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Uplifting the Quality of Love and Friendship in Your Life

A great aspect of life that I find most encapsulates beauty, goodness and truth is friendship. What a marvellous gift! Friendship universally valued, is founded on mutual love and regard for one another. It nurtures our sense of connection and enriches life. It’s a safe and nourishing means to gain perspective of our personal realities through sharing thoughts, feelings and views with each other. In friendship we truly enjoy each other and life as personalities, invigorating life meaning, the value of sharing love, reminding us what is important. We couldn’t imagine life without it. Every friendship is so unique, and what we gain and share in different friendships often surprise, delight and fulfil us mind and soul.

Our need for companionship is a natural instinct on every level of our being as we are not created to be in isolation. Beautiful friendships do not come from neediness and dependency on each other for security and completeness. Beautiful friendships reciprocate an unconditional love that each person has found within. These authentic friendships we all would like in abundance and the way to cultivate them is to cultivate our own ideal ‘friendship’ in ourselves.

To become a good friend to others is much more achievable if we have an abundance of love and a sense of connection within ourselves. Feeling complete, means we have more energy and concern for others. There is one reliable source of this.

In the Gita, Krishna speaking as an embodiment of the divine says: “I am the Self, dwelling in the heart of all beings, and the beginning, the middle, and the end of all that lives as well.” (Gita 10:20) It is universally recognised that it is in the heart we most truly see ourselves and each other. In religions around the world, it is the calm or spirit aligned mind unified with the heart that is attuned to truth, meaning and higher values.

A pure intent, coming from love and strength rather than seeking it, enables us to be more present and loving, able to respond to life and situations with thoughtfulness and compassion. We all want to respond more readily to authentic and genuine needs, rather than react or get ensnared by conditional ego needs in our ourselves or in others. From a free and independent state of ‘universal love’ we can seek to understand others, even when their actions may not be in our own interests.

To love universally does not mean approving or advocating indiscriminately when we see things that are obviously misguided or outright evil and wrong. However, like the saints and masters, we can condemn the sin and love the sinner as we ourselves hope to be treated. This means exercising love with wisdom. It is only through understanding that we can genuinely achieve the spiritual ideal of ‘loving our enemies’. Even the worst types of characters can be friendly to their family or those close. Therefore, spiritual wisdom in our responses is being discriminating but non-judgemental to those who slight us, seeking out the goodness in them, understanding why they do what they do, then responding appropriately without taking it personally. In the joy of righteousness, or the courage of challenging injustice, we can act with love in our hearts for the benefit of all concerned. It is not easy at all, yet a profound ideal of applying mindfulness.

Offering love and friendship in any circumstance is a way to freely apply our higher nature whether joyously or sternly. If the intention is to be true and authentic and of most value to others, then such acts of love and friendship are not a means to an end but fulfilling a pure and complete end in itself.

Those who realise the power of an open heart in facing life, discover the sacredness in and through their relationships. Personal spiritual experience comes from a sense of the divine in the universe at large as well as a personal connection within. This personal religious awareness may permeate all four levels of the realisation of values and the enjoyment of universe fellowship: the physical or material level of self-preservation; the social or emotional level of fellowship; the moral or duty level of reason; the spiritual level of the consciousness of universe fellowship through divine worship. (Urantia I:5:5.2)

Thus, friendship can be a sublime channel for actualising divine love if, even in ordinary moments, we consciously connect to the source of personal love within and omnipresent universal love around us. “Love spontaneously gives itself in endless gifts. But those gifts lose their fullest significance if through them we do not reach that love, which is the giver. The question is, in what manner do we accept this world, which is a perfect gift of joy? Have we been able to receive it in our heart where we keep enshrined things that are of deathless value to us?” (Rabindranath Tagore, Nobel Prize-winning poet of India).

Jesus love and regard to all people equally, challenged the social mores of racial and gender prejudice in his time. He broke such a social code when speaking to a Samaritan woman by a well, saying: “whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a fount of water springing up to eternal life.” (John 4:14). This ‘fount of living water’ amounts to our own conviction and willingness to feel great divine love within ourselves and to embody it for the benefit of all.

Realising the inner fountain of love and life according to Sri Krishna is to calm worldly attachments and aversions, focusing oneself completely with inner devotion with the divine. In the Gita, Krishna speaks to the cultivation of such love within when he says: “Only by undistracted love can men see me, and know me, and enter into me. He who does my work, who loves me, who sees me as the highest, free from attachment to all things, and with love for all creation, he in truth comes to me.” (Gita 11:54,55)

A great sense of meaning and purpose comes with cultivating conscious love and friendship and including the world at large in that love. It is greater than the pursuit of a personal happiness from external things or trying to fill emotional or psychological gaps in an isolated and conditioned self.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second most important commandment is this: ‘Love your neighbour as you love yourself.’ There is no other commandment more important than these two.” (Mark 12:30,31)

Thus, the key to great love and friendships can be found by applying spiritual values in ourselves and with others to overcome worldly and ego needs. Sacred friendship requires effort – engagement of all aspects of our personality, and an acknowledgement of a personal relationship in and with the divine. The rewards are immense and real.

Jesus presents ideal love and friendship as the love of a divine parent to all combined with the mutual love of neighbours or brother or sister sharing a divine source and destiny: The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me who is doing his work.” (John 14:10) “.. you will realise that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you”. (John 14:20) “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you.” (John 15:9) “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:12,13).

This depth of love is a great human achievement to be exercised in wisdom. While Jesus followed through with this truth in the ultimate sense, we can devote our lives to mindful daily practice. Truth, beauty and goodness in our true nature is demonstrated by so many people the world over. There is a quiet majority who are essentially good and beautiful souls. May love, unity and friendship become the art form of our times.

Recommended Reading:

The Berean Bible (download online – public domain)

The Bhagavad Gita (download online – public domain)

The Urantia Book (download online – public domain)

Photo by drhenkenstein on VisualHunt / CC BY-NC-SA

Enhancing Beauty, Truth and Goodness in Our Lives

“The concept of truth might possibly be entertained apart from personality, the concept of beauty may exist without personality, but the concept of divine goodness is understandable only in relation to personality. Only a person can love and be loved.”

The Urantia Book 1:7.3

Life can be received as a bestowed gift. Can we lay claim as humans to be self made, to understand and control the spark of life, the source of consciousness, in this material universe? We are self aware of our existence with a depth of perception, intelligence and understanding. In contemplating and observing this simple yet profound fact, many of us come to a realisation that the nature and source of our consciousness and life, conscious beings in a structured vast soup of molecules called the universe, is of a transcendent and universal nature. This nature includes all attributes of conscious experience that are a result of it – including great love.

Any unifying field of reality will include a primal energy behind the observable inherent patterns and structures as well as chaos and randomness. In addition, with the evidence of intelligent life and our own subjective and noblest truths, such a unifying field can be no less than the giver of life and consciousness. Therefore, attributes of self awareness, purpose and meaning must also arise from a vast and infinite cause that may not be human on a creator and deity level, but neither can it be divorced from or less than the lives that it bestows – our most evolved attributes as individuals and as humanity.

We are each such a small part of a vast and abundant evolving creation. The immensity reflects the infiniteness of the universal source. Yet, the personal and individually unique aspect of each of us also reflects that the infinite scale of creation is matched by personal attention and connection in each living being. So we are each important with a purpose. The personal and rich nature of our life and consciousness can only come from such a vast and immense universal force and infinite being with great love. Thus, the personal spiritual aspect of our relationship with what we may call God, can be fittingly appreciated and cultivated in a way akin to child and heavenly parent, as personified in many world religions.

The realisation and knowing of divine presence and love brings a gradual accumulation of implications and revelations in its wake as we mature and face life. Our capacity to experience the fullness and richness of that spiritual relationship deepens and expands if we consistently draw on it as much as we engage in the life before us with honesty and authenticity. There is a beauty and symmetry in Infinite Being of a transcendent, absolute and perfect nature being able to share a sense of finiteness and imperfection with us as ascendant beings evolving towards the perfection and nature of the infinite on both a personal and vast collective scale.

The Urantia Book (quoted above) also says that God is to science a cause and primal force, to philosophy an idea and hypothesis of unity, and to religion a person, even the loving heavenly father, as a spiritual experience (1:6.2). He is all of these and more. We may see divine beauty in life and the material universe, recognise or feel a sense of truth in our intellect but a knowing sense of goodness is always personal. Whatever names, religion or path we use in our instinctive knowing and gravitation towards spiritual nature, the most relevant and compelling step from faith and sense of recognition of the divine, is realisation of personal connection. It is a loving experience of profound truth, beauty and goodness.

Every aspect and moment of life can be impacted when we begin to take ownership of our own personal spiritual convictions and conscious experience. Realisation cannot be thought out intellectually as much as discovered, when we open ourselves up in faith, drawing from the source of our life and consciousness within our own hearts and minds. This is a shared situation and reality with countless others. While the detail of self and life may define us as individuals, the essence of our values, struggles and higher truths are universal as is the life and consciousness from which it arises.

With a manifested body and material universe around us, a personal subjective illuminating connection within, we can see that although the ‘maker’ remains unseen to our physical perception, a shared connection with our maker is within. We can develop this sense through how we apply it in our lives with each other and compare views and understandings with one another. Despite the extremes and dualities of good and evil that are a legacy of an evolving material world, it is up to each of us individually to align and identify with the affirming substance of what we feel within and between us.

The highest teachings of east and west agree that our greatest enemy is ourselves. Our conditioned mind and our obsession with fickle thoughts, desires, likes and dislikes become a cage of false identity and limited perception. We remain detached from others and life while we are attached single eyed on our inner narratives and conditioned responses to the data our physical senses provide, including chemically induced moods and emotions from our bodies or what we put in them.

Yet when we learn to free our minds, distinguishing between the product of mind activity and the consciousness doing the thinking, we can start to align with existential being – not of our own conditioned manufacture. It is the consciousness under our noses, so to speak, or rather deep within our mind. It is existing consciousness that is there already when we’re not trying to be or do anything. Once we go there repeatedly, we start to bring more order and choice into what we think, how we react and look to a more inner sense of authenticity. Inherent in this and in the absence of need or compulsion for outward verification (through worldly power, security, wealth, recognition, sensuality, etc.) is an inner verification of aligning with truth, beauty, goodness and the values of love and the genuine interest of others. Causeless bliss within becomes more available as we align insight and pure consciousness. It is also revealed more in life and people around us.

In aligning with a source that has given life and consciousness to all, our own separate will and self interest can mature into one of personalising the greater universal will. We can become more authentically ourselves by progressively embodying our own conscious experience of universal presence and its attributes. Intention and application brings realisation. Spiritual realisation leads to a natural reverence for all life, a co-ordinate and co-operative sense of contributing to the progress and interests of everyone. This is the key to engaging in the flow and synchronicity of life, experiencing the universal presence and its qualities in everything as a connected unity.

The challenges of life are there for us to overcome by drawing on the indestructible and dependable reality within us. This reality is for us to realise subjectively, just like discovering a deepening sense of love, as a more real and immediate dimension to ourselves than the changeable and temporary nature of material senses and world around us. The material world becomes an instrument or vehicle of transformation through alignment and application in the divine.

Universal goodness, beauty and truth can genuinely infuse our personality. We can appreciate it more in life and others. We can follow whatever vocations and relationships in life we are drawn to with a baseline sense of meaning and purpose. This meaning and purpose is fulfilled by how consciously we embody spiritual reality and values. When we seek to selflessly apply love and goodness, beauty and strength, conviction and truth to all aspects of our days and lives together, we can find greatness in small things and a dependable inner identity embracing any life challenge.

Recommended Reading: The Urantia Book  (available from various organisation publications and online stores as well as free online downloads).

Photo credit: maf04 via Visual hunt / CC BY-SA

Winning the Most Important Battle with Love and Unity

The Battle Within

Both Mahatma Gandhi and Paramahansa Yogananda among other esteemed masters and teachers of India hold that the war of the Gita is the war within. There is a field called Kurukshetra (north of Delhi) where the battle is said to have occurred. Yet these great teachers insist in the Gita the field is an analogy for our mind and the battle one we must all fight within. The entire Gita poetically and profoundly narrates a conversation between Arjuna and his treasured lord and companion Sri Krishna during the legendary battle between a divided ruling family and their forces.

Much in the Gita supports this such as when Sri Krishna tells Arjuna the enemies he must conquer are lust, fear and anger. The dialogue between the two becomes a living truth when the principles covered throughout the discourse are applied to thought and action. The Gita concisely represents the essence of India’s ancient and timeless spiritual wisdom as well as teaching true yoga before it diverged into its many modern streams.

Life as Unity

Eknath Easwaranin his companion book The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita states that “the central message of the Gita is that life is an indivisible whole – a concept civilisation flouts at every turn”. The principles of unity and how to live with them in the Gita is the only way we can have abiding peace or live with one another and the planet in harmony.

Getting to the Root of our Problem

While Krishna’s initial response to Arjuna’s pleas of counsel in the battle field sounds hopelessly philosophical, instead of hacking at the branches of Arjuna’s issues (and our own) it goes to the root. As frustration leads to anger and eventually war or a cycle of crisis, it is only in understanding who we are and what truly satisfies us that can provide a basis for living together in peace and prosperity. The Gita presents the bottom line of all human dilemmas as a conflict between a lower self and a higher self. This is the dual nature of human and divine. Both Christ and Krishna embody the purpose, path and fulfilment of unifying this dual nature once the divine is given dominance. Yet the path is difficult and the aligning requires an artful approach to life and knowing ourselves.

Suffering and Awakening

With awakening comes a even deeper connection to others, greater understanding and compassion. Easwaran makes the distinction between those who suffer life’s hardships while dwelling upon themselves versus those who experience no separateness and experience suffering universally – “with such a vast field to absorb your capacity for sorrow, there is little left for dwelling on your own suffering” 1. A hallmark of the Gita (and a universal theme in spiritual traditions) is the two approaches to spiritually aligned living of contemplation and action. Victory over selfishness is through selfless service, where there are always things to be done to ease sorrow and suffering of others. (Note Gita 6:1).

Easwaran says: “The main problem with identifying ourselves [predominantly] with the body is that we spend our lives trying to satisfy nonphysical needs in physical ways” 2, such as through relationships based on separate needs, compensating for ego driven desires, needs and deficiencies or through material wealth, power, recognition for security. This can occur in all spectrums of human life from survival level to high levels of excess. Sri Krishna and the Gita would counsel that this is a bottomless hole because “that which is infinite can only be filled with something infinite”. The deepest drive within us, beneath appearances and conditioning, is for “direct, personal, experiential knowledge of the eternal reality that is within” 2.

Stress

Easwaran notes it is often not the circumstance or task itself that makes us stressed but the mind dwelling on our dislike, wishing things or people were different, making people wrong, while “always making ourselves the frame of reference” …. “stress flourishes in a divided mind” 3. He suggests that no one really knows what the external world really is, since what we experience is largely determined by our nervous system and mind. We create our own turmoil and the nervous system responds to our choices while we think we are reacting to things outside. (note Gita 2:14). “Events are just events, neither pro nor con, neither for us or against us. That is why the Gita says when we see life as it is, we see that there is no cause for personal sorrow. This one insight brings compassion and the precious capacity to help without judging or getting burned out” 4.

“This is practicing yoga on the surface of life” and “what begins as training attention becomes, in time, training of the will, and eventually desire” … unification of consciousness gradually moves, level by level, deeper an deeper into personality” 5.

Yoga to Unify self with the Divine

Most spiritual traditions agree, the little self will (ahamkara in sanskrit) or the ego is the culprit behind our difficulties, conflicts and sufferings. Yoga is about healing the ‘split’ consciousness and resolving the battle perceived through ahamkara. The word ‘yoga’ relates to the english word yoke; signifying binding together parts that have been separated. But yoga originally did not mean so much union of body, mind and spirit so much as “complete identification with the atman, [universal spirit within] which uses body and mind as instruments” 6.

The mark of healing the split between our true nature and identification with mind and body is unconditional love of life (Gita 6:29,32). Because there are countless problems and issues to work through, Sri Krishna says: “Don’t just try and tackle the problems the mind creates. Go to the root: tackle the mind” 7 (Gita 2:41).

Just like walking is a great skill that becomes unconscious, yoga as explained in the Gita, trains us in the experience of monitoring the lower mind from the higher mind, providing a higher level of feedback. Thus with training we can maintain balance when faced with anger, fear, negative emotions and thoughts. This does not impair feeling deeply, but removes compulsive and reactive responses so the mind regaining balance quickly is at its best in dealing with what is at hand. Easwaran recommends practicing doing little things you dislike or are uncomfortable with to “lower the like and dislike threshold” and gain a more balanced mind 8. Ways to do this are including less liked foods in your diet, prioritising chores at home or essential tasks at work that you tend to avoid, while affirming their benefits to others as you do them.

Becoming more “free to enjoy everything and equal to every situation” means “you have choices everywhere, so you never feel trapped: whatever the circumstances, you can break out”. The Gita says this brings a lasting joy long before yoga is perfected (Gita 2:40).

Through regular practice of yoga combined with right intent, the spiritual aspirant can achieve the goal of unification and become a yogi. “The ultimate goal of yoga is lofty, not at all easy to attain. Shankara says succinctly, “Yoga is samadhi*.” It is not just a matter for faith, although the first steps require it. Sri Krishna asks us to put the teachings to the test for ourselves and Arjuna finally rises to the challenge (Gita 18:73).

* Samadhi – direct experience of reality when the mind is still and settled in living realisation of the unified and consciously awakened state. Sahaja samadhi – continually established in wisdom or samadhi. The experience of unity in meditation and realisation must be experienced repeatedly for direct awareness to gradually become continuous. Sahaja samadhi is to live in samadhi in all creative acts and normal life moments, navigating challenges and successes without any disturbance of the unified state.

Recommended Reading:

Essence of the Bhagavad Gita -; A Contemporary Guide to Yoga, Meditation and Indian Philosophy, by Eknath Easwaran (Nilgiris Press, Tomales, CA, USA, 2011)

Quotes: 1. (p.64); 2. (p.73); 3. (p.164); 4. (p.165); 5. (pp.165,166); 6. (p.111);

7. (p.113); 8. (pp. 116,117);

God Talks With Arjuna: The Bhagavad Gita, by Paramahansa Yogananda (Self-Realization Fellowship, USA, 1999, Second Edition)

The Bhagavad Gita, translation & commentary, by Sri Swami Sivananda (The Divine Life Society, India, 2015, Fifteenth Edition)

Connection and Unity in True Love, Beauty & Freedom

The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.1(Luke 17:2021)

Jesus [standing by a well] answered. “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:1314)

When the words of Jesus are looked at on their own, they mostly present universal truths that resonate and can uplift any religion, philosophy or spiritual practice. Here, the divine is directly acknowledged as an available living experience — albeit through the analogy of water—and not in parables.

Jesus’s key uplifting point in his life and teachings was the kingdom as a subjective reality, just as love is. It is up to us to align and enter, something we can do only within ourselves.

We look for love in other people and relationships, yet we can be overflowing with it from within ourselves. When we tap into the infinite and eternal love of the divine, relationships become more holy, less dependent, and less conditional. Sacred friendships become vehicles to feel the joy, brotherhood or sisterhood of shared authentic divine love that has been there deep inside all along. We can get to actualize and personalize this love and knowing through ourselves and with each other. Just being present, and celebrating that love and “knowing” in the heart, provides the joy of living. It is not about the emotion that is often observable but the quality of truth and the realization experience.

When spirituality becomes grounded in this very point, then ideologies, religious affiliation, personal beliefs, and philosophies cease to become divisions. They become chosen paths to suit, nurture, and develop one’s spiritual personalization, life conditions, and application in life. Even in one religious sect, each unique individual has unique interpretations, perspectives, and insights in their personal ideology. We are collectively experiencing and expressing endless and unique varieties of approaches to a common deified source and center, a shared divine heritage and destiny with other equally unique brethren.

Jesus in his teachings aimed to redefine and bring God directly to each person, and each person directly to God through emphasizing the indwelling Spirit of God in each person. He did this through many simple analogies like the “water” of life here. He gave teachings about loving one’s neighbor, doing good to others, practicing forgiveness, and living in a mindset of serving God within oneself and within others. Most powerfully, he embodied what he taught and lived by example in a masterful way. He trusted God not only with his own life but faithfully relied on the presence of Spirit in others to provide for their own recognition of “divinity” and truth in his teachings thus finding it more clearly in themselves.

Jesus called people to put trust in a directly accessible God within themselves. With that personal sovereignty and ability, each individual has the responsibility to progressively align with the Spirit. The development of goodness, beauty, and truth into one’s thoughts, actions, relationships, and identity are the fruits of this relationship with the divine. Devoting all aspects of love with a whole heart is the meaning of loving God with all your heart, mind, and soul.

The reward here and now is enjoying a knowing and living relationship in the Spirit, your own sense of direct connection with God. This connection lies deep in the pure consciousness from which we perceive ourselves and life. Connecting here is not only to ourselves but provides an authentic realization of our true connection to all things and everyone. Life’s troubles then have less of a hold. A sense of immortality develops, and you experience a shared recognition and loving kindness with others. Celebration with those of the same realization and conviction of truth enriches life.

Our sense and experience of divine love makes the integration of deeper truths, rising beyond material attachments and gender, nationality, and cultural and religious identity an organic and natural process. It also enriches all relationships in life. Realization of this truth of ‘the kingdom’ makes you less prone to the frailties and conflicts that arise, regularly vitalized in a way that one can never be from dead and statically fixed ideas and beliefs.

On its own, aside from the established religion about him, Jesus’s kingdom remains a positive progressive journey of increasing certainty through the proof and tangibility of lived and shared daily experience.

This is more powerful in its transformation and spiritual enrichment than a hopeful belief and vague notion of a remote and final destination we hopefully arrive at after death. It is a kingdom of daily practical values that shape life choices and actions in terms of qualitative happiness and life enrichment. It is a consciousness with which we face both life and death armed with faith and certainty of our own spiritual identity and personal path.

1 Other translations use “is within you” or “among you” or “within your grasp.”

Like Waves and Drops of the Ocean

Waves and little drops play their timeless dance,

Rolling, bubbling, splashing and spraying,

Rising and falling silently or reaching high to crash and tumble,

From shoreline the steady timeless rumble or quiet lapping.

 

Coming into form then merging and returning to formlessness,

Always an inseparable expression and action of the sea,

Seeming to revel in motion when towering dramatically and suddenly,

Or languidly rising and falling rarely cresting with power dormant.

 

Wave and drop a brief and minuscule extension of vast ocean,

Shaped by the winds of time and chaotic turbulences amidst a familiar flow,

Oblivious to massive tides and planetary forces that also shape their paths,

Of forming and re-forming, again and again merging with the source of their substance.

 

Their own watery substance reflecting the unfathomable depths below,

Every wave and drop expresses unique beauty of infinite form and detail,

Each necessary in the passage of time to the continuity of the whole,

Ripples united in a play of the vast sea and the elements that shape them.

 

Always apart in form yet unified in substance,

Sometimes crashing together, moving indefinitely apart, always moving in pattern,

The waves and little drops know no name or definition,

No views and differences of opinion about their nature, source or destiny.

 

There is no argument or agreement about the depths beneath,

No consensus required on preferences for conditions,

Of wind, sun and rain, for calm stillness or storm,

Each one manifested by the same energies and elements that form them.

 

How grand that we know our own nature,

That knowledge, name and form allow us to evolve ourselves while in form,

Shaping and developing our own world around us as well as our little selves,

Our source and destiny a great ocean of life and consciousness from which we rise and merge.

 

Must knowing the form come with the folly of forgetting the unseen whole,

Treachery of knowledge, power of naming and categorising entrapping the mind,

Consuming identity and nature when defined by separateness and conflict,

The vast inseparable source reduced to division, or rejection or forgotten altogether.

 

It is only in knowing the waves and drops minutely,

Relative to the inseparable interactive elements of ocean, wind, and earth,

Vast whirling planets and space that direct the tide and bring it all to bare,

May true understanding arise embracing both form and formless forces.

 

Yet does knowledge reveal of the beauty of the calm sea and terribleness of the storm,

The humility in feeling the vast power of ocean and earth and their gift of life,

Vital freshness or bite of salty wetness and the glory of riding cresting wave,

Knowing that arises from realms of the heart and in the rich depths of experience.

 

Heart and mind, knowledge and experience, form and formlessness,

Material and consciousness, phenomenal and ethereal, master and servant,

One without the other a blissful ignorance or sorrowful suffering,

While embracing what is, as both and neither is to come nearer to creator.

 

Only in detail are we uniquely personal and evolving understanding,

All else is diversity in unified experience of shared challenges and forces,

Directing the farsighted to oneness of realisation and revelation, eternal being and meaning,

Glorious and miraculous that we are also that, the vast and unified ocean of consciousness.

 

By Colin Chenery

Photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/bostik/6310836292/”>bostik_</a&gt; via <a href=”https://visualhunt.com/re2/90ba41″>Visualhunt.com</a&gt; / <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”&gt; CC BY-NC-ND</a>

Your Guide to Meditation and Conscious Wellbeing

 

The Twelve Principles of Meditation

A peaceful and calm mind, along with a peaceful and calm heart brings a sense of wellbeing, relaxed focus, and increasingly produces a feeling of happiness. Brain wave patterns, happy hormone production accompany many benefits to mind and body. With practice, as the sense of thought and body dissolve into an open and spacious fullness and stillness, a spiritual benefit arises as we learn to achieve a state of presence that is found rather than manufactured, that is beyond thoughts, feelings and changing perception. This state of unified consciousness is the real essence and preparation of true yoga practice and meditation which go further with focus.

“The Self is not the individual body or mind, but rather that aspect

deep inside each person that knows the Truth.”

Swami Vishnu-devananda, renowned Hatha and Raja Yoga authority

and Founder of Interntaional Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres.

The state is best achieved by attaining steady observation of the mind in equanimity and calmness. With practice the benefits can be felt throughout the day and the meditation becomes the anchor point for continuous practice when in action. This is when we gain more freedom from reactivity, changing moods, stress responses, imbalance and disease. Meditation is showed to significantly reduce catabolic decline that accompanies ageing and assist in mental stability and wellbeing. In observing our inner life along with our outer life, we gain more choices in how to respond, so the doing and the being of living becomes a more conscious, progressive and enjoyable journey. We can feel more present and experience things more serenely and deeply.

The key to enjoying and developing this skill is to practice for the sake of practice. You just do it daily and let the results occur in their own time. Like sleep, meditation cannot be forced but allowed to happen. In the meantime it is a short time spent regularly for yourself that will eventually bare ‘flowers and fruits’ of immeasurable benefit.

It is not essential to still the mind completely as a beginner or even intermediate, so do not let ongoing thoughts discourage you. Sogyal Rinpoche, a renowned authority on Tibetan Buddhism, uses the analogy of letting your consciousness be like an old grandparent sitting calmly watching the children (your thoughts) at play. He also has used the analogy of sitting strong and stable, lower body a base and body still like a mountain, your mind the sky and thoughts clouds that come and go. Let them be and if they distract you, then when you realise it just let them be and come back to your practice.

Developing a calm mind is more likely with technique. Therefore a simple technique that provides a focus, synchronicity of breath focus and an inner object of concentration, is the best place to start.

There are many forms and styles of meditation, most of them eventuating in the same result. Swami Vishnu-devananda (pictured) formulated the following Twelve Principles which provide the key points in most meditation approaches and for beginners to achieve gradual results.

  1. Location – have a dedicated place where you practice regularly to build an atmosphere and place where you will quickly feel the right state with time.
  2. Time – choose a regular time once or twice a day, when you can switch off from daily concerns during your practice. Dawn and dusk are traditionally ideal times or early pre-dawn and last thing at night.
  3. Same time and location each day conditions the mind to slow down more quickly and deeply.
  4. Posture – spine straight and erect but comfortable. Use a meditation cushion for cross legged options can help align the hips and spine, or a firm chair where you can sit upright free of back or arm rests. Feet flat on the floor for chair sitting. Hands are best positioned in cupped the lap or palms up on the thighs where elbows are relaxed, and the shoulders a little back to open the chest slightly. The traditional meditation position is facing North, East or somewhere between.
  5. Instruct your mind to remain quiet for the duration of your practice. When thoughts do arise, observe them without attachment and maintaining focus as described in the following points.
  6. Regulate your breathing – start with three to five minutes of deep relaxed breathing, being mindful of each inhale and exhale without any forced holds, and then let it calm down into a natural rhythm. Build up to 30 minutes or more.
  7. Establish a comfortable contained pattern of gentle inhales and exhales of about three seconds each.
  8. Once you establish the breathing pattern, maintain this pattern consciously but also let the mind relax and wander a little as forced concentration will make the mind restless.
  9. Then choose a focal point either in the heart centre (anahata chakra) or between the eyebrows (ajna chakra). You may want to try a session on each until you decide which one is best for you then stick mostly to one location in your practice.
  10. Hold your attention in one of the above chakra (energy centre) points throughout the session while also moderating the breath as above.
  11. Allow meditation to come in glimpses and gradually more sustained periods. It will come when the mind is in a state of a clear non-verbal thought as you do your practice. Other sensations will occur which can be noticed and let go of like any random thought. You will still be aware of your practice without mental narrative or wandering.
  12. After long practice, duality of this from that, of the doer and doing, disappears and samadhi, the superconscious state is attained.

Some people who get agitated with a really active mind can include a mantra, like the sound of OM, to quietly repeat with each exhale and then, after a period of deep relaxed breathing, do silently within. This combined with the breath and point of focus at the anahata or ajna should help occupy the mind so it becomes more single pointedly focused and progressively relaxed. Otherwise the above points should be sufficient to build a good base with time and repeated sessions. There are various techniques to help calm the mind and focus that will be touched on in other articles. However, keep it simple at first and enjoy the journey the above approach will take you on.

Happy meditating!

Mind Clearing for Energy and Success

Six Steps to Gain Insight and Releasing Limiting Beliefs

Meditation, yoga and practices that help maintain a calm mind and heart are key disciplines to developing awareness, and help us tackle the mind at the root by deepening our identification with consciousness deeper than thought.

However, to deal with specific recurring thoughts or negative life patterns, it is useful to address specific outmoded beliefs and views. This can be liberating and enhance our capacity for growth and happiness, especially when we have some unconscious block to break through.

During the years I worked in therapy, one of the techniques I used was rebirthing which uses a circular pattern of conscious breathing that opens the mind up to memories and insights. It energises mind and body and can clear blockages.

One client suffered chronic fatigue and had noticed patterns of ill-health and self-sabotage in her career at specific times of opportunity and success. Cycles of feeling energised, excited and hopeful seemed always brief and repeatedly ended in disappointment and fatigue.

I will call her Chloe here. During a key session, Chloe’s breathing became more intense in waves until she wept deeply. Over much of an hour she moved through layers of healing as a result of re-living an event in her child hood that she had forgotten. She was age 4 or 5, standing on a train platform with her little sister and father. It was the end of a hot day out and they were all tired. She was repeatedly asking her father if she could carry the box of donuts he had bought for them all when they got home, but he wouldn’t let her.

She got increasingly upset until he reluctantly and impatiently thrust the box at her, saying “Alright, just be quiet and do not drop them!” Tired and sooky, she held on to the box as they waited on the hot platform for the train. When the train pulled to a stop, the doors opened. As they stepped into the train, Chloe felt the box slip from her hands and fall between the train and the platform, irretrievably on the stones below. Staring in shock and disbelief, she felt her father angrily grab her arm and pull her into the train as the doors shut. He was swearing under his breath and angrily stated the obvious, “I told you not to drop them! That is exactly why I didn’t want you to carry them. How could you do that? Unbelievable!”

Standing forlorn with her head down, Chloe felt herself as a child with a terrible sinking feeling in her chest and stomach. The child quietly wept, while the adult registered a deep decision to the effect of “I can’t be trusted” and “I can’t even trust myself”. As she felt the pain of the child, the life between then and that moment flashed before her. She registered a familiar bad feeling and saw how she had reinforced that decision and belief in countless ways that had limited her. The adult also wept and gradually realised she could now let it go.

This simple situation really brought home to me that it is not the adults version of a ‘serious’ event where some of our pain stems from. Some people come out of the worst situations with great survival strategies and positive convictions. At the same time simple situations like Chloe’s ‘donut moment’ can prove life impacting in deeply reinforcing a negative belief and unresolved anguish or pain.

It is not what happens to us, but the decisions we make as a result of what happens, that conditions the mind.

Chloe was able to release her sadness and connect with the pain at the level and mindset she remembered it being locked in. In our debrief she further came to terms with this old belief and forgave herself, her father and many situations and people since that time that she could see she had protected and reaffirmed that pain. She affirmed a new trust in herself. Months later she sent me a card to say her energy levels, positivity and motivation personally and professionally had improved significantly. A change had occurred and she felt more free with more choices.

It you have an ongoing hurt, recurring negative thoughts or specific negative outcomes try the following six-step exercise:

  1. Write a list of painful experiences in your life, especially in childhood, when you have a bit battered and bruised by life or had some momentous event occur and challenge you. Another approach here may be to first look at what obstacle keeps coming up in your life now and you want to break through.

  2. Take time to go through the past experience writing key thoughts and feelings that occurred at the time. Alternatively, do the same with the feelings and thoughts you get around a blockage you are experiencing now and, with some deep breaths and relaxation, find times earlier in your life when you felt the same (the focus is your inner feeling not the situation around you).

  3. At the time of your earliest experience, what basic belief or decision did this affirm to you about yourself or life in general? Don’t over-think it, but just note anything that comes to mind. Allow a flow of thoughts and make a list of decisions or beliefs, noting how each one makes you feel or the location, size and nature of feeling in your body.

  4. Now identify the one’s you still feel a ‘charge’ on that you may still be proving to be true at times in your life. Turn each negative thought into an “I” thought, such as “I am ….” or “I can’t ….” or “I’m not ….”.

  5. Affirm these are only beliefs that filter our perception and experience of life and flip each of the negatives into a positive affirmation or life affirming thought and belief. Like Chloe affirming “I am fully responsible, trustworthy and loved as I am”, or “I, Chloe can be trusted and completely successful with anything I really want”. Imagine the possibilities if the positive affirmation you had was applied to the most valued things in your life now.

  6. For each negative belief and associated feeling spend a week or more with the positive affirmation. Forgive yourself or any specific person associated with the past event and belief. For those really hurtful events, remember that forgiving someone is not necessarily making what happened okay. It is about letting it go so it doesn’t continue to negatively impact the quality of your consciousness and perceptions any more.

Use the positive affirmation as a mantra silently or out loud. You can write it down daily twenty times noting how you feel, until the emotional or body sense associated with it feels comfortable and real. You can also write little signs of the affirmations that really lift your energy and outlook, and leave them in places you like to be reminded (such as a bathroom mirror, fridge, car dashboard, work computer screen, etc.). Then go through any others in your list.

Taking stock and working with conditioned thoughts and beliefs for a period of time is an important stage in really understanding how our conditioned mind impacts our perceptions, experiences and outcomes. It empowers us to know we can identify and change this conditioning and discover more choices for ourselves and life circumstances.

Meditation is about getting beyond the thinking mind and beliefs, until every moment becomes a choice in the quality of awareness, consciousness and state of being. In the meantime, facing discomfort and negatives in ourselves is not only a huge source of maturity and growth but also creates new outcomes and possibilities in life.

Authentic Being, Love and Bliss is Closer than You Think!

Much of spiritual experience seems to be about finding a place within ourselves that is less of our own conscious manufacture, and rather a place within ourselves that is there already when we let go. If there is truly a deeper more authentic inner presence and higher Self, then we all have an intrinsic capacity to not only recognise it, but to actually feel more at home there, as it is by definition who we really are.

It is here we must realise the bedrock of deep and abiding peace. This is opposed to fleeting glimpses of insight we may get when identifying with transient moods and mindsets that are geared around adjusting and surviving or thriving transient outer conditions. It is from this deeper sense of self we can discover our own love and a universal unconditional love as one and the same.

Personal spiritual experience at its beginnings, during its progress and maturing must include regular times of relaxing the mind and body completely. Our intent and personal insight are key, as are teachers or sources of inspiration, along with learning to put what is important to us into action. Yet the quiet private moments is where we can learn to rely on the full experience of what remains when everything to do with the body and thinking mind have fallen away.

This is getting beyond thinking and conditioned self identity to experience the substance of simply being, connecting with what many teachers and masters of all traditions refer to as the higher Self, spirit or changeless self which where our true sense of completeness and connection lies. It is so close, we can miss it, for it is within the consciousness with which we think and do. The trouble is we focus on our projections of consciousness and identify with them.

If we strip back the teachings of Jesus to the essentials and modern language, he taught the only way to spiritual consciousness and God-consciousness is to be in constant contact and identification with it through faith and authentic receptivity while living from good-will to all. Many teachings provide hints on developing this through prayer and meditation or communion, as well as applying this developing awareness to value-based thinking and living.

This approach is a universal approach, at the heart of all spiritual practices. It is independent of what we do in the world but not independent of how we do things. Naturally, the ideal of constant spiritual consciousness means doing all things, big and small, with a certain quality of mindfulness and soulfulness. It is a lofty ideal that is extremely difficult yet the practice yields great benefits. The path and destination then become one and the same. Love and goodwill in a mindset of service is harmonious to such a great desire, ideal and goal. It takes regular and committed practice while we attend to the tasks of living.

Our existential nature is an inseparable part of the universal source of life and consciousness. This ideal we can imagine and gradually understand more through experience. Personalising it as a cosmic parent, in whatever form we relate to, helps connect our personal human nature with this transcendent yet intimate state of consciousness. It helps open our mind beyond our separate and conditioned thinking to deeper and greater subtleties of love, joy and good-will to all life and creatures. It takes us not only beyond conditioned mind narratives, but beyond the intellect itself to a consciousness that includes intuition, creative and spontaneous realisation and gradually calm bliss and joy.

The Divine as ‘Father’ or ‘Mother’ invokes a personal love that is more than dissolving into a void or mindless mindfulness. This personal invocation encouraged by many masters and seers of all religions and persuasions harmonises our human nature with our cosmic nature which is of causeless pure love and pure consciousness. Aligning as a child to a parent creates humility, so we can drop our own narratives of the experience itself. This is necessary so we can be fully present and experience rather than intellectualise. With faith this approach helps us to step from searching to finding and being.

We can feel gratitude for life and awareness in any given moment, rather than the forgetful arrogance by the conditioned mind and manufactured ego that operates as separate self and self-made. The higher self is inseparable from the parent consciousness where child and parent, creator and created are one, just as in meditation the observer, observed and observing all become one.

Finally, the divine as parent connects us to our shared source and destiny as brothers and sisters. Humankind is aligned in spiritual unity which transcends differences of gender, race, culture, socio-economic status and even religious or idealogical affiliation.

Only through experience of our own true nature can we connect with the true nature in others and recognise our natures as one and the same. Nonetheless, integrity to basic morals and refined values are the foundation and framework in which we find fulfilment of quality and personal experience in this connection.

The realisation of being spiritual beings as brethren, not orphaned in a vast empty universe, but each a small yet integral part of a living and conscious evolving universe is at the core of true teachings beyond commentaries, rituals or institutions built around them.

Personal spiritual experience allows us to consciously commune and nourish ongoing personal experience and truth in life and with each other. Applying this in thoughts and actions, privately and with others, we can embody our own spirituality, yet be united at its depths -the spiritual ‘kingdom’.

Only spiritual realisation can truly transcend and harmonise the many persistent and inevitable divisions in the world. Personal spiritual practice is the means to harmonise and realise these ideals. Personal sovereignty lies in the true freedom this provides.

10 Ways To Inspire Spirituality In Daily Life

Three influential aspects to spiritual identity and perspectives are:

  1. your personal big picture of reality and conscious connection to the ongoing nature of life and consciousness, a personal relationship with your sense of the divine may be part of this,
  2. the consistency and quality of mindful awareness and connection to your big picture at any given time, and finally
  3. the values you hold that resonate with your big picture view and how you put them into practice.

We all have our personal struggles. The battles we fight within are usually more crucial than the outcomes of the battles we fight in the world. A spiritual outlook provides an overriding perspctive that allows us to turn all of our challenges into character strengthening and while transcending conditioned ego attachments and aversions.

Personal daily reminders that help us reconnect with our higher Self has enormous benefits over time and with consistent practice. It is daily connecting with some element of mindfulness, connection to nature and a sense of transcendent sacredness that lifts and strengthens our spiritual identity. Taking responsibility for a progressive journey from within means utilising all occurrences for development and goodness consistently, but this takes inner strength and not falling into forgetfulness.

Here are some ways to go about daily life with some reminders and inspiration:

  1. Start and end the day with prayer or stillness …. developing a regular habit of quieting the mind and being still and present has many benefits physically, mentally and emotionally. Spiritually it is beneficial when it is done with a sense of sacred receptivity. Prayer or meditation or just a simple contemplation on reverence for life and existence are great ways to enter inner stillness. It is not about thinking nothing, but about letting go of the thoughts that occur, being present with the breath and the sense of letting everything fall away for a time. Physically it is best done in a comfortable but upright position, relaxing deeply into a wakeful sense of stillness. Try 3 minutes and build up to 20 minutes.
  2. Create your own alter – Enjoy finding some symbols or ornaments that mean something about reverence for life to you, holy or sacred symbols, images of teachers or loved ones. Include a candle or lamp to light during your daily stillness and whenever you feel the need to connect or initiate an atmosphere of sacredness. You can also burn incense or place fresh flowers regularly to offer in compassion for the greater good or to whatever form of sacred connection you identify with. Those who have a personal sense of the divine can cultivate loving devotion to a form or formless sense of the divine. Many religious practices do this, yet anyone can benefit to a dedicated space in their home. Such a focus can really connect the devotee to a deep sense of love, compassion, mercy and wisdom. Keep your alter simple, not too cluttered and know the true alter lies in the heart and deep in the consciousness.
  3. Create a daily active practice – an activity that can be done that is calming and connecting within yourself. Yoga, meditation, a walk, a special place in the garden or by a window to breath and stretch, a walk on the beach, forest or park, or a daily time to read only inspiring words of wisdom. This practice is your commitment to yourself for building a conscious connection within and to spirit. Inwardly you can combine prayer for others and the world, a meditation technique, or something you may already be doing. This is an active way to create a sense of peace and quietude within and around you. If it is done in a similar way most days, then it will develop a more powerful effect on cultivating the state of mind and connection you resonate with within.
  4. Meditate – is a key technique for billions of souls over thousands of years. Create you own private space, find a technique that suits your temperament and is most enjoyable aside from the longer term benefits. There is much information on how to meditate and further blogs on this site will delve more into various approaches for various types of people.
  5. Reminders during the day: Set your phone or watch timer to 3 key moments through the working day to stop for 6-10 breaths and reconnect consciously to your breath, inner stillness and maybe call to mind steps points 1,2 and 3 or a beautiful moment you have had recently.
  6. Use meal time to settle and refocus: Give thanks every time you eat and eat in silence.
  7. A random act of kindness – Set an intention each morning to do something to help or support someone or make their day better in any way. Do not seek recognition or thanks for it. Anonymous givings are great or doing something for a stranger. It can be different on different days and can be simple as consciously offering a smile to people. Privately review each evening what your act or acts of kindness were for the day.
  8. Purpose and meaning in what you do: Review your work and any major interests you spend time on outside work and actually write down the deepest purpose for doing it. It may take a small list of reasons to get there. If your ‘why’ is not something with deeper meaning than earning an income or achieving personal pleasure or something practical then keep writing down ideas on how you can transform your attitude and way of doing this task so it is a practice that develops important values or qualities for you or contributes to others. Consider ways these activities can assist others or add to your quality of life. Every role in society contributes in some way. Review your ‘why’s’ regularly so you reinforce a sense of serving some meaning and purpose in all the key things that you do.
  9. Practice gratitude and compassion. Have a daily time or a weekly time when you list or say quietly out loud at least 12 things you are grateful for. You can use the same ones regularly but try and include at least 2 or 3 new ones every few days. The more detail you give to each item the more powerful. Then consider 6 people or situations you are aware of that represent bad situations of stress or suffering and describing them to yourself until you have enhanced your empathy, understanding and urge to send out supportive and compassionate energy to them. If you only find time to do this weekly, you can still read over it daily near the start or end of each day.
  10. Promoting balance in your life is conducive to harmony and greater spiritual receptivity. This starts with our own states of mind and energy. Overcoming destructive inertia mobilises your energy into productive activity. However, some activities can become part of our stress or self-focus in a limiting way. They can then be transformed into conscious and positive action that brings you into balance and harmony.
    1. Destructive inertia: if there is something your are procrastinating about or have resistance to doing, then write down and commit to a timeline to get into action and move your energy on it.
    2. Transforming activity: obvious examples are an emotional reaction or a compulsive habit that no longer serves you or others. Write down an alternative behaviour that is more positive and supportive. It may be taking a few minutes out to breath, get into a positive space then re-engage with a solution oriented mind when stressed. It could be replacing a compulsive habit with something healthy and enjoyable. Attach a key word you can use to remind yourself and commit to 21 days of using your key word (saying it out loud through the day and having it written and visible in key areas). Then when that reaction or compulsive urge comes up, you can better remember to use that key word and go for the positive behaviour immediately. Remind yourself this is a 21 day commitment to help break that habit and transform your energy to improve overall quality of life and spiritual receptivity.Stocksy_txp8a69df0fGsf100_Small_1188669

Three Levels for Transforming Your Energy & Uplifting Your Consciousness

The three states of mind and energy are explained in Vedic philosophy. Vedanta is one of six schools of Hindu philosophy that reflects teachings in the Upanishads. These ancient texts are often referred to in Yogic philosophy and many sections contain very specific insights and instructions on the science of consciousness and awakening. The cosmology of Vedic science includes the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita and is embraced by traditional Aryurvedic philosophy and medicine of India. It includes three principles that can be very useful in understanding states of mind and developing a formula for transforming our energy, moods and emotions, and conditioning.

In Vedic cosmology, three principles or forces (called gunas) arose in the process of creation following the ‘big bang’. Undifferentiated primordial energy differentiated into tamas, inertia; rajas, energy; and sattva, law. It is the interaction of these forces that produced countless possibilities and combinations in the evolving universe. While pure consciousness remains forever undifferentiated, mind and body are products of the gunas which interact on a personality level as they do in the material universe.

Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita explains:

“It is the three gunas born of prakriti [the universal ground of the phenomenal universe and world] – sattva, rajas, and tamas – that bind the immortal Self to the body. Sattva – pure, luminous, and free from sorrow – binds us with attachment to happiness and wisdom. Rajas is passion, arising from selfish desire and attachment. These bind the Self with compulsive action. Tamas, born of ignorance, deludes all creatures through heedlessness, indolence and sleep.

Sattva predominates when rajas and tamas are transformed. Rajas prevails when sattva is weak and tamas overcome. Tamas prevails when rajas and sattva are dormant.

When sattva predominates, the light of wisdom shines through every gate of the body. When rajas predominates, a person runs about pursuing selfish and greedy ends, driven by resltelssness and desire. When tamas is dormant, a person lives in darkness – slothful, confused, and easily infatuated.” (14:5, 10-13)

So how does this apply to us?

Level 1

Tamas includes inertia, resistance and self justification, is characterised by the inner voice that says “Who cares?”, “What does it matter”, “ I can’t be bothered!”, “What does it matter if everything goes to hell!” and simply “I don’t care”. Also when we are in overwhelm and make situations and things bigger than ourselves, we often are up against our very own resistance. Tamas is the escapist in us that wants to avoid or run. Drowsiness, mental blocks and focusing on obstacles instead of solutions is another play of tamas.

Easwaran in his guide to the Gita called “Essence of the Bhagavad Gita” in explaining this cites not wanting to get up in the morning as a great warning that tamas is in ascension. He says it’s best not to weigh pro’s and con’s which plays into tamas’ hands, but flinging the covers away and leaping out of bed. It is Easwaran’s example of life consisting of small moments where we can transform inertia into energy – tamas into rajas – with decisiveness and action.

Level 2

Rajas enables us to get things done. When it predominates we are energetic, goal oriented, full of drive and passion. However, rajas is also the glue of attachment that can lock us into the pursuit of temporary pleasure, profit, status or power when imbalanced. When we can’t rest and get fixated on needed outcomes, when we are neglecting our inner selves and connection to life beyond ourselves, then balance is found in transforming rajas into sattva.

If we are not engaging our values and have a higher purpose in what we are doing then the task and the outcomes can only provide temporary satisfaction and fulfilment at best, while more often we can feel a sense of emptiness, stress and lack of fulfilment. When each day has meaning and purpose our intentions, state of mind and integrity in what we do become the art and fulfilment of our time and energy rather than just the outcomes. Transforming rajas doesn’t mean changing what we do as much as redefining a meaningful how and how we are doing it. An example is turning our intentions or ‘why’s’ into loving and compassionate ones. The ‘doing’ then becomes part of our own development and inner practice rather than being just a means to an ulterior end. We transform rajas by focusing how we are applying our convictions and values into our actions and adding value to others ahead of attachment to outcomes.

Level 3

In the sattvic state we are energised without being driven by time or self-centred attachments. People in this state are calm, clear, kind when under pressure, and compassionate in the face of provocation. Sattva is in play when we are of service, forgiving and moving through the bumps and bruises of relationships and life situations without being overly troubled or suffering. By stepping back from investment in outcomes and self-centred gains and focus on the quality and depth of purpose in why we are doing things. Sometimes obtaining this also requires looking at life balance.

Thus, the Gita provides a formula for transforming lower energies towards an active conscious life where forgiveness, forbearance, compassion and love come into play. In nature, the guna’s go through interconnected cycles according to natural laws without intervention of mind. As human beings we can utilise our will and higher mind to draw upon rajas to transform tamas, then transform rajas into sattva and balance. We can consciously utilise these dynamics for our own transformation. In his guide book, Easwaran clarifies Sattva is not the unified state of yogi’s but it is the foundation to move beyond guna’s into universal and unified consciousness.

The Wrap …

Each time we exercise decisiveness and will power to mobilise our inertia and refine our drives, we gain progressively ability to transform our own tamasic energy and consciousness independent of the energies and impacts around us.

Generally, we have rajasic minds – thinking a lot, working often stressed and performance oriented without conscious control of what the conditioned mind is really doing. We are planning, competing, achieving or coping and often frustrated.

In sattva we can calm the mind and gain control. The conscious inner journey shows us we don’t need to act on negative thoughts and states, nor even be affected by them. When we observe (without judgement or reaction) our resentments, jealousy, doubt and fears and not act on them, we can start to transform them into sattvic energy. Not acting on conditioned and negative thinking is definitely part of maturity.

The unconscious mind is chaos and tamasic – full of past clutter and often triggered into irrelevant or destructive tendencies. For most people, it is largely a dark unknown which is tamas. This energy keeps us swinging in cycles between the gunas and makes us fickle in loyalties and commitments. It is inner conviction, standing firm in our highest resolutions and values that steadies the mind and strengthens our ability to stand firm aside from negative inner states or difficult outer circumstances.

Conviction is a critical attribute to begin to consciously transform our energies regularly. Gradually unifying our desires and mind into a focused and harmonised energy, we can make our lives a conscious reflection of our highest truths and eventually a living work of art. Transforming tamas and rajas sets the stage for such a great accomplishment, of which sattvic mind and life is the launching pad.

Recommended reading:

Essence of the Bhagavad Gita – A Contemporary Guide to Yoga, Meditation and Indian Philosophy by Eknath Easwaran (The Blue Mountain Center for Meditation, Canada, 2011)

Also there are many good translations of the Bhagavad Gita itself. An excellent one for serious readers is:

God talks to Arjuna – The Bhagavad Gita – Royal Science of God-Realization by Paramahansa Yogananda (Self Realization Fellowship, Second Edition, 1999).

Photo credit: h.koppdelaney via Visual Hunt / CC BY-NDPhoto credit- h.koppdelaney via Visual Hunt : CC BY-ND