Friday, February 27, 2015

Universal Consciousness - Namaste!

     "In the field of consciousness research - and also in physics and astronomy - we are breaking past the cause-and-effect, mechanistic way of interpreting things. In the biological sciences, there is a vitalism coming in that goes much further toward positing a common universal consciousness of which our brain is simply an organ. Consciousness does not come from the brain. The brain is an organ of consciousness. It focuses consciousness and pulls it in and directs it through a time and space field. But the antecedent of that is the universal consciousness of which we are all just a part."

       Joseph Campbell. "Mythic Worlds, Modern Words." New World Library, 2004, p 286

Sunday, February 22, 2015


kissing the sky
walking the earth

many hearts
one pulse

Agricola Street, Halifax, Nova Scotia - February 15, 2015

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Bringing Enthusiasm, Energized Engagement - & WISDOM - back into Academia

“I’m struck by how suppressed the life energy of many students in my current undergraduate class seems to be. … I keep sensing something is somewhat missing: perhaps the ‘primordial confidence’ …

Students are not given much opportunity to attend to their inner lives, to explore their unfathomable riches, to plummet the depth, and to be nourished deeply by such engagements. Yet, it is only through such engagements that energetically charged awareness deepens and expands, connecting self with cosmos, and fully reconciling us with life and universe.

The self is unable to nourish itself with awareness and energy when its attention is continuously siphoned out: attention is needed to access awareness and embedded and embodied energy. The result of the continual drain of attention while knowledge is being accumulated is that we may be knowledgeable but are not intelligent, in the sense of being wise. Jiddu Krishnamurti also talks about our capacity to be aware as intelligence and points to the relationship between that and knowledge. He writes, ‘Intelligence uses knowledge. Intelligence is a state in which there are no personal [conditioned] emotions involved, no personal opinion, prejudice or inclination. Intelligence is the capacity for direct understanding’. For Krishnamurti, intelligence is not an intellectual realization or a constructed assimilation of thoughts and ideas, conventionally known as knowledge, but is a capacity to be aware, sensitive, and clear; is a capacity to love, to act, and to be present to transformation of life from moment to moment.

Similarly, David Geoffrey Smith distinguishes wisdom from knowledge, showing that the former requires, as its precondition, the ‘essential unity between thought and emotion,’ and points out that such unity requires the discipline of mindfulness or contemplation. (The Chinese character usually translated as ‘mind,’ ideographically shows this unity, and should be translated as ‘heart-mind.’) Smith further illuminates the aims of education in various Eastern wisdom traditions:
'In Taoism it involves finding ‘the stillpoint’; in Buddhism, returning to your ‘original face.’ The practice of Way – and here the key word is practice, as one never quite reaches the goal completely, finally – leads to an awareness of how the smallest details of life play into the largest consequences and effects, and that it is therefore highly important to maintain vigilance over the details of one’s conduct, because how we get to her, today, depends on what happened yesterday, or indeed the moment just passed.'

The greatest educational challenge today is not downloading more, better, sophisticated knowledge and skills into students but helping them to cultivate the unity of heart and mind (and let’s not forget the embodied nature of this cultivation) through the work of awareness, and bring this unity fully into all contexts of their personal, communal, academic, and professional lives. The challenge is to infuse knowledge with awareness or mindfulness of which love and sensitivity are a part, and the result is, in short, wisdom. Can our schools, from kindergarten to university, be institutions of wisdom?”
       Bai H, Cohen A, Culham T, et al. “A Call for Wisdom in Higher Education. Contemplative Voices from the Dao-Field.” in:
       Gunnlaugson O, Sarath EW, Scott C. eds. “Contemplative Learning and Inquiry Across Disciplines.” State Univ of New York Press 2014.


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Good Company

     "Then the venerable Ananda approached the Buddha, prostrated himself and sat down to one side. Sitting there the venerable Ananda said to the Lord: 
     'Half of the holy life, Lord, is good and noble friends, companionship with the good, association with the good.'
     'Do not say that, Ananda, do not say that. It is the whole of the holy life, this friendship, companionship, and association with the good.'"

     "Spending your time with true spiritual friends will fill you with love for all beings and help you to see how negative attachments and hatred are. Being with such friends and following their example will naturally imbue you with their good qualities just as all the birds flying around a golden mountain are bathed in its golden radiance."                 Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche


Marcus Bleasdale, National Geographic

Monday, February 16, 2015

Distracted? Unable to Focus?

    "There were several drug and alcohol addicts in the class ... Other self-harming, addictive habits in this class included: self-cutting, shopping themselves into deep debt, sexual promiscuity, disordered eating, uncontrollable rage, workaholism, and relational addiction.
     Relational addiction plagued five students who were addicted either to a particular person or to constant interaction with other people via texting, calling, or being with others in person. They were so addicted to being in constant contact with others that they were literally not able to leave their cell phones off for an hour or be alone for any length of time.
     One of these students was a texting addict and came to my office to talk, BlackBerry in hand. She continually looked down at her BlackBerry, scanning for new text messages. At two points during our twenty minute conversation, when I was talking to her about an important matter, she typed out and sent text messages. I resisted the urge to criticize, be punitive or sarcastic about it. I could see that she could not stop herself, even though she might have wanted to. Rather than judge it, I wanted to understand the behavior. I was curious why a generally well-mannered and gracious person would do something so lacking in awareness and considerateness.
     The same question arises with any addiction. For Benjamin, I wondered: how can an intelligent, good-hearted young man, seemingly well-loved by his family, be completely unable to stop getting high, even to the point of death or jail? As the medical and psychological communities have known for decades now, it is not a matter of 'willpower.'
     I asked the texting addict: 'I noticed you kept looking at your phone and even sent two texts while I was talking to you. Can you help me understand that? It communicates that you do not care about our conversation, yet I know you do.'
     She shared, 'I know it’s annoying, but I can’t help myself. I can’t let texts just sit there without a quick response. I like to keep everything going . . . I don’t want to miss out on anything.'
     She had no awareness that she had just 'missed out' on being with me in that moment.
     Such craving leads to endless distractedness and an inability to focus on school work. It also makes it extremely difficult for the person to be present with others. The person constantly wants to be elsewhere – to get that next 'fix' of a text, an e-mail, an event, a drink, a cookie, a television show, a high of whatever sort.
     All addictive patterns turn on the same dynamic: the distractive activity is experienced as a welcome relief from real life. The negative behavior or thought pattern, as bad as it is, is believed to provide relief from the normal vicissitudes of real life. I noticed the dynamic in myself in the process of writing this article. When discomfort arose (self-doubt, fear of peer disapproval, stress over deadlines, and so forth), there was the wandering to the kitchen 'for a snack.' What is better than a handful (or two!) of homemade chocolate chip cookies to numb writer’s angst?

     Contemplative pedagogy (eg Mindfulness) is not about a goal, an outcome, or even effort. It is about being alive to the lifelong path of self-evolution – thereby becoming a beneficial presence in the world, to all beings. Isn’t that what any effective pedagogy aims to do?"

       Fran Grace. "Learning as a Path, Not a Goal: Contemplative Pedagogy – Its Principles and Practices." Teaching Theology and Religion 2011; 14 (2): 99-124.


Sunday, February 15, 2015

Being Swept away by Tribal Hatred is Easy - Only Evolved Human Beings can Live Wisely

     "The religion of blood and war is face to face with that of peace.”                Winston S. Churchill

     "It's far easier to fight for principles than to live up to them..."                       Adlai E. Stevenson

     “The nation that will insist on drawing a broad line of demarcation between the fighting man and the thinking man is liable to find its fighting done by fools and its thinking done by cowards.”         Thucydides

     “Dad, how do soldiers killing each other solve the world's problems?”               Bill Watterson

     “Older men declare war. But it is youth that must fight and die.”                          Herbert Hoover

     “Whenever you are confronted with an opponent, conquer him with love.”         Mahatma Gandhi

     "That man is best who sees the truth himself. Good too is he who listens to wise counsel. But who is neither wise himself nor willing to ponder wisdom is not worth a straw."         Hesiod 

                                 “War is over ... IF you want it.”                 John Lennon

        Our Choice:

Saturday, February 14, 2015


     "That oneness is the true feeling of who you are. You are not the personality, or any particular aspect of essence. You are the whole thing, including emptiness and space, and you experience everything in complete harmony. When this happens, there is a sense of intimacy, an exquisite, personal intimacy, the feeling ... that you are you, with nothing excluded, nothing rejected. You also feel that you are both a person and a universal existence, that what is personal and what is universal are completely harmonious and can coexist. When your whole organism is in harmony on all its levels, there is no conflict. The expression and radiance of that harmony is love. You become a channel of love, a manifestation of love. You feel completely yourself and not separate from anything. It is possible to be you, completely you and not separate from the other at the same time. This is the action of love. The action of love is to unite, to reveal the connectedness. A loving person doesn't love you - a loving person is love. Love isn't given. It overflows. It's not even your love - it's everyone's love interacting. Love emanates from us like the scent from a rose."                A.H. Almaas

Friday, February 13, 2015

Awareness & Acceptance, then Love

     "How few understand what love really is, and how it arises in the human heart. It is so frequently equated with good feelings toward others, with benevolence or nonviolence or service. But these things in themselves are not love. Love springs from awareness. It is only inasmuch as you see someone as he or she really is here and now, and not as they are in your memory or your desire or in your imagination or projection that you can truly love them, otherwise it is not the person that you love but the idea that you have formed of this person, or this person as the object of your desire not as he or she is in themselves.
      The first act of love is to see this person or this object, this reality as it truly is. And this involves the enormous discipline of dropping your desires, your prejudices, your memories, your projections, your selective way of looking ... a discipline so great that most people would rather plunge headlong into good actions and service than submit to the burning fire of this asceticism. When you set out to serve someone whom you have not taken the trouble to see, are you meeting that person's need or your own?"                      Father Anthony de Mello



Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Evolving Consciousness

     "... human consciousness (is) a work in progress. For luminaries such as Hegel, Aurobindo, Teilhard de Chardin, Jean Gebser, and Ken Wilber, human consciousness and religious consciousness have evolved. Fortunately we can focus on the narrower yet still extremely complex area of religious consciousness, and since Ken Wilber has synthesized the ideas of so many thinkers, we can draw especially on his ideas.
     Wilber draws a crucial distinction between the 'average mode' of religious consciousness and the 'leading edge.' Leading-edge pioneers break through into new states of consciousness and then leave descriptions and instructions whereby others can follow them.
     Wilber's division of spiritual states into four broad classes of gross, subtle, causal, and nondual is helpful. He suggests that just as these tend to emerge sequentially in today's contemplatives, so too did they emerge in history, and a survey of historical religious texts supports him.
     Humankind's first gross and subtle spiritual experiences are long lost in the dawn of prehistory. Reliable signs of the causal appeared in the first few centuries before the Common Era and are associated with, for example, the Upanishads, the Buddha, early Taoists, and later with Jesus. Such was the extraordinary impact of this breakthrough and the sages who made it, that this era is known as the Axial age. Signs of the nondual appear a few centuries into the Common Era and are associated with, for example, the appearance of tantra and with names such as Plotinus in Rome, Bodhidharma in China, and Padmasambhava in Tibet.
     ... the evolution of religious consciousness is intimately tied to the evolution of the technology of transcendence. There has been an enormous development of transformational techniques ... early sages refined shamanic technology, added their own yogic, contemplative, and tantric techniques, and thereby created technologies that unveiled causal and nondual realizations. Subsequently, religions, philosophies, and psychologies arose to express and analyze these realizations, and their cumulative impact on human culture and consciousness is inestimable."

       Roger Walsh. “The World of Shamanism. New Views of an Ancient Tradition.” Llewellyn Publications, Woodbury, Minnesota, 2007, p259-60.


Monday, February 9, 2015

Our Relationship to the Supreme

     "... in Chinese thought 'the notion of a Supreme Being, so essential to Western religions, is replaced by that of a Supreme State of Being, an impersonal perfection from which all beings, including man, are separated only by delusion.'"

       John Blofeld. "Taoism: Road to Immortality." Shambhala Publications Inc, 1985.
       quoted in: Solala Towler. "Chung Tzu - The Inner Chapters. The Classic Taoist Text. A New Translation of the Chuang Tzu with Commentary." Watkins Publishing, London, 2010. pxiv

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Awaking from Conventional Slumber

     “At some point the hero’s conventional slumber is challenged by a crisis, an existential confrontation that calls previous beliefs and ways of life into question. The call can come from within or without. Outer physical crises may take the form of sickness, as with come shamans; a confrontation with sickness in others, as with the Buddha; or suddenly staring death in the face. 
     An inner call may take the form of a powerful dream or vision, as with some shamans, or of a deep heartfelt response to a new teacher or teaching. It may also emerge more subtly as ‘divine discontent’: a growing dissatisfaction with the pleasures of the world or a gnawing question about the meaning of life. No matter how this challenge arises, it reveals the limits of conventional thinking and living, and urges the hero beyond them. In our culture, this may appear as an existential or midlife crisis. Tragically, the deeper causes and questions of the crisis are rarely recognized, its potentials rarely fulfilled, and one of life’s great opportunities is then missed. 
     As Jesus said, ‘Many are called, but few are chosen.’ Indeed, few choose to even recognize the call. And no wonder! For those who hear the call now face a terrible dilemma. They must choose whether to answer the call and venture into the unknown realms of life to which it beckons, or deny the call and retreat into their familiar cocoon. If the call is denied then there is little choice but to repress the message and its far-reaching implications. Only by such repression can non-heroes fall again into the seductive, anesthetic comforts of conventional unawareness, suppress the sublime and sink into what the philosopher Kierkegaard so aptly called ‘tranquilization by the trivial.’ The result is a life of unconsciousness and conformity, which existentialists call inauthentic living and alienation.”

        Roger Walsh. “The World of Shamanism. New Views of an Ancient Tradition.” Llewellyn Publications, Woodbury, Minnesota, 2007.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

"Wherever you go, There you are"

     "... get me out of here. I would like to be - where? In some place of perfect impersonality, in a business-class lounge at Heathrow, in a Sheraton Hotel room in Malaysia - in one of those places where you feel pleasantly deracinated, and where you think with warm simplicity of ... home. Yet just now home is a place full of things that only remind me of my own insubstantiality."
       Richard Todd. "The Thing Itself. On the Search for Authenticity." Riverhead Books, NY, 2008.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Reifying the Ephemeral Self

     "Some important part of consumption is really about and for oneself. It represents our desire to enlarge, to complete, to reify ourselves. With our purchases, we try to become more acceptable not fundamentally to others but to ourselves."

       Richard Todd. "The Thing Itself. On the Search for Authenticity." Riverhead Books, NY, 2008.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Absolutely Everything Changes

     An author recounts buying an exorbitantly expensive briefcase - "a true 'attache case'" - as a young man, and how he now, in his 60s, feels about his once-prized status symbol:

     "When I see it at all, when it emerges from the shadows of familiarity, I look at it with a fond melancholy, a sadness for the young fellow who thought he needed this emblem to sustain his identity in the world."

       Richard Todd. "The Thing Itself. On the Search for Authenticity." Riverhead Books, NY, 2008.