Archive for March, 2009

A Few Quotes

March 31, 2009

It is what you do everyday that determines what you get out in the end.

I don’t know where this quote came from, but I discovered it when I was a student and it has stuck with me ever since. For me it applies to my fanatical, perfectionistic pursuit of spiritual goals – ie inner peace.

In a similar vein, here is a reprint of a quote from Vernon Howard:

You have nothing to do. You have everything to be. People are so confused about what to do with their family affairs, love life, finances, health. And no matter what they do, nothing helps very much. Of course it doesn’t. Nothing can be truly different until the individual is different, really different internally. Doing without being is a dreadful way to spend the day, as millions know. But you can be different.

The key to this quote is the word “being” which is my favourite word at the moment. It has taken me a long, long, long time to get an idea about what it means and even now I cannot claim much more than a vague, fleeting appreciation for it.

Being is an experience which cannot be intellectually understood, in the same way that a strawberry can only be understood by tasting it and not by talking about it.

Here is an analogy about what it means to just be (ie let me talk about the strawberry!)

sunImagine a public park. People are walking and running in the sun. Their heads and hearts are full of noise – thinking about yesterday, tomorrow, what so-and-so said, tonight’s dinner, the cost of the house over the fence, etc. It can all be summed up in one word: distraction.

There is a time and place for thinking about what needs consideration, but for most of us this thinking devolves into continuous, unproductive rambling. It rules our lives without us even knowing because it is so “normal” that it slips under our radar and because we’ve never known any different. All we know is that it is hard to go to sleep at night because of too much “thinkiness.”

This excessive, useless, over-activity of the brain causes us to lose our peace, composure, connection and pleasure. We are so overshadowed by our own internal, invisible brouhaha that we miss what is going on around us. It is like going to a magnificent stage-show but instead of seeing the show we sit in the audience reading a dull and repetitive book about our own opinions, analysis, feelings and prejudices!

Being is what you already are – your essential Self, but it is hidden by the veil of the mind. When the heavy and dull mind is purified, it becomes transparent enough for pure consciousness to shine through. The qualities that comes with pure consciousness include peace, clarity, ease, rest, simplicity, receptivity, balance, contentment, and this is just the beginning!

Whilst some people declare that it is easy to just be, and it is, the hard part is finding our way out of the thick jungle of our own ignorance. Tremendous skill and insight and grace are needed for this – along with lots of motivation.

Motivation is much easier to get. The easiest fuel for motivation is suffering whether that be a mild discontent or burning torment. And this fuel is cheap and plentiful. However, while suffering is an effective fuel the real motivation is the onward movement of life itself – like the flow of water which is neither chasing the ocean nor running from the mountain.

In the light of being, life is seen as a wonderous mystery rich with layers and paradoxes that are eternally occurring right now.

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Quotes from Marcus Aurelius

March 21, 2009

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Quotes from Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius:

Nowhere can man find a quieter or more untroubled retreat than in his own soul.

To live happily is an inward power of the soul.

If thou workest at that which is before thee, following right reason seriously, vigorously, calmly, without allowing anything else to distract thee, but keeping thy divine part pure, as if thou shouldst be bound to give it back immediately; if thou holdest to this, expecting nothing, fearing nothing, but satisfied with thy present activity according to Nature, and with heroic truth in every word and sound which thou utterest, thou wilt live happy. And there is no man who is able to prevent this.

Credit Crisis Explained

March 15, 2009

Here is a good simplified explanation of how the Credit Crisis occurred in America. It is a short video.

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That thing which feels like me

March 5, 2009

bhagavan02Here is my response to a post on my friend Shiva’s blog. He’s currently visiting Sri Ramanashramam in India. This reply won’t make much sense without prior knowledge of Sri Ramana’s self-inquiry.

Hi Shiva,

In response to you comment:

>distinction between the kind of ‘being present as awareness’ approach you describe and focusing of awareness upon the sense of ‘me’ which seems to be the crux of self-enquiry. Is it not the awareness which looks rather than the intellect? Care to comment…..?

This question can be paraphrased as, “being present AS you” versus “focusing awareness ON you”.

Gyana Yoga has three steps with enlightenment occurring at the end of the third step:
1) Hearing: listening to the guru describe the Self
2) Reflection: focusing ON the Self with the intellect
3) Realisation: remaining AS the Self without using the intellect

When we start we have no Self-awareness so the third stage is not an option. So we search for the Self as an object. We give our attention to the I-thought and look at where this “thing” arises.

We read books, ask questions, contemplate it day and night, go over and over the philosophy, argue about it, get angry about it. During this objective process of seeking our source the intellect becomes purified of the rajas and tamas which cling to the body and world.

Eventually, what remains is a sattvic intellect through which pure consciousness shines and we graduate to the third step – Realisation. There is no more confusion about what the Self is or effort trying to find it because the I-I has been found to some degree. Further purification comes more from being this I-I than doing (Yoga Stura 2:10).

Bhagavan describes this third step of “just being” as attending to “aham-sphurana” or I-I. (See David Godman’s website)

It seems that I-I is not enlightenment, but it is close and I think many Advaita teachers mistake this for enlightenment because the transparent, sattvic mind is accompanied by the light of consciousness, silence, peace, bliss, unboundedness, imperceptible individuality, etc. People seem to be in this state for many years before sattva disappears.

Nisargadatta said that he thought he was fully enlightened, but then he said he witnessed his own death. I take that as he was living with a sattvic mind (aham-sphurana) for a long time, then one day it left and took his latent individuality with it.

I liken it to walking through a dark forest (avidya) and suffering by bumping into things. As dawn comes there is enough light to end the suffering. But the sun has not risen – ie pure consciousness has not yet been directly perceived.

>someone else asked a question about what the Sages describe as the unreality of the world. A.Ramana was espousing the typically Advaita Vedantic (a school of Indian phiosophy) view that the world has no objective existence independent of ones subjective perception of it,

I find it useful to consider the world 100% real and 100% unreal. Not appreciating Her (the world/Prakruti/Mother Divine) can lead to disrespectful and small-minded behaviour. I knew a man who did a lot of psychedelic drugs, but he was also clever with advaita. He reasoned that the world, the drugs, the body were all unreal and therefore didn’t matter. He undervalued both sattva and the relative reality. Inevitably She taught him a lesson about not respecting Her.

Om Namah Shivaya!
Andrew. ☺