Monday, May 8, 2017

Will Humanity Ever Wake Up?

Isn't that the question for majority of us tired of wars personal suffering and future worries?  Buddha has been quoted as saying 2500 years ago that it was not he personally who got enlightenment but it was all sentient beings who now know the truth. In common parlance that's like seeing is freeing. How often do you question whether the moon is a sphere  not a disk or that earth goes around the sun not other way around?

Of course a general and common understanding of who we truly are is unlikely to be sudden and soon. Decades before and after Gallelio was hanged, many still believed that earth is at the centre of the cosmos. But just because you don't believe something doesn't mean it is not true. It is the very fact that all of us suffer, the search for relief will never end. And that points to the fact that our ultimate destiny is enlightenment. There is no alternative. The mind will continue looking for material solutions to suffering through more stuff, more consumption, more love and more improvement of the body until the true you shines through.

So, what do we do to make this happen? Here too there are no alternatives. The methods as prescribed by our ancestors have many names like spirituality, prayers, yoga, wellness, veganism, religion, qi gong, self help, behavior therapy and many more. The common thread that runs through all modalities is the process of meditation and self inquiry.

Join us in either a two month weekly (June 3 to July 24) or a four day (24 to 29 August) fifty hour intensive at Be Yoga to polish your mirror mind and let the true your shine through. 

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Who Meditates?

The body is a label for a complex array of sensations and experiences. The mind is synonumous to thoughts, although some ancient teachers see the mind to be a substratum of an all encompassing Mind at Large. Nevertheless my mind and my thoughts are not two.

Then, who actually meditates?

To answer that we have to first establish, what is meditation? Nearly all meditation techniques require you to concentrate on something; the breath, a candle, a thought, a deity etc.

 Patanjali delineates meditation from concentration. He teaches a system of three limbs; dharana or concentration, dhyana or mental absorption and samadhi or complete self absorption. This he calls samyama. 

Zen teaches concentrating on your breath to let thinking subside.

Most religions ask you to concentrate on God or Divine.

So to answer the question we must now look at concentration, which mostly requires focusing your attention on the chosen object. Which means ignoring all other objects and bringing your attention to one point. 

Thinking or thoughts need not be involved in focusing your attention on one point. You can stare into the sky, enjoy the taste of chocolate or listen to Mozart without thinking. These are all excellent concentration exercises. Similarly focusing on your breath is not thinking about the breath but bringing one pointed attention to the sensation created by passage of air through the nostrils. Vipassana teaches that also.

But who is bringing this one pointed attention to the breath?

Can't be the body which is just a label, or the mind which is just thought, incapable of doing this.

Could it be that it is the unknown, unknowable emptiness teachers point to?

Could it be just that simple?

Why not?


Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Thoughts of Love

Thoughts of love

Thought is a label attached by the brain to one of its apparent functions; thinking. It names breathing to the functioning of lungs, seeing to eyes, hearing to the function of ears and so on. Love is a special thought but another label for the thought that tries to explain attraction felt by a human body. Similar attractions occur all through out the universe but they are labelled differently by the brain, e.g. Gravity, magnetism and electrical energy.

If we try to go deeper into the meaning of the label "thought or love", we quickly end up at the bottom of the rabbit hole. This is not unique to this label but to all names and labels. Take "table", a word used to describe the functioning of a rectangular object made of something called a tree, which is made of something called molecules, atoms and then strings and eventually energy. What is energy, another question at the bottom of the hole, begging for what philosophers call the "one free miracle".


I wrote an essay on "nature of thought" here in April 2011(check the archive). My thoughts (pardon the pun) have changed somewhat. I used to agree with the then experts that thought was a function of brain; hearts pump, lungs breathe and brains think. But more recent neuroscience research shows that thoughts actually follow a human act not precede them in most cases.

The most appealing albeit controversial theory about thoughts, memory and other seeming brain functions is that they actually exist outside of our organic brain. An event or trigger brings a thought into consciousness and the brain takes ownership of this calling it "my" thought. It turns out upon serious looking that there is no I, you or self as we know it and so anything being "my" thought is incorrect. "You" don't have a thought, but thoughts do happen. They are in that sense the same as breath which happens or walking that happens. It is part of living that happens without a me or you.

Let's look at it another way. How can we stop or significantly reduce thoughts? Meditators will tell you and neuroscientists will confirm that by retracting your attention from the senses and concentrating on one object such as breath, you can indeed reduce or even eliminate thoughts for long periods of time. Also, in deep sleep when the brain activity has slowed, thoughts do subside.

That means there are two essential interactions that spur thoughts; between the brain and one of the other five senses. So thoughts happen as a result of seeing, breathing, sitting, eating, sensing. It is an integral part of living. The brain calls this a thought and claims it as it's own creation. There is no evidence to support that brain produces thoughts. Most likely it is aware of thoughts after the fact. It does the same thing to other acts of life. Life happens and  brain claims it is "my" living.

Love is another label or name of a special thought. Attraction between two objects is a fundamental aspect of the material world. Negatively charged electrons love positive protons, particles love other particles and planets love the sun. We call it gravity. It takes extra energy to repel things from other things. But the ground state, when all energy has been spent is love. When this primordial feature touches consciousness, it is expressed by the brain as the word love. Everything is part of this one whole which is in love with all of manifested creation. But rocks can't express their love of water or trees their love of the sun, the same way humans do. So love becomes a big word instead of a very natural feature of existence.

Love is the very nature of consciousness. It too just happens as life happens. Until a human brain becomes aware of it and claims it to be its personal thought of love. There is no such thing as "your" love. There is just love. Just as there is no your thought, there is just thought. There is no my life, there is just life.

Is thought, or love (a special thought) hinderance or help on the path?

I find the "I" thought to be a great hinderance. These are thoughts that have an incorrect ownership attached to them. Just removing the personal connection makes them quite tolerable. Even when "your" house is on fire, you will do a better job to try and put out the fire by considering it  just another house. This works well in most aspects of living or loving. When this understanding of true nature of thoughts takes hold, it is of great help in keeping me true on the path.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Consciousness

Consciousness is an attribute, a property, a quality of living things, even inanimate things rather than an independent object in itself. If we start looking for it like an entity to be found through meditation or pilgrimage, we may find something very different. In fact its the attribute of all there is. Consciousness of emptiness brings manifestation into this presence.

Consciousness or awareness does not perform an act or control anything directly but through an object such as a human body. In fact all functions of a body and it's mind can be attributed to its only property,  consciousness. Eyes do not see, they funnel light through a lens onto a detector whose signals are rearranged into images and then consciousness of the body allows us to see. Same with all other senses. Even thoughts are just electric signals in the brain which get translated into images or sounds and the conscious ability of brain allows us to make an intelligent thought.

In simple terms its like the colour of an object. Just like the red of a rose allows us to see it, fragrance of it allows us to smell it but neither is the rose. Similarly consciousness makes us conscious of everything else but it is not a thing. Its just a property of beings. In that sense it could also be a property of inanimate things but they express their consciousness in a different, inanimate way. Perhaps it is the consciousness of an electron that allows it to be entangled with its twin, billions of light years away.

This doesn't mean that consciousness isn't the all pervasive god, brahma or rigpa scriptures speak of. It just means that looking for consciousness as an object will always lead to disappointment, its just not there. It is the attribute of everything in the universe; it makes us human, rose a flower,  earth a planet, sun a star and space the space.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Yoga Philosophy Sessions At Be Yoga

JANUARY 19 , 7-10 PM

Patanjali, well known seminal author of yoga guide for all practitioners, defines yoga as "chitta vritti nirodhuh" meaning "cessation of mental formations." We will cover the eight limbs of yoga that leads to this cessation in what is known as samadhi, a complete absorption into and of the self. Yoga without understanding what the process is designed for is an incomplete practice.

FEBRUARY 16 ,  7-10 PM

Bhagwat Gita, is a satsang between an undefeated warrior, Arjuna with his charioteer, friend and teacher, Krishna in the middle of an epic battle. Gita's lessons of how to conduct oneself while arrows and spears fly past you and still maintain a meditative calm are as good today as thousands of years ago. This is the guide for all who want to find peace without having to escape the vicissitudes of life and its torments.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Enlightenment

Literally to bring something out of darkness by shedding some light on it.
The same definition could be used for guru, a sanskrit word meaning someone who brings you out of darkness.

But in the end it is a word based on a concept like the one described above therefore it was created by a human brain which has but one purpose, to produce happy chemicals through actions to stimulate its five senses and through thought. And ironically it is the frustration felt by that brain when it fails time and again to find a permanent and constant source of happy chemicals that it wants the panacea of enlightenment.

Most teachers point to a great mistake, an illusion, a maya perpetrated by the brain or mind as the source of all suffering. The brain keeps trying to end this suffering by making another mistake, this time to seek enlightenment.

It is when the brain realises its error, the great mistake by retreating from the endless loop of seeking happy chemicals, the light goes on.

The curse can only be taken off by the witch who caste it; the great mistake or illusion  of separate self can only be realised by the one  that created it. There can be no guru other than you.

All living things with brains share the ability to generate happy chemicals through the senses. Nature designed this as a way to protect and perpetuate the species. Human brains have a special ability to create these happy chemicals through thought, concept and ideas including illusion. Magic, movies, art, music all represent this remarkable human brain feature. Its a natural result of this brainpower that humans create the illusion of self.

It starts at inception as the special ability of thought and deductive reasoning, used by the brain to create a separate self which is and has to be served by others to keep producing these happy chemicals. Its not the milk that makes me happy but the mother who gives milk. The biggest bondage for the human mind is the mother child relationship. This is the beginning of the great illusion and cause of more subsequent suffering. It leads to other emotional illusions like love, hate, jealousy, envy.

The great illusion is not that there is no Mona Lisa but that Pablo Picasso painted it. Yes there were two hands of a body labelled Pablo which went through the motion of moving colours on a canvas. But this great work of art is the creation of millions of years of training and evolution at the cellular level. This is the great illusion of separate self.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Meditating When Life Sucks

It almost seems like you have to be already in a neutral mood, not too happy not too sad before you can follow the simple mindfulness meditation tips and tchniques, like paying attention to your breath, finding a comfortable seat, peaceful corner, on and on.

Well that's not much help. If I am already calm and neutral or happy, who cares. Why mediate? It has to work when all you can see is doom and gloom, bleak future and painful present. And when you sit to meditate when you're upto your navel in alligators, all your mind tries to do is solve the problems you have and protect you from the impending disaster.

But you really need to meditate when life sucks. But how?

What I have found is a simple two step process works quite nicely.

One, bring the suffering in front of you instead of hiding from it and then resist trying to solve the problem right now. Say to your self, first I must calm myself now becuase then I will be better prepared to find the best solution. Do this by separating yourself from the problems you face. Instead of I am angry, anger is arising; or instead of I am jealous, jealousy is manifesting, or I am exhausted, the body is tired. And so on. Buddhists call this selfing. So try to avoid selfing, be vigilant.

Two, scan your body and find spots where the anger, worry, sadness is showing up. It is usually in the stomach, chest or neck. While breathing regulalry, keep a focus on that part of your body.

Try this. It works for me everytime. You may have to repeat this often until it becomes a habit.

Now, should you still meditate when everything is peachy? Yes, becuase that's when the body is trained how to sit and be quiet.