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.

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.