A Complete Guide to the Practice o Meditation

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How can we bring awareness into parental relationships?

mother-and-daughter-meditating-in-lotus-position-in-rainforest-in-picture-id925756552 How can we bring awareness into parental relationships?

Normal waking consciousness, dream states, emotional states, and other states of awareness are different realities, somewhat like channels of the TV receiver.

As you walk down the street you can tune your "receiver" into the world on any number of channels. Each way of tuning creates a very different street, but the street doesn't change; you do. You see what you look for. If you are primarily preoccupied or tuned to the physical body, as you look at people you see them as man or woman, fat or thin, tall or short, attractive or unattractive. When you are busy looking at personalities you might see them as introverted or extroverted, hysterical or paranoid, happy or sad. If you were tuned to the astral identities you'd see a Leo or a Taurus, an angel or a demon. It's all in the eyes of the beholder. Christ could walk up to you and you might see him as a pleasant carpenter, dressed plainly. You might think: interesting teacher, he has a nice vibe. If you were looking beyond that, you might see Him as Living Spirit.

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Practice...and Beyond

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Remember the old joke about the tourist asking directions? “How do I get to Carnegie Hall?” “Practice, practice, practice.” That answer could also be given to the spiritual question “How do I get to the enlightened state?” Practice—a lifelong commitment to finding peace of mind and God. Your practice becomes your life, and vice versa. And yet it is not until the practice softens and becomes a relaxed inner flowering rather than a rigid outer striving that everything shifts. The virtuoso pianist and the devoted meditator discover the sound and light within them, not on an external stage or altar. Carnegie Hall and enlightenment are not destinations; they are experiences.

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5 Ways You Can Think You Are on a Spiritual Path, But Not Be

innerbonding 5 Ways You Can Think You Are on a Spiritual Path, But Not Be

"...The form our faith takes is less important than the love it imparts....The bedrock of spirituality is to learn about love."
--Judith Orloff, M.D. Second Sight, p. 166-167

The spiritual path is a path of love. There are many people who claim to be devoted to a spiritual path, yet love seems not to be a part of their path. What are they doing that they claim is spiritual if learning about loving themselves and others is not their highest priority?

  1. Some people attempt to use religion and prayer as a form of control - hoping to have control over getting what they want if they pray "right," or believe the "right" thing. Often, they are very judgmental toward others who don't believe as they do, which certainly has nothing to do with love.
     
  2. Some people use prayer and meditation as an addiction - a way to "bliss out" and avoid responsibility for their feelings.
     
  3. Some people believe that being "selfless" and just giving to others is the path of love, but without loving themselves and sharing their love from a full place within, they may have an agenda of getting others' love or approval - or getting God's love - attached to their selflessness.
     
  4. Some people get fascinated with things like learning to leave their bodies, or the power of crystals and precious stones, and forget that the important part of the spiritual path is about love.
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What does union feel like in the moment?

kissing-in-the-rain-picture-id638677636 What does union feel like in the moment?

We try so hard to overcome separateness with others in the moment.

More intimacy. More rubbing of bodies, exchanging of ideas. But it’s always as if you are yelling out of your room and I am yelling out of mine. Even trying to get out of the room invests the room with a reality. Who am I? The room that the mind has built.

We spend so much effort to get out of something that didn’t exist until we created it. Something that is gone in a moment. We’ve all had moments when the room disappeared and we freaked out, or explained it away, or ignored it, or let it pass by.

A moment. The moment of orgasm. The moment by the ocean when there is just the wave. The moment of being in love. The moment of crisis when we forget ourselves and do just what is needed.

We each come out again and again. We turn and look and realize we’re out, and panic. We run back in the room, close the door, panting heavily. Now I know where I am. I’m back home. Safe. No matter how squalid the room is, no matter how unmade the bed, no matter how many bugs are crawling around the kitchen, it’s safe.

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See Everything as the Divine Mother

divinemother See Everything as the Divine Mother

At one point Maharaji said, “See everything as the Mother and you will know God.” What was he talking about? seeing your mother in everything?

We, Westerners. Have our share of relationship complexities with our mothers. With interpretations galore courtesy of Dr. Freud. The view of the mother in India is different. The country is called Mother India. A Western devotee once told Maharaji he hated his mother. And nobody understood what he was saying. The concept didn’t make it across the cultural barrier. In India the mother is so deeply respected and revered, there was no way that statement could be understood. There is an Indian saying that there may be bad children. But there are no bad mothers.

The Divine Mother, the Goddess, has many dimensions. In the broadest sense consciousness and energy. Eternal spirit and matter are male and female. Out of the One in the first glimmer of duality comes Purusha. The formless spirit. Prakriti, the cosmic energy that coalesces into form. As God and Goddess. They are Shiva. Who personifies pure absolute consciousness and the seed of procreation, and Shakti. Who manifests infinite forms.

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See With New Eyes

bluebird See With New Eyes

March 20th marked the Spring Equinox and the ushering in of spring in the northern hemisphere! After the quiet introspective season of winter, the earth seems to suddenly come bursting back to life. Everything feels new as the cycle begins again.

I live in a very rural area, so I have very few human neighbors, but I do have a front row seat to nature. Without looking at a calendar I can see the cycles of life right outside my window, and this week my animal neighbors were telling me that spring is here!

I’ve been watching birds calling to each other as they build their nests. I also watched a pair of coy-wolves (a coyote-wolf hybrid) roaming my property, looking for the perfect den. It makes me happy knowing that in just a few short weeks new life will be surrounding me, little eyes will be opening and seeing their world for the first time. Whether they are walking around on wobbly legs or trying their wings out, they are in a complete space of not knowing what their world will be but moving forward with curiosity anyway. It’s a great reminder for us to always look at the world with the curiosity of a child, without all the judgment of our past experiences to cloud up our vision.

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God Is a Blue Heron

blueheron God Is a Blue Heron

Every day I walk two miles on a nature trail near where I live. I have come to call it my “walk with God” because in nature I often feel that deep connection with all I see. One recent afternoon, before leaving on my walk, I stepped out onto the lanai just in time to see a great blue heron standing stationary at the water’s edge right in front of me. Its body was stretched tall, its legs long, its eyes alertly focused on something nearby. Its presence was so striking that to me it felt like an extraordinary being dropped in from some other celestial realm. As it walked majestically by, that impression only intensified. “God is a blue heron,” I thought.

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The Language of Clouds

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“I’ve looked at clouds
from both sides now,
from up and down,
and still somehow,
it’s clouds’ illusions I recall;
I really don’t know clouds at all.”
—Joni Mitchell

When I was a small child, I saw clouds as one-dimensional, as if they were painted on the sky by some artistic giant. It was really only after I flew in an airplane many years later that I perceived the three-dimensionality of clouds. At 20,000 feet, flying above and through them, I could see their depth and dimensions, their constantly changing shapes and sizes. It was a revelation to me, and I became fascinated with them. Even on the ground, I could see that they were not really paper-thin but often thick and expansive…and constantly morphing into new forms.

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How do you reconcile faith and reason?

angel-in-meditation-picture-id117146656 How do you reconcile faith and reason?

We have come out of a period on the evolutionary journey of us as beings, where man evolved these great frontal lobes and this capacity for rational thought and self-consciousness. And this is, in the Hindu system, what would be called a siddhi or a power. That power can be used in a variety of ways. It can be used in the service of what I call the third chakra, that is, in terms of a man’s control over his environment, which is the way we’ve been doing it, which the rational mind controls. It’s man over nature in the anthropological Florence Kluckhohn differentiations. She talks about societies that are man over nature, societies that are man in nature, and societies that are man under nature. Attachment to the siddhi of the rational mind put man in the group of man over nature.

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How does labeling our experience take us out of the moment?

labeling How does labeling our experience take us out of the moment?

St. John of the Cross said, “All that the imagination can imagine and the understanding it can receive and understand in this life is not, nor can it be, a proximate means of union with God.”

What we have touched or tasted or known through some vehicle or another has been a way of turning ourselves on and getting high. I mean, Eleanor Rigby gets her kicks in some way or other. It may be darning a sock, it may be cooking a bouillabaisse, it may be walking by the ocean, it may be turning on with something – pot or acid, it may be making love – a moment of sexual union. It may be pure service, just serving, just totally, “Not mine, but thy will, oh lord,” in everything you do. Prayer gets you high, singing holy songs gets you high. Everybody’s got a trip to get high. Funny what we are getting to at this stage – we start to say, “Well my trip is better than your trip. You mean you didn’t go surfing man? Oh, you’re nowhere baby.”

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What does it really mean to live in our truth?

wolf What does it really mean to live in our truth?

Knowing you’re God and being God are two different things. I mean intellectually, we all know we’re God – most of us understand that. But the direct experience of merging into it is another matter.

What seems to happen as you evolve spiritually is that the impurities or the things that veil you from being in your deepest truth become more unbearable.

I’m not talking about the judging mind coming up and saying, “I’m bad for it” or, “It’s bad for me.” It’s like if you have a lover, but you’re always separated by some veil from that lover – it becomes unbearable after a while. You just keep wanting to rip the veil apart. I’m so aware in myself, for example, how when I don’t clear my mind, when I don’t extricate myself from identification with my thought forms, my whole life gets thick. I can feel the thickness of it and it’s a sort of dense quality. I end up like I used to be, “It’s all fine, and I can get through life, and it’s all going fine, everybody likes me, and I like everybody, and I’m making money, and I’m doing my life, and I’m getting up and going to bed, and doing good,” but somehow it’s not living truth.

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Life's Essential Truth: Impermanence

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“Birth and death in every breath…”
—Deva Premal and Miten

Recently, a dear friend told me that he is moving back to California, which he had left two years before for Florida, where we both live now. (This, only a few months after I moved here myself from Massachusetts.) A week later, I received news that a long-time friend in Boston had died of cancer. Hellos and goodbyes fill my life these days. Friends and family passing to and fro in my experience and my memory like vivid but ephemeral spirits. And I myself am moving with the flow of my own life’s journey, loving and letting go again and again.

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Why is it so important to face our low points on the path?

upsanddowns Why is it so important to face our low points on the path?

We have all been enchanted with getting high and having a free awareness, and so we have tried to repress or deny lows when our awareness once again gets caught in this or that.

We love the illusion of being high but we are afraid of coming down. As your journey proceeds, you realize that you can’t hold on to your highs and deny your lows. Your lows are created by the remaining attachments that blind your awareness. Facing your lows – your anger, loneliness, greed, fears, depressions, and conflicts – is the most productive fire of purification you can find.

As your connection with the spirit deepens, you might even choose to seek out those things that bring your attachments to the surface, so that you might confront them and free your awareness from them.

It’s a tricky business – playing with fire. You must feel your own way, unless you have a guide to say when to go and when to stop. If you don’t have a guide, trust your own judgment. For example, if anger still traps your awareness, you might put yourself in a situation which usually elicit anger and then attempt to maintain clear awareness.

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A Reflection on My Family’s Holiday Tradition

christmastradition A Reflection on My Family’s Holiday Tradition
“Christmas is a holiday that we celebrate not as individuals nor as a nation, but as a human family.” — Ronald Reagan

Every year, just a few days before Christmas, my family and I sit down in our home with a minister friend and focus on the true meaning of the season.

It’s one of those traditions that everyone really seems to look forward to each year. It’s a night of grounding and it’s a moment of calm before the storm.

We begin by listening to a reading from the Bible. Then, we talk about what that parable means to each of us. We also talk to one another about our lives over the past year. Our triumphs. Our struggles. Our hopes and plans for moving forward.

After each person speaks, I usually ask, “Do you feel supported by the people in this room? If not, how can we better support you? How can we do a better job of being there for you, or backing off when you need space and letting you roam?”

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Divine Messages | Inspired Guidance

snowsilence Divine Messages | Inspired Guidance
A plow was loudly pushing the snow from our drive way. I waited in the softly lit hallway with the dogs. I had just finished my morning meditation and was not prepared for the noise of the blade bumping and scraping on the driveway or the loud engine running.

 
As the truck pulled away I let the dogs out. I followed them into the snow. The contrast was amazing. I was surrounded by silence. Snow was gently falling. The lights glowed in the darkness. I felt peace all around me. Watching our dogs, run made me smile. It was a morning like many others; but perhaps the contrast helped me recognize the presence of peace.   

 
One of my favorite traditions comes with the New Year. I love writing goals that lead to celebrating success.
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How can we release attachment to the rational mind?

rationalmind How can we release attachment to the rational mind?

To facilitate the exploration of the mind it is helpful to understand the various levels of reality, to examine the perceptual fields that different beings have, to see what different realities look like.

It is well known that motivation affects our perceptions. We don’t necessarily see things as they are we see them as we are. If a pickpocket meets a Saint, all he sees are his pockets. Thaddeus Golas, in The Lazy Man’s Guide to Enlightenment said, “You never have to change what you see, only the way you see it.”

Gurdjieff, the Russian philosopher, noted, “If you think you’re free and you don’t know you are in prison – you can’t escape.” Gurdjieff sees us as being in prison – a prison of the mind.

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What are the stages of the journey towards the Living Spirit?

spiritualjourney What are the stages of the journey towards the Living Spirit?

Welcome! It’s so graceful to share the journey. We’ve been on the journey a long time together. We’ve gone through a lot of stages.

And just as in any journey, some people have dropped along the way, have had enough for this round. Others have been waiting for us to catch up. The journey passes through the seven valleys, the seven kingdoms, the chakras, the planes of consciousness, the degrees of faith. Often we only know we’ve been in a certain place when we pass beyond it, because when we’re in it, we don’t have the perspective to know, because we’re only being. But as the journey progresses, less and less do you need to know. When the faith is strong enough, it is sufficient just to be.

It’s a journey towards simplicity, towards quietness, towards a kind of joy that is not in time. It’s a journey out of time, leaving behind every model we have had of who we think we are.


It involves a transformation of our beings so that our thinking mind becomes our servant rather than our master. It’s a journey that has taken us from primary identification with our body, through identification with our psyche, on to an identification with our souls, then to an identification with God, and ultimately beyond identification.

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What are the qualities of a true Guru?

sadhu-holy-man-with-dreads-picture-id167313838 What are the qualities of a true Guru?

All beings are involved in an evolutionary journey. In the course of history, and far into pre-recorded history, beings have been getting lost in the illusion, and awakening out of it.

Some beings have finished their work and have awakened out of illusion, the illusion that is involved in birth after birth, not only on the physical plane, but on every other plane as well. When these free beings finally emerge from the illusion through grace, through the help of other beings who have escaped, they are faced with a choice. That choice is whether to merge back into God, or to resist that merging and remain in form on one plane or another; either to take birth again on the physical plane or to make their substance condense on a lower astral plane in order to do ‘work’ for the relief of suffering of other beings.

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How does embodying our own truth facilitate freedom for all?

thoughtful-man-drinking-coffee-by-the-window-picture-id856908578 How does embodying our own truth facilitate freedom for all?

The question is about the balance between inner work (work on yourself) and outer work. I’ll tell you, each person has got to intuitively trust themselves about where they are and what they can handle. If you look at a lot of social activism, you will find many people who are deeply entrapped in righteousness and anger.

And they will guilt trip you continually for not doing more. And if you say, “I’m going to go home and meditate,” they look at you like you’re killing little children. You’ve got to have incredible strength, and you feel like some kind of a viper for saying, “I’m going to take the afternoon off to go swimming.” I was in New York working with the homeless. And I’m so good. I am so good. Seva is good and I’m good. And we do good things. And it’s all wonderful.

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Where Is God in This?

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When things aren’t going well, or the situation seems dire or extremely painful, we can call ourselves back from the cliff edge of despair with the simple inner question: “How is God present in this?” There are no coincidences, and our lives play out with our soul’s wisdom and God’s overview. Everything was chosen for our greater soul evolution before we even came into this lifetime. God is the midwife and helpmate in each situation. Actually, we are God, in the deepest part of our being. Everything that happens is meant to bring us to greater awareness and move us further along on our soul path. If we didn’t experience the poignancy of life, we wouldn’t be able to recognize and relish the joy. They are both part of the miracle of being alive on this Earth in the middle of a whirling mysterious cosmos, which at its heart is God as well.

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30 Simple Ways to Create Balance and Connection

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 PLUS! Get your FREE Guide: 12 Mindfulness Practices to a Peaceful Mind