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.

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