Welcome: An Introduction

Sharing the insights I discover as I explore and experience the mystery that is our reality. Join me in my journey and share yours.

Friday, March 30, 2012

A Video Sharing my Mantram (Come and share yours!)

Practicing mantram repetition is a discipline that can have a profound impact on one's spiritual journey. It is a beautiful gateway in which one can enter the center of their consciousness and become rooted in the present moment. It has been practiced throughout all of the world's major religions.

I have been practicing mantram repetition for a few months now and the more I practice this discipline the more frequently my mantram springs up in my awareness during my day. I have found that repeating my mantram inwardly during moments when I feel I am beginning to become groundless helps to anchor me and allows empathy and compassion to arise when normally that might not be my first instinct in a given situation. 

Not too long ago I wrote a post on mantram repetition. If you'd like to read it you can go here:

Since my mantram has had a profound impact on just about every area of my life I felt inspired to make a video featuring it. I hope you enjoy it! It's my first video I've made for my blog. I think I will be making more videos in the future that will hopefully inspire and inform. 

If you have a mantra/mantram please share it in the comments section! If you've found a video of your mantram you enjoy feel free to share the link to it as well.  Thank you!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Tasting Infinity: Concluding Reflections on Nonduality

                                         Picture taken on a hike with my family the first day of Spring.

It seems like ages since I published my last post, "Disidentification Meditation",  sharing  a meditation that I've found helpful practicing and that aids me in realizing the nondual state. That was a follow up post from, "Knowing Nonduality", an article that explored the nature of nonduality and how it is a state that is more fully understood by direct experience rather than though means of the intellect.  In that post I was going to include my own personal reflections of the nondual that have come from entering into glimpses of that state. Since, however,  I was including a rather lengthy quote from Ken Wilber in which he described his thoughts on the nondual I felt including mine would be over doing it a bit and that it would be best if I left my own reflections for a future post.

Life has kept my blog from being as active as I would like it to be lately. As I find myself with some extra time this morning I'd like to post what I had written when reflecting on my own limited experiences of the nondual.

If you've had experiences of realizing the nondual state while meditating or any other experiences or insights  during moments of mindfulness/meditation I'd love to hear about them in the comments section.

When an awareness of the reality that defines All that exists breaks upon my consciousness  I suddenly realize that what was so hard to grasp is really so simple to understand when experienced. A sense of joy and even humor rises up in my awareness, sometimes causing spontaneous laughter at the irony and simple beauty of it all.

The nondual state is less of an experience and more of a reality to be aware of. So obvious. So Simple. So transforming. It becomes so clear that it's the "grasping" that is what hinders us and keeps us back from reaching the summit of our exploration through our consciousness. I am still nowhere near the summit but I've been looking upwards and through the clouds far above me I feel as if I have caught glimpses of its peak. Really the journey never does end. At least not in this lifetime. That's alright though, because when it comes down to it, mountain, sky and I, we are all one anyways. Those of us that are on this journey are on it not for the destination but for the sake of the journey itself.

When I let go and relax and merely be, it's as if the Self rises like a phoenix in my awareness, becoming my awareness,  scattering the ashes of the ego. The ego is still present but in a peculiar way. No longer subject but object to be observed. No longer driving my thoughts and desires. I realize then, not just conceptually but experientially, that I am truly not my thoughts and desires. That I am one with all that surrounds me. I feel unbelievably free as I shed the baggage of self. When it comes down to bare reality I have the deep sense that we are all interconnected. In one inhalation it's as if I can taste infinity. It's an ecstasy and relief of sorts to experience. I feel as if I am beginning to truly understand now what the sages and mystics of old speak about when they say that the end of the ego is the end of suffering. 
We can hear these experiences be told by others and only offer up our own feelings of perplexity at their words in response if we, too, haven't shared in realizing such a state. Hearing and reading others speak of the nondual used to both intrigue and confuse me. Now I feel as if I've stepped into the water itself and have begun flowing with the currents, no longer resisting, just simply Being.  Extending my sense of self outwards to no longer be defined by that which is contained within the barrier of bone and flesh. It is with the act of abandoning myself to the flow and becoming one with it that a new awareness and understanding rises up before me. It doesn't last long, not nearly long enough. But the glimpses I've had let me know what is possible and what truly Is when one untethers the cord that anchors one to self and is able then to drift into the naked reality of Self.

Thoughts? I'd love to hear them! Please leave them in the comments section!

Friday, March 23, 2012

This Moment: A Friday Tradition

This Moment
"A single photo – no words – capturing a simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember."
“This Moment” is a ritual found on Life inspired by theWee Man adopted from SouleMama which was introduced to me by Sarah-Jane author of http://samuelmichaels.com/. If you find yourself touched by a Moment and would like to participate, post your picture on a Friday and leave your link in the comments section.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Disidentification Meditation

My previous post emphasized the fact that some realities, like being in love or the nondual state, cannot be fully understood conceptually but must instead be realized through direct experience.  The eternal truths that the mystics arising from all the different religions have discovered buried beneath the layers of their consciousness and seated in the centers of their hearts have been strikingly similar with one another. 

One can learn more about the parallels that exist in the experiences of the men and women who have sought to find truth/God/reality through the experiential means of meditation by studying the Perennial Philosophy.  One such parallel in the conclusions of the mystics worldwide has been that Spirit (God/reality) is found within and to realize and encounter that reality we must shed ourselves of our egos and enter into a nondual state.

In Grace and Grit Ken Wilber and his late wife Treya Wilber discuss this aspect of the Perennial Philosophy as Ken is preparing for an important interview on the topic. During their discussion Treya says to Ken, "
St. Paul said, 'I live, yet not I, but Christ in me.' You're saying that St. Paul discovered his true Self, which is one with Christ, and this replaced his old or lower self, his individual soul or psyche." Ken responds, "Yes. Your ruach, or ground is the Supreme Reality, not your nefesh, or ego. "

In Grace and Grit, Wilber states, "Spirit transcends all duality. But one discovers this by consistently looking within, until "within" becomes "beyond"....The individual self or ego is precisely what blocks the realization of the Supreme Identity in the first place."

When one seeks to enter the nondual state they are seeking to enter into the awareness of reality itself. To drop the ego and awaken oneself to what truly Is.  I mentioned at the end of the post that there was a particular meditation that I found useful in helping me enter into and experience moments of awareness in the nondual state. I originally came across this meditation in  Grace and Grit, and it was again repeated in the book I am currently reading Introducing Ken Wilber: Concepts for an Evolving World, by Lew Howard.

The following meditation is known as a disidentification meditation because it begins to help us disidentify from our egos. It aids us to perceive our egos as object rather than subject. It draws the meditator into a deeper awareness of Self. It is adapted from Roberto Assagioli, founder of Psychosynthesis, and used by Ken Wilber in a number of his books.   I hope it leaves you inspired. If you decide to practice it please feel free to share your experiences. In the next post I will describe my own experiences and reflections, limited as they are, of entering into the nondual state.

I have a body, but I am not my body. I can see and feel my body, and what can be seen and felt is not the true Seer. My body may be tired or excited, sick or healthy, heavy or light, anxious or calm, but that has nothing to do with my inward I, the Witness. I have a body, but I am not my body.  

I have desires, but I am not my desires. I can know my desires, and what can be known is not the true Knower. Desires come and go, floating through my awareness, but they do not affect my inward I, the Witness. I have desires, but I am not desires.   

I have emotions, but I am not my emotions. I can feel and sense my emotions, and what can be felt and sensed is not the true Feeler. Emotions pass through me, but they do not affect my inward I, the Witness. I have emotions, but I am not emotions.   

I have thoughts, but I am not my thoughts. I can see and know my thoughts, and what can be known is not the true Knower. Thoughts come to me and thoughts leave me, but they do not affect my inward I, the Witness. I have thoughts, but I am not my thoughts.   
Then affirm as concretely as you can: I am what remains, a pure center of awareness, an unmoved Witness of all these thoughts, emotions, feelings, and sensations.

Lew Howard (2005-05-17). Introducing Ken Wilber:Concepts for an Evolving World (Kindle Locations 5404-5412). AuthorHouse. Kindle Edition.

Thoughts? I'd love to hear them! Please leave them in the Comments Section. Thank you!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Knowing Nonduality

Some things can't be truly known or realized by means of the intellect but  must be known through direct experience. Consider the phenomenon of being in love.  You might try explaining to a friend what this condition feels like. The butterflies in your stomach, the tingling sensations of spontaneous goosebumps as he who holds your affection touches your skin. The longing for your partner when he isn't with you.

You can try explaining all of these sensations and feelings to others in hopes that they will be able to "get it". That they will be able to truly understand what you mean when you speak of your being in love. But try as you might, they never really will "get it" unless they decide to plunge into the tides of human experience and taste that reality for themselves.

Language is very limiting. Especially towards such profound and abstract experiences like being in love. That is why every culture blooms with song and prose using elaborate and sensual imagery in hopes to capture the sentiments associated with this profound condition. Metaphors and symbolism are used to express the full power of desire, the taste of union when our hearts melt into our lover's. We can find songs both ancient and newly conceived that attempt to capture this state in such a way that those hearing can relate. Sometimes it's the instrumental pieces that contain no lyrics at all that express it in a way where words fail. Without words that can mislead they put forth  haunting melodies capturing heartache and loss, thunderous crescendos revealing climax, light and playful notes strung together to have our senses view the merry tango of souls courting one another. It's almost like we feel we are there...almost...

And so too, it is with the spiritual experience. There comes a time when words simply fall short. When one who has experienced a particular state of consciousness or spiritual reality will attempt to share that account with another but find his audience looking back at him with a vacant or bewildered expression. When a concept seems too "big" for the mind to wrap itself around and understand by means of the intellect.

This can especially be the case when it comes to those who have had their soul's palate be whet with the foretaste of nonduality and still more for those who have dived far enough below the ego's multi-layered garments to shake them off entirely, leaving the eternal core within naked and exposed, blazing with a light that outshines a thousand suns.

I am currently reading "Introducing Ken Wilber: Concepts for an Evolving World" by Lew Howard.  In his chapter on nonduality, Howard  notes that reading descriptions of nondual awareness can often seem like a paradox to those who haven't experienced this state of awareness themselves.  He echos Wilber's emphasis that those that have journeyed through the laboratory of the consciousness, personally unwrapping their own layers of ego and exploring the Self within, have left us with descriptions.  Seekers from all of the world's religions have sought the Self that lies buried at the core of our consciousness and their experiences can illuminate the path before us but we still have to walk down it ourselves. Their descriptions provide a layout of the land, of the different layers, stages and states of consciousness that must be traversed. To see this land for ourselves we must set out on our own journey into the mind via the method of meditation.

To get an idea of what one experiences in a nondual state, this is one of Wilber's descriptions of what it's like. Just as a note, the term Witness that Wilber uses is synonymous with Self:

"Everything continues to arise moment to moment—the entire Kosmos continues to arise moment to moment—but there is nobody watching the display, there is just the display, a spontaneous and luminous gesture of great perfection. The pure Emptiness of the Witness turns out to be one with every Form that is witnessed, and that is one of the basic meanings of “nonduality.”
 …the real world is given to you once, immediately—it is one feeling, it has one taste, it is utterly full in the one taste, it is not severed into seer and seen, subject and object, fragment and fragment. … Real experience, before you slice it up, does not contain that duality—real experience, reality itself, is ‘nondual.’ You are still you, and the mountain is still the mountain but you and the mountain are two sides of one and the same experience, which is the one and only reality at that moment.”
~ Ken Wilber, as quoted in, Introducing Ken Wilber:Concepts for an Evolving World (Kindle Locations 4703-4706). AuthorHouse. Kindle Edition.

If this doesn't make sense to you don't be disappointed! To most of us it doesn't. It takes training of the mind and a determination towards the spiritual discipline of meditation to begin to experience such a state of consciousness. To really understand the nondual state one has to realize it experientially and not just try to grasp what it is about through means of one's mind. "The Self cannot be known through study of the scriptures, nor through intellect, Nor through hearing discourses about it it...The Self cannot be known by anyone who desists not from unrighteous ways, controls not the senses, stills not the mind, and practices not meditation." (Katha Upanishad 2.23a-24a)

It was my intention to share one of the meditations I have enjoyed incorporating into my spiritual practices that has helped me disidentify with my ego and begin to taste the nondual state. I feel because of it's length it would make this post too long so I will share it in the next post. There are many paths to the same destination.  Wilber notes that seekers from all of the different religions in the form of their mystics have developed ways of meditating which aid individuals  ascribing to those religions in experiencing such a state of oneness with God/universe/reality (whatever is one's perspective!).   One just has to pick which path calls out to them and pursue it with passion and dedication.

Thoughts? I'd love to hear them! Please leave them in the Comments Section. Thank you!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The God Concept: Guest Post by JR Nova

When author and fellow blogger JR Nova recently shared his thoughts on God with me my first impulse was to ask him to write a guest post. I found his views compelling and some of his ideas reflecting ones that I've been coming to embrace as true.  I was very grateful that he accepted my request. I feel his thoughts, eloquently expressed, are insightful and thought provoking. Please be sure to leave your reflections towards his post in the comments section.

I encourage those who are not yet familiar with his blog to check it out at: www.jrnova.blogspot.com . He has also written a great new story. To find out more about it and to purchase it you can visit: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/131533

The God Concept

JR Nova

My atheism defines what I am not. I am not a deist.

My Pantheism defines what I am. I love the world.

I believe that my lack of a belief in a creator god frees me to enjoy the Universe in a different way. The shift in conceptual thinking enables me to cherish and appreciate the world for what it is. It's unpurposeful. The world has order, structure, and design, but these are without purpose, and without “creation”.

The Universe just is, and though we can define it by the laws of gravity and other physical phenomenon, it has no beginning and no end. It's “being” is likely a fluke, a statistical error. A matter/anti-matter imbalance. Like a bubble of air on the surface of plain water.

Vacuum creates life. Something does come from nothing, just as creativity and productivity come from sloth and laziness—from relaxation.

The idea of a creator god is a concept I want to fully escape, a dead weight I wish to drop. When I think of Pantheism I do not want to think in terms of “The Universe = God”, because this is misleading and untrue. Instead, “The Universe = Itself”. We are itself. We are the Universe. There is nothing standing outside of it guiding it, creating it, governing it. It governs itself.

It nurtures itself.

The creator god concept is a trapping that dictates a god, or gods, created the world. It is based on the hierarchy of royalty, of power, of human government, as well as the parent role. To believe in a god is to follow that god's laws. Laws that are often arbitrary, but invoke the wrath of the god if not followed, and the blessings of the god if followed. Just as a parent loves a child only if the child behaves, otherwise the child is disciplined harshly.

This belief system goes against my world view. I would much rather believe the Universe has no creator, and that I (and all other sentient beings) evolved only to be aware of itself. Ourselves and itself are one, of course. This makes for a very spontaneous, genuine, and relaxing Cosmos. I have no fear of going to Hell if I fail, and I no longer twist myself into perfection to get to heaven.

When I help someone, it is because I genuinely care about them, and not because I'm doing what I am told. (It is incredibly offensive to me that people help each other only because they have to. This is not genuine or spontaneous, and not very positive as it is conditional.)

The Universe is without judgment. Watch anything, be aware of it. Whether it is a plane, a car, a tree, a mountain. There is no judgment. Looking at the world without preconceived notions, you will not find the trappings of philosophy man has come to cherish. God is not to be found in awareness. There is, however, a great wonder of life that will always be found in awareness, though it is confused with many things, often times with “God” by people who hold to the creator god concept.

Looking at the world without preconceptions is vital to my world view. I have discovered that nothing man “believes” in can be found there. Our philosophies are not in awareness. Our rules are not in awareness. Our concepts are not in awareness. Awareness is a great emptiness.

Without preconceptions, I am able to see the world as it truly is. It is whole, one, nonjudgmental and most importantly, nurturing. The world IS. This isness is an incredible thing, a beautiful thing.

I am. You are. We are.

I do not want to take the world for granted. The creator god concept opens the door to losing the world as we produce a mental concept of something outside and larger than the world. So we take for granted the rivers, the trees, the animals, our technology, ourselves, each other. This is not a problem only for the creator god concept. All concepts cause us to lose focus on the world. Only in awareness, without preconceptions, can we fully live.

Because God created the world, the world is unnatural, and humans see anything as unnatural as unnuturing. But by seeing a world where everything is natural, everything becomes nurturing. The cold stones of mountains and the lifeless engines of automobiles become parts of a lively, symbiotic relationship.

It has taken me many years to drop the creator god concept, but not because it has been ingrained deep in my psyche since I was a young child.

To escape one's way of thinking, one must have something to escape to. I lacked that destination. It was difficult for me, for many years, to see the Universe as giving and loving without a god to give and love.

But then I began to look without preconceptions. I began to see simple things. Nothing cosmic. Nothing grand. I saw blankets on a bed, shoes, my computer and guitar. I saw how these things helped me, made my life easier and more enjoyable. I began to think back to history. Was nature really a terrible place, something mankind had to constantly fight against? Or was nature a provider?

I saw sticks and stones that could be made into hunting tools. I thought of fire, not as a destructive force, but life giving, providing heat, protection, and food. I began to see that nature gave ancient man everything it needed, not just to survive and get by, but to thrive and prosper.

When we were cold we found something to keep us warm. When we were thirsty there were fresh streams. When we were hungry there were berries, fruit, and deer. When we were bored we had all the world to play in. When we were hurt or sick and in pain, to weak to heal, we were offered death. A final escape of suffering. Mercy.

I don't see myself as fighting against this world, because I am the world. I've dropped the idea that I am separate from the world. I no longer believe that I belong to God, that this world is just a barrier between me and Him. I no longer see Earth as a waiting room to stay before I'm rewarded with Heaven. I won't waste my days waiting for my afterlife.

I'm there already. This is Heaven.

Concepts are only lines in the sand. Let the ocean wash them away. Live.

Friday, March 9, 2012

This Moment: A Friday Tradition

This Moment
"A single photo – no words – capturing a simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember."
“This Moment” is a ritual found on Life inspired by theWee Man adopted from SouleMama which was introduced to me by Sarah-Jane author of http://samuelmichaels.com/. If you find yourself touched by a Moment and would like to participate, post your picture on a Friday and leave your link in the comments section.