Please feel free to read this blog and join in. I hope you will write something inspirational, inspiring, spiritual, controversial, amusing, engaging or just plain run of the mill. But please don't be brusque, churlish or licentious.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Observe Yourself

The first step in self observation is the ability to calm the mind.  I'm not talking about stopping thoughts because that is basically impossible.  Calming the mind means to slow down the speed and frequency at which negative and unnessary thoughts enter the mind.  For example, if you can't go to sleep because negative thoughts keep coming up you have a problem.  If negative thoughts interfere with daily activities then your mind is out of control and isn't calm.

If you sit quietly and focus directly on your breathing you will sooner or later notice the process of thinking going on. If the thoughts are images of events that have happened or things that might happen, they are unnessary thoughts.  If the thoughts are voices of you carrying on a conversation with someone, they are unnessary.  Both negative and unnessary thoughts are incessant thoughts that are not conducive to a quiet and calm mind.  A calm mind has very few negative and unnessary thoughts.

The mind's job is to move and when it is not controlled it can get out of hand.  To calm the mind requires focusing it on one single object like the breath or an image.  This gives the mind something to do and in the process it will eventually become calmer.  The breath is excellent on which to focus because it is always present as long as you are alive. 

There are many techniques in using just the breath for calming the mind but I am going to suggest this one simple technique that is guaranteed to work.  When you want to calm your mind simply breathe slowly in the nose and slowly out as you count each breath. The goal is to reach 15.  Every time a negative or an unnessary thought appears you must start over with one.  When you reach 15 your mind will be calm.

Next - What to do once the mind is calm.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Know Yourself

In the Tao Te Ching there is a quote that goes something like this; "He who knows others is wise but he who knows himself is enlightened.  The question is, how does one get to know himself?  You might say that you already know yourself.  You have a name, your are a man (or woman), you know what you like and dislike, you have values and beliefs that enable you to discriminate between good and bad, all of your experiences with friends, foes, lovers, and everything that life has thrown at you up to this point have helped make you who you are today and on and on.

I am here to tell you, that is not really you.  All that s**t has done is mask and blot out the true you.  The true you has nothing to do with your sex, your likes, dislikes, values, beliefs and so on.  The true you was here long before all of those things influenced you and made you into who you think you are.  To know yourself you have to know your mind because your mind thinks it is you and you think you are your mind.  You have been so brainwashed into thinking you are this and that to the point you believe it.  You think you are your thoughts.  Ha, you silly willy. That is not even close to the real you.  It's time to get real.

First, you must get to know and really understand the thing you call yourself.  You must learn to observe yourself, not with your thinking mind, but with complete awareness that exists beyond the mind. To observe yourself means to notice, inquire, and get in touch with the way "you" are - to understand why "you" do what "you" do.  Self observation is the key to understanding yourself and that is why meditation is so important.  Watching your mind at work and your reactions to those thoughts is the best way to understand yourself.  By knowing how your mind works, you can get in touch with your self.

Next - How to observe yourself. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Saturday morning meditation

Since Sunday was Christmas we decided to have our Sunday morning meditation on Saturday at Bill's farm.  He has a gigantic 100 year old live oak tree in the back forty which is excellent to meditate under.  The weather was not as cold as the week before and the ambiance of the surrounding countryside proved to be the perfect setting for sitting with the mind. 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Sunday morning meditation

I've been having some good conversations with my local meditation buddies as well as with some friends who came down from the cold north.  Although this is Florida, we had some cool weather during Sunday morning meditation.  We started a fire in the fire pit and each person talked about their philosophy concerning life, death and the hereafter. After the discussion we sat in silence for an hour and enjoyed the peacefulness of the crackling fire and sounds of the forest creatures. 

Being with friends and sounds of nature allowed my consciousness to expand to its outer most limits, beyond the thinking mind.  Slowly and methodically breathing through each chakras, one by one, brought energy finally to the crown chakra where everything opened into pure awareness.  It was as though every cell in my body separated from each other and flew out in all directions.  There was no longer a "me" or an "I" to relate to.  All there was was awareness.  It was neither good nor bad - it just was.  When the timer went off everything slowly came back together and there I was once again sitting by the fire. 

An hour had gone by in the wink of an eye.  Clock time had gone by very fast.  The experience of being in pure awareness seemed like only a few seconds but is was actually one hour.  This is because pure awareness has no time.  There is no passage of time, it is always NOW.  

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Musings on Energy

Although energy appears inanimate and ethereal, there is no denying that it is inherent in all that exists.  The vibrating forces of energy pervade throughout space and every galaxy as well your mind and every cell of your body.

Be as the wind - the life blood of earth.  Be as the ocean - the ebb and flood of life.  Be as light - pure, clean and bright.

When you feel presence of prana running through your body you are in tune with the very essence of life.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Musings on Awareness

In order to become aware you must first be able to control your thoughts.
Awareness is simply the act of waking up.
Through the knowing that all beings and all things are sacred you can discover within yourself the light and grace of pure awareness.
Merge your awareness with the in breath and the out breath as though they are waves in the ocean. Inhale on the crest of the wave and exhale on the trough - allowing your consciousness to become the ocean.
By being aware of the ego one can realize and observe all attachments but at the same time not be attached.
When you see the formless in the form, the nameless in a name, the personality behind the impersonal and God in everything, your awareness will become pure.
Total awareness is knowing you are more than a mind and a body.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Musings on LIfe

Labels are the social roles we play in life, they are not what we are.

People are anxious to "improve" situations and other people but are not willing to improve themselves.

If you are alive, your mission here on earth is not over.

Once you have inner peace, you have found the ultimate teacher.

There are more people in the world you can trust than there were yesterday, but not as many as tomorrow. The same is true for liars.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Musings on the MInd

How can the mind perceive something that made it?

To improve the mind we should meditate more and think less.


If I keep thinking I know everything, and pretending that I am able to answer everything - I will continuie to live in a dream and never really know anything.

Don't believe everything your mind tells you.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Musings on Meditation

The power of meditation is only as effective as the meditator's ability to focus on an object.

There is no need to try and explain reality with words, concepts, ideas and beliefs.
Simply exist in its stillness and experience it.

Don't intentionally think. Be able to recognize thoughts and let them go.

Close your eyes so you may see.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Musings on Wisdom

Wisdom begins by asking.

The wise person knows he knows nothing.

When you meet a wise person it is best to ask, not tell.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Musings on the Universe

The universe looks like a physical, mechanical system, but is it?

You and I are not dualities but a single union of power and grace within the universe.

The universe is like an infinite, multidimensional spider web capturing and relaying various
densities of energy.

The universe, from infinite smallness to infinite largeness is in all of us, there is no exception.
However, it takes opening up to that fact to recognize it.

Your mental imaging can link you with the cosmic mind beyond space and time and allow
you to experience something that the five senses can never do.

Musings on the Universe

Monday, December 5, 2011

Musings on the Truth

If you want the truth, don't be for or against anything.

In the universe, there are things that are known and unknown. In between is the truth.

If you don't measure your beliefs with some measure of doubt you may miss the truth.

Everyone has the capacity to know their true home but not everyone knows how.
To do so requires knowing who you truly are by observing and understanding the
self. After that it is all downhill.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Health Mantra

Here is a great mantra that I find relaxing and healing. It's called the Health Mantra (Siri Gaitri Mantra), one of the oldest mantas from the Vedas dating back four thousand years. The first part of the mantra, Ra Ma Da Sa, expands every part of your being into heaven for healing any illness you may have. The second part, Sa Say So Hung, brings the healing qualities back to you.

If you click the video to the right you will hear Snatam Kaur sing it.

Ra Ma Da Sa, Sa Say So Hung

Ra - symbolizes the Sun. The Sun is the source of energy, life and warmth of the universe and purifies and energizes all beings.

Ma - symbolizes water. It is healing, cooling and nurturing.

Da - the Earth principle which provides calming and grounding of body and mind.

Sa - symbolizes air, sky and space. It is prana - the life force of the universe.

The second Sa is the turning point causing the spirit to descend from heaven back into the body for vitalizing it with healing life.

Say - is the pathway for the healing force to follow.

So - brings the healing force into your personal body.

Hung - comes in two parts: Hu, the vibrating force of God. It is sounded with the lips slowly coming lightly together while making a humming sound. The second part: ng, causes the sound Hung to vibrate in the head and down into the chest. This brings the vital force into all parts of the body. The vibrating sound "ng" is produced by bringing the back of the tongue up against the palate while opening the mouth.

As you chant the mantra, simply allow yourself to expand out into the universe and merge back with the healing force. Enjoy.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

My Experience

The most beautiful truth is not about worldly facts but about the innermost experience of yourself. An intellectual conception is not as significant or interesting as an experience that finds the truth within you - the true Being. Is it really impossible to have definite answers to questions that are thought to be incontestable? Can an experience beyond consciousness and thoughts be described accurately with words. I believe it can. I am suggesting that it is possible to describe a subjective experience that is beyond consciousness and thoughts.

My experience with the subjective world is one of extreme clarity and beauty. With all senses nullified I exist in complete silence and go into a sea of tranquility. And then, in that one moment the answer appears; "There is no reason." There is no reason for things to exist. The human mind thinks there needs to be a reason or a purpose for things to exist. Don't get me wrong, I like to believe that human beings have a purpose for existing; that we are here to evolve into higher conscious beings, but that is still my mind at work. We may be evolving but accoring to my vision that is not why we exist.

When I am in deep tranquility and vividness I have a vision that everything in the universe and beyond is interconnected and it all interplays synergistically; each individual thought and action affects everything in the web of life and death one way or another. I see fields of energy throughout the universe connecting all things. But that doesn't mean interaction has a purpose. The whole mess of stuff and things moving and changing exist within no change. There is formless in the form, unchanching in the changing, nameless in a name and God in everything. By any other name it is still the same.

Each individual can reach his own answer by returning to the fundamental introspection of his own being and become totally aware of his own distinctiveness. Subjective innermost personal experience is necessary for understanding the Absolute.

Pure awareness, therefore, seems to me the best way for answers to all so called unanswerable questions. You cannot understand the truth until you have experienced it personally and inwardly. You can fool yourslef into thinking you know much more about who you are and why you exist, and so you over-estimate thinking and believe that the mind alone gives you a true explanation. But remember, the mind is wrong 99% of the time. You cannot find the answer to the ultimate question, "Why am I," until you go beyond the mind and take possession of the innermost experience of yourself.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Why am I?

The persistent mind wants to know, among other things, why the universe with all its stars, planets and life on earth exist. The need to know is what the mind, with its attached ego, demands. The mind is forever seeking answers to questions to which it can never know. The mind wants to know not only who am I? but why am I? The first question was answered in the last two posts. This post will attempt to answer the second question.

Our senses relay information from the outside world to our brain which interprets the information as facts. The interpretations are filled with past experiences, beliefs, assumptions and generalizations. The interpretations the mind makes are no more factual than the moon is made of cheese, the earth is flat or the earth is the center of the universe. Our cognitive biases are formed from what we want and think to be true of "what is out there." The mind is wrong about 99% of the time. You cannot rely on the mind to give you answers to incontestable questions. It's impossible. There is no way to escape the illusions generated by the mind because the illusions are manifestations garnered over thousands of years - generations after generations.

One way, and maybe the only way, to find the answer to "why am I?" is to still the mind and go beyond the ego. I am not talking about your general run-of-the-mill meditation here. To still the mind and go beyond the ego you must go beyond the limitations of your own consciousness into a realm of clarity seldom sought by most human beings. The clear vision is like a conscious altered state in which you have an "aha" experience. In the vividness you are still awake but no thoughts are being processed or perceived. To go into this increased state of vivid awareness you have to learn to quell all senses and become one with the internal and external universe. The answer will come if you are patient enough and are willing to listen without letting thoughts muddle the view. You might want to go back a read my post, "Going beyond Thoughts," August 25, 2011, in order to get a better understanding of how to clear your mind of thoughts.

To start the process of going beyond the mind you must sit in a very comfortable position with pillows, bolsters or whatever it takes to be as comfortable as possible. This you can experiment with until you get what is just right for you. Close off all of your senses as much as possible. You may want to wear ear plugs to muffle sounds, a scarf or bandanna over your eyes to shut out light, and position you arms and hands in a way they don't feel heavy. You cannot try to clear your mind of thoughts because the more you try the more they will invade your mind. It becomes a useless task to try. Begin by relaxing into your breathing and focus on the breath. Thoughts will invariably come and go but pay no attention to them. Keep your concentration, attention and focus on the breath. The breath comes in and the breath goes out. Relax but don't fall asleep.

It may take thirty minutes, an hour or even more before thoughts begin to dissipate fully. With the senses dampened and no thoughts there will be quietness beyond your imagination. You will be floating in a sea of tranquility. If you happen to come out of the tranquil state at this time you will discover more time has passed than expected. But if you continue on with your journey you will become deeply engulfed in the present moment and your sense of reality will become more vivid. The longer you stay in the sea the clearer the answer will become.

While you are in the sea of tranquility you will experience ultimate reality but may not remember it immediately when you come back to normal reality. If you do remember the experience you will have your answer. If you don't remember, it may take you a few more attempts before you do. In either case it will be your experience of ultimate reality and the answer to why you and everything else is here.

I encourage you to take the plunge into the miraculous sea of tranquility. And please let those of us on this site know what you discovered. If enough of us describe our experiences we might come up with a consensus and have a universal answer to the "ultimate" question. I will describe my experience on the next post.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Who am I? cont'd

The question, who am I? discussed in the previous post was, on the whole, answered by saying I am the true Self. We are all the true Self but we may not realize it because of the grasp the ego has on us. What is in one individual is the same in all individuals - an eternal power that pervades the entire universe. Each individual human being must discover this for themself.

There is nothing absolutely stable, nothing permanent in us except for the knowing there is constant change. In us as well as in the universe there is ceaseless movement and change. Our bodies as well as our thoughts, emotions, feelings, desires, i.e., everything that combined roughly called the body and mind are constantly changing and moving; there is nothing absolutely stable and permanent except for the feeling that we have always been the same person no matter what our age. There has always been the feeling, or better yet the knowing, we are the same being from year to year. This unchanging presence is the very ground of our eternal existence. This is the true Self.

This is why we can experience the universe as something spreading deep within us as well as spreading out into boundless space even beyond the universe, beyond all stars and planets, beyond space and time. Everything is unlimited and constant yet forever changing. This is the one common ground we all have in common. That one common ground is the basis for the oft heard sayhing that we are all One.

If it is true that we are the unchanging as well as constant moving why does this ceaseless "going on" even exist? Is there a purpose for all of this stuff and all of this moving and changing? There cannot be movement without non-movement and there cannot be non-movement without movement. One without the other has no meaning. The system of movement and the system of non-movement are not two separate independent systems at all, but actually one system. They are one and the same.

To think of yourself as separate and independent from all else is an illusion of the mind because there is only one reality and that reality is oneness. Since we are all ultimate Beings and there is only one ultimate Being there cannot be many ultimate Beings. There is no division between movement and non-movement, between change and non-change, and between you and me.

Next, Why am I?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Who am I?

Eckhart Tolle mentions in his book, The Power of NOW, that he once had thoughts about his life being so meaningless that he thought he couldn't live with himself any longer. And then suddenly he became aware how peculiar that thought was. "If I cannot live with myself, there must be two of me: the 'I' and the 'self' that 'I' cannot live with."

I know I have, and probably other people have asked "Who am I." Not only who am I but why am I? The first question may be easier to answer than the second. I would like to tackle the first question first and then the second question later. Please feel free to chime in and post your comments at any time.

When I am in deep meditation - I mean really deep - there is no sense of self. Like today, I prepared myself for meditation by getting into some very comfortable clothing. I looked at the clock, it was 3:15 PM. I put ear plugs in my ears and shooter's ear mufflers over them with a bandanna around my eyes. No sound and no light was evident. Then I sat cross legged in a swinging hammock and placed my arms and hands in such a position they weren't touching anything. It was like suspended animation with most of the senses shut off. All there was was a sense of breathing and a sense of presence. I then began imagining breathing through the chakras beginning with the first chakra at the base of the spine. Slowly I went up the spine, one chakra at a time, concentrating on the chakras as my breath went in and out of the spinning wheels.

I don't remember reaching the last chakra. The only thing I could sense was presence and a void - an open space that seemed to extend on forever. And then the sense of presence was gone - there was no self. The only thing that remained was silence and space. And then it seemed as though suddenly my senses came alive. I could feel my breathing and my arms resting in my lap. I could hear, ever so slightly, the muffled sounds of dogs barking and a little stream of light coming in around the edges of the bandanna. I took the bandanna and ear muffs off and discovered my legs were asleep; numb from sitting cross legged. I looked at the clock on the wall and it was 5:30 PM. Two hours and fifteen minutes had passed.

Had I been asleep for more than two hours, in deep dreamless sleep, or had the self become one with the Absolute? I was either in deep nondreaming sleep or had completely lost the self. Whatever the case, I had been formless with no identity of the body or mind. Sri Nisargadatta says, "When you are very quiet, you have arrived at the basis of everything. When you are in that state, you have no awareness of your existence." Evidently the self with all of its concepts, thoughts, senses, beliefs and even consciousness had left for those two hours and fifteen minutes. The true Self was the only thing remaining.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Most Ancient Mantra

In the Rig Veda there is a singing mantra (the Gayatri Mantra) which is said to be the oldest mantra known to man. Below is the mantra with my interpretation of the phonetic pronunciation. Below the mantra is a translation by Swami Vivacananda. You can click on the video at the right to hear Deva Premal sing the mantra. I use the lovely mantra as a sing along in my yoga classes.

Om bhur bhuvah svah
(Om boo bo-vaha - va ha)

Tat savitur varenyam,
(Tatsavitu varne-neyam)

Bhargo devasya dhimahi;
(Bargo deva-sademahe)

Dhiyo yonah prachodayat
(Deyo yona-- pra-choo-die-ya)


We meditate on the glory
Of that Being who has
Produced this universe;
May He enlighten our minds.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Consciousness and Pure Awareness

Consciousness is when you are aware that you are awake and alive with thoughts, feelings, and emotions. It can be either strong or weak, but attachment to the body and the mind are present. In consciousness there is always an ego and to get rid of it is virtually impossible. As long as there is consciousness there is an experience of "I Am."

Pure awareness is still within consciousness but it is far beyond the other states of consciousness. If you are very acute to your states of consciousness you can easily understand and experience the various levels that your mind and thoughts reside in any moment during your waking state.

Although you may be conscious you may not necessarily know what your body is doing. This may sound strange but this is the state of consciousness in which most people reside most of the time. In this particular state of consciousness thoughts are not in harmony with the body. This narrow state of consciousness is called waking sleep. The diagram on the right illustrates the various states of consciousness with the Absolute being non-consciousness. The Absolute ends at the edge of the diagram, of course, but in actuality goes on indefinitely.

Absorption and attention are two other states of consciousness in which you can find yourself. If you have ever been so caught up in something like a movie or a sporting event to the point you feel as though you are actually in the action, you have experienced absorption. Attention is when you are intently listening and/or watching something or someone but not caught up in it to the point of being absorbed. However, the act of paying attention can drag you into absorption and even waking sleep without you being aware of it.

When your mind and body are in harmony with one another and your thoughts are in the moment and you have a sense of what's going on around you, you are in a state of consciousness known as awareness. When you are in awareness your thoughts are connected to what you are doing. You may be talking to someone while noticing the other person's expressions and mannerisms, and you are aware of other people and vehicles passing by, the various sounds in the area, and other external conditions. You are totally in the moment.

Last put not least is pure awareness. Pure awareness is awareness with one additional component. That one additional component is the awareness that there is something present which is greater than you. That something may be a feeling of vastness or power in the universe. It may be a knowing that everything in the world and the cosmos is connected. It may be God or it may be a sense that there is a giant eye watching you and everyone and everything. Whatever it is, it is infinite and everlasting. Pure awareness is the ultimate state of consciousness. There is no other level of consciousness that will give you more clarity in the awakened state.

If you were to go beyond pure awareness you would no longer be conscious. You would not be thinking or sensing. There would be no body or mind. You would have no desires, worries, attachments, experiences or even awareness of anything. It would be non-consciousness, much like dreamless sleep. Non-consciousness is the Absolute and existed prior to your birth and will exist after your life. The Absolute exists, even now, in your life during sleep and awake. In non-consciousness (the Absolute) there is no sense of presence because the "you," the "me," the "I Am" no longer exist.

Pure awareness and the Absolute may overlap and merge together but ever-so slightly. When you are on the edge of pure awareness you may be at the point of going into non-consciousness. By abiding in pure awareness you will soon come to the realization that you are not this, but you are the Absolute and always have been. When on the edge of pure awareness everything is very quiet and there is spaciousness and no thoughts but there is still a sense of presence. Presence is the experience of "I Amness" and a sense of self. Although thoughts are absent there is still the sense of being because the body is still present.

Although the Absolute is always present, the sense of it is lost due to the thinking mind. Your mind creates concepts about yourself and about others forming what is known as the ego. The ego keeps you identified with your mind and body. When you see yourself as someone or something, you have identified yourself with concepts and therefore have lost touch with the Absolute. When you are in pure awareness the sense of mind and body are minimal and the deeper you go into pure awareness the more you will lose touch with them. It is possible to go so deep that the body and mind disappear. This is about as close as you will ever get to the Absolute and still remain in touch with presence. The only thing that exists at that point is the sense of presence.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Intricacies of Pure Awareness

Being in pure awareness brings you into a totally different realm of existence than what you are probably use to. For the most part you have lived most of your life in waking sleep, absorption, and maybe you have even paid attention now and then. But in pure awareness you can turn to the inner world and the outer world by taking less thought and more insight into the Source of all that is. You become attuned to the silence deep within the core of your very being - the transforming life force - the True Self. You realize that you are more than just a body and a mind - you are one with all that is and everything that isn't.

The inner world is the innermost depths of your being; every cell, molecule, atom, energy, and non-energy. The outer world is everything outside of you; trees, sky, stars, and beyond. In pure awareness there is no "I" or "me." Even though there may be chaos all around, all is quiet inwardly and outwardly with silence permeating your very existence.

You may have experienced this phenomenon at various times in your life and not realized it. It may have been when you gazed at a beautiful sunset in awe. For that brief, tender moment you were not thinking about your worries, problems, desires and values. For that moment you were immersed in the beauty and wonderment of the moment and you were one with all what was happening. The self was nonexistent in that very brief moment in time.

There are all kinds of ways to express one's experience with pure awareness but words cannot describe it. Some say they are are in the space of awareness that contains everything. Some people say that it is the intimate feeling of being in the presence of a higher power while others might believe themselves to be part of an impartial and indifferent space called the infinite. In another experience, you may "melt" into and become the vast space of awareness or void of the universe.

We may have a variety of labels for pure awareness but our concepts and interpretations do not really matter. These are simply conceptualizations that do not belong in the direct experience. Of course we are limited by our senses and experiences but we can still have a profound love and appreciation for what extends beyond whatever we want to call it.

Next, we will take a look at consciousness and where pure awareness fits into it.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Beauty of Pure Awareness

You are a conscious, living being. You can be happy one moment and sad the next. You have a body and you have a mind. Consciousness, emotions, body, and mind are so interrelated it is often difficult to discern where one starts and another ends. It can be very confusing. But it doesn't have to be confusing because you have the capacity to let all the confusion go. You can allow yourself to open up to a bigger picture.

If you live in a narrow consciousness, you are limiting yourself to a limited view of what life has to offer. By ignoring what nature has provided for you right here and now, in this world of wonderment and beauty, it is like living in a dark cave. It is as though you are in a cave with one flashlight seeing only objects on which the light falls. You see only small segments of the cave one piece at a time. The light shines on a stalagmite one moment and then a stalactite, and then a bat hanging on the ceiling, and then a fish in a pool. There are many things you are missing with your narrow beam of light. Such is the case with narrow consciousness.

Take your time, slow down, and "smell the coffee." Be alive and enjoy life. Enjoy the inner and outer beauty and the inner and outer joy that God has given you. Allow your consciousness to expand and become one with nature. Use your whole body and mind, all of your senses, your surroundings and the natural environment internally and externally. Seeking something away from yourself and away from the world always ends up in a tragedy because you can never find what you are looking for. Mother Nature (God) has provided you with so much here in this world there is no need to look somewhere else.

Pure awareness allows you to see the big picture and all its magnificence. Pure awareness goes beyond lower levels of consciousness of waking sleep and absorption and way beyond paying attention. Pure awareness even goes beyond awareness. Pure awareness is very close to the outer limits of consciousness.

Come out of the cave and stand in the sunlight, under the clouds. Hear the wind and see the magnificent colors of the country side. Feel your heart beating in rhythm with billions of other hearts. You are not alone. Be aware of your breathing. Sense the prana - the life force within you. Your awareness expands into the cosmos, beyond the stars, the planets, and into infinity. This is the beauty of pure awareness.

Next - The intricacies of pure awareness.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Svetasvatara Upanishad

Although this is the last Upanishad I will review it was one of the favorites of Swami Prabhavananda. Swami Prabhavananda was a famous Indian philosopher, monk, author and religious teacher in the early 20th century.

This particular Upanishad focuses on how to properly meditate for becoming one with Brahman (God). It also discusses the importance of Om, Maya, the mind and the body for that union. This is the only scripture of the Upanishads which mentions a wheel as applied to birth, death, and rebirth. The wheel is mentioned twice in the scripture and stresses the importance of freeing one's self from its grip in order to become immortal.

The scripture is relatively short but at the end there are 175 lines of poetic verses giving praise to Brahman. I can easily imagine how it could be used as a mantra.

The instructions on how to meditate in order to realize God are rather straight forward as follows:

Where you meditate must be free from disturbing noises and "pleasing to the eye and quieting to the mind." The correct posture is very important when meditating. You must sit upright with the chest, neck, and head in straight alignment. The senses and the mind must be focused on the lotus of the heart. By uttering "OM," concentration and focus will deepen so that pure consciousness becomes distinct from ordinary consciousness which usually pervates the mind.

By meditating on the Infinite, the Absolute, you will lose the illusion (Maya) that you are the body and the mind. You will become one with God. Birth, death, and rebirth will be no more and Inner Reality will be realized.

I would like to discuss the aspects of pur awareness in more detail in the next post.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Kaivalya Upanishad

This is a very short and to the point scripture explaining Brahman and how to meditate and become Brahman. The first part of the scripture is a question from a disciple questioning the teacher about Brahman and the rest of the scripture is the teacher's answer. The teacher's answer is in two parts: 1) how to meditate and 2) the characteristics of Brahman.

Here are the teacher's directions for meditation:

1) Retire in solitude.
2) Sit in a clean environment.
3) Have an erect posture with head and neck in a straight line.
4) Be indifferent to the world.
5) Control all of your senses.
6) Focus on your heart, be mindful and meditate on Brahman.

The teacher goes on for two pages about Brahman, but in essence what he says is that Brahman is the infinite - the All. Brahaman is the witness of everything. Brahman is the unchanging Reality. Focus on this truth and become Brahman for now and forever and become one with Brahman.

After that Brahman speaks and says "I was not born; I have neither body, nor senses, nor mind. I, the Supreme Self, dwell in the lotus of the heart. I am pure. I am One without a second.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Brihadarankyaka Upanishad

It took me awhile getting through this Upanishad because I became engrossed in the dialogues between the characters. I studied the stories and took notes so it took me more time than usual getting through the scripture. This scripture kept me intrigued because it kept hinting that it would divulge the secret of how to know the true Self. I didn't want to miss the details.

The characters in Brihadarankyaka are seers, lengendary sages and gurus who slowly release their knowledge of the true Self to their various inquisitors. The students, princes and kings who come to these enlightened ones keep asking them about how to know the true Self and how to become one with it. They want to obtain this knowledge for the sake of becoming liberated from the drudgeres of life. But the gurus are shrewed and slow to release the information at the consternation of both the questioners and the reader (me). The gurus want to keep their inquisitors quering them to make sure they have honest intentions and are not just curosity seekers. Eventually the answer to who the Self is and how it is attain is revealed.

The scripture starts off with Vamadeva who is actually god Shiva. Vamadeva soon realizes who Brahman is and immediately becomes the true Self. He proclains for all those who seek and learn to know Brahman will become the true Self as well. From there the story switches to a conversation between Ajatasatru (a guru) and Gargya (a seeker). In the beginning the two argue over what is Brahman and what is the best way to worship him. Finally after much discussion and argueing Gargya asks Ajatasatru to teach him about Brahman.

Ajatasatrue and Gargya come upon a man sleeping and Ajatasatru explains that when the man is in deep sleep he is without senses and thought. But when he is dreaming he lives in a world of his own with actions, desires, and worries much like the waking state. The Self is without actions, desires, and worry like deep, dreamless sleep. Gargya leaves with understanding of Brahman, focuses his meditation on Brahman and becomes one with Brahman.

The next story is about a legendary sage, Yagnavalka, who has two wives. His second wife, Maitreyi, married the sage primarily to learn how to become wise like him and become immortal through knowing Brahman. Yagnavalka explains to her that wealth, wishing, hoping, and desiring immortality will not work. He tells her that she must hear about Brahman, learn about Brahman and constantly meditate upon it. He says, "By knowing the Self, my beloved, through hearing, reflecton, and meditation one comes to know all things."

He explains to her that in order to know Brahman one must become dissolved in the Eternal - pure consciousness. Consciousness must disappear for there is no consciousness in divine illumination. He explains to Maitreyi that consciousness must disappear. Where there is the true Self, individuality is no more. However, Maitreyi is confused and doesn't understand.

Yagnavalkya explains to her that duality is the result of living in the self and the material world, but when one becomes dissolved in the illuminated soul one becomes the true Self. He further tells her that she must understand that Brahman is the soul in each person and that he is indeed the Self in all because the true Self is all. There is nothing more or less than the Self.

King Janaka of Videha becons Yagnavalkya to his palace and in the end tries to give Yagnavalkya a thousand cows for being so wise. Yagnavalkya becomes so popular that people all over the kingdom seek him out. He has conversations with many people and explains to them that "The knower of the truth of Brahman overcomes death." They all want to know what he knows. They want to learn about Brahman. They want to know how to meditate on Brahman. Yagnavalkya does his best but they don't seem to understand. They continue asking him the same questions over and over and he continues to give them answers in all kinds of ways but they still don't get it. They get angry and try to trip him up by testing him with puzzles and word games but he anwers them all correctly. They want to reward him with thousands of cows but he refuses saying, "One should not accept any reward from a diciple without fully instructing them."

The questioning and answering goes on for quite some time and finally Janaka asks Yagnavalkya, "Who is the Self?" Yagnavalkya tells him that there are three states of being - the state in this world, the state in the next, and an intermediate state between the first two. The intermediate state is like dreaming where you experience both this world and that of the next. When you die you will live only in the subtle body illuminated by the pure light of the Self. In the intermediate state there are no real material things; only the light of the Self. The most profound statement that Yagnavalkya makes is, "Everyone is aware of the experience; no one sees the Experiencer. The Self shines by its own light."

Below is my summary:

To become Brahman (the true Self) you must do three things:
1) Learn about Brahman.
2) Reflect on Brahman
3) Meditate on Brahman

Braham and the true Self are the same thing. In today's terms they are known as God - the Creator - the Absolute - the All. The true Self is beyond the small self you call "me" with all your material baggage. In order to know the true Self you must lose all your baggage including your attachment to the mind and your body.

In order to reflect on Brahman you must experience him, and in order to experience him you have to meditate in absolute silence without sensations or thoughts. You must experience what it is like to have full illumination without senses and thinking.

Once you know Brahman and have experienced him you must live your life in his presence. This requires full awareness of his illumination. You must live your daily life with the realization that Brahman's illumination is in every thing and everything is Brahman with no exceptions. Then and only then will you become Brahman.

The next Upanishad is Kaivalya Upanishad. A very short scripture.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Chandogya Upanishad

So, anyway, here we are back with the Upanishads. This Upanishad, the Chandogya Upanishad, is the longest I've read up to this point. It's about eight thousand words long. The other Upanishads are shorter, in the range of one thousand to two thousand words.

The first part of this Upanishad stresses the importance of knowing Brahman as the true Self. According to this scripture Brahman is the light that shines in the hearts of all men, of the world and of the universe. By concentrating on Brahman one can become one with Brahman. All human desires, sensations, thoughts, deeds and appearances come from Brahman (God). But even so, these things are not all the important because they are superficial and do not convey the true essence of Brahman.

This scripture says that the true Self is achieved by having a purified mind and a purified mind is achieved through meditation, sacrifices to study of the scriptures, almsgiving, austerity, the practice of continence and having a good teacher. I thought it sort of strange to say "sacrifices to study of the scriptures" until I realized how repetitive and boring they are after about the first four scriptures. So I will plow through them and sacrifice, hoping you can stay with me through the duration. There are only three more to go, so please don't give up on me. Let's see if we can get though this together.

The last part of this scripture hammers home the idea that Brahman and the Self are the essence of all things. It does this with conversations between various students and their gurus. The students ask questions and the gurus answer by telling stories that eventually lead up to the answser which always is the fact that Brahman is everything and once you understand that you become one with Brahman. The messages are basically the same; the stories different. Here are some samples:

Student - "I have head from the wise that the knowledge that the Guru imparts will alone lead to the supreme good."
Guru - "The life is Brahman. The sky is Brahman. Bliss is Brahman. Know thou Brahman!"

Student - "Please, sir, tell me more about the Self."
Guru - "The body dies when the Self leaves it - but the Self dies not."

Student - "In what does the infinite rest?"
Guru - "The infinite is below, above, behind, before, to the right, to the left. This infinite is the Self. The Self is below, above, behind, before, to the right, to the left. One who knows, meditates upon, and realizes the truth of the Self - such as one delights in the Self, revels in the Self, rejoices in the Self."

Student - "What then is that which dwells within this little house, this lotus of the heart, is to be sought after, inquired about, and realized?"
Guru - "The lotus of the heart, where Brahman exists in all his glory - that, and not the body, is the true city of Brahman. Brahman, dwelling therein, is untouched by any deed, ageless, deathless, free from grief, free from hunger and from thirst."

Student - "How does one become realized one with Brahman?"
Guru - "By becoming absorbed in the Self. The Self is immortal. The Self is Brahman. This Brahman is eternal truth."

Students - We have heard that one who realizes the Self obtains all the worlds and all desires. We have lived here because we want to learn of this Self."

Guru - "The Self is indeed seen in these. The Self is immortal and fearless, and it is Brahman. And the pupils went away well pleased."

Student - "In such knowledge I can see no good. I require further knowledge about the Self."

Guru - "Rising above physical consciousness, knowing the Self to be distinct fromt he senses and the mind - knowing it in its true light - one rejoices and is free."

These few quotes were taken from many, many pages of text and are only a fraction of the dialogues between students and gurus. But they reflect the main purpose of this scripture in that one must meditate on the higher Self and not physical things in order to be free from worldly problems, desires and thoughts.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Who wrote the Upanishads?

Michael Beloved wrote:

One thing that seems to be missing in your report on the Upanishads, is the names of the people involved in writing and also those who are mentioned by the writers. Unless those names are irrelevant or if you feel it just has no place in the report. Or perhaps those books were written by just energy in mid-space and no human agency was involved. Thatis interesting because some people in India say that the Vedas were no written by anyone. It just is. Is this the case with the Upanishads?

The Upanishads are part of the Vedas and the Vedas are regarded by the orthodox Hindus as the highest authority of all scriptures. They consider the Vedas the ultimate expression of divine truth. The Vedas consist of a large body of texts handed down generation after generation and are considered infinite and eternal and the word of God.

However, having said that, no one knows who wrote the Vedas or exactly how old they really are. The lives and the names of the individuals who actually wrote the Vedas have been lost after having been passed down and shuffled around for thousands of years. I think that humans were indeed involved in writing the texts; they just happen to change, get lost and authors forgotten as time went on. Also, no one knows exactly how many were written. Out of the 108 extant Upanishads, only 16 are recognized as authentic and authoritative by Shankara. Shankara was an Indian scholar during the 7th century and was an authority of Sanskrit. He basically established the doctrine of nondualism and the importance of living a monastic life that is encouraged in the Upanishads. So, he is looked upon by many Hindus as the major authority when it comes to the Upanishads.

I think one of the most interesting things about the Upanishads is they are considered to be the works of ancient saints and seers who were concerned with reporting insights and experieances which came to them though thoughts and visions. I also find it interesting that after all these years humans haven't changed much when it comes to wanting to believe that immortality, in one way or another, is possible. Reincarnation, soul ascending to heaven, Self transformation, etc. are all beliefs that keep us hoping for something better and something ever lasting.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Aitareya Upanishad

Aitareya is a relative short chapter in the book of Upanishads and has mostly to do with the true Self and how to become this god-like being. I am not going to quote any of this chapter but just lay down my take on it.

By being aware of consciousness you can transcend yourself and awaken to the true nature of pure consciousness. Thus, by known the true Self you transcend the sleeping state of human. Everyone is asleep before knowing and realizing the true Self. All people are going about doing this and that without being fully awake. Knowing you are not the body and the mind and all this thinking that's going on allows you to wake up and become one with God - the creator of all that is.

Saturday, October 15, 2011


Taittiriya Upanishad is somewhat like Mandukya Upanishad in that it talks about the aspects of OM but in a different light. In this scripture OM is spoken of as more of a spiritual or an ethereal representation of oneness than an explanation of what OM means. It is in this Upanishad we begin to see how the ancient sages saw OM as a way in which you could use it to unite with God and gain immortality of the soul.

According to this scripture a person is covered by sheaths of ignorance because he identifies himslef with material things. A person must discard the sheaths of ignorance in order to become one with Braham. The sheaths are: the physical body, the mental sheath, the intellectual sheath, and the ego. Beyond the sheaths is the Self. By taking refuge in Braham you can transcend ignorance and become one with the power of OM. OM is Brahman, OM is the Absolute. Only the wise will attain Braham.

A person who is knowledgable but does not know himself will not know Brahman. If you want to be wise and reach Brahman you must always tell the truth, read the scriptures, have good thoughts, practice self-denial, have austerity, give freely and abundantly with an unattached mind. So what are you waiting for?

This scripture also talks about the imporance of meditation for reaching oneness. "Seek to know Brahman by meditation. Meditation is Brahman." It mentions that the mind must be focused on Brahman (God) at all times. The focus must be on Brahman during work, play as well during quiet times alone and active times in groups. Those who do this this will know Reality.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

OM Explained

In Mandukya Upanishad the power of OM is explained. According to this scripture there are three aspects to OM that depict human consciousness. They are awake, dreaming sleep, and dreamless sleep. It is these three aspects which humans consider their state of being, or state of consciousness.

The awake state of consciousness is strictly what the senses detect. It may external or internal. It might be be sound of thunder or it might be the sound of your stomach growling. It might be the thoughts you are having or it might be the expression on someone's face. Dreaming is sleeping and enjoying subtle impressons of the past. Dreamless sleep is a state of no thoughts, desires or any of the sensations associated with the awake state or the dreaming state. It is these three states man considers consciousness and who he is.

There is a fourth aspect, however, that has been forgotten due to the world of consciousness and that aspect is the Self which is ineffable peace, love and supreme goodness. It is neither consciousness nor unconsciousness. It has nothing to do with the senses or their relative knowledge or even interential knowledge. The Self is beyond being awake, dreaming and the dreamless state. Maya is the illusion that you are the three states of consciousness and whoever understands this grows in wisdom and becomes supremely aware - purely aware. When that understanding takes hold maya disappears and the Self merges with the Absolute.

On the right is the Om symbol with its various parts labeled.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

I've been kind of derelict in writting on this blog for about a week. Sort of preoccupied with other things like meditation, yoga, and just generally slacking off. However, I have been reading the Upanishads off and on while sitting on the throne. I've gotten through Isha, Kena, Prasna, and Mundaka Upanishads. I haven't been all that impressed with what I've read so far. They all seem to be saying the same thing over and over.

The basic theme running though the Upanishads, up to this point, has mainly to do with the importance of meditation and devotion to a higher force in order to become one with the Self. The higher force referred to as Braham, the higher Self and sometimes the Absolute. The only deviation from this theme as been Prasna Upanishad. For the first time prana is mentoned. Prana is the life force that exists in all creatures, in the heavens and throughout the universe. Prana is the life force or energy that give life and is the "soul" of the universe. According to Prasna, when one sleeps prana gets closer to Self because the senses, the thoughts and desires are asleep too. The scripture also talks about the power of Om.

According to Prasna Upanishad, if you meditate on Om with "full consciousness" you will become united with the light of God - Brahman and become freed from evil and become immortal. Death will no longer be a problem. In order to have full consciousness you must have complete knowledge of the meaning of Om.

"The syllable OM, when it is not fully understood, does not lead beyond immortality. When it is fully understood, and meditation is therefore rightly directed, a man is freed from fear, whether he be awake, dreaming, or sleeping the dreamless sleep, and attains Brahman."

I shall plug onward with the Upanishads and report back with Mandukya and Taittiriya. Maybe they will shed more light on Om and how to become fully conscious of it. One can only hope.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Katha Upanishad

The Upanishads is probably boring to most people. It's 3,000 years old and has no sex or violence in it. Romance novels, wars and sports take up most of our money and time which indicates where our values lie. Not many people are interested in knowing what some ancient people say about emotions and a higher self. It's all too dull, monotoneous and dry. Why spend the time when life is so short?

This is the whole point - life is short. There is a greater meaning to life than just being intertained and stimulated during waking hours. There is a world beyond one's self that is often overlooked. This is what the Upanishads are trying to say, and they do a marvelous job of it. Not only that, they explain how to go beyond one's self-absorbed existence and into a wider, more beautiful reality.

I found Katha Upanishad easy to read. Not only that, it is interesting and to the point when it comes to how to go beyond the lower self. The writing has to do with a conversation between the disciple Nachiketus and the King of Death (Yama) about the Hereafter. The young disciple queries Yama about how he can go beyond the selfish self and attain immortality. Immortality he learns is not immortality of the body and the mind. Yama explains to Nachiketus that there are two selves, the apparent self and the real Self. To know the real Self is to truly exist beyond mind and body. Yama explains that in both the universe and the individual human being is something greater and grander, and that something is a pure Being - a higher Self which never changes - it is the immortal Self.

In order to reveal and know the real Self one must be non-judgmental, steady and clear of mind and have a pure heart. Only three requirements but they are difficult ones. First of all, how can one be non-judgmental? Think about it. We make judgments every day and it takes practically no effort at all. I look at a person and may think, "Boy is she fat" or "That person who just passed me going 70 MPH is sure an idiot." It happens automatically.

And what does it mean "to be clear of mind?" According to Katha Upanishad in order to have a clear mind one must put the mind and all the senses to rest. The thinking mind cannot waver. It must be steady and at ease with no worries or thoughts of the past or the future. It must be completely in the present moment.

Then there is the third requirement - to "have a pure heart?" According to Katha Upanishad a pure heart is one with no desires. Well, that doesn't seem to be easy does it? This evening I desired to have some ice cream and I did. To not have that desire I would have to have a clear mind - a mind without thoghts of the future. The thought of ice cream sure was a thought of the future.

So, how does one become non-judgmental, clear of mind and have no desires? According to this scripture you only have to do two things. That's all I could find; just two things. They are: meditation and yoga. Katha Upanishad doesn't get very deep into how to meditate or what kind of meditation one should do. "In the heart he (real Self) is revealed, through self-control and meditation. Those who know him become immortal." That's about it as far as meditation goes. As far as yoga is concerned not much is revealed here either. "This calm of the senses and the mind has been defined as yoga. He who attains it is freed from delusion."

I've been meditating and doing yoga for 15 years. I think I know what the real Self is and I believe I have experienced it several times but, unfortunately, not for long periods. Several times while meditating I have experienced going beyond the ego and the self but it was only for 10 or 15 minutes. Maybe that's better than nothing. During the day; while carrying on various activities like yoga, biking, working, driving and walking I have a sense of the real Self. I know that I am not this mind and body and can observe the lower self thinking all kind of thoughts and the body moving around but is that being the real Self?

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Vedas

The Vedas consist of four scriptures: Rig, Sama, Yajur and Atharva. There are two components woven into these four scriptures: Work and Knowledge. Work has to do with various hymns, rites, ceremonies and rules of conduct. Knowledge is concerned with knowing God and all of the aspects of truth. The second part (knowledge) is known as the Upanishads.

The Rig Veda contains ten books of hymns that have to do with prayers, sacrifices and the worshiping of Indra (God). Each book contains hundreds of hymns that make very little sense to people today in the Western World. These hymns were probably sung by groups of people who gathered in meeting places much like mondern day churches.

Sama Veda contains holy songs that were used by priests while offering juice from the Soma plant to the various deities they worshipped during that period.

Yajur Veda is a very lengthy detailed manual on sacrificial rites (including mantras) that go along with the sacrificies mentioned the Sama Veda.

Athava Veda contains all kinds of incantations and metaphysical sayings to charm away just about and kind of disease or sickness. There are also many chants for living a long life, charms to keep enemies at bay, to secure harmony among neighboring tribes, to avert evil and just about anything else in life.

On the next post I will talk about the Upanishads in more detail and start off with one of the most famous Upanishads - Katha Upanishad.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Sacred Texts

Okay, I'm getting back to the Yoga Sutras now after having strayed a bit with the upanishads. I would like to discuss the upanishads more and will do so shortly because they are considered one of the sacred texts.

The Niyamas of the Yoga Sutras encourage reading sacred texts. Sacred texts are spiritual and religious writings that were kept hidden and guarded for centuries because they conveyed information handed down from the wisest seeks. The texts were also hand written and there were no spare copies hanging around. There were no printing presses back then. To make copies required the help of a person who was literate (a scribe). Also, it was very laborious and time consuming to translate and transcribe them because many were written in foreign languages. So the scribe not only had to be literate, which was rare, but also be able to read and write foreing languages. Such a person was literally worth his weight in gold. Today, all of the texts can be read in Engligh and are even on audio tapes, CDs and the internet.

In talking about the sacred texts I will use BCE and CE when referring to ages. BCE (before Common Era) and CE (Common Era) are basically the same thing as BC (before Christ) and CE is the same as AD "Anno Domini" (The year of our Lord). BCE and CE are used all over the world now so as not to offend any one particular religion.

The Vedas are considered the most ancient of the sacred texts. These ancient texts were first written in Sanskrit and date back to around 1500 BCE (3,500 years ago). These are thought to be the oldest written texts known to man. There are four Vedas and they are the primary texts of Hinduism. They contain poems, hymns, rituals and metaphysical writings having to do with how to live life. There is a lot of wisdom in these texts and you have to remember they were written more than a thousand years before the birth of Christ. Back then people had to exist the only way they knew how. Staying alive had much to do with having faith in God, praying, practicing rituals, singing hymns and anything else that could possibly make life a little bit easier. Reading these writings gave me a sense of appreciation for what these people had to endure.

More about the Vedas on the next post.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

I'm sorry I haven't posted to this blog for a week. My wife, daughter, son-in-law, granddaughter and I went to the Yoga Journal Conference in Estes Park, CO for 8 days. We had a blast. I had classes with many great yoga teachers such as Shiva Rea, Saul David Raye and many others. We hiked around Bear Lake in the Rocky Mountain National Park, up to the top of Alpine Peak, around Lily Lake and along the trail near Ouzel Falls in Wild Basin. On Thursday a heard of 20 elk crossed our path with the bull elk buggling and snorting, urging the females to hurry it up. It was quite a sight.

Due to the suggestion of Saul David Raye I bought a copy of The Upanishads and read it on the plane trip back. There are some 108 Upanishads but there are only 10 which come to be generally regarded as the principal Upanishads. They are Katha, Isha, Kena, Prasna, Mundaka, Mandukya, Taittiriya, Aitareya, Chandogya and Svetasvatara. These ten are regarded as the principal upanishads due to the work and persistant study of Shankara some 3,000 years ago. These ten upanishads constitute the primary object of attention for all who read and study Hindu scriptures.

The Upanishads are part of the Vedas, the oldest scriptures of India. The Upanishads are considered the most important part of the Vedas because of their ancient origin and being written by some of the wisest of the wise in India. The word upanishad means "sitting near devotedly." It refers to the highest and most secret teachings of these saints and seers.

So, I have been deverted from the Yoga Sutras due to reading The Upanishads but I promise I will get back to the Sutras tomorrow.

Monday, September 19, 2011

8 Limbs of Yoga

In brief the Eight Limbs of Yoga are:

1. Yamas: Non-violence, Truthfulness, Moderation in all things, Non-stealing, Non-covetousness.

2. Niyamas: Purity - internal & external, Contentment, Austerity, Study of the sacred texts, Living with an awareness of the Divine.

3. Asanas: The yoga postures designed to purify the body and prepare it for the task of internal disciplines.

4. Pranayama: Regulation and control of the breath.

5. Pratyahara: Withdrawal of the senses in order to still the mind.

6. Dharana: Concentration.

7. Dhyana: Meditation.

8. Samadhi: Unity with all things.

The first two limbs suggest ways to live our lives in order that there are no interference within oursleves or with another person in a negative way so that we can live in harmony internally and externally. The Yamas (self restraint) and the Niyamas (self observance) are very similar to the Old Testament's Ten Commandments. One might wonder if this is coincidental. Being non-violent, always telling the truth, practicing moderation in all things, not being greedy and being pure in mind and body are also very similar to what Jesus taught.

The Niyamas encourage internal purity which goes along with moderation in all things. Internal purity in yoga is an important aspect because the body is basically the temple in which the Spirit lives or it could be the other way around; the body living within the temple of the Spirit. The Self is the caretaker of the body and mind and its position is to keep the body pure and healthy. To the yogi this means refraining from excessive alcohol, tobacco, caffeine and food. The use of drugs and stimulants is a no-no. Fresh, clean water, teas, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, fish are the mainstays for a yogi; but actually a yogi can eat anything as long as it is considered healthy to eat. Moderation is the name of the game.

Sacred Texts will be to topic of the next post.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Samadhi cont'd

The state of samadhi, in my experience, is not easy to achieve. At first it comes and goes very quickly. You may have experienced this feeling while watching the sun set or maybe ocean waves rolling onto shore. There is a short period of time, maybe only a few seconds, of pure bliss and a feeling of being one with whatever you are experiencing at that moment. If you could extend that feeling into a longer period of time while simultaneously carring on a conversation, for example, you would be in Samadhi.

The process of developing Samadhi is thought to have originated with Patanjali, a sage from India some two thousand years ago. Patanjali is known as the "father of yoga" and wrote the Yoga Sutras which contains the Eightfold Path of Yoga also know as The Eight Limbs of Yoga. This ancient writing consists of eight do's and don'ts for living a pure, righteous and blissful life.

When Patanjali developed the Yoga Sutras there was little mention of the type of asanas or poses that were to be used in order to reach Samadhi. The word sutra means to link things together as in sewing. Hence, the word suture, for sewing a wound together or the demarcation lines between two bones in a skull for example. The Yoga Sutras linked short and to-the-point thoughts by describing how one related to the other. It is this relationship that all things have that forms the basis of yoga. The word yoga means union, primarily union of the mind with the boldy and the spirit.

I'll briefly go over the eight limbs of yoga in my next post.

Thursday, September 15, 2011


Since humans have been able to think they have been wrestling with their minds. Why do we forget where we put things? Why do people have such a problem with anxiety and depression and why aren't we able to get along with one another, especially those who look and act differently than we do? Wise men and sages down through the ages have looked at this human problem called suffering and have dissected it over and over again and they all seem to come to the same conclusion.

From the oldest written texts, the Vedas, dating back over 4,000 years ago to the writings of present day scholars, philosophers and sages the answers seem to be very similar. Until we lose or attachment to the self and connect with the higher being that is beyond our thinking process, we will remain bogged down in suffering and turmoil between one another and within ourselves.

The ego, which is actually an illusion, is what keeps us locked in the prison of self. Wanting more and more and never being satisfied is an age old affliction that keeps humans from living a life of harmony and peace. Although we are different we are all, at the same time, similar in our desire for tranquility and equanimity, yet we are at a lose as to how to achieve this state of being.

The Yoga Sutras by Pantanjali attempts to explain how one can bring peace and harmony to oneself by following eight distinct paths. The Sutras does a fine job of doing just that but it requires a lot of discipline and self motivation to finally reach the final goal; that of samadhi.
Samadhi is a state of being where you a aware of your own existence without thinking. It is a state of deep joy and feeling of wellness that is usually achieved through various forms of meditation.

Samadhi is not the same as pure awareness, but it is about as close as one can get without actually being in pure awareness. It has been shown in scientific studies that during samadhi, brain waves change to an alpha level of frequency which is almost like being between awake and sleep. There is no "monkey mind" where the mind is jumping from the past back to the present and then to the future and back and forth. Try sitting still for five minutes and you will see what I mean my "monkey mind." In Samadhi, the mind is finally in control and is generally still and quiet - blissful. There is no "I" or realization of self being present. The ego has disappeared in this state of consciousness and yet you are fully conscous of oneness with all things and the whole body becomes flooded with the ocean of Divine bliss.

To be continued.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

continued from EGO

4. The ego is who you think you are. When you are identified with your name, your past, your values, your desires and feelings - these things are who you think you are. In other words, the ego is the exaggerated expression of your values and feelings - the personification of your personal mandala. We did the mandala some time back. If you didn't do it you may want to go back and take a look.

5. The ego needs thoughts to exist. Without thinking, the ego cannot exist. You can experience this by simply concentrating on your breath and nothing else. You will have no thoughts and no other experiences, except for breating, and, therefore, there will be no ego.

6. The ego is elusive. When you think you have gotten rid of the ego it will reappear as something else: another thought, another concept, another bias. The ego will do everything in its power to remain alive and well.

7. The ego is time-limited. The ego believes that death is the end of the person - the being that inhabits the body. The ego needs to see the body, the name, the past, and the future as real in order to be real itself. The ego must defend and protect this identity at all times and at all costs.

Can anybody think of other characterists the ego might have?

Sunday, September 11, 2011


I believe in everyone's heart lays the true nature of the human; love and compassion. When that true nature is supressed by the ego, negative energy can eat away at the very core of the person, eventually swelling and devouring everything in its path until nothing is left but a poor creature of despair. However, if you have an open mind and are aware enough when the ego arises, you will be able to recognize it. Your practice of being in the moment and meditation will pay off. Simply recognizing this illusion called the ego will dissolve and allow positive energy to flow through you like a river. Love is the purest form of positive energy. Positive energy and negative energy cannot stay in the same body at the same time.

I've put together some characteristics of the ego. By being aware and noticing these characteristics when they show up will help us all elude the trap of the ego.

1. The ego doesn't allow you to see the world in awe and wonderment. It keeps you isolated and separate, biased and judgmental. When you are feeling down and depressed and everything looks grey and forlorn, the ego has you by the balls. It is time to wake up and become aware of thoughts, emotions and feelings. Look deep inside and listen to the inner voice of wisdom. You are not the thoughts and you are not the emotions; you are much, much higher. You are pure consciousness. Let the beauty of the world open to you.

2. When someone gives you constructive criticism you might start explaining to them why you did what you did. When you try to defend your actions, that is the ego talking. The ego takes everything personally. You may even come back at the person, telling them what they did wrong to make it even. The ego can be offensive as well as defensive. The ego must maintain a positive self-image. Be on the lookout for this subtle characteristic, it gets us all. When someone gives you constructive criticism, try saying "Thank you" and let it go at that. See what happens.

3. The ego is never satisfied. When the ego gets what it thinks it wants, it wants more. A person can have a big house, an expensive car, fine clothes, money and still not be satisfied. When you begin saying things like "My car, my house, my money, my this and my that; it's the ego. Remember nothing is really yours, it's only being loaned to you.

More characteristics coming.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Some people will be offended at what I say on this blog. The ego thinks it is strong but actually it is very timid and easily hurt. When it hears something that it knows is true but doesn't make it look good, it will turn away for it cannot face the truth. The truth hurts deeply. To face the truth takes courage and the more you face the truth the smaller the ego will become.

The ego takes place at some subtle level deep within the fabric of your being where it grows. It is like a dandelion with long, tendrile roots intertwining within the values of the self to the point the ego and the self can become one. When the ego and the self are one it is almost impossible to break the bond. The bond can grow even stronger and manifest into pride and conceit.

The ego is reflected in a person's persona and can be recognized if you take the time and effort to observe yourself during the day. Meditation helps in the practice of observing thoughts that can manifest into egoistic characteristics. When sitting quietly, watching and listening to thoughts you can easily see which thoughts judge and criticize other people as well as judge and criticize yourself. These thoughts are usually very subtle and illusive. They flutter by so softly you may not notice them unless you are vigilant and aware.

When observing thoughts there is no more intentional thinking, your mind is quiet and serine without disturbance yet very alive and sensitive. There is no particular point at which the observation is made. It is simply an experience where there is no separation between you, the living being, and what is seen. You are ever vigilant, awake and aware - the one who watches. In the quiet solitude you will begin to see the insignificance of "me" slowly fade away and dissappear. In actuality there is no "thinker," no "me." It is all an illusion. You understand now you are not who you believe yourself to be. You have always lied to yourself, every second, every day and most of your life. You realize there is no need to prove yourself anymore. You are more than an illusion and there is no longer fear of loneliness, emptiness or helplessness. Your sense of being "me" has always preoccuped you with things that please or displease you, things that you "like" and "dislike." You know now that the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself.

To be continued.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

It is very easy to label people according to their religion, race, country, the way they dress, their size, intelligence and even their age. That's because the ego loves to compare and believe other people are inferior in some way or another. The ego needs to be in control of you in order to survive. The ego loves to be reinforced by other people agreeing with it. In that way it can feel stronger, better and superior. The values you have garnered over the years is where the ego lives. It lives within the confines of the self and all of its beliefs and prejudices. Since the ego believes it is better than most other people it believes other people should have the same values and beliefs it does.

You are wasting your time listening to your ego. If you think you can make someone else live up to your standards that genetics and the environment have programmed into you, think again. It will never happen. Remember, other people cannot help behaving as they do. If you could understand the other person fully you would not critize them, but rather see them as a true being, not condemnable. Your negative emotion would fade away very quickly and cease to exist. You would begin seeing the person in a whole new light. You would have love and compassion for the person because you know you are that person. What you see in that person is exactly what you have in yourself.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Where does Pure Awareness go?

It seems to me the ultimate test for pure awareness is my ability to ramian calm under adverse conditions like when someone "presses my buttons" that would normally make me angry, anxious or frustrated. I was driving into Gainesville yesterday and someone passed me and then swirved in front and immediately slowed down. Something like that would have really pi**ed me off not long ago. I would have said some profanity and gotten really mad and my blood pressure would have gone up. This time I saw the driver as someone who was confused or maybe effen demented and needed help. I felt sympathy for the person and even said a little prayer for him as he sped up and went on down the road.

The feeling of being in pure awareness is truly amazing. It is such a wonderful place to be, I wonder why I can't be there all the time. There is no anamosity toward anyone or anything. When I'm in pure awareness I know everything is just the way it's supposed to be. There is no need to judge because to do so would simply be an opinion on the ego's values that have been building up over the years due to genetics and upbringing. All this stuff that makes me pontifical, pompous and pigheaded is nothing but the ego. To go beyond the ego feels so great I want to be there all the time. This is how life can honestly andtruly be all the time. When the ego doesn't have a grip on me I become free from self-consciousness, negative emotions and all the other illusions that keep me from what I truly am - a being of ultimate freedom.

For some reason something takes me out of pure awareness when I least expect it. I can be totally aware of the surroundings, Presence, the Divine, free from negative emotions and in the moment and then all of a sudden "pop," I make derogatory remark to somebody or I get mad at something or someone over something that "pressed my buttons." It all has to do with the ego wanting to keep itself secure and separate from the outside world. A few days ago my dear wife said she didn't think I was aware of what was going on in the community. She said that if I were truly an aware person I would be more intuned to what other people in the area were doing. Immediately my ego popped up and began defending itself. I said, "Awareness doesn't necessarily mean to know what every person in this town is doing. Awareness is being present in the moment."

When you try to defend your actions, that is the ego talking. The ego takes everything personally. The ego must maintain a positive self-image. When you are identified with your values, your desires and feelings the ego has you and won't let you go. In other words, the ego is the exagerrated expression of your values and feelings. And the ego can be very elusive. When you think you have gotten rid of the ego it can reappear as something all together different than what you expected; another thought, another concept, another bias.

More about the ego to come.

Monday, September 5, 2011

I become so involved with God during concentration practice that full comprehension of God is eventually and vividly evident. It must be because of this deep communion with God that thoughts begin to stop on their own accord. Once my thoughts are no longer wild and erratic, my mind slowly expands out into the universe and just keeps going and going. I don't have to try to do anything, it just happens. My thoughts become deathly calm and consciousness continues to expand further and further out among all the stars and planets. Although identity with self is lost I still have a sense of Presence. Not only is there a sense of Presence but all my senses become increasingly enhanced. This morning I was meditating outside under the giant oak tree and became acutely aware of the sound of a jet overhead, traffic on a nearby highway, crows cackling, dog barking in the distance, a slight breeze blowing over my arms and the sun shining on my face.

As I sat there, Presence became completely integrated with God - the indissoluble union occured. This didn't last long, 5 or 10 minutes at the most, and then those universal, persistent thoughts appeared once again out of nowhere. A few times in the past I have been able to go back into the union but this time it was impossible. It seems like my ability to fully concentrate a second time was lost. When I first started the practice, union with God was only a few seconds and slowly grew to where it is now. I must continue to practice.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Concentration continued

There is no one particular object on which to concentrate that is suitable for everyone. Each person must choose their own object. For me, I choose to focus my attention and awareness on God. The god I am talking about is not a personal god or an individual being. I see God as everything and everything is God. God is energy - the force that connects everything to everything. God is total consciousness in which all animate and inanimate things are absorbed. All things are God much like all the cells that make up the body of an organism. Everything within the body is synergistically connected, not only in the body but outside the body as well. Synergy means that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. An action in one part produces a reaction in other parts affecting everything to some degree, nothing is independent.

The challenge is not to become identified with the limited self which as been programed by the thinking mind. I have discovered that I cannot still my mind by tring to stop it. If I fight thoughts and see them as enemies, they will stay with me forever. There is no way I can still the mind by trying. Thoughts are going to come and go no matter what. I must remember that the thoughts I am having are not my thoughts but universal thoughts. I have to let them come and go without resisting. If I dwell on them for any length of time it only feeds them and makes them stronger. I disengage the thoughts of my mind by allowing them to play themselves out. I must watch them impersonally without attachment. Eventually their incessant behavior will subside and my mind becomes calm. I know the more I relax the calmer my mind becomes.

To be continued.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Practicing Concentration

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali lists concentration as one of the eight steps necessary for reaching the highest state of consciousness (samadhi). The Sutras says that the key factor in concentration is to disengage the gears of the mechanical mind from wandering thoughts and distractions of the senses so you can have total commitment to focusing on the object of your choice. The focus should be so directed and intense that mental activities form an uninterrupted flow only in relation to the object. You become so involved with the object that nothing except its comprehension is evident and identity with yourself is completely lost. This is complete integration with the object and nothing else.

A friend of mine used the power of concentration to get him through a painful, near death experience a few years ago. He was riding his motorcycle down a country road one bright sunny morning when all of a sudden an inebriated woman driving a van swerved onto his side of the road. They were both traveling about 55 MPH and when they collided head on, he was slammed into the van's grll, onto the windshield, propelled over the top and landed on the asphalt road.

Practically every bone in his body was broken. His pelvis was shattered, his leg and several ribs broken and his skull fractured. He lay unconscious for several days in intensive care with all kinds of tubes running in and out of him. The doctors said they had never seen anyone so smashed up and still alive. The gave him a 5% chance of living. Seven years have passed and he is just now beginnign to walk without a cane. He said the one thing that got him through all of the pain was his ability to concentrate on his breathing. His technique was to relax as much as possible and breathe slowly in and out concentrating on the out-breath only. On each breath out he would count up to ten and then he would start over. He said that many times he couldn't get to ten and would have to start over. But it was his ability to focus entirely on his breath that got him through the ordeal.

If you are going to practice concentration the question is; what object are you going to use? The Yoga Sutras says to focus on an object so intensly that you know the object intimately. Basically you could use a candle flame, a crystal ball or even a shoe, but are any of these objects anything you would want to become intimate with? My friend used his breath because it was the handiest and most readily object available. What object are you going to use? I'll talk about what I focus on in the next post.

To be continued.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Power of Concentration

The power of concentration was demonstrated many times by Hamid Bey (1896-1976). Hamid grew up in Egypt and spent a lot of his time as a teenager in a Coptic temple being taught how to meditate and calm his mind. In his later years, he spend most of his time trying to explain to the world that pain and fear could be overcome through the power of concentration.

Hamid could place his body at complete command of his mind and enter into a state of suspended animation. He was able to slow his heart rate and breathing to a pooint where they were virtually undetectable. Mr Bey gave lectures and demonstrations of his ability to concentrate by being buried alive for days and he would allow people to stick icepicks and long needles through his neck and other body parts without bleeding or feeling pain. He was once quoted as saying, "To accomplish the seemingly impossible physical feats which I have demonstrated hundreds of times, I make use of only one thing - concentration."

Concentration is the process of focusing the mind on something. For example, you might focus on breathing, a candle flame, a sound, a smell or thoughts. There are literally thousands of things you can use for practicing this technique. Concentration for 30 minutes or more takes patience and practice.

If you have never practiced the art of concentration you will probably find thoughts taking over your mind like a swarm of locusts invading a corn field. Before you know it, your concentration on your object of choice is gone and you are getting up to go do something "more" worthwhile. Some people are better at concentrating on images rather than tactile feelings. The object on which you focus can be perceived or imagined. It is the process of focusing that stills the mind and allows sensations to pain and discomfort to disappear. It's all the same to the mind, whether it is getting the stimulus from the eyes, the nose, the ears, the fingers, the tongue or the brain.

Next - Practicing Concentration

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Space and Reality

Your mind is at peace in the space of pure awareness and perceives reality as the true nature it is. No longer do destructive thoughts and emotions disrupt these clear perceptions of what is. The new perception, the new self, is not of the senses but of the feeling - the sensitivity to energy flowing outside of your body and through your body. You feel it, it is alive, and it is you.

You must be very quiet to feel the energy. The energy is so subtle even the breath may disrupt sensitivity to it. As your breathing becomes calm and quiet you notice the hum inside like a toy train's electric transformer. You are calm, quiet and at peace in the space. You know this is what you really are. It is not an illusion, it's real. The thoughts of dissatisfaction and insufficiency that once clung like bad dreams were the real illusions. Now you are totally free within the space, unencumbered and boundless.

Next - The power of concentration.

Monday, August 29, 2011

In the new space of realization you are not the body, the mind or the ego. You may have the feeling of tension letting go. If you don't fight it and not try to control it, a new freedom will take place. Let it go and you will find there is no longer any restriction. You are free. The old self is gone a new self has taken its place.

The new self still sees thoughts come and go but the thoughts are not important, there is no attachment to them. What is important is the space. One thought comes and another takes its place within consciousness but you are beyond their coming and going. You recognize that the old self is simply an illusion and has always been an illusion. As your thoughts rise and fall, you enter another realm. You no longer have to pretend to be something you are not.

You now understand no work is required. The new self exists because there is no tension and no trying to make things happen. When the ego tries to prove itself and affirm its existence, tension is felt. In that very moment power moves in and the tension disappears. You exist in the power; floating without resistance or tension. The power of unity flows everywhere.

In the space of no thoughts there is sensitivity to freely moving energy inside and out. The energy is constantly moving and never stops. The sensation of the energy grows stronger and stronger the longer you stay in the space. By allowing yourself to sink deeper into the void, sensitivity to the power grows stronger. You become the power - energy - divine force. Thoughts come and go but they are of no cosequence.

You remain in the space even with thoughts, actions and movements of your body. You can go about your daily activities, interact with other people, work and play and still be the power. The ego tries to pull you back into the old, dissatisfied self but by staying calm and in the moment you remain the power. You remain constantly the energy. When you feel the slightest tension of dissatisfaction you immediately recognize it for what it is - ego.

If you withdraw from calmness and internal silence the ego is reinforced bringing about more division. Maintain your calmness and internal silence by costantly being with the energy that permeates through you and throughout the universe.

It is very difficult for the old self to relinquish its knowing, believing and proving how important and superior it is. It is not in its best interest to give up ideas, desires, opinions and judgments. Without the feeling of superiority, dominance and control the ego is useless and will do everything in its power to bring you back to the old self. You, however, remain calm and at peace in the power.

The space between thoughts is the "void" - void of ego. In this space there is an energy that goes above and beyond tension, frustration and the illusion of the old self and its sidekick the ego. By staying in the space of total awareness with the reality of your new self and its profound calmness you are in unity with everything.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Going Beyond Thoughts

To go beyond the confines of the thinking mind takes uncompromising honesty, allowing yourself to listen carefully to your mind so you can transcend the illusion of ego to the true you - a higher consciousness. As long as you remain attached to your thoughts your journey will remain encumbered. There is something beyond the perception of your senses that you are unaware of while the ego has its hold on you. That something is the extraordinary being beyond thought.

Once you are able to let space form between thoughts a new realization will awaken in you like a newborn child. It will need to be nourished and handled with great care and affection. The child is Presence. Presence has always existed in you but you have been unaware of its existence because of the thinking mind. The subtleness of Presence is easily masked by thoughts of dissatisfaction, judgment, beliefs, desires and other ominous thoughts. Presence must be met with an open mind; a mind that is not hampered by thinking.

To form a space between thoughts you must be quiet and very still. Your body must be comfortable, motionless and at ease. Your back must be straight while sitting either in a chair or cross-legged. Breathe in and out of your nose paying very close attention to your breath at the tip of your nose. After five minutes or so, imagine your breath traveling down to the base of your spine, swirling around that area for awhile, and then up and out as you exhale. This practice is for calming your mind. In the beginning your thoughts will be random and meaningless but they will soon become more quiet and recognizable as thoughts.

When your mind is relatively calm begin intentional thinking. If you are a wood worker, for example, you could think about building a bird house. If you are a chef you might think about making a cake. If you are an artist you could think about painting a picture. Intentionally think for about 30 seconds and then suddently stop thinking. For just a brief moment there will be no thoughts - a space or gap, and then an unintentional thought will come up. The unintentional thought is automatic and can be anything. It might be a fleeting thought of something in the past or the future. It might be a thought of something happening in the present moment like an itch or a sound.

For a few seconds simply sit in the zone of unintentional thinking and witness the thoughts as an observer. And then once again begin intentional thinking. Stop thinking and notice the space. Don't try too hard when doing this practice. The trick is to be as relaxed as possible and enjoy the process. Do this thinking not thinking for five or ten minutes and as often as possible; every day or at least every other day.

Soon you will experience longer and longer spaces between your thoughts. At some point the space should be long enough so that you get the feeling you are existing in the presence of something greater than the mind. The feeling is sometimes referred to as the true being or a new self. This is the beginning of the true meaning of life. It is not an illusion as before when there were thoughts of resentment, anger and frustration. The new life is brand new, an opening of the mind you have never experienced before.

To be continued.