True Life Riches That Bring Love and Freedom

The Fullness of Love

Having a life full of love means being able to receive and feel love in ourselves along with a life of sharing it with others. There is an undying and causeless love we can draw on at anytime which gives our relationships and occupations meaning and purpose when we can love each other and what we do. Knowing and doing what you love with love is fulfilling in and of itself because it is embodying, expressing, sharing and channeling this love into the world as you experience it.

The Bhagavad Gita 13:27 says: “He sees truly who perceives the Supreme Lord present equally in all creatures, the Imperishable amidst the perishing.” Swami Sivananda describes someone with this view as self-realised. Sivananda likens the divine essence in us all as like the heat that is common in all kinds of fire, the gold that is the same in different ornaments and light being the same from different lamps.

Paramahansa Yogananda refers to the ground of all creatures who share the same substance of life which is the Lord as consciousness (chit in sanskrit) and existence or being (sat). Yogananda goes on to equate our identity as creatures and mortals with delusion and perishing, yet “as children of the Most High, sons of the Creator, we partake of His uncaused and indestructible nature.”

The cosmology of the Gita can be brought down to ourselves as the centre of the universe as we each experience it, not as isolated orphans, but as part of a living conscious universe with the capacity to live in a way that benefits and harmonises the rest of life. According to Easwaran, the Gita proposes the whole in each of us, as each of us is an expression of universal consciousness in which is contained the entire universe. Thus we can see ourselves in each other and in all “which is the basis of universal love”.

To put it dramatically, the whole cosmos is a setting for us to rise above it and go beyond time, place, and circumstance into the supreme reality that is God”. Easwaren (p.52)

True Freedom of the Muni

The Gita 2:55-57 describes the freedom of the muni (one who can dissolve his mind in divine presence or God) as relinquishment of worldly desires, entirely contented in the Self, not shaken by anxiety under afflictions nor attached to happiness in favourable circumstances, free from worldly loves, fears and angers – he is settled in wisdom and steady discrimination.

Part of the practice of this relinquishment can be in the small things in life. Easwaran brings it right down to basics, using eating your broccoli as an example of weakening the conditioned mind which is happy only with what it likes. With practice and maturity “you find yourself no longer compelled to do what you enjoy, but instead enjoying whatever you do.” (p.160). Another aspect is what I described in a previous post as “embracing the good, bad and the ugly”. Meanwhile, another attribute of the muni is to absorb worldly desires into oneself then dissolve them in the vast ocean of presence.

Yogananda refers to pure bliss from meditative and spiritualised actions as the source of complete satisfaction and supreme happiness of the muni. It is this that enables us to embrace all aspects of our life with equanimity and absorb all desires into a greater and stronger bliss. Yogananda gives us the ideal of the perfect sage, whose outer nature still retains some egoity as an individualised consciousness in the form of a spiritualised ego retaining the bliss of presence even after meditation and while performing actions in life.

Many of us do not realise there is no pleasures of the flesh without a soul identifying with the body for it to happen. Yet instead of identifying with soul presence, we cling to bodily and worldly pleasures for satisfaction and relief from the rigours of life – “just as a mad lover, identified with his beloved, thinks his happiness dependent on her and her alone!” The wise man perceives all bliss is contained in the inner self, the nature of the soul being different to the nature of the body. “As fear is caused by a sense of impending misfortune, the wise man, identified with the soul, knows no such desires. Anger results from the nonfulfillment of a bodily or mental desire; the muni harbours no such desires.”

Finally, Yogananda explains the neutrality of the wise in all circumstances, is not a heartless indifference but conscious control and calming of the faculties of consciousness. The conditioned mind is as a “puppet of nature”, actions and reactions an excitable yet predictable mix of delusive influences. The key is in recognising the distinction between the blessed nature of the soul and the excitable and transitory nature of body and mind.

Easwaren describes being truly free as when no mental state or “emotion can overwhelm you, no craving can drive you into action”, where dependence on others and outside circumstances and the tides of fortune no longer hold any sway, there is no compulsions or need to manipulate anyone. The “heart is full of joy and your mind full of peace” and whatever occurs you always experience true completeness. (pp.57,58). The recognition of the depth if these attributes is where we can access them through authentic and consistent practice of presence in stillness and in action.

Commenting on a similar verse in the Gita, Yogananda explains (Gita 2:70) that the ability to absorb all desires within, keeping an inner ocean of quiescence filled to the brim, does not mean abandoning good aspirations – “in spiritual life giving is receiving.” He quotes Jesus words in Matthew 25:29: “For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance; but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.” Actively pursuing a desire to give joy and peace, or any acts of goodness to others will bring more joy and peace to the doer. The deeper we go in drawing on inner love and peace in living and sharing our life, the more vast an ocean of divine Self is made available to one and all to commingle in the universal ocean of divine life and consciousness.

In this post I draw on the wisdom of two saints and master yogi’s Paramahansa Yogananda and Swami Sivananda as well as the wise and much loved devotee of the Gita, Eknath Easwaran. It is always good to draw on the pearls of auspicious and venerated teachers to whom I give thanks.

Recommended Reading:

God Talks To Arjuna: The Bhagavad Gita, by Paramahansa Yogananda (Self Realisation Fellowship, 2nd Edition 1999)

The Bhagavad Gita, by Swami Sivananda (Divine Life Society, 15th Edition 2015)

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

The Inevitabilities of the Evolving Self and World

Disappointments and challenges are a part of life and dealing with them positively becomes a key part of success and maturity as we get older. Many of them we create for ourselves through our decisions, our actions and their consequences. By ‘we’, I mean each of us personally as well as ‘we’ as a community or society. The relativity of life and the suffering we experience ourselves, that fills the pages of humanity’s history or we see happening in so many places around the world in current times, can make us question the justice and nature of the reality we live in.

It is only with a big picture view, while paying attention to the most profound sense of life that insight has provided us, can we appreciate that for evolving creatures of free will, free intelligence, to exist in this vast miraculous universe, there is a sense of existential purpose behind the existence of evolving life and consciousness. It is in these modern times of exponential growth in our understanding of life and reality, that we can also appreciate with that knowledge and understanding comes a greater sense of the nature of things, including ourselves and the inherent purpose to reality. Love, friendship and the beauty of nature – these things alone do so much to make life worth living.

These current times are showing us more and more clearly that we have a responsibility with real consequences as caretakers on a planet that is becoming smaller and more impacted by the things we as a civilisation. Do we learn to co-operate and do things sustainably for future generations and gain the immense gifts a global awakening promises? Or do we fall short of responding to the signs of pending crisis and the calling of evolving ideals and potential while exploitation and degeneration of each other and our world brings us to global conditions unable to sustain us further?

I have faith in the triumph of our deeper natures over the temporary and more limited conditioned mind on a personal and global scale. Crisis has always been the activator for leaps and bounds in evolution in biology, culture and intellect – and these times are no exception. In terms of our history and current challenges, themes of the battle between true righteousness versus ignorance and intentional evil is layered throughout our evolution into our psyche and continually reflected in our evolving philosophies, arts, and now all forms of modern media. It is a battle fought on subtle and gross levels, on brutal and sophisticated levels, on personal and collective levels.

However, spiritual awakening and principles remind us that none of the drama and adventure changes the divine essence from which reality arises and from which life and consciousness itself arises. In our core being is a living force we all share that is life, therefore life-affirming as are the values of goodness, beauty and truth. The process of our evolution and lives at stake is a powerful one of adventure for the spiritual warrior. As survival becomes more sorted in modern times of technology, the quality of life and consciousness will become the major factor in how well we move forward and shape our future.

A book with much controversy is the Urantia Book. Whatever readers views are of the details, what I love most about it is the sophisticated way it discusses spirit and deity and the picture it offers about how immense and grand the universes and the plan of life could be. In discussing the primacy of a unifying and central cause of all reality in this vast universe, for us on our fragile planet of many uncertainties, certain factors described as “inevitabilities of evolutionary creature life” are mentioned (Paper 3, section 5). These are listed as points of consideration in reconciling the challenges and seeming disasters of life with the concept of a universally sovereign divine and just intelligence and plan:

1. Is courage — strength of character — desirable? Then must man be reared in an environment which necessitates grappling with hardships and reacting to disappointments.

2. Is altruism — service of one’s fellows — desirable? Then must life experience provide for encountering situations of social inequality.

3. Is hope — the grandeur of trust — desirable? Then human existence must constantly be confronted with insecurities and recurrent uncertainties.

4. Is faith — the supreme assertion of human thought — desirable? Then must the mind of man find itself in that troublesome predicament where it ever knows less than it can believe.

5. Is the love of truth and the willingness to go wherever it leads, desirable? Then must man grow up in a world where error is present and falsehood always possible.

6. Is idealism — the approaching concept of the divine — desirable? Then must man struggle in an environment of relative goodness and beauty, surroundings stimulative of the irrepressible reach for better things.

7. Is loyalty — devotion to highest duty — desirable? Then must man carry on amid the possibilities of betrayal and desertion. The valour of devotion to duty consists in the implied danger of default.

8. Is unselfishness — the spirit of self-forgetfulness — desirable? Then must mortal man live face to face with the incessant clamouring of an inescapable self for recognition and honor. Man could not dynamically choose the divine life if there were no self-life to forsake. Man could never lay saving hold on righteousness if there were no potential evil to exalt and differentiate the good by contrast.

  1. Is pleasure — the satisfaction of happiness — desirable? Then must man live in a world where the alternative of pain and the likelihood of suffering are ever-present experiential possibilities.

Throughout the universe, every unit is regarded as a part of the whole. Survival of the part is dependent on co-operation with the plan and purpose of the whole, the wholehearted desire and perfect willingness to do the Father’s divine will. The only evolutionary world without error (the possibility of unwise judgment) would be a world without free intelligence. In the Havona universe there are a billion perfect worlds with their perfect inhabitants, but evolving man must be fallible if he is to be free. Free and inexperienced intelligence cannot possibly at first be uniformly wise. The possibility of mistaken judgment (evil) becomes sin only when the human will consciously endorses and knowingly embraces a deliberate immoral judgment.”

The spiritual nature in us provides a sense of altruism and universal love, not the primitive creature mind from our primitive past. From deep in our higher consciousness comes the compassion, empathy and mercy for one another’s suffering. At the same time, becoming conscious and fully present in our existential and living loving awareness, awakens us to the temporary nature of material existence and any suffering associated with it. In contrast, yet all embracing of this relative existence created for a great universal purpose, is the timeless nature of the essence of us that remains untainted and indestructible throughout life’s trials. Life experience offers to shape and develop those who would engage the best they can call on in themselves in goodwill. Through faith and our psychology we must draw on the power within to remain connected and intact to participate in this journey of life. Part of the point of the journey is to reside fully in awakened loving consciousness and thrive as we learn to embody, express and flow the unity and uniqueness of our essence into the life we live.

In compassion for ourselves and each other, it is good to remember that there are no mistakes in the greater scheme of things. All of time and the resources of the universe gather to allow us this planetary life for our greatest purpose and destiny to unfold as it is. It is up to each of us with what we are and have, and where we find ourselves, as to what it is to mean and how it is to count. Gradually, we must come to know and trust in a living and friendly universe, consciously identifying more fully in the the spiritual nature within in order to transition to the next stage of our evolution. Our technology and pursuits must better flow sustainable universal laws and we better understand the consequences of our collective and personal actions. It is then our intellects and physicality can truly blossom as reflections of our true and emerging inner nature. From this turning point, more and more people will consciously recognise the subtle light and love that beckons from within consciousness itself. The true agent of change is emerging from within us. Quality of consciousness, serving our personal and collective greater purpose and greater good more fully, are becoming primary factors that connect us to what is real and authentic.

Photo: gusdiaz on VisualHunt.com / CC BY-NC-SA (modified with quote)

Shine Your Inner Light of Life in the World

No one lights a lamp and puts it in a cellar or under a basket. Instead, he sets it on a lamp stand, so those who enter can see the light.

Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your vision is clear, your whole body also is full of light. But when it is poor, your body is full of darkness. Be careful, then, that the light within you is not darkness. So if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it in darkness, you will be radiant, as though a lamp were shining on you.”

(Luke 11:33–36)

It is with a relaxed heart and mind, open to love, peace and connectedness that we can best share the light within. Practicing presence and meditation trains us to get beyond thoughts and feelings to the pure awareness from which they arise. When attention and identification can be maintained on this pure awareness while communicating with others, we can consciously appreciate the pure living consciousness which is the essence and living light we share in common with one another.

This light shines most brightly in our eye connection with others as well as our voice and gestures when we are fully present in mind and body with what is going on in the moment within ourselves and around us. Expressing or discussing something that is felt passionately is when many people really light up, as well as being with loved ones like a beloved partner or child.

Therefore, to shine our light more brightly, to consciously share or inspire the light in others, is to practice mindful presence which requires being open and aware on every level of our being that we can while connecting with others. Having an agenda is based on wanted outcomes and expectations based on past and future, while being fully present with another and sharing our light means being fully present with yourself and the other and allowing that to be a primary purpose in and of itself. Jesus uses the analogy of light in two other brief lessons, “the Lamp of the Body” and “the lamp on a stand,” which may be different versions of the same lesson or different lessons using this same analogy. People throughout the ages can relate to this analogy of light and the concept of the inner light of our being. In any good philosophy or spiritual teaching, there is no question that every person is here for a reason. Each person is unique and has a special quality to contribute. Inner light and inner Spirit are closely correlated, and each of us has the gift to let it shine brightly in our own lives and for others.

Jesus’s teachings of inner peace and salvation are a dynamic and practical teaching to be a positive influence to others and the world. The light he speaks of is the pure authentic light of awareness.

An indicator of spiritual progress is the degree of unconditional love, mercy, and compassion we progressively feel and express toward others in the world. Spiritual connection is like the difference between a stand-alone computer or device versus a network-connected computer or device. Thoughts and feelings constantly change, their significance to us being private to the separate ego self. Consciousness of the consciousness from which they arise is where we find a true common ground and connection from which rapport, connection and deep understanding of one another can arise.

A cause and effect of universal love for each other — friend or stranger, or enemy — is openness to insightful understanding of another’s circumstance and how they came to be who and where they are in that moment. Real understanding of unfamiliar or challenging people often requires overcoming self-interested perspectives that are often triggers for switching off our ‘light’ and disconnecting from others. Our rational mind often thinks it has a good reason to judge or take a mental position against another. But this can lead to division within and without, by identifying with fixed pre-conceived ideas of mind which condition our experience instead of the wholeness of identification with full presence.

Understanding someone’s circumstances, character, and actions from their perspective is the most effective way for getting past any preconceived judgments or biases. If there is a frustrated agenda involved, gaining such an understanding between all parties provides an authentic space to find reconciliation. Being, doing and sharing in pure awareness is the path towards a sense of oneness and universal Spirit. It is in this space we can draw on compassion in circumstances where we would have once reacted defensively or judgmentally. It is a progressive ability because we develop a deeper capacity each time we break through our own barriers and reactions.

The “whole body full of light” means expanding aware presence in the moment to every part of ourselves and our present circumstance. When we do this, through pure conscious intent we invite the divine in to take part without limit or conditions, then we can find our sense of being and doing with a “whole body full of light.” It can often be a literal description of the experience.

All aspects of our nature embraced in this light leads to transformation. Perceiving some aspects of soul and human character experience as spiritual and non-spiritual creates inner division and social stigma. The sexual nature and body identification are an example of this division of identity and source of neurosis in those seeking pure mindedness who then suppress or reject these aspects of themselves. Wholeness requires embracing the whole self in humility, love and acceptance. We need to let the divineness of pure consciousness and presence into all aspects of ourselves and allow it to reside there in each present moment. This is where transformation takes place, where we become more functional and integrated, expressing presence and higher will aligned in good ideals and values through all aspects of ourselves and life.

Suppressing or disconnecting from aspects of ourselves will result in suffering and folly. Examples of this are the modern scandals of sexual abuse within various church organizations where celibacy has obviously been practiced out of suppression, guilt, and disconnection, resulting in aberrational and perverted behaviors. Embracing our pain, anxiety, confusion, and uncertainty with the “light” of consciousness and learning to be present in equanimity with our pains and pleasures is a key to embracing our full nature and allowing the transformation of Spirit through self-love and self-acceptance do its work. There is a fine line between trying to artificially conform to ideological perspectives and practices versus applying true personal realizations of them as a spiritual practice.

Practices based on fear, guilt, self-judgment, and denial are fraught with the dangers of extremism and neurosis. Jesus’s path was not extreme and was based on inclusiveness and soulful love. While he set a high standard of spiritual mindfulness he demonstrated mercy and forgiveness. While he firmly denounced falseness and sin his love broke many taboos of his day – racism, sexism, social status and was what considered ‘clean’ – it was a love for all humanity. God’s love and ‘kingdom’ was a shared experience within as we are now, creating space for realisation and transformation. Life’s private challenges and victories are about developing a whole and balanced character. When our vision is clear, “looking” or perceiving with the light of our whole being, the body is physically and energetically illuminated with spiritual energy.

Spiritually illumined people touch others with their love and compassion. They inspire people to be better human beings, invoking peace and good faith by their presence. Thus, their words and deeds have great impact. People will feel empowered rather than intimidated or belittled. The nature of our living consciousness enables us to recognize its truth, light, and presence, sometimes in the illumined eye gaze and presence of a child or person fully present. Conscious alignment to our own inner experience, realisation, values and ideals leads to an added dimension of self and self-potential.

Great possibilities exist if we can arise from within and brighten spontaneously in our roles and communications with each other. Benefiting each other is a mindset, manifested in the smallest of moments and ways, in following our passions and sense of purpose as well as through significantly life-changing and charitable ways. Happy and productive is the person driven by love of doing right, with no fear or guilt of doing wrong. We all crave a sense of progress, purpose, and wholeness despite our frailties and faults. Our inner light is not for self-aggrandisement but to inspire and bring forth depth and profoundness in our worldly lives.

Energising in the Beautiful Australian Outback

I have spent much of this week in the outback desert of Australia hiking around Uluru and Kata Tjuta. These iconic monoliths in a vast open flat desert area make a powerful and spectacle and presence. The open space, simplicity and silence of the desert help create similar conditions in the mind when practicing remaining in a state of presence while walking through the striking wilderness. There are great hikes as well as sunrise and sunset viewings where mother nature puts on a beautiful display as slowly changing hues of light bring out different hues in desert and rock.

This part of the world really has a very settled and grounded energy to it. Compared to the strong heart energy of the pacific islands and Hawaii or the heady spiritual energy of the Indian Himalayas, Uluru and central Australia for me and others I know who are into the energy systems of the world, is a root chakra energy. There is an instinctual survival energy of life connecting earth and body that is highlighted here as well as the essential element of community in such a setting. You have to be attuned out here, like in any harsh conditions, to survive let alone thrive.

Managing water, heat and knowing your own limits when getting around is important in the desert. After a few hours of day hiking in my boots, it is great to come back to the resort and remove the rubber soles then spend 20 minutes or so walking barefoot in the grass. The transfer of electron charge between the earth and my body .

With its dryness and heat, this lands flora and fauna are sparse and economically designed with their own unique beauty. It is a sensitive land with an ecosystem easily unbalanced with unmanaged tourist activity. Indigenous communities have a history of managing the delicate balance of plants and animals for tens of thousands of years. The land management was threatened by white land owners and tourism for a time, but now thankfully seems handled by co-operative and clear roles developing among the indigenous and white local communities. Visitors get some education here about the inseparableness of responsibility for their own wellbeing and that of the land and precious resources.

Spending 4-5 days here has been enough for me to feel remote from normal life concerns and the pace of busy and full lives. When tuning into the inner body feeling, the lower body particularly has an expanded and open energy. Continuously relaxing the mind from chatter and just being fully present in an environment that reflects peaceful and rejuvenating spaciousness and a slow but vital throb of aliveness, is one way I am getting the most of the time and connecting with the spirit of the place. I feel touched by it and able to continue the connection after I have left.

It is my second time here. Last time was facilitating a group of 30 in week of business and awareness which was inspiring and empowered by this location. Being back here now without much else to distract me has been tremendous. Going to see sunrises and sunsets at some choice locations, and hiking during the mornings before the afternoon heat is a very therapeutic routine along with the energy and experience.

It also reinforces to me the tremendous value generally, of balancing out mind and body energy by connecting with nature in some way each day while practicing open and relaxed awareness and presence with each moment. It is best combined with ‘grounding’ by removing the concrete or rubber barriers of shoes and man made surfaces, and being barefoot on sand, earth or sea. There is much to be found online now about the measurable science and benefits of grounding.

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Combining these elements of being in nature, practicing inner body awareness and presence, and grounding will rebalance or reboot your system and can really shift mental, emotional and physical stress patterns. It reduces inflammation and chronic aches in the body and can shift negative psycho-emotionally conditioned states like anxiety and depression when done regularly. The trick is to be able to gradually put your thoughts and feelings aside and give yourself even a short and regular time to really be and connect with what is there without all the additives from conditioned thinking and preconceived perceptions.

Being mindful to opening the heart and feel grateful for the opportunities of life experiences, thankful for loved ones and the universe that makes it all possible is a nice meditation to enrich this self nurturing time. I acknowledge the Anungu culture and people of this land. Following up on International Womens Day I also acknowledge the mothers and wise elders of all peoples and the generous live giving spirit of Mother Nature herself. May we all learn to harmonise with the feminine creative spirit in life, living in life affirming respect and co-operation with each other and the precious planet that sustains us.

The Most Valuable Means to Abundance and Fulfilment

There is a common deeply imbedded key and truth in the counsel and teachings through the ages for manifesting abundance and prosperity, happiness and fulfilment, living a life purpose, the primary relationship you dreamed of, great quality friendships, or awakening to a new level of spiritual experience. It’s a message being redefined and much needed in these times.

In uncovering this critical key for fulfilling success, a few underlying principles are a necessary context for understanding it and the laws that operate around it.

The first is obvious yet an easy trap to fall into as we accumulate wealth. Many of the ‘things’ we want and dream of in life can be truly experienced, but not if we are looking to them as the source of our happiness and fulfilment. Many people who have things we dream for are still unhappy. This is the paradox, because many of us would still like more of certain things in our life, right?

However, there is a difference in the content of our life being an expression or vehicle for shared joy, love and abundance in life versus things in life being a source of validation, identity, status or security and happiness. When they are a goal in of themselves or invested with our identity, then we are not living in consciousness of what we are and the true nature of life from within. We are utilising external things to fill where there is a vacuum of meaning and identity. Yet, we give the meaning all passing or changing things have for us from within ourselves. So they cannot fill this space inside us, only be a place we externalise it as separate. The ideal is to consciously live with a sense of completeness with or without the things we have that support our true selves and provide ease or enjoyment, a life certainly tests this at times.

Of course, the tribulations of life will show us where we need to go more deeply within and place our personal investment there. Letting go of materiality is not rejecting the external world, but embracing it with a total identity and connection in the essence of the life and consciousness it actually arises from. Our conscious efforts to shape ourselves and our lives will either come from fear and need for security and a sense of belonging, or it will come from the creative urge of adventure and discovery with a sense of certainty, connection and completeness.

Living from the inside out, means we serve the true essence of ourselves, each other and life, knowing this essence cannot be lost, limited or scarce. We open ourselves up to greater abundance from the fullness of life itself rather than from relativity of circumstances and possessions. How much of our life is really spent in awareness and gratitude of the gift of life? It is the key to coming from love and not fear.

Many modern teachings and some ancient teachings like Buddhism deal with habits of thinking, beliefs and conditioning of the mind. Clearing old habits and out-dated states of mind that arose as adaptations to past fears or suffering, helps create the space for inspired and present-time creative and energised living, to come back to the fullness of who and what we are.

Clearing our negativity and old emotional baggage while developing positive thinking in alignment with life affirming consciousness, is a transformative step that changes and prepares our perceptions and awareness for this next level of conscious living. Yet, happiness, success and fulfilment doesn’t come from positive thoughts and feelings either. These do help focus us to a certain level of experience that they resonate with and from, and do this on a biological and psychological level. Thinking can only be (at best) a relative reflection of who is doing the thinking and what we can most truly and abundantly manifest in life.

The deeper heart of all teachings is that the external world and the inner world (our inner projections of ourselves with thoughts, feelings and perceptions) are both reflections or symptoms of where we are coming from and the state of being we are living at.

In all the various teachings that I have come across, what really shifts my life into another gear (as an ongoing journey of expansion) is a state of being in the experience that is left in the wake of full surrender and letting go within and without, to trust in my own sense of the consciousness and energy that I am. Then going forth and exploring how to best embody and express that in the world to me is, living with spirit.

One of the greatest ways to engage in the world is to productively do and share what you love and what makes you feel most alive. What is most authentic and core within us can then flow into our worldly lives. When we see other people doing the same, really thriving in expressing their inner self through what they do, we feel inspired and on a higher frequency. It is not just about what you do or how well, because in the end, it can be experienced in countless pursuits, careers at many levels and scales. So alignment with what we do is a factor and part of the exploration. It reflects the level to which we connect and engage our inner self in our doing.

Doing what you love and loving what you do

creates a harmony and resonance between

the greater field of love and abundance and worldly life.

Meditation, positive thinking and all the actions in the world don’t provide true awakening in and of themselves. These practices can only prepare the space for making that decisive and true shift in ourselves. They can help create the space to feel, experience and recognise true infinite and abundant being of authentic love and life in ourselves. Freeing identity and experience of the detail and content we can lose ourselves in is part of creating this space. When we find, trust and invest our identity in the space in which it is all happening, then we can find we are truly fulfilled and free just with that, then better embrace and handle all that is happening.

It is a form of inner renunciation, free of dependance on other people and things, to really align ourselves with the source and force in which it all happens. It helps to distinguish between outer appearances in the world and our own narratives about them versus the true essence of people and the common substance we share. This creates space for greater compassion and understanding, love and alignment with each other, and loving more unconditionally.

A lost, broken or worn out cherished possession has no inherent value in itself. The value we think something gives us comes from within ourselves. Our own story and experience of material life can’t be broken, lost or worn out. Practicing this when we are frustration or sadness arises from big or little material losses, allows us to truly let go of things, enjoying them without attachment while the are there and moving on.

With this understanding, comes the critical point. The laws of attraction and abundance are all based on firstly connecting with who and what we really are, which is a complete and shared experience of ‘presence’. It is in and from this presence that all our experience of life arises and occurs. The second aspect of this key is to experience our life as a unique conscious channel for the love and energy inherent in our unified presence, life force and pure consciousness. To let ‘true being’ flow into all our actions, relationships and self-expression. What ever the approach to life, this is where it becomes transformative.

When we align in conscious presence as a channel of its infinite source,

we can experience greater and deeper levels of unity

and its shared flow in the world.

Focus on a living and present essence of life also transforms egoistic tendencies. Opening up to presence becomes a more real, all-embracing and enlivening place to invest ourselves than holding fixed and changeable concepts of how life is and how we ‘should’ be. We can experience all people and things also as expressions and channels of one unified consciousness and life energy. This unified field can then flow from within us and flow to us from the reality we embrace around us. The flow works both ways. Intent and conscious participation in both directions of flow, like an exhale and inhale, allows universal consciousness and energy to fulfil the promise of fullness and abundance in our lives and with each other. Learning how to experience financial wealth as an aspect of this energy flow is easier when we understand the universal laws along with the practical knowledge of our undertakings, and operate as a channel unified with others with the attachments and power struggles of separateness and external identification.

A major transition time in my life now, where life in every way is changing and being renewed, is teaching me these truths on whole new level. Life challenges in recent years seem to have come from different areas of my life. Yet taken all together it is increasingly clear the crisis points have come from where I have needed the world to validate me and where I have put the source of meaning, value and fulfilment in other people and things. When upheaval and change leads to healing, realisation and transitioning back towards the source within, transformational adjustments and new life opportunities occur. I feel this is really what is going beneath all our crisis and breakthroughs. Out of every crisis as well as every success, we each get an opportunity to move forward more consciously.

I encourage you to open up to the life energy in and around you with an open heart and mind. Daily invite the full experience of what is already present, initially without having to do, achieve and try anything. Breath and move so that any tight, constricted or vacuous areas you sense within or immediately around you, release and you become an integrated and harmoniously unified field of energy. Dream and imagine more about how to be and what to do to more fully live and express fullness of being in joy, peace and love. What is it you do when you feel this the most and how? Is it also a strong and grounded sense where the full spectrum of highs and lows, successes and challenges, can be handled with equanimity and fullness? Aligning with and being a channel of abundant energy and life as you feel it, will gradually, or sometimes quickly, transform your world around you to reflect greater abundance and fullness.

A Way Through Blocks, Pain and Feeling Stuck

There are so many stories of spontaneous remissions of terminal illness and inspired flashes that are game changers in life situations that are examples of how much untapped power, insight, intelligence and transformation await us in our own consciousness. You may have your own experiences of a light coming on in your mind and everything quickly starting to feel different.

Whether we are talking to someone else about an issue or working through something in our own minds, the tone and words we use say a lot about the our mindset. Our mindset is really the key to what we pay attention to, how we perceive it and what we create from it. The surprises, inspired thoughts and realisations, and even so-called ‘miracles’ often come from left field when we are open and relaxed.

Therefore, empowering ourselves and creating more of what is important in our lives is not just about getting a more positive and open mindset, it is also about relaxing and opening our thinking minds to new possibilities while learning to engage in a deeper state of being within.

Life challenges are where we apply conscious living principles and experience transformation, while smooth running and abundance are times are for enjoying the results! If there is an ongoing feeling or situation that feels stuck and a source of mental, emotional or physical pain, then there are a few simple steps that can help shift it. Most of us have pretty good coping mechanisms on the stuff that passes as quickly as it arises. Persistent or repeated issues are times when the process is slower and can be helped by dealing with it more consciously. These can be obvious stressors or less obvious like an ongoing heaviness or chronic pain in the background.

We all need love and support from others, especially at difficult times, so obviously with a huge and intense life issue, it may be good to seek help. Otherwise, creating some quiet space away from distractions for as little as 5 to 15 minutes can be all it takes to shift something that is blocking or draining your energy or is a pain calling for your attention and adjustment on some level.

Initially you might think or feel that you know a persistent issue all too well and have had enough of it. However, often things persist because there is some resistance in us in dealing with the issue fully. In these cases there is something we still need to get, that is in our own and others interests, for a shift to occur and for us to move on.

Resistance can take the form of avoidance, dismissal, fear or anxiety, minimising or dismissing a problem, contracting and withdrawing our energy, or flat out denial. Any issue that requires our attention is going to persist in a way that our discomfort or situation gets worse, activating us to doing something different for it to resolve. If we continue to do the same thing we’ll keep getting the same results.

1. Being Present with it

Therefore, the first step is to spend some time to simply sit with full attention on the issue and observe non-judgmentally all feelings, judgements, perceptions and thoughts about the situation. This first step is not about looking for answers or ‘fixes’. It is about creating the space to first feel where you are with it fully right now. Taking some deep breathes and inviting all you feel and know about this issue is a big step, whether it be a stressful situation, physical pain or illness, business or relationship issue or anything else in your personal reality.

For intense issues, it can be good to write down all that presents itself as you tune in and open up to what is really happening in terms of this issue. Take time to breath and sit with open aware focus on the issue in between any note taking or thoughts as they come up.

Notice after 5-10 minutes of this, any changes in the way you feel or perceive it as you spend time focusing on it. Acknowledge any body sensations or perspectives that are part of the shifts and changes as you delve in to this territory. Where in the body do you feel it and what is that feeling like? What emotions and thoughts run repeatedly about this and what deeper ones arise as you go deeper? Simply observe mental, emotional or physical pain and any negative thoughts, whether or not you believe they are true or valid, as being what they are and there in that moment.

Creating the space to open up to all you think, feel and believe about the issue in itself can be a healing process. Many symptoms of stuck or neglected energy start to shift as you give it full attention. Part of the process of progress and healing in yoga for example can happen on an emotional, mental and physical level just by breathing into and being with a discomfort or feeling of resistance or reaction while holding a particular posture, then allowing it to shift and open up in the space it has been given. Similarly, this is about holding a mental, emotional and physical space in which to consciously and fully experience a challenge or issue – noting but not getting lost in the story and threads of thoughts associated with it.

Allowing conscious stillness and space around your thoughts, some good questions to focus your attention are: How does this feel? What is it like? Can I sit with this fully right now? Is feeling stuck with this proving something? What will happen if this continues or gets worse? What do I feel most deeply about this?

Once you feel you have given this enough time to really feel more present in yourself and conscious of your experience of the issue, take a few deep breathes and move to the next step.

2. Creating space for change through acceptance

Love and acceptance is extremely powerful in creating the space for energetic healing. Paradoxically, it is when we come to know and accept something for what it is that it changes. Investment in change due to rejection and resistance perpetuates the pain and conflict inherent in what makes something an issue.

Therefore, in this step, acknowledging all of the thoughts, feelings and perceptions you have come up with over the 5-15 minutes of meditating on the issue, a few mini-steps here will help continue the process:

  1. Taking some breaths, affirm and open the heart to a sense that “I love and accept myself with or without this issue”. If this is difficult then it is enough that “I am willing be able to love and accept myself with or without this issue”.
  2. Spending some moments with this, acknowledge “I am willing for wisdom and insight for whatever lesson is here for me.” Take a few breathes, or more if some added insight arises.
  3. It is at this stage in love, acceptance and openness that it is time to also acknowledge “I am now open and willing to let this go and move on”.

If by now there has been some shift but not significant, then it can be good to cycle through these two steps a few times while you are tuned in, or do the steps again each day for a few days.

3. Moving Forward – The Power of Positive Questions

Asking ourselves positive questions, just like asking someone else a good question, will draw forth an answer that comes from our truth within. The answer from presence, not the first auto-response in our head, can be more powerful than just a statement of intention if it has come spontaneously from an open and authentic place in the moment of questioning.

The final step in this healing process may occur over minutes, hours or days depending on the situation. Some questions relevant to completing on this as you move forward are: What life affirming learning has this issue been offering me? Aside from being free of the discomfort I have felt, what could I gain from moving through this and letting it go? Am I open to this situation teaching me things and having positive outcomes I have not considered? In what sense can I feel or express love and acceptance for myself and all associated with this issue?

Continue with any external situations with others involved, to consider “how can I assist a turn around here, so all concerned are better off”. This can be the basis of a strategy of action if required or how you will approach things from within yourself. Use positive questions to expand the shift within to those around you.

Self nurturing and healing is an act of self-love providing us with more to give out to others. Taking some time with yourself to consciously work through personal challenges is really powerful. So when you are complete, reward yourself in some small way, like a nice bath or warm beverage, or a walk outside. Well done!

Peace and Love 🙂

Photo credit: Sam Bald on VisualHunt / CC BY (modified with quote)

The Beautiful Behind-the-Scenes of Heart and Mind

The beauty of relating to divine presence simply as ‘space’ and ‘formlessness’ beyond thinking, allows us a pure experience relatively untainted by too much human concept, such as religious preconceptions of God, expectations of enlightenment, what is spiritual and what isn’t. Freeing ourselves of conditioned thinking includes dropping dogma and historical theology in the moment.

This has benefits for direct and personal spiritual experience, yet the living presence of consciousness unfolds in the practitioner of presence as ‘a being’ not without volition, love, compassion and much more that has been attributed in religious contexts and from sages of the past as attributes of God.

There is a fine line being walked in the coming century for the systems of evolved wisdom and knowledge, and for each of us, not to obscure the living presence within and about us with idolatry loyalties to concepts, ritual, terminology and impassioned opinions that are culturally and psychologically conditioned. Meanwhile, it is the timeless essence of all these systems that can then have the space and increasing receptivity in a global society to be heard and realised anew in each individual.

The shift to getting beyond the thinking mind, beyond identification with form and objects, is a liberating awakening that is a key step to the transformation of consciousness happening in these times. Nonetheless, once we begin to settle in that space and consciousness, to experience consistently and personally the living presence of universal consciousness, free of thought streams and ego identity that used to define us and our perceptions, it becomes more apparent this universe is a vast and magnificent evolving ‘intent’.

The universe is a living ‘creation’ with purpose, meaning and reality, and this is gradually emerging in new ways for humanity in this age of new sciences, technologies and the new fluid horizons of quantum reality. Meanwhile, practitioners of conscious awakening world-wide are acquiring in unprecedented numbers, conviction and recognition of the ongoing background of consciousness, self-aware as a primordial source of arising thoughts, perceptions and feelings of mind. As shared realisation matures, so does the recognition and experience of universal consciousness and presence as source, home base point and destiny of conscious life which arises from it.

Thus, in relating to living presence, in receptive open mindedness with the faith and beginners mind of a child, we can start to feel an interaction between being-ness as a point of consciousness (our own personal experience) and the greater field of consciousness. This greater field of presence becomes a medium for the dissolving of separate identity purely in ‘the finite self’. It is clear in moments of reverie and awakening that we are part of something much more (and no less) than a vast being-ness from which our personal selves and the dualistic world of form has arisen with divine purpose and intent. Our purpose is to hear it, be it and let it flow into our minds and hearts and into our lives.

Our hearts and minds are but a mirrored doorway,

reflecting what it is opened towards.

The formless is generally associated with the mysterious eternal (with no beginning or ending) outside of the relativity of linear time. Form is associated with finiteness, finite time (having a beginning, inevitably changing, but not necessarily ending). Therefore, finite form (including matter or energy, pattern and structure, order and chaos) and time seem to be inherent in the eternal and formless as does the spark of life and consciousness.

The sense of the divine seems to be most intimate, ‘personal’ and tangible when we can drop even the vehicles of spiritual or religious concepts of the thinking mind to get a direct experience of a universal spaciousness or conscious presence in which all material and mind forms are occurring.

By keeping the awareness primarily on the living consciousness in all that is happening, we can embrace the content (all that is happening within and without) while fully present without attachment and being overly drawn into it. This is becoming free from suffering. In its place a beautiful sense of the vastness, compassion and infinite goodness through receptivity, also begins to express itself through our finite form (mind, body, voice, gestures, responses and expression). Life can become a blissful meditation in motion. We can get the same sense from others as we view them in essence, as expressions of the same universal living space or consciousness. In finding this experience in ourselves, we can all the more unconditionally love and accept others by being able to better recognise the essence in ourselves, expressing itself through others whether they are aware of it or not.

Shared stillness of heart and mind is the sacred place of relationship.

We can still function, but it is definitely different to functioning from the narrative, thought and feeling reactions, wants and fears of the egoistic self. Drama, pettiness and ego driven agenda’s are symptoms of us aligning with the world of object identification whether we play perpetrator, defender or victim. Instead we can become even more effective in worldly pursuits as teachers, learners and mediators in presence and stillness of conscious being and action. We then trust and celebrate unity in our own uniqueness and unique contributions. How is this an alignment and reflective of universal purpose?

Let’s consider or imagine universal consciousness as the primordial reality before, during and since the confirmed ‘big bang’ of manifested reality. It makes sense that manifested reality in all its diversity and bestowal of life and consciousness is the escape from Absolutism for this primordial formless singularity of consciousness and being. It is also an inevitable fulfilment of infiniteness, for if infiniteness includes all possibilities then it includes finiteness. The result of the ‘big bang’ is an improbable stable and expanding universe, improbable without the factor of inherent absolute intelligence and intent, in which we find bestowed consciousness & life.

If consciousness and life is not just on our planet, but a universal intent, then it is diversely manifested throughout the vast living universe from the Deity levels through spiritual realities, to density of complex form in material realities. Absoluteness divesting its attributes in diversified manifestation in an endless evolutionary plan that duplicates itself endlessly outward in the vastness of space. This is simultaneous with an equally endless inward journey of infinite potential as a conscious realisation for each participating conscious being. It is also both the inward and outward journey for the collective universal whole as a universal entity as an evolving reflection of the primordial absolute. Intuitively this seems such a fitting act and volition of an infinite, absolute, singularity being of infinite personality, energy & consciousness divesting itself through other life forms in an act of immaculate creativity and shared experience in true universal love and grace.

To us, the freedom from conditioned concept & thought (ego), through realisation and experience of consciousness of pure consciousness, is an achievement of spiritual awakening & insight into the formless and un-manifested for mind. On the spiritual plane, pure living consciousness is a manifested aspect of infinite spirit as the unified consciousness of creator and created. In christian terms, the Father and Son personalised in unity in the Spirit. It is only in pure consciousness or spirit that we can truly realise causeless and universal joy, peace, love along with an existence of meaning in itself. The material universe is a vast and grand stage for the absolute to experience itself becoming self aware through its gift of co-creative participation to evolving material and spiritual beings, the formless and infinite progressively present in finiteness and form.

The closest we can be to God in human form is direct experience from inner peace and stillness. Closeness, certainty and full experience requires we open all our heart and mind to what is formless to us, and un-manifested materially – the universal spirit which we experience as universal consciousness, aliveness, & presence. This fulfils the great commandment “to love God with all our heart and mind.” Love is equivalent to oneness. It is its own reward, a completion in itself – a spontaneous freedom of mind and will, transcendent yet all encompassing love, goodness, beauty, peace & joyful aliveness of existence – the I AM. It can only be felt as a living consciousness in the now, as past and future are a function of object mindedness.

We can experientially expand ourselves as far as we can realise and actualise

our true nature of living being as pure conscious presence.

Freedom is available from identification with a small limited mind & body, isolated and at the effect of a reality of form. There is a play for us to participate in, of expanding towards absolutism while evolve to express and co-create infinity and formlessness into the finite and form. To do this, we must learn to function in both dimensions together, conduits for consciousness to fulfil divine purpose and intent. This means doing and being daily in a way that this consciousness and experience flows into who we are and what we do. Many are doing it already without even knowing it, while a growing mass of people attune to living more consciously and deeply.

The down to earth love and purpose we get in our daily lives, in even the simplest things like a kind gesture or a blooming flower, contains all that vast reality has provided to enable every detail to happen. Maintaining presence while facing life challenges, transforms challenges into profound doorways to self awareness and growth. Let’s breath, be and do, mindful of the mysterious & miraculous enigma of existence!

Photo credit: blavandmaster on Visual hunt/CC BY-NC-SA (modified with quote)

Connecting to the Power of Life in the Present Moment

Mindfulness

Mindfulness, is a buddhist term embraced by western psychology and is now a modernised term for practicing awareness of experience in the present moment or a ‘state of presence’. In the buddhist context it develops self knowledge and wisdom to achieve enlightenment and be free of suffering. In western therapeutic modalities it is used to deal with mental illness, anxiety and stress. The last sixty years it has been researched and recognised as an approach for various effective therapeutic uses, in addition to general wellbeing, performance enhancement and spiritual awakening.

The deeper art of mindfulness is in training the mind to let go of identifying with projections of self. Projections of self may be through identification with outward appearances, circumstances and material things. More primary are inner projections of identification with thoughts, emotions and bodily experience. These ever changing aspects of experiencing the world as individuals can take us on cycles of ups and downs that seem to have a life of their own. Many people’s sense of self and the world, moods and states, perceptions and opinions are reflected in their mental narrative and emotional state as an overall accumulative effect as well as acutely during intense moments. Identifying with them is considered to be the source of suffering by ancient teachings. Training our mind enables us to get beyond our projections of self, deeper into authentic states of inner equilibrium and self realisation, beyond thought and emotion and into the more stable background of consciousness from which mental activity arises.

The inner projections above are the primary ways we really get locked into egocentric identity and loose our ability to be consistently in the drivers seat when it comes to thoughts (most of which are repetitive and predictable yet filter our experiences enormously), emotions (which can really influence our perception independently thoughts and beliefs or collaboratively with them, cause us to be reactive instead of proactive, and forget ourselves when they arise intensely). Body image and inner body experience can also become part of a self-perpetual loop. Emotions, thoughts and bodily experience become illusory when based on our conditioned programming and expectations, we cannot separate them from our sense of who we are. Our personal experience of thoughts and beliefs becomes its own evidence of the reality of those same conditioned beliefs and views thus reinforcing them. The psycho-physical landscape of how we hold ourselves in body and form in the world reveals where we are balanced and life affirming. Alternatively our stress patterns will reflect imbalance, a divided mind identified with positive and negative thoughts and beliefs spliting our identity from our true state of Being.

When we are identifying with these three primary inner projections, they cease to be useful tools for embodying, expressing and sharing our true presence in the world. Instead they become a tool of the ego and in the guise of ‘adaption’, ‘protection’ and ‘self image’ and become the substance of what ‘ego’ does to separate us from a true sense of connection and oneness with life and consciousness. Ego hinders us because it involves identifying with aspects of our life and selves that have no inherent existence of themselves. Ego identification is investing our experience of self in the things and self-created images we give meaning to, rather than identification in the source of where that meaning and purpose truly comes from, our true self as pure consciousness and life.

So how do we best practice ‘mindfulness’ in a way that disengages us from this false identification? Can we be more fully and consistently in a unified state, harmonising mind, body and emotion with our true nature and values? Can we spend more time in qualitative creative and insightful states rather than mundane and habitual ruts of thinking? Is it realistic to be consistently in this space of alignment at the right place at the right time? What further aspects of life experience open up to us when spiritually mature in this way?

Mindfulness is in principle so simple, it can easily be disregarded by ego consciousness. Not only that, it can be very difficult to break old habits and so requires consistent practice, consciously with will and effort until it becomes second nature. Even then, we must be on guard when it comes to egocentric states that take us back into identification with conditioned patterns and suffering. The ego seems to resist being put in its place once we have invested in it for security, success, survival or happiness. In truth, the ego can do nothing of its own because it is our creation, our own projection of ourselves.

Practice and Application of Mindfulness

Essentially, basic mindful meditation is a practice in stillness for what is also required in action to live in a true state of presence. It is being able to subjectively surrender our complete experience in the moment to the consciousness from which it arises. It is allowing ourselves to be still, present and unified in a presence or spaciousness of being. This state is found, and not manufactured, often using breath or another single focus as a way there. We can observe each thought, feeling and data input as it arises or presents itself. Initially, many associated thoughts and feelings are are noticed like a cascade effect of ceaseless mind activity. Things can seem to get busier before they settle if we are not used to this shift.

With practice of stillness, presence and observation, these associated thoughts and feelings diminish until we experience some space between arising thoughts and observed sensations. Eventually we realise they occur in our consciousness, and we are in fact the space of consciousness in which it all occurs. It is not about understanding this intellectually, but being in it fully and subjectively. With that experiential realisation it becomes much easier to get into the zone quickly and more easily maintain it while we go about our day of tasks and communications. Thinking and feeling becomes more balanced, even minded, yet even more rich and far reaching with more choice.

Enormous changes occur once this happens, this shift and new sense of inner freedom and wellbeing continues to provide greater depth, awareness and insight based on personal realisation and experience that goes deeper than our words and mind narratives can conceive. Love, receptivity and connectedness can be enriched on new levels. This space is not vacuous but full of subtlety.

With practice, the most opportune time to apply mindfulness is during highly positively or negatively charged experiences. Mindfulness is not just a neutral or numb state, although can be easier to attain in a neutral state t first. Relaxing mind and body during ‘charged’ times, and embracing each thought and feeling as a projection of who we are, help flex the muscle of consciousness and awareness. These times offer high energy that intensifies and expands our state of presence. When ego identified, we tend to energise projected thoughts, feelings or egocentric needs relevant to the time, loosing ourselves in intense moments, sensations or role playing. With mindfulness we can embrace the same content from a deepening and expanding consciousness with alignment in our true state of being and transform the energy from reactivity into a personal victory of higher consciousness and conscious action.

It is sometimes useful, while witnessing these times of highly positive or negative experiences, to affirm simply and briefly within yourself “I am not my thoughts”, “I am not my feelings”, “I am not my body”. Then simply be, observing what is going on within and without before we speak, decide or act. The content (thoughts, feelings, perceptions) are still there to be experienced even more deeply but without attachment, aversion or the dislocation of identification with them. No matter how bad or how wonderful our thoughts and feelings are as they arise, our true being is an immensely greater field and reality from which they arise. Embracing really strong thoughts and sensations in this conscious state of presence enables greater joy, true insight and reality of being.

Practices like Taiji, qigong, meditation and yoga help us to disengage from identification with our inner projections. Actually doing anything you enjoy with complete attention can be effective for many people in sport, business, or hobbies like working in the garden. The advantages of taiji, qigong or yoga is that they create a space to feel every part of the body and breath consciously and fully while relaxing the nervous system and mind. They are designed and developed over the ages to balance the mind and body energy specifically. Golf, relaxed rowing or gardening for example, can offer similar states but not necessarily cultivate the focus and quality of the conscious state depending on the intention and experience of the doer. Likewise, we see in the orient, zen walking and raking, flower arranging, calligraphy and painting done as a sacred discipline in special settings along with martial art applications like archery or taiji sword. With intentional practice, intent and setting are important combined with controlled and relaxed activities done in a state of still mind, synchronised movement and breath.

Activities that are too sedate or too stimulating to mind, body or both may not be as effective to develop the mindful state. The above are active ways to utilise inner body experience to take one out of the thinking narratives of mind. Yoga teaches one to release resistance, discomfort and disturbance by relaxing and breathing into it with acceptance and allow it to transform without having to process or ‘do’ anything with it. The light of pure awareness or consciousness itself is transformative and unifying. So it is with all things in life. This is why some non-action techniques of sitting meditation or sivasana (corpse pose in yoga) are considered as both the most simple and advanced techniques of practice. What activity incorporating these principles would make an enriching part of your daily practice?

 

Photo by Barnsjukhuset on Visual Hunt / CC BY

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.”