is religious indoctrination.  I am not saying that religion or philosophy for that matter has no place but the truth of the matter is it is second hand knowledge, information comes through a lot of filters and agendas and is not based on personal experience; others experience may drop a hint on which way to go but unless we live it it is just a story.  A person may spend their life enslaved by an erroneous doctrine and it is the attachment to the doctrine that prevents the person from seeing a grander picture because the ‘mind space’ is so full of information it will block the view and prevent exploration of grander concepts.
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Unless we totally abandon what is ‘known’ there is little hope of heading into super-consciousness.  The thoughts of others, opinions of the world create a MIRAGE in the mind-space of each individual and the thoughts are so thick they prevent the individual from seeing what is really there.  A transparent view is critical if a person is serious about the journey of the Spirit.  The statues people pray to and with, the beads, the tainted scriptures, the Gurus and Masters, the Gods, the Spiritual practices are all an obstacle to freedom, they come with baggage, they zip a person up into the bag and prevent real experience from unfolding.  It takes incredible courage to abandon everything a person believes to be true.
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May all beings be happy and find their way 

Tilopa 2.0

The Yogis of Obsession

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

Refining Our Radar for Truth or Deception

In the crazy maze of human existence on the stage of the world we live and move in we often enter into states of doubt, fear of not knowing who the good guys really are, who might be deceiving us and we are unsure who to trust. During these days where there are numerous private and other hidden agendas it does seem difficult to wade through information and arrive at conclusions about who are humanity’s allies and who are the foes masquerading as friends or even saviors.
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The Fallibility of the Known
We can use logic to resolve many things, it is a most useful tool that the human species has been gifted with; we may hear words oozing out of the mouth of politicians and those in positions of great trust but we know from experience that words and the follow-on actions often differ, betrayal is only recognised at a later date.  We can do our research and ‘follow the money’ or look at who is aligned with particular corporations, boards of directors, mega-bankers and various others, however we do also know that misinformation is streamed out through the mainstream media to create a particular feeling or ‘normal’ to later implement an agenda, also the ‘secret’ in-the-know conspiracy websites or publications feed the world a mix of truth and misinformation, the misinformation is proved a lie and the associated truth makes a gurgle sound as it goes down the sink.  Both logic and research are great tools but we can easily be misled and we find ourselves in our desperation to make the world a better place unknowingly supporting agendas that are not in our best interests but are down right dangerous.  So do we just rollover, dumb ourselves down with alcohol, recreational poisons, food, sport, piles of objects and bling, obsessions with diseases and fitness or shall we just look the other way?
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Fragility of the Civilisation
We live in a time when the world is fragile, on the precipice of great change, when madmen (if they really had the power and were permitted to do it) could annihilate the world we move in with a push of a button, when scientists in their curiosity could trigger an event that would not only impact on this planet but also those as far off as we can dream and maybe in an instant destroy unknown civilisations, when liberties are being eroded to implement hideous agendas for the covert and also publicly arrogant elite.  With all this doom, gloom and darkness of mankind bearing down on man, what on earth do we do?
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The Beauty of the World
We live on a glorious planet, nature with its wondrous living breathing ecosystems unique to itself, the glorious rising of the sun that we have for a period of time until this timeline runs out of juice and a new one starts, the colors of the birds.  The playfulness of animals, the gentle of touch of our loved ones, the tasty fruits, the dew on the grass, the ability to laugh, the sweetness of melody. When we move away from the madness of men and their games of power and self-obsession, underlying it is something that a visitor from other worlds would perceive as heaven.  We need to be reminded regularly where we ‘sit’ or more specifically where we live in the Cosmos. Earth is a living being unto itself, the Mother that she is supports us, she holds and nurtures us, if we are gentle with her she responds, if in the case of what has happened and we are reckless, she will ‘shake’ and in that ‘shakiness’ what is not aligned with her sense of being will find a new destiny to live on.  I started by writing about the crazy world and living in a time of mistrust and at this point it looks as if the focus may be hinting at environmental issues, it is intricately related but this is not about climate change, polar bears or bees.  Without undermining the need for conscious change and action on how we live and treat the environment we live and move in, I am confident that Mother Earth will take care of her Being and that doesn’t mean I don’t think we should care for the world, quite the opposite, I am a man who refused to pick flowers for most of much of my life in case I hurt them. Caring for the world around us is the same as taking care of ourselves, the way we treat ourselves is usually the way we treat those around us and the tiny field of space we move in.  As for climate change all I will say is that transparency regarding where every dollar goes ought to be a concern, else we may find that while people are sleeping, someone is taking the milk from the cow to feed their ugly monster. My prayer is “may there always be noble people in positions of power and trust.”
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Questioning Everything
When we look at anything, regardless what it is, our ‘filters’ come into play. What we have experienced, learnt or been indoctrinated with writes to our subconscious, we have subtle and overt preferences on how people should look, talk, what is the correct opinion or way to view the world.  These learned or inherited perspectives are useful but at the same time I am confident that they cannot always be trusted, it is only a small part of what I will refer to as our Being. So far I have said we can’t rely on logic, the words of others and now I am adding to the list we can’t always trust our own experience, if we take this approach to an extreme a psychologist could comfortably say there is a form of paranoia going on here.  However if we think carefully and are cautious and address these three things properly it will remind us not to be naive and believe everything we assume to be logical and unquestionable, what we are told and what our way of experiencing the world is telling us.  It is critical that we are aware of the ‘sleight of hand’ that happens around us. So what to do?
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Rethinking Sensitivity
Some people are more sensitive than others.  Although I am sensitive to the point where it becomes annoying, I am not a person who thinks sensitivity is the be all and end all of experience and that anyone who is not is ‘less enlightened’, that is straight out elitist garbage, and I will ‘call’ that delusion out.  Sometimes over sensitive people lack the ability to act, to stand up when needed because they indulge in their sensitivity.  Sensitivity is a tool for life, not something that needs to cripple us and make us over emotional.  Having said that, there is a type of sensitivity that I think holds the key to discriminating about things, people, events and courses of action.  It doesn’t matter whether someone feels like they are a being encased in something like a polar bear suit with thick layers and a pair of over-sized gumboots or they are a someone who sees purple winged unicorns (real or imaginary), the playing field is equal when it comes to our ‘radar for real feeling’.
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A Tingle up the Spine
We all have had that feeling when someone enters the room, sometimes we get a cold shiver. Or at the other extreme when we go into a meditative space like a Buddhist (or choose your flavor) temple we feel a subtle change in mood.  In the case of the person entering the room who was at the source of cold shiver in us, we may know nothing about them, their clothes could be neat clean, even impeccable, they may be well spoken, have average looking features and nothing externally that would be a give-away that would give reason for concern.  In the situation of the meditative-space it may be reasonably empty and uncluttered, very plain and have nothing that represents a world of religiosity or be in any way overtly ‘spiritual’or have anything aesthetically pleasing but still there is an inexplicable subtle change.
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The Field We Move In
Each being, in fact every living thing has a field around it, there are visual parameters but the space around a person or object has an area which is populated by what I will refer to as ‘solidified thought’, this field contains what the being is aligned with, in the same way that storage media for computers and other devices hold information, there is a grid/web/network that holds the past, the present and the tendencies for the future. When a ‘sensitive’ or what is more commonly referred to as a psychic comes into contact with an individual and does a reading, they are usually tapping in and pulling out data from this space, it holds the past, present and their known and associated potentials.  Many of the psychics will have no idea how they do it, they may have a story that is true or false on the method they use but the underlying idea is that somehow they get their result and trust it.  Occasionally we encounter a seer who works outside the common methodology used, however for continuities sake I will not enter the other possibilities of ‘reading’ what is out of sight.
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When we are in the meditation-space, what has happened is over period of time as each individual has come into the environment they have gradually emptied the field in that space.  This works in reverse to a busy day at the beach, when people go home from a sunny day rolling in the waves and getting their butt tanned you will see litter scarring the natural beach environment and it has a dirtied, cluttered sensation about it.  When meditators  attempt to go into a meditative state, the process is about detaching from thought, letting it rise or fall; this action works like a thought-vacuum-cleaner.  In the room where meditation has happened, at a subtle level there is a deep change invisible to the eye, it is ‘touched’ and experienced at a deeper level of consciousness.
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Buying Into the Story
If I come back a little closer to the original idea of this article, I was discussing discrimination and how to make sense in a crazy world, how to be able to tell whether someone is truthful and whether they have an agenda that is detrimental to us, humanity or the world around us.  At a surface level we have emotional reactions to things, we may see an image and suddenly be outraged, if it has a story with it, whether it be true or false, in an emotional state we may become further outraged, if we have a story already imprinted which comes from our personal history or cultural upbringing, the image and the story will mix with that bias and then we not only may get emotional, we may act in a particular manner in response to it. If we are crackers we could blow up someones letter box or graffiti their car.  Much of what we see in the media and advertising is emotive based ‘baiting’, whether a news article or what is being advertised is genuine or not isn’t the issue, what is relevant here is that our emotions can easily stand in the way of feeling the world or the truth of a matter properly.  Human beings are very easily swayed.
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Droid Mentality
REAL intuition grabs its data from outside our logical world and is not limited to the ‘known’.  I am reminded of the limitation of droids in some of the Sci Fi movies and Spock the Vulcan from Star Trek. People need a way to discriminate between surface ‘touchy feely’ intuition which relates to the emotions, and the way of feeling the world, beings and environment.  To someone who has not developed a deep-feeling-sense they would look the same, the world would be divided into two:

(1)  Stuff we know because it is believed to be true and is confirmed by our education (and that’s a variable) and from the zone of Classic Physics (read as: Old World Thought) that has many truths but limitations.

(2) The stuff that relates to dreamers, Tarot readers, fantasizers and people who have too much time on their hands or those who have smoked a lot of weed. (This is not a criticism, I am just creating a polarity of two extremes).

Both those angles have their place in the world of mice and  men but there is option (3) and that’s where we bypass option (1) and (2).  Option (3) is the one that I find myself living by most of the time.

Option (1) is best used for most tasks like when crossing the street it would be insane to close our eyes and feel our way between the cars, or when driving under a low bridge we’d be best to do a basic spatial calculation that the truck is going to fit else it won’t be pretty.

Option (2) is useful because imagination and meandering thought is quite a beautiful thing but I do know from experience, if we get caught in fantasy and emotions they blur our vision and we lose our groundedness.
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Option (3) is something that is based in Emptiness, the same Empty state we encounter in real or deep meditation, there may also be thought present but there is no attachment to or over-interest in thought, instead we are absorbed in the space, in the same way that sky doesn’t grasp a cloud and lets it rise, fall and dance without a fuss.  As soon as we allow thought to arise from the subconscious with its history and partial-knowing, what we end up with is a filter sitting between deep-intuition and whatever truth may be.  Truth has a sensation about it and I am not talking about any supposed Spiritual Truth or great answer to the Universes questions, I mean passing truths that the politicians may be lying.  Often it is easy to research and find out if people in power are lying but based on my observation, many people are supporting agendas that look good on the surface but underneath they totalitarian. In the same way that a religious text can be altered to suit an agenda, people end up unwittingly and naively handing over their allegiance to false Gods and Cults because their intuition never RANG loud enough to warn them, so how to sort this and develop deep-intuition?
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Deep Intuition
EMPTINESS
I have already stated or implied that we need a relationship with Emptiness. This is easy to develop regardless of what cultural or religious background we come from or associate with.  Buddhism has had a focus on transformation of the mind, whereas mainstream Christianity is rooted in faith.  If we do a little exploration we will see there are subcultures of Christianity who explore deep contemplation, there is no practical reason that a person couldn’t meditate on the name of Jesus if that was their flavour.  When it comes to meditation, we do not need to dress up and pretend we are Indians and use Hindi Mantras as many people do, yes beyond doubt they are potent, nor do we need to wear white or head straight to the crystal shop and fill the house with bling.   If someone is not from a religious background there are many tools in the public domain for relaxation, we can leave Spirituality out of the mix. All that is required is a simple method without a whole lot of baggage and a practical regular commitment to taking time out.  If we are always ‘inside’ the world it’s difficult to see what is going on, our story, bias and preferences are too strong. Deep or even shallow meditation will ‘extract us’ a little.
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GRATITUDE
Fortunately gratitude has become popular and feels better than some of the other fashionable things such as eating kale or oil swishing.  In an age of self-obsession the emergence of developing a relationship with something bigger than our imaginary sense of I and understanding we are part of something that shares its abundance freely with us is in itself humbling.  Everything is alive and giving thanks seems the least we can do.
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HATERS
If we have a hate for those who are different to us in thought, appearance and action or even those who harm us with their political agendas, their violence and their hideous actions that enslave us in some way, we end up becoming part of their network of power, we become subservient to them, the underlying negative agenda empowers itself by our response.  I consider recognising this issue as a critical element in self-transformation.  “Turning the other cheek” is a seed idea that needs to be unpacked and contemplated.  It does not mean that we should not act, not create boundaries, or speak up when necessary, it is about our thinking. Our thoughts affect the world and if we add to the ocean of hate it creates additional psychic smog around the planet.   The smog of hate impacts on everyone and all of nature.  If we rise in a state of love then hate has no enemy.  The opposite of love is fear not hate.  It is fear that needs addressing.  If hate has no enemy it turns on itself in the same manner the opponent of an Aikido Master defeats himself in battle through his own self importance, stupidity and violent tendencies.
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FEELING
As we know, there is a surface emotional feeling sense we have that sabotages our deeper sensitivity, it is reasonably simple to explain and even easier if I create a visual example. If I was to break it down a little we can visualise a molecule and picture it as a a bubble. Imagine that each molecule of our being has a ‘stability point’ a sense of equilibrium that maintains its shape and state of balance, like calm water on a sunny day, it has a relaxed gentle sense of movement.  Under normal circumstances in life, the field-shape within the molecule will tilt a little as it goes about its everyday business, when our moods change a little, it reacts like the way water gets a little ripple in it if something light is dropped in it.  If we are traumatised, the particles inside the molecule may bounce off the walls and be pushed way out of shape resembling a damaged pin pong ball, the combination of trillions of these in our being make us feel unstable and at times we find that the instability completely overcomes us, the expression “off the rails” is a good analogy. We become so engulfed by the sensation of internal chaos that our attention is moved out of our natural stillness and equilibrium, our central point of awareness becomes unfocused and foggy.  When we are angry we are in a state of agitation, it is impossible to think clearly, we lose our sensitivity completely, the molecule ping pong balls within are bashing against each other. When we are very emotional and in a state of deep sorrow we become numb, drowned. In a state of joy, the ripples in our being overcome us, regardless of the wonder of the feeling which impacts on our health in a positive way, our vision can also blurred, the molecules are dancing out of control.
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The sensations of joy and sorrow come and go, depending on our ability to recover as we move along the timeline of our life, they all impact in different ways, they can empower us or we may get lost in the endless maze.

If we have developed a type of mindfulness to allow us to extract ourselves a little from the passing show of emotions we will have an advantage in being able to discriminate between natural feeling responses generated from every day existence plus our compiled ocean of experiences and then our intuition will come from outside time and the ‘already known’.
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When we look clearly at the events in the world we move in, we will see that things and events are being translated by and agreed upon by the greater community to be a certain way, this common agreement that is arrived at will at one extreme create a language for basic communication and at the other end a slave-mentality that places parameters about what is or isn’t true, this slave-mentality turns deep thinkers and visionaries into outsiders, nutters and in some cases people are considered to be a threat. An example of what can happen is the Vatican’s assassination of Giordano Bruno
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Truth has a ring to it and it is unmistakable; falsity has a doubt about it, it brings with it a type of confusion and slightly unsettling feeling, and it may even have a sense of self-righteousness and a mission.  Alertness is required, if we are not discerning we may find ourselves supporting agendas that are treacherous, destabilising to ourselves and others, we may end up undermining good men and women and see them as our enemies all because the radar deep inside us is covered over by emotions and a fabricated story being fed and sustained by the greater community’s enslaved limited social consciousness.
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These are treacherous times as we exit the previous civilisation and move forward into the glorious unfolding one.
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May we always be kind to ourselves and those we encounter
May we always be understanding of others
May the part of us that seeks truth and wisdom cut through the fog of misinformation
May we seek unity in diversity
May all beings be happy and uninhibited to follow their dreams
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Tilopa 2.0

 

Yoga -Unknowing the People We Know

We hold each other prisoners of the past, accidentally bypassing the fact that nothing stays the same. We do know that people grow through experience, but it seems difficult to forget what we ‘know’ about those who have been a part of our lives.  There is a petty holding on to the past, this ‘placing people where we think they belong’ could be considered our enemy or a major hurdle to jump over in our lives. Most of our enemies are inside us, the human species has a tendency to be a slave to his/her thoughts, regurgitating the ‘story’ of what and who we believe others to be, and even more serious, who we believe ourselves to be.
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Community of Humanity
Buddhists have a word called Sangha,  I like this word, it is often interpreted as ‘community of monks’, there are other similar meanings where it implies to other kindred souls on the Buddhist path. There is a broader way of looking at it, in the big picture view I would define it as ALL BEINGS, purely because we are all in this together, all with our own challenges and distractions.  If I look at it from another perspective I could define it as a tribe or people of like mind; whether these definitions are true is not overly important but it is useful for me to get an idea across.
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Impressionable Beings
We have all seen the situation where a person may not be a smoker or drinker, but if they hang around regularly with people who have these habits, they could easily take these things on as part of their lifestyle. As children we were warned about the company we keep, stay away from the ‘bad kid’ or we may end up the same. We are impressionable beings. I usually try and hang out with brilliant people and those with a gentle spirit.  If we are sensitive people when we go into a hotel where it’s rowdy and rough, we may find it very uncomfortable to be in that environment, to others it’s a ‘what’s wrong with you, get over it’. I will state that I don’t think being ‘sensitive’ is important at all, I say this as a sensitive person, there are very wise people who have the sensitivity of a sledgehammer. When we go to a place of meditation or an environment where good works are done, we often get an uplifting feeling, this is no accident, we feel the world around us.
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Network of Thought
There is a grid of thought that surrounds us, this is one of the reasons why cities are chaotic, it’s not just the noise, the pollution, the traffic, men in dark suits, the hustle and bustle with no rustle of leaves and the absence bright colours of spring or the shades of autumn, we have unconsciously created a network of thought that wraps around everything; we extend way beyond our bodies.  There are clusters of thought pollution, I could call it ‘psychic smog’ and also there are some islands of refuge, empty churches with their spacious reverb, gardens or big old trees to lie under. When we go to the country, in the open spaces we feel better because we are not getting battered by the floating ‘debri’ thought particles from others that invades our thinking.
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When we are away for long periods of time from our families or people we have spent large portions of our lives with, we no doubt change.  What life serves up brings about wisdom, we transform into different people, we may also develop new personas or patterns of behaviour, neurosis, or even drop things from our lives that were part of our shadow, we may gradually overcome those things that were not the best part of our personalities.
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A New World
However, it is an aspect of human nature to place people exactly in the same space where we knew them, even if years have passed.  The whole world is caught in the past.  I have noticed that when people come to a new country they can ‘reinvent’ themselves, it obviously does depend on the environment they move to, and the amount of personal power and energy, they often succeed in a new world; personally I think it is because they have the opportunity to reconstruct their world view and can detach from the opinions that others have of them. Our loved ones can stunt our growth and ‘hold’ us in the position where we have always been; regardless of their unquestionable love, it can suffocate our unborn future.  It is critical to those around us to see them as a creative-process-in-motion and allow and trust that they have enough insight to be able to carve out a pathway forward unhindered by our opinion of who and what we believe them to be.  I think there is a need for us to see the good in others, regardless of their habits they have that may be destructive; if possible we can try to hold them safely for a while and say ‘you have endless potential’.  People we love have a deep trust in our opinions at a subconscious level, if we can’t see the success and potential in them, we will ultimately undermine them.
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Constant Change
People often don’t feel safe when someone they love changes, they are comfortable with the ‘old someone’, the new version requires a shift in the eye of the beholder. When a husband or wife takes on new habits or friends, if the partner is insecure they often object and undermine their loved one.  In a way relationships can be like letting out a kite string, allowing someone to fly but keeping a gentle hold on the ‘attachment’ string.
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Letting Others Be
If there is a secret to life, and yes there are many, I think it is to be able to undo the story we have about others, to understand change does happen, regardless that some habits and patterns are deeply engraved.  We need to trust in the unfolding process that is a part of nature and allow others to have enough space without our opinions about who we believe them to be and holding them back.  It is strangers who usually see the brilliance in those around us, their eyes are fresh, uncoloured by history, it is their ‘unknowing’ that permits them to experience the beauty and genius of our loved ones that we can so easily miss.

by Tilopa 2.0

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

 

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

What isn’t God?

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

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

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The Yoga of Addiction

I think addictions can be a good thing. Being distracted by, absorbed in something and a sense of regularity has its benefits. All great musicians and artists are addicted, Einstein, Newton and Buddha were all engulfed by a deep passion of wanting to ‘know’ and to reach an end, even if that end was temporary, they sought a resolve. It seems obvious when it comes to addictions that our flavour, our choice of ‘poison’ is what makes the difference. We can ask one simple question, “Does it weaken us, or strengthen us?” …. said in a deep radio announcer Shakespearean tone ‘that is the question’.
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Gimme the Lot
We can be reckless beings, the feeling of being infallible, the arrogance and bravado of youth, thinking we are invincible… gimme more, just keep loading up the bong till paranoia seems like the norm. Which tablet? Give me the lot; sucking down buckets of alcohol till even our dearest friends don’t want to know us. And we go back for more next week; ultimately in time we end up on an island of isolation, we no longer function well enough to navigate the changing fortunes that emerge on our screen of life; and do more of the same thing that got us to that point.
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The Loneliest Moment
I have very strong views on drugs and alcohol, I am not frightened to say them, they undermine our sense of community, an epidemic of destruction, they destroy the beauty of life. The window I look through comes from one ‘still frame’ moment just before my oldest boys funeral; the hearse pulled up, I walked over and just stood alone beside it, not knowing where to look, seeing the coffin, how long to stay? Why is no-one else here? Where is my family? Where are my friends? …. the preciousness of life was defined then and there, standing at the doorway to eternity. And the loneliest moment in the history of the universe had just invited me in. In a way, that moment defined the man I wanted to become, or the one who could have died with my son.
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Doughnuts are Better than Cocaine
What leads a person to the place where my son lay can be many things, life is challenging, we can be frail and keep throwing layer after layer over us until we disappear. But regardless of specifics, I do know it is about addiction, or more specifically, what we align ourselves with.  Addiction to me does not mean alcohol, heroin, ice or any other thing used by the hidden bankers to undermine the threads of the fabric of the community we live in. It means the way that we get stuck on a thought, what we think and hook into becomes bigger than us. A silly example would be:

I see doughnut (yum) >  My memory recalls sensation of bliss (mouth waters) > I devour doughnut (or half dozen) > Doughnut tickles my being (sugar dancing in mouth) >
Goes about its secret business (digests, turns into a little bit more fat than i was hoping for) >
Ultimately impacts in ways that make me feel worthless ( i think I am fat, or don’t like my pimples)…..
It really depends on how many times we run the loop, it all comes back to thought. And i am not saying don’t eat fun stuff, I am talking about doughnut addicts.
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Making Friends With the Enemy 
If we are smart, self-loving, alert, tender with ourselves, we will develop a sense of ‘well-being, problem is that’self care and love’ is the wisdom fruit of life’s experiences. So let’s short track this.
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In the same way that a clear pond way up in the hills, in the wooded valleys has fresh water coming in; we need to refresh our thoughts, to keep new information coming in so we don’t stagnate. Personally, I go for science and technology, quantum physics and break-through’s, I ponder the stars and dream a lot, question religious texts and try and get inside them, study and explore different aspects music.  I do this because I UNDERSTAND ADDICTION and the plasticity of the brain.  If I freeze and become addicted to things that undermine me, I would lose my sparkle for life. I have an obligation to those who I love, those who have left the world already, those who have taken the time to offer me the knowledge they had; so I seek joy in the depth of experience. My nature is addictive, I was very aware of that at a young age and in a stroke of genius turned it into my friend. I have learned to use it to my advantage; to choose things that are good, not just those that feel good temporarily.
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And it’s that simple.

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 Yoga of Self-Awareness

Thought provoking Article by guest writer – Arizona

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

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

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

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.