Thursday, March 31, 2016

Content of & Consciousness itself

     “Ajahn Chah, the great Thai Forest master, went to visit the most famous Forest master of the era, Ajahn Mun. Ajahn Chah had already practiced for 10 years in the forest, the jungles, living in caves, doing jhana and samadhi practices, dissolving his body into light, having deep insights, surrendering, almost dying many times and somehow coming through it.
     So he went and he bowed, and he paid his respects, and he said ‘May I tell you about my practice?’ And so Ajahn Mun listened as he told him about his experiences. After he finished, Ajahn Mun looked at him and said 
     ‘Chah, you’ve missed the point.’ 
     Ajahn Chah said ‘What do you mean?’ 
     Ajahn Mun replied ‘These are just experiences. It’s like going to the movies, you can go to a war movie, a romantic comedy, a documentary, a history movie, there are so many different kinds. So you had all these different experiences of light or insights or various other things – but these are just experiences. The real question is, To whom do they happen? So turn your attention to Ajahn Chah, back from the experiences you have, to the one who knows, to knowing itself, to consciousness, as if to inquire, Who am I?, What is this? What is consciousness itself? Who is knowing? 
     It’s a little bit like being in the movie theater, and you’re completely caught up in some great drama, and then somebody next to you rustles & moves, or drops their popcorn, and all of a sudden, like waking out of a trance, you’re like ‘Oh yah, movie theater, there’s a light on the screen, it’s not actually the action I got engaged in so fully I forgot.' 
     And so Ajahn Mun said to Ajahn Chah ‘Rest in the one who knows. Rest in the pure timeless witnessing of things – the awareness. Become the one who knows is also the phrase used to describe the Buddha or Buddha-consciousness. And in that, in that you will find your freedom.’ 
     And that freedom isn’t dependent on a retreat, or a particular set of circumstances. It’s really the freedom that’s invited and available to people wherever you are, here and now.

     We are consciousness itself, knowing itself, being itself, expressing itself out of the void into form.”

       Jack Kornfield interview on Buddhist Geeks “The Progress of Insight”


Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Buddhist Meditation: To See Things As They Are

     “… Buddhism has literally dozens of meditation practices, and each meditation may develop through several distinct states and stages. A Buddhist practitioner may therefore cultivate scores of ASCs (Altered States of Consciousness) during training. 
     … the classical contemplation of Buddhism, which is called Vipassana or insight meditation, is an awareness practice. … Vipassana meditation cultivates fluid attention to all objects. All stimuli, both inner and outer, are examined precisely and minutely. The aim is to investigate the workings of the mind and thereby cut through the distortions and misunderstandings that usually cloud awareness. ‘To see things as they are’ is the motto of this practice, and the seeing can become very sensitive indeed. 
     … According to both classical and recent research, Buddhist insight meditators can cultivate perceptual sensitivity to remarkable levels. 
     … attention moves fluidly between objects. … insight meditators gradually develop greater calm. 
     … the Buddhist meditator’s microscopic awareness becomes so sensitive that it dissects the sense of self into its components. Thus the meditator perceives not a solid unchanging ego but rather a flux of thoughts and images that compose that ego (transcending ‘personal symbolic consciousness’). This is the classic Buddhist insight of ‘no self,’ which sees through the illusion of egoity and thereby frees the meditator from egocentricity. 
     … awareness becomes so sensitive that all experiences are eventually broken down into their components, and the meditator perceives a ceaseless flux of microscopic images that arise and pass away with extreme rapidity. 

     ... contrary to many claims, shamanic, schizophrenic, Buddhist, and yogic states are clearly distinguishable.”

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

Monday, March 28, 2016

Words - the Glass Ceiling?

      I’m fascinated how our ego (personal) combined with our overuse of language (symbolic) creates a glass ceiling that effectively imprisons us at the level of personal-symbolic consciousness.
     To embody the post-symbolic transpersonal level requires that, for sustained periods, we let go of words. There’s an author who claims to have become "enlightened" primarily by intentionally eliminating “self-talk” - I strongly suspect that this is at least a key initial step.
     The problem, as anyone who's tried sitting meditation for even 5 minutes can appreciate, is that we're afraid - OK scared to death - of letting go of, even for a minute, our image of who we are - our "self-concept." So what's that got to do with "self-talk"? Well our constant internal chatter is ultimately entirely self-referential - all about preserving & puffing-up our own concept of "me, myself & I." Self-talk is the ego's sound track.
     Instead of breaking through this glass ceiling, we begin to realize that it's made of plexiglass, incessantly bouncing us right back into the (tiresome) "story of me."
     So what to do? The only practical option appears to be adopting the attitude of those who are already aware / awake / enlightened: alert, relaxed, kind, patient, persevering, still and - yes - SILENT. And when we observe that we're off self-talking up a storm about you-know-who for the gazzillionth time? We accept ourselves with kindness & patience, and seamlessly return to being: alert, relaxed, kind, patient, persevering, still and SILENT. 

     "… the contemplative ground of all spiritual experience is the same. As the Quaker tradition puts it, the way opens in silence …”
       O’Reilley MR. “Radical presence. Teaching as a contemplative practice.” Boynton/Cook Publishers Inc, Portsmouth NH, 1998.

     “All that is necessary to awaken to yourself as the radiant emptiness of spirit is to stop seeking something more or better or different, and to turn your attention inward to the awake silence that you are.” Adyashanti 

from: Mindful Facebook page

Friday, March 25, 2016

Bringing Harmony to Relationships

     "The cardinal rule in bringing harmony to your relationships is to remember that your work is on yourself. It is not about changing, coercing, or manipulating others. Over the course of a lifetime, we have the opportunity to learn from and grow within the context of many different relationships. Lessons learned in one relationship will offer valuable clues for other relationships. As we learn and grow, we change, and as we change, our relationships change. On the other hand, many of us have learned by now that though we may leave a relationship with someone, the same difficult issues we had with that person may keep showing up in other relationships until we work it out in a balanced way. If you have a lesson to learn and you don't learn it in one relationship, it will certainly keep resurfacing until you get it.
     So it is crucial in all relationships that we ask ourselves again and again: what issues or qualities in my own life, attitudes, or beliefs are being reflected back to me in the mirror of this relationship? Is this relationship asking me to be more patient, more honest, more mindful, more loving, more lighthearted, more focused, more present, more caring, or more generous with my time and attention? Look, listen, and feel into the relationship for what is really being asked for in order to realize harmony and balance between you. Deepen your empathy to know and understand both what is true for you, and as best you can, what is likely true for others. Balance both reasoning* and intuitive intelligence** to discover what is most alive in each relationship.
     In extending love to others, the key point to remember is this: though the people with whom we live and work maintain an air of having it together and having their life in control, just like us they all carry deep wounds from previous experiences that lead them to act in ways that are difficult for us to understand, even if we think we know them. This simple yet challenging fact of life creates a learning laboratory in which we are constantly being invited to learn more about ourselves and one another as we dance together in life." 

       Michelle and Joel Levey in: "Living in Balance: A Mindful Approach for Thriving in a Complex World."

* & ** See "Two Levels of Consciousness":!Two-Levels-of-Consciousness/c17jj/56f14e0c0cf266a292561f27

Unconditional Love for Self exercise:

in a special little girl's room

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Perceptions & Direct Contact - Two Levels of Consciousness

     “The Lankavatara sutra … covers all the major teachings of Mahayana Buddhism, and contains but two teachings:
          • everything we perceive as being real is nothing but the perception of our own minds
          • the knowledge of this is something that must be realized and experienced for oneself and cannot be expressed in words.”

      Red Pine translation & commentary. “The Lankavatara Sutra – A Zen Text.” Counterpoint, Berkley, CA, 2012. 

See "Two Levels of Consciousness":!Two-Levels-of-Consciousness/c17jj/56f14e0c0cf266a292561f27

Words vs Silence & Stillness:

Artist: Marcos Chin -

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Evolution of Human Consciousness

     “There are four main views of the evolution of consciousness (both human consciousness in general & religious consciousness in particular). Historically, these have usually been considered together, so we can start there.
     The first view sees history as a cyclical affair of recurrent ups and downs. The second is a downhill view that sees things as getting worse and consciousness as devolving. The third sees no change in consciousness, or at least religious consciousness, since prehistoric times. The fourth is an upward view of progressivism that sees culture and consciousness as evolving. 

     The fourth view sees human consciousness as 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.”

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

Monday, March 14, 2016

Open Heart & Quiet Mind

     "There are many levels of the heart. And the human heart will break because it empathizes. The deeper heart... that heart is the one that looks at the universe, just as it is, in a non-reactive way and says, 'Ah so,' 'Yes'. And it includes your human heart which is breaking, but your identity isn't only with your human heart. Your identity is with a deeper, intuitive heart wisdom which is different. You don't deny the pain, but you don't get reactive to it.
     The hardest state to be in is one in which you keep your heart open to the suffering that exists around you, and simultaneously keep your discriminative wisdom.... Once you understand that true compassion is the blending of the open heart and quiet mind, it is still difficult to find the balance. Most often we start out doing these things sequentially. We open our hearts and get lost in the melodramas, then we meditate and regain our quiet center by pulling back in from so much openness. Then we once again open and get sucked back into the dance. 
     So it goes cycle after cycle. It takes a good while to get the balance.... You have to stay right on the edge of that balance. It seems impossible, but you can do it. At first, when you achieve this balance, it is self-consciously maintained. Ultimately, however, you merely become the statement of the amalgam of the open heart and the quiet mind. Then there is no more struggle; it's just the way you are."           Ram Dass

Parson's Point by Jon Wilkinson

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Robert Frost - Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Embodying the "Context" of Awareness & Holding the "Contents" Lightly

     Everything & everyone we perceive, including all our self-concepts, worldviews, opinions, other thoughts (including our incessant self-talk), feelings & emotions, including our hopes, dreams, fears & anxieties, can all be understood as "contents" of awareness
     All of these phenomena are conditioned - dependent on previous causes & conditions in order to arise & have the specific features that they have. All of these phenomena also exist and cease, according to causes & conditions. 
     If you invested all your savings in Apple, your investment would minimally impact the value of the stock. However, just about any event in the world, from China's or the US' or the world's economy, work conditions in China & around the world, the emotions of investors ("bearish" or "bullish"), cost / availability of raw materials, shipping costs / conditions, to the personality / ethics / stage presence of Apple's CEO ie pretty well everything affects the sales & profitability of Apple products, and thus your life savings are another example of conditioned phenomena. And as such, regardless of how much time & effort you expended researching Apple, Sony might suddenly introduce a product that makes Apple products obsolete, and before you realize it, your life savings are decimated.
     Since there are unimaginably high numbers of phenomena, all of which are interdependent, it is not practically possible to predict, much less control, conditioned phenomena. 
     We can observe how phenomena constantly change, including our own and our loved ones' aging, sickness & death. 
     From our common (egoic) perspective, all of this is at best unsatisfactory & stressful, giving rise to existential angst and almost constant dysfunctional thought, speech & behaviour. See:!Over-Thinking/c17jj/56d1b4a90cf24bcda4779079 From the perspective of Buddhist psychology, most of this is unnecessary suffering.
     During meditation, we gently, repeatedly step back from attempting to control various "contents" of awareness, and learn to rest in, & operate from, the "context" of awareness: the timeless peace & clarity of spacious awareness itself.


Thursday, March 3, 2016

Levels of Consciousness & Being

     "The sense of wonder is based on the admission that our intellect is a limited and finite instrument of information and expression, reserved for specific practical uses, but not fit to represent the completeness of our being. ... It is here that we come in direct touch with a reality which may baffle our intellect, but which fills us with that sense of wonder which opens the way to the inner sanctuary of the mind, to the heart of the great mystery of life and death, and beyond into the plenum void of inner space from which we derive our conception of an outer universe that we mistake for the only genuine reality. In other words, our reality is our own creation, the creation of our senses as well as of our mind, and both depend on the level and the dimensions of our present state of consciousness."                                         Anagarika Govinda

From: Mindful Living Facebook page