Self-Enquiry – Ramana Maharshi

Disciple: Master! What is the means to gain the state of eternal bliss, ever devoid of misery?

Master: Apart from the statement in the Veda that wherever there is body there is misery, this is also the direct experience of all people; therefore, one should enquire into one’s true nature which is ever bodiless, and one should remain as such. This is the means to gaining that state.

D: What is meant by saying that one should enquire into one’s true nature and understand it?

M: Experiences such as “I went; I came; I was; I did” come naturally to everyone. From these experiences, does it not appear that the consciousness “I” is the subject of those various acts?
Enquiry into the true nature of that consciousness, and remaining as oneself is the way to understand, through enquiry, one’s true nature.

D: How is one to enquire: “Who am I?”

M: Actions such as ‘going’ and ‘coming’ belong only to the body. And so, when one says “I went, I came”, it amounts to saying that the body is “I”. But, can the body be said to be the consciousness “I”, since the body was not before it was born, is made up of the five elements, is non-existent in the state of deep sleep, and becomes a corpse when dead? Can this body which is inert like a log of wood be said to shine as “I” “I”? Therefore, the “I” consciousness which at first arises in respect of the body is referred to variously as self-conceit (tarbodham), egoity (ahankara), nescience (avidya), maya, impurity (mala), and individual soul (jiva) . Can we remain without enquiring into this? Is it not for our redemption through enquiry that all the scriptures declare that the destruction of “self-conceit” is release (mukti)? Therefore, making the corpse-body remain as a corpse, and not even uttering the word “I”, one should enquire keenly thus: “Now, what is it that rises as ‘I’”. Then, there would shine in the Heart a kind of wordless illumination of the form ‘I’ ‘I’. That is, there would shine of its own accord the pure consciousness which is unlimited and one, the limited and the many thoughts having disappeared. If one remains quiescent without abandoning that (experience), the egoity, the individual sense, of the form ‘I am the body’ will be totally destroyed, and at the end the final thought, viz. the ‘I’- form also will be quenched like the fire that burns camphor.* The great sages and scriptures declare that this alone is release.

D: When one enquires into the root of ‘self-conceit’ which is of the form ‘I’, all sorts of different thoughts without number seem to rise; and not any separate ‘I’ thought.

M: Whether the nominative case, which is the first case, appears or not, the sentences in which the other cases appear have as their basis the first case; similarly, all the thoughts that appear in the heart have as their basis the egoity which is the first mental mode ‘I’, the cognition of the form ‘I am the body’; thus, it is the rise of egoity that is the cause and source of the rise of all other thoughts; therefore, if the self-conceit of the form of egoity which is the root of the illusory tree of samsara (bondage consisting of transmigration) is destroyed, all other thoughts will perish completely like an uprooted tree. Whatever thoughts arise as obstacles to one’s sadhana (spiritual discipline) – the mind should not be allowed to go in their direction, but should be made to rest in one’s self which is the Atman; one should remain as witness to whatever happens, adopting the attitude ‘Let whatever strange things happen, happen; let us see!’ This should be one’s practice. In other words, one should not identify oneself with appearances; one should never relinquish one’s self. This is the proper means for destruction of the mind (manonasa) which is of the nature of seeing the body as self, and which is the cause of all the aforesaid obstacles. This method which easily destroys egoity deserves to be called devotion (bhakti), meditation (dhyana), concentration (yoga), and knowledge (jnana). Because God remains of the nature of the Self, shining as ‘I’ in the heart, because the scriptures declare that thought itself is bondage, the best discipline is to stay quiescent without ever forgetting Him (God, the Self), after resolving in Him the mind which is of the form of the ‘I’-thought, no matter by what means. This is the conclusive teaching of the Scriptures.

*i.e., without leaving any sediment.

-Ramana Maharshi

From Self – Enquiry (Vichara Sangraham) of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi

Here you can download a PDF of the entire book.

Only One Real Choice – Annamalai Swami

Question:  Bhagavan (Ramana Maharshi) once remarked that free will is non-existent, that all our activities are predetermined and that our only real choice is either to identify with the body that is performing the actions or with the underlying Self in which the body appears.

Someone once said to him: ‘If I drop this fan, will that be an act that has always been destined to happen in this moment?’

And Bhagavan replied, ‘It will be a predestined act’.

I assume that these predestined acts are all ordained by God, and that as a consequence, nothing happens that is not God’s will, because we, as individuals, have no power to deviate from God’s ordained script.

A question arises out of this. If I remember the Self, is this God’s will? And if I forget to remember at a certain moment, is this also God’s will?

Or, taking my own case, if I make an effort to listen to the sound ‘I-I, is this God’s will, or is it individual effort?

Annamalai Swami:  Forgetfulness of the Self happens because of non-enquiry. So I say, ‘Remove the forgetfulness through enquiry’. Forgetfulness or non-forgetfulness is not a part of your destiny. It is something you can choose from moment to moment. That is what Bhagavan said. He said that you have the freedom either to identify with the body and its activities, and in doing so forget the Self, or you can identify with the Self and have the understanding that the body is performing its predestined activities, animated and sustained by the power of the Self.

If you have an oil lamp and you forget to put oil in it, the light goes out. It was your forgetfulness and your lack of vigilance that caused the light to go out. Your thoughts were elsewhere. They were not on tending the lamp.

In every moment you only have one real choice: to be aware of the Self or to identify with the body and the mind. If you choose the latter course, don’t blame God or God’s will, or predestination. God did not make you forget the Self. You yourself are making that choice every second of your life.

-Annamalai Swami

From Final Talks, page 38

 

Discrimination – Annamalai Swami

Question:  ‘All is one’ may be the truth, but one can’t treat everything in the world equally. In daily life one still has to discriminate and make distinctions.

Annamalai Swami:  I once went for a walk near the housing board buildings [government flats that were built in the 1970s about 300 metres from Annamalai Swami’s ashram]. There was a sewage trench on one side of the building. I could smell the stench of the sewage even though I was a long way away. I stayed away from it because I didn’t want to be nauseated by the bad smell.

In circumstances such as these you don’t say, ‘All is one. Everything is the Self,’ and paddle through the sewage. The knowledge ‘everything is the Self’ may be there, but that doesn’t mean that you have to put yourself in dangerous or health-threatening places.

When you have become one with the Self, a great power takes you over and runs your life for you. It looks after your body; it puts you in the right place at the right time; it makes you say the right things to the people you meet. This power takes you over so completely, you no longer have any ability to decide or discriminate. The ego that thinks, ‘I must do this,’ or ‘I should not do that,’ is no longer there. The Self simply animates you and makes you do all the things that need to be done.

If you are not in this state, then use your discrimination wisely. You can choose to sit in a flower garden and enjoy the scent of the blooms, or you can go down to that trench I told you about and make yourself sick by inhaling the fumes there.

So, while you still have an ego, and the power of discrimination that goes with it, use it to inhale the fragrance that you find in the presence of an enlightened being. If you spend time in the proximity of a jnani, his peace will sink into you to such an extent that you will find yourself in a state of peace. If, instead, you choose to spend all your time with people whose minds are always full of bad thoughts, their mental energy and vibrations will start to seep into you.

I tell you regularly, ‘You are the Self. Everything is the Self.’ If this is not your experience, pretending that ‘all is one’ may get you into trouble. Advaita may be the ultimate experience, but it is not something that mind that still sees distinctions can practice.

Electricity is a useful form of energy, but it is also potentially harmful. Use it wisely. Don’t put your finger in the socket, thinking ‘all is one’. You need a body that is in good working order in order to realise the Self. Realising the Self is the only useful and worthy activity in this life, so keep the body in good repair till that goal is achieved. Afterwards, the Self will take care of everything and you won’t have to worry about anything anymore. In fact, you won’t be able to because the mind that previously did the worrying, the choosing and the discriminating will no longer be there. In that state you won’t need it and you won’t miss it.

-Annamalai Swami

From Final Talks, pages 27-28

The Ultimate Happiness: A Conversation with Robert Adams

This article was published In the Fall Issue of Inner Directions, 1995.

Robert Adams: There is one thing I can tell you for sure. All is well. Everything is unfolding as it should. I can tell you that truly nothing is wrong anywhere. If you think you have a problem, that’s the mistake — thinking you have a problem. As soon as you stop thinking, everything will go right.
Questioner: Isn’t everything going right while you are thinking?
R: Yes, but you don’t know it. Some of us don’t think it is, saying, “I’ve got a problem,” or “I’m involved in some-thing I can’t handle which is bigger than I am,” or “Some-thing hurts me,” or “I feel anger.” But I can assure you, there is nothing wrong! All that you have to do is watch yourself. As soon as your mind starts thinking past your nose, grab it — not your nose, but your thoughts. You can grab your nose too if you want (laughter). Grasp your thoughts with your mind, and put a stop to them any way you can, either by observing the thoughts or by practicing self-enquiry and asking to whom they occur. Whatever you need to do, do not allow yourself to think. If your mind does not think, you will be exceedingly happy. You will have unalloyed happiness.
Some people ask me, “Robert, why don’t you just speak the highest truth all the time?” Some others tell me to speak in such a way that they can understand what I am talking about (laughter). So that is the dilemma. I do whatever I have to do. I plan nothing. Everything is extemporaneous. I have no rehearsals.
A man called me yesterday telling me he had been practicing for two weeks, took a seminar and paid seven hundred dollars, and is still not realized. I get calls like this all the time. What you say determines the answer I give you. But there is a standard answer. Think of the question, “When will I become self-realized?” Before I answer this one, I usually ask, “Please tell me what do you mean by `I’?” Then I further ask, “What do you mean by `Self-realization’?” They usually become silent, so I finally ask, “Who do you think the `I’ is? Who wants to become Self-realized?”
If you can’t do anything else, surrender to consciousness. By surrender, I mean surrender your ego, your problems, your emotions, your fears, your frustrations and anger. Give it all up. Say, “Take it, consciousness!”
Do not get carried away by your emotions. Stop in the middle and watch. Watch your emotions ruling you. Watch your fears controlling you. Watch your anger arise. Do not try to stop it, just watch and observe. Look intelligently and realize who it is that is getting angry. It is not you. It is not even your ego because there is no ego. It is not your body because there is no body. It is not your mind because there is no mind. Therefore, what is making you angry? Nothing.
I was talking about all the phone calls I’ve been receiving. People still ask what I think about this or that teacher, this or that person, or why shouldn’t they go to see other teachers as well? I really don’t know what to say. You have to do what you have to do. I can tell you that the more people you consult, the more confused you’ll become. I don’t care if you never come back here again because I am not looking for anything.
If you do find a teacher that you seem to have an affinity for, you should stick around for a while. If you run from teacher to teacher, you will become totally confused. Every teacher has his place. You will be attracted to the person you have to be with for as long as necessary. It depends on where your consciousness is.
Q: Robert, throughout the spiritual literature there are distinctions made between a gradual path and instantaneous enlightenment. A lot of this stuff about passing through stages — I can’t relate to it. It just doesn’t make any sense to me.
R: What can’t you relate to?
Q: Just the idea that you pass through one stage to the next stage.
R: This is for the person who is striving. The truth is there is nothing to pass through. It appears that some people, who need to understand these things and research them for themselves, will be helped to see where they are coming from. Perhaps you don’t need it.
Q: The state of happiness you talk about I would not call happiness. The state seems far above happiness. Happiness as the opposite of sadness.
R: You are right.
Q: Sadness could even come into that state you are I and it would only be something that was passing through with no identification.
R: You are right. As an example, I can cry at a funeral but I realize who is crying. I can have sadness if I want to but I am never really sad.
Q: The state of non-attached mind, that’s really the closest thing to it, isn’t it?
R: That’s true. I am looking for words to describe things. More importantly, there is always total happiness. It is not human happiness. For most people to be happy, there has to be a person, place, or thing involved in their happiness. In true happiness, there are no things involved. It’s a natural state. You will abide in that state forever.
Q: From the standpoint of practice, I have noticed that no matter what state arises, the problem is whether I am willing to let this go. Is it important for me to stay in my emotional state? The answer is that there is nothing you can do anyway as it comes and goes.
R: Act as if there is something you can do, even though there is nothing you can do. If you were passing a starving man in the room, don’t think there is nothing you can do. Give him a piece of bread.
Q: But in that state of mind arising, emotions arising, perceptions arising, there is nothing you can do.
R: Except watch. Just watch. Just observe. Another thing to consider is this: if you were here as a visitor, having only one meeting with me, and you would never see me again, I would expound the highest truth to you and take off. You would say how great that is. But when I see you twice a week or more, I begin to know you quite well, and everything I say is to help you grow because that is what is needed at that time, since I’m going to be with you again. To people who were with Ramana Maharshi as devotees, he didn’t expound absolute truth to them all the time. He would talk to them like an ordinary person. He would inquire about their welfare, their health, about their problems, and he would give them practical advice. He wouldn’t say, “Nothing matters because nothing exists.” They had problems. So he would talk to them in a practical manner.
Q: If we don’t see progress within ourselves and see we are continually getting upset, we shouldn’t let that bother us?
R: Keep observing, keep watching, keep focusing on the Self, and there will be nobody to ask who is bothered or who is not bothered. You only ask such a question when your attention is more on the bothering than it is on the Self. If you change your attention to the Self, see what happens.
Q: The question is, is that gradual?
R: For some people. It depends on how much time you give to it.
Q: We can’t just turn our emotions off. When I go to work sometimes, I find such an intensity there, with people snapping at each other, I get caught up in it. Of course I become aware, usually after the fact, asking myself, “will this disappear gradually by abiding in myself, or will I someday suddenly awaken?”
R: In the morning, when you first open your eyes, that’s the time to work on yourself. Ask yourself, “Who am I? How did I get here?” Reconcile yourself with yourself. If you do that upon first waking up, the whole day will be good, without these problems. Just don’t go straight to work. Get up an hour early if you have to. See yourself for what you are, and realize the truth. Focus on the self. Ask yourself, “Who Am I?” and wait. Concentrate on the source of “I Am,” or say to your-self, “I Am, I Am,” and then go to work. Then you will see changes. You will build up a power that you will carry with yourself all day long.
Q: To follow that “I” to its source, to find the “I” by self-enquiry and abide in it seems to mean non-existence, statelessness.
R: Don’t worry about being non-existent. Simply observe the “I,” and watch it going into the heart.
Q: It is not so much a following then, but that it happens by itself?
R: It happens by itself.
Q: When I contemplate “I Am,” does it mean that already I am the Self?
R: Yes it does.
Q: Robert, it’s because we have the concept we are not the Self that we miss the fact that we are abiding in the Self all the time. As Ramesh Balsekar has said, we only have the doubt we are not the Self, but the truth is we have always been it.
R: Exactly. When we don’t see that, we go through all these troubles and play all these games, until we realize we are the Self. Then that is it.
Q: If we don’t have the Self and are saying, “I am it,” what is to keep that from becoming a parrot-like repetition?
R: It doesn’t become a parrot-like repetition if you do it with your breath. When you inhale, say “I.” When you exhale, say “Am.” A subtle change of energy takes place within the Self, and you will become more peaceful, calm, and soon you will lose all identification with your body and mind. You will remain as “I Am.”
Q: Robert, when we do self-enquiry, actually that is the beginning step to find the “I.” When we develop a sense of abiding in the “I,” there isn’t much need of enquiry because we go straight to the abidance.
R: Self-enquiry has no beginning. If you practice “Who Am I,” it sounds simple, but is very powerful. Only say, “Who Am I?” then pause, then say it again, “Who Am I?” Never answer the question. Just keep repeating “Who Am I?” Eventually, something will happen.
Q: I’m asking, if you develop a sense of self-abidance, you can watch states come and go, watch identification with the ego, and then self-enquiry is not necessary if you can go directly to that.
R: If you are abiding in the Self, there is no ego to watch — there is only the Self. You watch the ego with the mind, not with the Self. If you abide in the Self, there is nothing else. You are finished. You’re cooked. Everything else is of the mind. When I say abide in the Self, I mean for-get everything and be yourself. There is nothing else to know at that point.

 

 

The ‘Spiritual I’ – Lucy Cornelssen

There is another rather harmless mistake which happens regularly to beginners. Many of them are blessed with various glimpses of the higher life, which they have entered. These carry the stamp of a genuine change of consciousness, and of course the sadhaka is happy, and convinced that he has made real progress. There is no harm in it, because he soon has to face the fact that his ‘experience’ is fading away, never to return. When this happens again and again, he learns to understand these sparks as what they are, glimpses from another dimension which want to teach him to discriminate between, the different dimensions but which also lure him on in his spiritual endeavour. They only become a pitfall, when he, by vanity or impatience, gets stuck in one of them, taking it for final Realisation. Then his further progress is blocked.

The mark by which this pitfall is recognised is ‘I’ have realised… This ‘I’ can only be a ‘wrong I’, because it is not the ‘I’ that realises.

The duty of the sadhaka is to watch himself ceaselessly; he has to know what is going on within himself. There is a serious risk in doing this only when he looks too much at others. When he does, his ‘personal I’ at once makes comparisons; and the result will be: ‘I am holier than thou’.

With this idea he gives his ‘personal I’ a strong chance to develop into a ‘spiritual I’, which is much worse than his original quite ordinary ‘I’, strengthened by all his previous spiritual effort. The result is a spiritual pride, the worse the more advanced the sadhaka has become, because his attainments, serve only to confirm his ‘right’ to be proud of his success. But even if he perceives the gentle Voice from within, warning him against this trend going on in him and reminding him of the secret of real ‘attainment’, silent humility, and even if he is quite prepared to accept the warning, there is still the risk that the cunning ego now is concealing itself behind his pride in his humility!

There is only one remedy against these and all other pitfalls on the Path to Realisation: Alert Awareness, relentlessly focusing on the treacherous ego…I.

Luckily the sadhaka is not left alone in his secret struggle against himself on his lonesome journey towards his high destination. How could he ever reach It. Were It not already within himself? And It never fails to send signals of warning when the traveller is nearing a pitfall or has even been caught by one due to inadvertance.

His is a journey like that in fairy-tales, when the hero has to go through many adventures, to fight against many enemies and even demons, to win the princess at the end. The further he proceeds, the mightier the obstacles.

The most cunning pitfall on the path of the sadhaka is the last one, hidden in Realisation Itself.

The first Revelation of the Self is temporary. “Jnana, once revealed, needs time to steady itself.” (Talks, 141).

The danger is not in the sliding back; it is natural to most sadhakas and is met quite naturally by continuing one’s practice faithfully, which in its turn will lead to further Revelations of the Self until finally there is no sadhaka left, but the Self only.

If, on the other hand, the sadhaka tries to ‘hold on’ to that first Revelation, in spite of his Inner Guide warning him, (Who is holding on?), then the ego…I slinks again in where the Self is veiled again and distorts the Revelation of the Self into the cry of victory: ‘I have realised!’ Blindfolded by the Bliss of the final ‘success’ (‘whose success?’) he never stops to scrutinize his condition and thus never finds out the truth: That he became a yogabhrastha, one who has fallen out of his yoga, his ‘union’.

The new and definitive disguise of his ego…I is ‘the Guru’, and this last and most powerful pitfall never releases him, because he never recognises that he is its victim.

There are nowadays many whose Guru-pitfall caught them even much earlier on their path.

-Lucy Cornelssen

Excerpt From Hunting the ‘I’, Obstacles and Pitfalls, pages 38-40

Two related posts can be found at Awakening Before Enlightenment and  Enlightenment, Before, During and After.

Overcoming The Ghost – Lucy Cornelssen

So what can we do?

There is only one way to overcome the ghost…to watch it. Do not fight, do not resist. Only try to watch it, quietly but ceaselessly. In other words, develop an unconcerned witness consciousness towards men, things and happenings without, but particularly towards yourself within. It means to carry on the calmness of the mind gained in your meditation to cover your whole day. You will distinctly feel it as an undercurrent of peace and detachment.

Of course, as soon as you succeed, the ghost-‘I’ will immediately try to hide itself in this witness-consciousness at the feeling ‘I am the witness’. This again is only a thought. But to be the witness without any I-consciousness is the pure mind at the threshold of Reality.

While following the transformation of your personal ‘I’ into the impersonal ‘witnessing’, you cut at the root of all your ‘personal’ shortcomings, vices and weaknesses, your passions and evil habits, because the root of all this unpleasant ‘you’ is just that personal ‘I’. Try to imagine yourself in the mood of the ‘unconcerned witness’ described above, and you will see that in that state it is impossible to think or act in a negative way, because in that mood you are, though only momentarily, beyond the personal ‘I’. Your sadhana is to keep yourself permanently in the state of ‘detached witnessing’ of all and everything, including the personal ‘I’ when and wherever it should try to raise its head.

In the silent Light of being witnessed it cannot survive. Such ‘witnessing’ will soon grow into pure Awareness, aware only of Itself.

In the words of Ramana Maharshi: “The Truth is that the Self is constant and un-intermittent Awareness.” (Talks, 454).

And in another context: “The essence of mind is only Awareness or Consciousness. When the ego, however, dominates it it functions as the reasoning, thinking or sensing faculty. The cosmic mind being not limited by the ego, has nothing separate from itself and therefore is only aware. This is what the Bible means by ‘I am that I AM’.” (Talks, 188).

-Lucy Cornelssen

Excerpt from Hunting The ‘I’, Meditation, pages 31-32

Attention! Attention! – Dada Gavand

An interview with Dada Gavand by Suma Varughese

In his simple, serene way, Dada Gavand teaches to the world that watchful, attentive awareness alone can set the mind free

Sage-philosopher Dada Gavand has a stark and simple philosophy. Watch the patterns of your mind attentively and with awareness. That is all you need to reclaim your heritage of lasting peace and bliss.

So this was his paradise-a clearing in the Yeor Hills on the outskirts of hot and dusty Thane, near Mumbai. A few houses stand gracefully, and at ease, among the trees and the underfoot growth. Birdsong rippled through the air. Hens were scrabbling in the mud, as their chicks huddled under their wings. A few feet away, a black and white kitten, its tail curving in sheer joy of life, pretended to pounce on the hens, who pecked on, unperturbed. A young girl stood in an overgrown yard watching life go by. All was peaceful, simple, natural.

So was the picture book house we stopped at-a narrow two-storey building with sloping tiled roofs. White doves clustered around the gables, and swooped down to drink from the water-holder. Guava and other trees grew robustly in neat round concrete-lined beds. A sunshade with chairs was placed invitingly on one side of the garden. As we stood there and breathed in the visceral peace of the place, we had a precursor of the personality of the owner of the house.

The man who warmly welcomed us was not young. Eighty-five or thereabouts, he was lean and spry, with an alert, lively face, honed to its essence. His movements were fluid and quick and when he sat cross-legged as we talked, his torso was erect and still. He radiated a friendliness and an acceptance that put us at ease instantly. There were no trappings of conventional religion. No pictures of deities or saffron robes or agarbatti. No offerings of flowers and fruits. No genuflection either. He addressed us as matter-of-factly as a tutor would his students.

Dada Gavand is not an advocate of conventional religion, or of any of the tried and tested paths to enlightenment. His prescription is simple: attentive watchful awareness of the patterns of thought. This act alone is enough to vaporize the thoughts and set you free from the burden of the mind. If this is strikingly close to J. Krishnamurti‘s philosophy, it is not without reason. He spent some time with Krishnamurti before he moved on to forge his own inner journey.

Born in 1917 in Mumbai as Dattaram Madhavrao Gavand, his spiritual quest unfolded early. Though born in comfortable surroundings, he chafed at the convention and hypocrisy of society, and the dehumanizing impact of materialism. But he was the eldest and, on his father‘s untimely death, had to assume the responsibilities of taking care of his siblings, which included arranging for their marriages. On the third day of the marriage of the youngest sibling, Dada, as he was universally known, disappeared from home to seek his spiritual destiny. After eight months of solitary seeking and questioning at Mount Sajjangad, he experienced a mystical explosion in his inner domain, a sudden flow of timeless energy within, and a state of peace and ecstasy never known before.

After this, he stayed in semi-solitude for 14 years on Mount Mahabaleshwar. Since 1975, Dada has been sharing his understanding by extensive travel and lectures in the USA, Canada, Europe and of course India. Compiling his experiences and thoughts is his book Beyond the Mind that is about the deeper significance of living. Written in dialogic form, the book tries to answer ideas of liberation, sexuality, healing, imprisonment, expression etc. He has also held numerous meditation camps called Exploration into Oneself, but today he prefers to work with small groups and individuals in order to communicate on a personal level. Where he was once a keen sportsman and freedom fighter, he now writes poetry, excels in photography, and campaigns for freedom of the inner kind.

Excerpts from an intense interview:

What are the main tenets of your philosophy?

I don‘t have a set philosophy. Whatever I say is the outcome of the present moment. Besides, I don‘t trust words. The mind uses them, as it does everything else, to escape from the hard task of changing itself. The basic challenge of man is to discover that quality which is hidden within us and allow it to express itself. But this is difficult because of the blocks the mind sets up, such as the pre-occupation with things, even with reading spiritual literature.

What is the way to overcome these blocks?

There is no set answer. What is the hindrance blocking that quality? We need to be attentive to that block and that‘s the main challenge. Yogis and saints have found out several ways and techniques, but all are used by the mind to keep it busy. I believe only watchful awareness will set us free.

But can this approach work for all?

Why not? The conditioning of the mind is the same.

It is believed that different paths appeal to different temperaments.

By creating different paths we are creating separation and divisiveness. Conflicts arise because each thinks his path is the best.

What have been the significant events of your own spiritual journey?

I listened to masters, even read a few books. But I found that this was my own journey. Nobody can help. What is required is watchful, attentive awareness. It‘s a journey into the inner self, that‘s all. But we hesitate, and the mind is extroverted. It hesitates to take a turn, to enter within. The whole riches of the world, all the virtues, are basically inside. On the outside there is only the concept of virtues. Try to watch these concepts. The mind can never be virtuous or divine. All that is inside.

Can meditation help move the mind within?

Meditation is the fallout of attention-watchful attention. It‘s not a spiritual act. Meditation to me it‘s only a search into oneself, to dispel the patterns of thoughts, to enter the tranquility within.

Can the pursuit of this tranquility be balanced with the demands of a householder‘s life?

Oh, yes. We all need the basics of life for survival. But be balanced. Do not create more wants. We collect more and more of everything, including books. This last is intellectual greed. The mind becomes greedy for knowledge. This is the burden of intellect.

How do you get the mind to let go of this obsession with things?

Look at the world at large. What is so great about it? We never have the time to look at it quietly, independently. What we see is just the continuity of life. To me life is a discovery. We have to find that dynamism, energy.

What is the state of one who has reached inner tranquility?

Abundant peace and contentment. And whenever there is a challenge, there is a response, a creative response that does not resort to memory.

Looking at the world today, what do you think lies ahead for mankind?

The world was always like this. There is not much difference. Krishna, Ram, Buddha came and society digested them all, but it remains the same.

What do you think of the belief in a new age, when society as a whole will be transformed?

Only a human being can achieve enlightenment, not mankind. Only he who is honest, sensible, sensitive, and sincere can hope to achieve this state. And there are very few of such.

So there‘s no likelihood that mankind will attain lasting peace?

Man has always hoped for this. But it depends on each of us. The reality is that we can transform only ourselves. Nature wants man to transform, to become like it. To come back to the natural state is fulfillment. To become free of all obsessions-that is enlightenment.

Does being with nature provide a way within?

Become aware of nature. Become sensitive to it. An intellectual appreciation of it is not enough. We have worshipped the intellect too much. Now we have reached a dead end. The intellect has really obliged us. It has given us so much. But if we want to move further, this intellect is not going to oblige. Its function is over. The mind is secondhand activity, which is born of memory. People have spent so many years in searching for enlightenment. Is so much time necessary? That which is past is over. We avoid freshness of the moment by indulging in the past.

What was your own search like?

I came from a business family. We were fairly rich. But from an early age I was aware of the absurdity of the life we led. Everyone was copying everyone else. We were made by our surroundings-traditions, culture, family background, media. I saw that I was the result of environmental influences, nothing else. I saw people enslaved by social conditioning till the end of their lives. I wondered if another way of life was possible. A mighty intelligence had created the universe and here I was, living like a robot. I wondered if there was a deeper significance to life. At this stage, I visited many ashrams. I went to the Aurobindo ashram, I met Ramana Maharshi and Krishmanurti. I was with Krishnamurti for a while and then I told him that I no longer wanted to read his words or anyone‘s words. I wanted to discover for myself. And do you know what he said? He said: ‘‘I am so glad.” At these ashrams, I saw good people, happy, contented. What was that state of mind, to be contented? I soon came to know that no one could give me the answers. I had to discover them for myself. This whole outer is the manifestation of the mind. But there had to be something intrinsic. Where did that lie? I wondered about the energy that emerged from us, creating desires. We were using that energy for trivial reasons, merely dancing at the periphery of life. We need to ponder about these questions independently. Pondering is a sensitive activity. To look without ideas and opinions and without thought. Is it possible? And generally, there is no time for that. Thought activity is so strong.

When did you find answers to your questions?

There‘s a kind of breakthrough when the situation is right. It is not in our hands. It is a great blessing of nature. He who aspires will be helped by nature. But we must have that strong passion. Our passions are smaller. Born out of other things.

Is there God?

There is another dimension, which is divine, timeless. It‘s an energy. A very intelligent energy. To discover that is the touch of the divine. ‘God’ is a misused term. The mind creates concepts and goes after that. Thought is the barrier between you and the divine. Understand the designs of thought and be aware of them. And then you will dispel the thought patterns. That is important.

What is the relationship between spirituality and creativity? You, for instance, have created copious poetry.

Creation happens in the sensitivity of understanding. After that you are changed. You become highly sensitive. I never wrote poetry. It just came out of me. Suddenly a door had opened from within.

Post enlightenment, what is your role in life?

I have to live life. I don‘t have my own drives and ambitions. I have to live like a simple, humble entity.

To read more from Dada Gavand look here.

Sunyata – A Rare-Born Mystic

Sunyata was born on small Danish farm in 1890 with the name of Alfred Julius Emmanuel Sorenson. At the time of his birth, his two sisters were 12 and 14 years old. As he was only educated up to the 8th grade, he would often joke that he had escaped “headucation.” During his childhood, a big shock occurred when he was 14 and the family farm was sold to strangers who had no respect for the land. He began an apprenticeship in horticulture, and eventually moved to England where he became “a simple gardener.”

As a gardener, he worked from 6 in the morning to 6 in the evening in such big estates as Forty Hall, Sunbury Court, Hampton Court, and Dartington Hall. While he was working on the gardens of Dartington Hall in Devonshire, Ragindranath Tagore, the Indian poet, came to speak. Emmanuel (this means the “indwelling God” and was Sunyas’ favorite Western name for himself) played a Beethoven quartet for Tagore on an old gramophone; Tagore was so impressed with the quality of Emmanuel’s silence (lack of willfulness and ego desires) that he invited him “to come to India to teach silence.” But how can you teach something except by being It? Being It he was, and his arrival in India in 1930—in his 40th year—marked the beginning of a new phase in his life’s drama. People immediately thrust titles upon him like ‘baba’, ‘saint’, and ‘guru’, but none of these names seemed true to his being. He did accept small gifts from people, but refused them if they were more than he needed at the time. For 45 years he was to live in India, where his work was simple to BE and his days as a gardener a thing of the past. Everything was given to him. In Sunyata’s words: “We live so close to Heaven.”

In order to better grasp the next chapter of this story, it is necessary to know something about Ramana Maharshi (1880-1950), the Sage of Arunachala, who was made famous in the West by Paul Brunton’s book A Search in Secret India. Ramana had realized the Self at the age of 16, and lived the rest of his life near the sacred hill named Arunachala. Paul Brunton had visited Ramana in the early 1930’s and was struck by the power of his silence. Although Emmanuel first heard of Ramana Maharshi from an American whom he met in Kashmir, he subsequently real Paul Brunton’s book, and decided to make the pilgrimage to visit Ramana.

Once he arrived there in 1936, Emmanuel soon realized that he had never before met this quality of consciousness in any living being. Later in his life, he said about this meeting:

Never before had I awared such integral Self-Radiance in any human form, such light of Silence. One was being fed just awaring him. At the first sight of him, I felt no excitement or even awe, no solemnity or ecstasy, simply a calm recognition, a glad contentment, and gratitude in his darshan.

When Emmanuel first arrived, Ramana asked him his name and nationality, and inquired about mutual friends and his sadhana (the Way he had come). Emmanuel was put up in one of the ashram guest houses and during his two week stay spent many of his days sitting in the back of the meditation hall soaking in the quality of Ramana’s radiance. Unlike most of the other Westerners who came to visit the ashram, Emmanuel did not ask even one question; other than his response to those few initial questions from Ramana, there was no verbal communication between them. Emmanuel was therefore quite surprised when later heard from Paul Brunton that (soon after his departure) Ramana had referred to him as janam-siddha—“one of the rare-born mystics.” When Emmanuel heard this phrase “rare-born mystic,” he had no idea of what a “mystic” was or what it meant to be one who was “rare-born.” Emmanuel soon acquired a copy of The Oxford Book of English Mystical Verse in the hope of finding out what it meant to be a “mystic”; at the same time he began to examine his own childhood to see why he had been able to so easily loosen his identification with ego-consciousness. It was this exploration that was the origin of the reflections called Memory.

It was during Emmanuel’s third visit to Ramana Maharshi in 1940 that he acquired the name that he was to use for the rest of his life. He was just sitting quietly in meditation when he awared an effulgence—a spiritual flood of light—especially radiated and directed upon his form and suddenly out of the Silence can an (unsolicited) telepathic message from Ramana Maharshi in the form of these five English words:

We are always aware sunyata.

What surprised him most in this message was the word “always”—although he had often transmuted Shakespeare’s phrase that “ripeness is all” into his own saying “awareness is all,” up to that moment he had never realized who he was is always “aware.” He also asked himself who is this “we”? Did it mean Ramana Maharshi and himself or did it include everone? Eventually he concluded that “we” is the indwelling, innerstanding Word, Logos, Sophia—the androgynous EmmanuEL. Another surprise was that Ramana, a Hindu sage, had used the Buddhis term “sunyata”, a term often translated as “the void” or “full solid emptiness”. The Buddhist doctrine of sunyata asserts that all beings and phenomena are free of any soul or intrinsic nature; this means that although people, things, and events appear on the outside to be real and substantial, they are actually—when innerstood—ephemeral and insubstantial. Sunyata took Ramana’s five words as recognition, initiation, mantra, and name. Thereafter, he referred to both himself and the hut in which he lived as “Sunyata”. Like a crystal that reflects many colors yet itself remains pure, clear, unaffected, that’s who he would always be, no-thing-ness. Tat twam asi, he was fond of saying—“ Thou art That”.

For the next four decades, Sunyata continued to live in his Himalayan hut not far from Almora. About his new home, he said, “I was contented in Denmark though I could see the others regarded me as an oddity. In England I felt freer. In India I felt at home. But in the Himalayas I feel closest to Heaven.”

During all these years in India, he was never employed, but found money being pushed on him. He was once offered 20 rupees a month ($2.50), but only accepted 5. Then in 1950, the Birla Foundation in New Delhi (shoes purpose is to assist saints and sadhus) asked him if he’d accept 100 rupees a month and he agreed to accept 20. “It was more than I needed at the time,” he admitted, “but I thought prices might rise.” It was later raised to 50 rupees where it remained for more than 20 years. Even after inflation made it hard to live on 50, Sunyata would never consider getting a raise through asking.

Living nearby to his Himalayan hut on Crank’s Ridge were such neighbors as the Tibetan Buddhist scholars Lama Anagarika Govinda and Dr. Walter Y. Evans-Wentz. He would often make pilgrimages to the plains of India during the winter season, and return to his hut—high in the mountains—when the plains began to sizzle with the summer heat. He became personally acquainted with such leaders of the Indian independence movement as Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru. He also came to know Anandamayi Ma and Neem Karoli Baba and many realized beings who are virtually unknown in the West.

The story of Sunyata’s stay in India would not be complete without mentioning his plucky black-and-white dog name “Wuti”. Wuti was brought from Tibet in a sack along with a lion cub in 1950, and he became Sunyata’s constant companion for the next 9 years. Sunyata named him Wuti because that was the sound he made when he barked. And Indian saint named Anandamayi Ma looked at Wuti and announced, “This is not a dog.” Thereafter, she permitted Wuti into the inner sanctum of her ashram where no dogs were allowed. After Wuti died, Sunyata changed Wuti’s name to Wuji and used this term—Wuji—to refer to his own higher Self. When Sunyata was asked why he changed his name from Wuti to Wuji, he replied: “Adding ‘ji’ to a name is what is done in India to show respect—the dog needed less bark and more bite.”

Sunyata would have been happy and content to live in India for the remainder of his bodily-life. He never had any desire to go anywhere, let alone to America. In November 1973, a group of seekers from California associated with the Alan Watts Society went to India to visit Lama Govinda, Sunyata’s friend and neighbor. A local villager just happened to mention to this group that there lived a solitary hermit-type-ancient one who they might want to visit. They went to Sunyata’s hut and decided that he indeed was and Enlightened One. One of the group members told him “You’ll be in California next year.” Sunyata protested: “But I have nothing to teach and nothing to sell.” The gentleman replied: “That’s why we want you!”—and off he trotted. Eventually, one of these visitors sent Sunyata a round-trip plane ticket to California with the promise: “Reality-wise, Sunyata need not do anything.”

When he was invited to settle in America, Sunyata believed that his life was drawing to an end; here he was a man in his 80’s who had spent many of the last decades in silence. Over the years, however, he had developed a language to talk about his Reality and had discovered that there was an unusually good rapport with some of the spiritual seekers who had come from the West to visit India. “Prarabdha karma,” Sunyata once explained, “is the karma that cannot be changed in one’s lifetime.” So it was is prarabdha karma to first come to America at the tender young age of 84. One of the few places in America that had ever really interested him was — coincidentally — California. When he was a young man living in England, he had been exposed to the teachings of Theosophists who had spoken about a New Race of people being born in several geographical locations, one of which was supposed to be in California. If a New Race was being born, he wanted to be there for the birthing.

So for the last six years of his life, he made his home in California. “I take my home with me wherever I go,” he said. He made no effort “to do” anything—his mode was simple “to be”. Many people claimed that significant changes in their life would occur after meeting him. “I do nothing, it just happens,” he would always say.

“Every thing always happens rightly,” he would say to his fellow pilgrims, “all is right that seems most wrong.”

While crossing a busy intersection in Fairfax, California on the morning of Sunday, August 5th, 1984, he was struck by a car. He was taken to nearby Ross Hospital, but by that evening he had entered into a coma. He lived another eight days, but never regained consciousness.

-From Sunyata: The Life and Sayings of a Rare-Born Mystic   

 

Enlightenment, before, during and after…. – Rani Willems

Enlightenment, before, during and after….

Every seeker wants Enlightenment.
Most people perceive that to be a state of ongoing bliss and oneness and believe that after that, life is easy and simple forever after, because of the eternal expansion into the beyond.

While it is true that there is something called “the enlightenment Experience” which has all of these characteristics, the true enlightened life is something quite different. The bliss is not the emotional experience we can know through the ego. It is beyond that. This truth is revealed overtime, bit-by-bit as we grow into who we are and lose our ego identity.

Some parts of the learning are guaranteed:
We have to first recognize who we are beyond our mind and body to the point that a shift of perspective, of context occurs, but then we have to crash and come down from the enlightenment high. We need the courage to admit that every experience wears off, even after a few years, that clarity can be lost again and that identification with the mind can come back. That nothing is permanent and that to reach higher peaks we need to pass through different valleys. Failing is an essential part of the path. When we have spiritual success our ego grows side by side, when we fail, it is diminished and is ground down.

The Enlightenment experience is the end of the search but surely the beginning of the path. (Or as I often say, the search moves from the horizontal to the vertical dimension.) Often it takes the loss of that experience, for us to be truly committed to the discipline of the spiritual life. We have seen paradise. We have tasted the natural state and now it is gone. What is left is that we are constantly confronted with our failing, our fears, clinging and despair. We must open, and open deeper into the pain and fear, letting it cook us, break us and pulverize us, so we can truly disappear as a separate self. When we do not have the proper understanding, the proper context, the valleys are very difficult to move through.

What follows is my own experience of this process. May it be of help to other travelers on the path.

By the mid-nineties my life looked like I had made it. At least on the outside. I lived in India in a very beautiful area outside of town. I was a respected member of the ashram that I was a part of. I loved the work I did as a therapist; the relationship I was in was wonderful, rewarding and fun. At least that was what I was telling myself. The house we had built up was splendid; we had several servants, cats, dogs, fishponds etc. We lived the successful life of the neo sannyasin. Daily meditation was comfortable; I had come to settle in the comfort of knowing how to leave the mind behind and experience bliss. I had found a good refuge from pain. What more could I ask for?

I told myself I was fulfilled, denying the fact that I was always feeling inferior to my lover because I brought in a lot less money, denying that I felt deeply insecure about my capacities as a therapist and denying so many other little facts. In fact denial had become my way of life and I can see in retrospect that I vaguely knew it always, but it was too threatening to admit it to myself. Compensation was an art that I had mastered since early childhood.

Then one day my lover left. The hole I fell in was profound; it was as if every time I fell into that hole it became deeper. Determined to finish with it once and for all (ego always thinks in terms of permanent elimination) I dove into it for about a year and did some intense therapy, until I rediscovered the Awareness intensive group. In this group you ask yourself the koan: “Who am I” from very early morning till late at night. The “results” were amazing. For the next year I participated in each and every one of these 3 or 7-day groups. Usually it would take me 24 hours of struggling before I would pop into another dimension; the realm of oneness, clarity and peace. I got addicted to the highs, as they would lift me straight out of all my unresolved pain. I learned how to “do” it. Popping koans became my specialty. For a while I would come down as soon as the group was over but then it started to happen that the highs would not go down anymore. The clarity would not leave me anymore and peace was more or less permanently present. In other words I had accumulated a lot of energy (shakti). Now greater breakthroughs and greater revelations came. I was finally free from all my suffering!! I had found a way out!! I even remember now some thoughts that were immediately dismissed like: “Now I never have to worry about money anymore, I have what everyone wants.” “Now I never have to bother about sex and relating anymore because I am beyond them.”

The ego was always lurking just by the side and in a way I knew it but I was too ignorant about the true mechanics of the mind to fully realize what that meant. I told myself that I was staying clear of ego because I was aware of it. I looked in Osho’s words for a context to understand my precise situation but did not find much. Maybe I did not know how to formulate the question because I thought that I was already enlightened but I found nothing much that was truly helpful. I felt very alone and thought that this is what he meant when he said that in the end you are alone and I decided to trust my experience.

For a while I met with a woman who had declared herself enlightened and she helped me clear away some doubt. On top of it she gave me all the conformation I was looking for! (This is exactly what the mind wants: confirmation, and so unconsciously we look for someone who will give it to us.) However the most dominant experience was one of joy and peace. The shift was dramatic and profound. I wanted to share it immediately with whoever wanted to hear it. There was a very genuine and naive sense of wanting to help others out of their suffering. The intention was clean and innocent as far as I could see. Not knowing that as long as there is ego our intention is never 100% pure.

Someone later described people who declare their enlightenment prematurely as little girls who dress up in their mother’s clothes and wear high heels pretending they are adults. It was a bit like that, now that I look back. I felt like a kid with a bag of candy that I wanted to share. And even though friends avoided me like the plague eventually people showed up who wanted to hear what I had to say. Many seekers today (like I had been myself) want only one thing and that is to be lifted out of their pain with a shortcut, and shortcuts I had!

Of course they were in awe. I was generating a lot of cosmic energy; everyone in the room could feel it and whomever I talked to or looked at, shifted for some time into a state beyond the mind. I was blown away by it as well. I was loved and revered. I finally felt worthy of that love as well. Pride started to slip in. After all this person that had been humiliated so often (me) had made it and was someone. I saw the pride but told myself that because I was seeing it, it did not matter. Everything was anyway all happening in the ONE and therefore temporary. My fame grew fast, more and more people attended the satsangs and had great awakening experiences. They were the proof of my “rightness.” My ego swelled up again a little more.

From time to time the old insecurity knocked on my door but I would not open. I did not want to acknowledge that it was there. You have to understand the very delicate situation one is in. You feel like you have transcended suffering, which had been the motive for the search all along. And then to realize that this is not true is not an easy feat. The ego will fight it. The soul has an imprint of ego protections that is centuries old. It does not give way that easily.

For many years on the path, all we want from the search is freedom from suffering. Only much later is our intention pure and clean enough for us to only want what is, howsoever painful or uncomfortable it may be. So I felt very expanded because the awakening was strong and I could channel huge amounts of energy and did not really know that they were all passing through and were therefore colored by the ego. All the while my ego was expanding beyond its wildest fantasies, without me being very aware of it. It became more and more transparent and smart and spiritual, it told itself it is nobody and it is not there!!! And it succeeded very well at fooling even itself. This ego is very smart. Because I kept sharing every pitfall I saw with my students, I thought that I was free of it. Not seeing that sharing was not enough for the ego to lay low. That it needs absolute dedication and willingness to stay vigilant at all times. That it needs the scalpel of the surgeon all the time!! The thing is through the sharing I believed that I WAS being honest and vigilant. And to some extend of course that was also true.

The enlightenment experience is always a mixture of clear and honest intention and a power hungry ego. If we do not have an alive teacher at the time of awakening, we are in great trouble. We simply cannot travel alone at this point; precisely because we can hardly see the ego by ourselves.

My fame kept growing and tirelessly I traveled the planet, thinking I was doing something very good for humanity. Now I see that it was the old primal story all over again: I needed to help everyone who was in pain otherwise I had no right of existing. Burn out came after two years. I had to stop. The body collapsed and I was shocked to find the first thing that arose when the doctor said I needed to rest was: “Who will love me now?” In a way that was the beginning of the fall. Of course honest as I was, I shared all this with the students in satsang, showing how much ego is still accompanying this awakening experience. I shared my pain and errors and found to my amazement that not many wanted to hear the truth if it did not sound blissful.

Over the four years that I was teaching, I found that rarely someone wanted to hear the truth. Many people come to this type of satsang because they want to be told that there are shortcuts and often they want to adore someone. Not many want to hear about the painstaking work of purifying our minds and healing our pains. In fact, in the satsangs, the jokes about working on yourself are plentiful.

The beauty as well as the difficulty of our time is that spiritual knowledge and secrets are available at the click of a mouse. All the scriptures are public. In the past this was not the case, information was given only in relation to the students/disciples advancing in practice and experience. Now we do not have to practice meditation or do any hard work in order to receive the teaching and so the danger is that we only absorb the teaching in a mental way.

In the meantime I had moved into a relationship (after much initial protest from my side) and this provided another reality check. I was not as beyond as I thought I was. Learning to love and be loved provided and still provides endless lessons. I took a year off and met with a lot of old childhood pain and present loneliness. First only my old friends had despised me but I had been welcomed with open arms into the satsang community, but now also the satsang community threw me out. I was not supposed to feel pain and be honest about it. Finally though, I was being able to welcome it and feel it without further manipulation. I took some months in silence and started to feel again the need to meditate. (Of course in the years of being nobody there had been no one to meditate.) Still all the while I still enjoyed mostly the bliss and peace of being at one.

Then the real hit came. My best friend and working partner was diagnosed with cancer. For some months we kept it up, saying that it was okay. That we felt no fear or pain, that dying was as good as living and that everything that comes must also go again. But then we cracked, both of us. I spent the last weeks at her side, nursing her at home until she died in my arms. That split me right in two. There was simply so much pain. I was overwhelmed by it, consumed by it, helpless with it and bewildered by the fact that I was feeling all this again. My sharing became again more honest, I no longer pretended anything anymore or offered miracles and shortcuts. Of course people came less and less. Slowly I saw that what was left was a handful of sincere seekers whom I actually had not much more to offer than my friendship and limited wisdom and experience.

I realized that I was longing for guidance. I was looking left and right in old and new teachings until I found what I was looking for in my new teacher Aziz. His Zen hits were painful and not always welcomed but over time I understood more and received for the first time a map of reality that resonated with me. My own master had been too wide, too rich for me to see a clear and practical path. He spoke about so many practices and left it to me what to choose. This had brought me were I was. I felt and feel a deep respect and gratitude for him but I needed more. I needed personal guidance from an alive teacher. Now I found this very precise teaching that resonated in my soul as a reflection of reality. He guided me in my practice and taught me a complete new way of meditation. He also told me to stop teaching but I was afraid to stop. It was my only source of income. I believed that I needed the money, I needed the recognition and I needed somehow the position (more for myself than for others). But above all I needed to NOT let myself know THAT IT WAS OVER. That I had had an amazing opening and enlightening experience. One that lasted for years even and that bit-by-bit it had slipped away.

Slowly I have come to understand that corruption lives in all of us and that it is not entirely possible to not be corrupt. After all we do most everything we do for ourselves. By keeping the meetings going I could still tell myself that it was not over. I could continue to dream a bit more and tell myself that it would pick up again. Or worse I would blame it on the low quality motivation of the seekers that it was not happening anymore.

But life is generous when the intention is honest. I prayed daily for truth and sincere prayers are always heard. I moved to the west, to the country I was born in, and found it extremely difficult to adjust to that culture after 16 years in India. There came a time where there was no more money. Friends and family needed to keep us afloat. Now I truly crashed. The entire shadow side of the personality appeared. The ego had grown stronger (it keeps growing side by side with our realizations, the more powerful we become the more powerful the ego also becomes). The super ego came back with a vengeance. The self-torture and self-blame returned with the force of a tornado. The Shadow was here, presenting itself loud and clear. I thought that I had met my shadow a long time ago but never to this depth. Shadow exists in relation to light, the more light, the bigger the shadow I found out.

All of a sudden I was identified again with almost each and every single thought. I was emotional from morning till night, apart from the hours that I meditated. And meditate I did, and pray, and move my body to ward off the depression till it could not be warded off anymore. I was in hell and realized that the healing had to happen right here in hell. The money was finished, I started to take a cleaning job and was ready to take any job still dreaming to some extend that after this all was over a new miracle would happen and I would be magically lifted out of here again. And life would be forever good.

But truth does not live in the presence of hope. Giving up our hopes is one of the many prices we have to pay for the priceless pearl. The ego screamed and screamed. It simply did not want to part with the glorious times. My entire life with all its undigested and denied pains came for another round. Thoughts of suicide were my companions. Without the support of my partner and some dear friends, family and a good healer, it would all have been a lot more difficult. The love that I received was so supportive and healing.

Nevertheless I was really lost and only partly grasped what was going on. I needed help. One thing was clear, that there was no way out but only a way through, my only interest became to stay present in the pain and whatever emotion presented itself. I felt lower than I had ever been, and it started to glimpse that: to go down is to go up. I was grateful that Aziz came to the west for another silent retreat! However, at the end of that one-week he announced that he was going to live in seclusion and would no longer be available as a guide and teacher!

Once again on my own and not fully realizing what was happening I prayed for help. My great luck was that a book fell into my lap called “Halfway Up the Mountain” by Mariana Caplan. It brought all the missing pieces in the understanding. This book was about me. It was my story in detail. Here I read about each and every pitfall I had fallen into. It gave me a positive context and sufficient information about the process I was going through. Reading that book was like being in retreat. It reminded me again and again that there was a healing power in this crisis. My dignity was restored again when I started to understand that this is a mechanical response in the mind and not a personal failure or trip. My suffering became more dignified. I learned that disillusionment is not only necessary on the path but a true gift of the Grace of God. It is like you are being weaned off the breast of God and allowed to walk. Of course you fall left and right like any toddler does but eventually you will find balance and walk.

The fall from paradise seems in truth an integral part of the enlightenment process. In fact some teachers say that you have to earn it to deserve it. When we realize that the path we are on is not at all what we thought it would be, and that reality is something completely different than all our illusions about it, we are shocked. This is not an easy transition to make. It is extremely painful and it feels like being skinned alive. And yet this pain magically opens us deeper to what and who we are. Enlightenment comes to life when we embrace our endarkenment in the very same way. We realize deeply that our human reality will always be here, that pain will always be here, that suffering is an integral part of human life. Either we suffer unconsciously or we do it consciously. We realize that the freedom we thought we had found in the bliss and joy of the Enlightenment high is not the real freedom at all. It is much deeper. It is truly accepting what IS.

By the time I had finished reading the book the let go was complete. I closed down all teaching activities, cancelled my ticket to India and am ready for a new chapter in this adventure called life. This time it can happen right here where I am. And I truly do not know anything about where this is going.

No hope and no plan.
Om shanti.
Rani

Presently Rani is back as a spiritual guide / facilitator.
info@rani-willems.org

Here is her website.

As seen on Sannyas News

Be Aware You Are – Osho

“Oh lotus-eyed one, sweet of touch, when singing, seeing, tasting, be aware you are and discover the ever-living.”

We are living, but we are not aware that we are or that we are living. There is no self-remembering. You are eating or you are taking a bath or you are taking a walk: you are not aware that you are while walking. Everything is, only you are not. The trees, the houses, the traffic, everything is. You are aware of everything around you, but you are not aware of your own being – that you are. You may be aware of the whole world, but if you are not aware of yourself that awareness is false. Why? Because your mind can reflect everything, but your mind cannot reflect you. If you are aware of yourself, then you have transcended the mind.

Your self-remembering cannot be reflected in your mind because you are behind the mind. It can reflect only things which are in front of it. You can just see others, but you cannot see yourself. Your eyes can see everyone, but your eyes cannot see themselves. If you want to see yourself you will need a mirror. Only in the mirror can you see yourself, but then you will have to stand in front of the mirror. If your mind is a mirror, it can reflect the whole world. It cannot reflect you because you cannot stand before it. You are always behind, hidden behind the mirror.

This technique says while doing anything – singing, seeing, tasting – be aware that you are and discover the ever-living, and discover within yourself the current, the energy, the life, the ever-living. But we are not aware of ourselves.

Gurdjieff used self-remembering as a basic technique in the West. The self-remembering is derived from this sutra. The whole Gurdjieffian system is based on this one sutra. Remember yourself, whatsoever you are doing. It is very difficult. It looks very easy, but you will go on forgetting. Even for three or four seconds you cannot remember yourself. You will have a feeling that you are remembering, and suddenly you will have moved to some other thought. Even with this thought that “Okay, I am remembering myself,” you will have missed, because this thought is not self-remembering. In self-remembering there will be no thought; you will be completely empty. And self-remembering is not a mental process. It is not that you say, “Yes, I am.” Saying “Yes, I am,” you have missed. This is a mind thing, this is a mental process: “I am.”

Feel “I am,” not the words “I am.” Don’t verbalize, just feel that you are. Don’t think, feel! Try it. It is difficult, but if you go on insisting it happens. While walking, remember you are, and have the feeling of your being, not of any thought, not of any idea. Just feel. I touch your hand or I put my hand on your head: don’t verbalize. Just feel the touch, and in that feeling feel not only the touch, but feel also the touched one. Then your consciousness becomes double-arrowed.

You are walking under trees: the trees are there, the breeze is there, the sun is rising. This is the world all around you; you are aware of it. Stand for a moment and suddenly remember that you are, but don’t verbalize. Just feel that you are. This nonverbal feeling, even if for only a single moment, will give you a glimpse – a glimpse which no LSD can give you, a glimpse which is of the real. For a single moment you are thrown back to the center of your being. You are behind the mirror; you have transcended the world of reflections; you are existential. And you can do it at any time. It doesn’t need any special place or any special time. And you cannot say, “I have no time.” When eating you can do it, when taking a bath you can do it, when moving or sitting you can do it – anytime. No matter what you are doing, you can suddenly remember yourself, and then try to continue that glimpse of your being.

It will be difficult. One moment you will feel it is there, the next moment you will have moved away. Some thought will have entered, some reflection will have come to you, and you will have become involved in the reflection. But don’t be sad and don’t be disappointed. This is so because for lives together we have been concerned with the reflections. This has become a robot-like mechanism. Instantly, automatically, we are thrown to the reflection. But if even for a single moment you have the glimpse, it is enough for the beginning. And why is it enough? Because you will never get two moments together. Only one moment is with you always. And if you can have the glimpse for a single moment, you can remain in it. Only effort is needed – a continuous effort is needed.

A single moment is given to you. You cannot have two moments together, so don’t worry about two moments. You will always get only one moment. And if you can be aware in one moment, you can be aware for your whole life. Now only effort is needed, and this can be done the whole day. Whenever you remember, remember yourself.

“Oh lotus-eyed one, sweet of touch, when singing, seeing, tasting, be aware you are and discover the ever-living:”

When the sutra says “Be aware you are”, what will you do? Will you remember that, “My name is Ram” or “Jesus” or something else? Will you remember that you belong to such and such a family, to such and such a religion and tradition? To such and such a country and caste and creed? Will you remember that you are a communist or a Hindu or a Christian? What will you remember?

The sutra says be aware you are; it simply says “You are”. No name is needed, no country is needed. Let there be simple existence: you are! So don’t say to yourself who you are. Don’t answer that, “I am this and that.” Let there be simple existence, that you are.

But it becomes difficult because we never remember simple existence. We always remember something which is just a label, not existence itself. Whenever you think about yourself, you think about your name, religion, country, many things, but never the simple existence that you are.

You can practice this: relaxing in a chair or just sitting under a tree, forget everything and feel this “you-areness.” No Christian, no Hindu, no Buddhist, no Indian, no Englishman, no German – simply, you are. Have the feeling of it, and then it will be easy for you to remember what this sutra says: “Be aware you are and discover the ever-living.” And the moment you are aware that you are, you are thrown into the current of the ever-living. The false is going to die; only the real will remain.

That is why we are so much afraid of death: because the unreal is going to die. The unreal cannot be forever, and we are attached to the unreal, identified with the unreal. You as a Hindu will have to die; you as Ram or Krishna will have to die; you as a communist, as an atheist, as a theist, will have to die; you as a name and form will have to die. And if you are attached to name and form, obviously the fear of death will come to you, but the real, the existential, the basic in you, is deathless. Once the forms and names are forgotten, once you have a look within to the nameless and the formless, you have moved into the eternal.

Be aware you are and discover the ever-living”: This technique is one of the most helpful, and it has been used for millennia by many teachers, masters. Buddha used it, Mahavira used it, Jesus used it, and in modern times Gurdjieff used it. Among all the techniques, this is one of the most potential. Try it. It will take time; months will pass.

When Ouspensky was learning with Gurdjieff, for three months he had to make much effort, arduous effort, in order to have a glimpse of what self-remembering is. So continuously, for three months, Ouspensky lived in a secluded house just doing only one thing – self-remembering. Thirty persons started that experiment, and by the end of the first week twenty-seven had escaped; only three remained. The whole day they were trying to remember – not doing anything else, just remembering that “I am.” Twenty-seven felt they were going crazy. They felt that now madness was just near, so they escaped. They never turned back; they never met Gurdjieff again.

Why? As we are, really, we are mad. Not remembering who we are, what we are, we are mad, but this madness is taken as sanity. Once you try to go back, once you try to contact the real, it will look like craziness, it will look like madness. Compared to what we are, it is just the reverse, the opposite. If you feel that this is sanity, that will look like madness.

But three persisted. One of the three was P. D. Ouspensky. For three months they persisted. Only after the first month did they start having glimpses of simply being – of “I am.” After the second month, even the “I” dropped, and they started having the glimpses of “am-ness” – of just being, not even of “I”, because “I” is also a label. The pure being is not “I” and “thou”; it just is.

And by the third month even the feeling of “am-ness” dissolved because that feeling of am-ness is still a word. Even that word dissolves. Then you are, and then you know what you are. Before that point comes you cannot ask, “Who am I?” Or you can go on asking continuously, “Who am I?” just continuously inquiring, “Who am I? Who am I?”, and all the answers that will be provided by the mind will be found false, irrelevant. You go on asking, “Who am I? Who am I? Who am I?” and a point comes where you can no more ask the question. All the answers fall down, and then the question itself falls down and disappears. And when even the question, “Who am I?” disappears, you know who you are.

Gurdjieff tried from one corner: just try to remember you are. Raman Maharshi tried from another corner. He made it a meditation to ask, to inquire, “Who am I?” And don’t believe in any answers that the mind can supply. The mind will say, “What nonsense are you asking? You are this, you are that, you are a man, you are a woman, you are educated or uneducated, rich or poor.” The mind will supply answers, but go on asking. Don’t accept any answer because all the answers given by the mind are false. They are from the unreal part of you. They are coming from words, they are coming from scriptures, they are coming from conditioning, they are coming from society, they are coming from others. Go on asking. Let this arrow of “Who am I?” penetrate deeper and deeper. A moment will come when no answer will come.

That is the right moment. Now you are nearing the answer. When no answer comes, you are near the answer because mind is becoming silent – or you have gone far away from the mind. When there will be no answer and a vacuum will be created all around you, your questioning will look absurd. Whom are you questioning? There is no one to answer you. Suddenly, even your questioning will stop. With the questioning, the last part of the mind has dissolved because this question was also of the mind. Those answers were of the mind and this question was also of the mind. Both have dissolved, so now you are.

Try this. There is every possibility, if you persist, that this technique can give you a glimpse of the real – and the real is ever-living.

-Osho

From The Book of Secrets, Discourse #35

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All 112 of Shiva’s meditation techniques (Vigyan Bhairava Tantra)

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