Monday, August 29, 2011

Meditation 13 -The way of nature

So be as wise as serpents and innocent as doves. (Mt. 10:16)

Observe the wisdom that operates in doves and in flowers and trees and the whole of nature.

It is the same wisdom that does for us what our brain could never do: it circulates our blood, digests our food, pumps our hearts, expands our lungs, immunises our bodies and heals our wounds while our conscious minds are engaged in other matters.

This kind of nature-wisdom we are only now beginning to discover in so-called primitive peoples who, like the dove, are so simple and wise.

We who consider ourselves more advanced have developed another kind of wisdom, the cunningness of the brain, for we have realized that we can improve on Nature and provide ourselves with safety and protection and length of life and speed and comfort unknown to primitive peoples. All of this thanks to a fully developed brain. Our challenge is to recapture the simplicity and wisdom of the dove without losing the cunningness of the serpentine brain.

How can you achieve this? Through an important realization, namely, that every time you strive to improve on Nature by going against it, you will damage yourself for Nature is your very being.

It is as if your right hand were to fight your left hand or your right foot were to stamp on your left foot. Both sides lose and, instead of being creative and alive, you are locked in conflict. This is the state of most people in the world. Take a look at them: dead, uncreative, stuck because they are locked in conflict with nature, attempting to improve themselves by going against what their nature demands.

In a conflict between Nature and your brain, back Nature; if you fight her, she will eventually destroy you.

The secret therefore is to improve on Nature in harmony with Nature. How can you achieve this harmony?

I. First: Think of some change that you wish to bring about in your life or in your personality. Are you attempting to force this change on your nature through effort and through the desire to become something that your ego has planned? That is the serpent fighting the dove.

Or are you content to study, observe, understand, be aware of your present state and problems, without pushing, without forcing things that your ego desires, leaving Reality to affect changes according to Nature's plans, not yours? Then you have the perfect blending of the serpent and the dove.

Take a look at some of those problems of yours, those changes you desire in yourself, and observe your way of going about it. See how you attempt to bring about change both in yourself and in others through the use of punishment and reward, through discipline and control, through sermonizing and guilt, through greed and pride, ambition and vanity, rather than through loving acceptance and patience, painstaking understanding and vigilant awareness.

II. Second: Think of your body and compare it with the body of an animal that is left in its natural habitat. The animal is never overweight, never tense except before fight or flight.

It never eats or drinks what is not good for it. It has all the rest and exercise that it needs. It has the right amount of exposure to the elements, to wind and sun and rain and heat and cold.

That is because the animal listens to its body and allows itself to be guided by the body's wisdom. Compare that with your own foolish cunningness. If your body could speak, what would it say to you?

Observe the greed, the ambition, the vanity, the desire to show off and to please others, the guilt that drives you to ignore the voice of your body while you chase after objectives set by your ego. You have indeed lost the simplicity of the dove.

III. Third: Ask yourself how much you are in touch with Nature, with trees and earth and grass and sky and wind and rain and sun and flowers and birds and animals. How much are you exposed to Nature? How much do you commune with her, observe her, contemplate her in wonder, identify with her?

When your body is too long withdrawn from the elements, it withers, it becomes flabby and fragile because it has been isolated from its life force.

When you are too long separated from Nature, your spirit withers and dies because it has been wrenched from its roots.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Meditation 12 - The qualities of holiness

When you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hands is doing. (Mt. 6:3)

It is with charity as with happiness and holiness. It is not possible for you to say that you are happy because the moment you become conscious of your happiness you cease to be happy.

What you call the experience of happiness is not happiness at all but the excitement and thrill caused by some person or thing or event.

True happiness is uncaused. You are happy for no reason at all.

And true happiness cannot be experienced. It is not within the realm of consciousness. So it is with holiness.

I. Holiness is unself-consciousness.

The moment you are aware of your holiness it goes sour and becomes self-righteousness.

A good deed is never so good as when you have no consciousness that it is good - you are so much in love with the action that you are quite unselfconscious about your goodness and virtue. Your left hand has no idea that your right hand is doing something good or meritorious. You simply do it because it seems the natural, spontaneous thing to do.

Spend some time in becoming aware of the fact that all the virtue that you can see in yourself is no virtue at all but something that you have cunningly cultivated and produced and forced on yourself. If it were real virtue you would have enjoyed it thoroughly and would feel so natural that it wouldn't occur to you to think of it as a virtue. So the first quality of holiness is its unself-consciousness.

II. The second quality is its effortlessness.

Effort can change behavior, it cannot change you.

Think of this: Effort can put food into your mouth, it cannot produce an appetite; it can keep you in bed, it cannot produce sleep; it an make you reveal a secret to another but it cannot produce trust; it can force you to pay a compliment, it cannot produce genuine admiration.

Understand your pride and it will drop - what results will be humility. Understand your unhappiness, and it will disappear - what results is the state of happiness. Understand your fears and they will melt - the resultant state is love. Understand your attachments and they will vanish - the consequence is freedom.

Love and freedom and happiness are not things that you can cultivate and produce. You cannot even know what they are. All you can do is observe their opposites and, through your observation, cause these opposites to die.

III. There is a third quality of holiness: It cannot be desired. If you desire happiness you will be anxious lest you do not attain it.

You will be constantly in a state of dissatisfaction; and dissatisfaction and anxiety kill the very happiness that they set out to gain.

When you desire holiness for yourself you feed the very greed and ambition that make you so selfish and vain and unholy.

Here is something you must understand: There are two sources for change within you.

1. One is the cunningness of your ego that pushes you into making efforts to become something other than you are meant to be so that it can give itself a boost, so that it can glorify itself.

2. The other is the wisdom of Nature. Thanks to this wisdom you become aware, you understand it. That is all you do, leaving the change - type, the manner, the speed, the time of change to Reality and to Nature.

Your ego is a great technician. It cannot be creative. It goes in for methods and techniques and produces so-called holy people who are rigid, consistent, mechanical, lifeless, as intolerant of others as they are of themselves, violent people - the very opposite of holiness and love. The type of "spiritual" people who, conscious of their spirituality, then proceed to crucify the Messiah.

Nature is not a technician. Nature is creative. You will be a creator, not a wily technician when there is abandonment in you - no greed, no ambition, not anxiety, no sense of striving, gaining, arriving, attaining. All there is, is a keen, alert, penetrating, vigilant awareness that causes the dissolution of all one's foolishness and selfishness, all one's attachments and fears.

The changes that follow are not the result of your blueprints and efforts but the product of Nature that spurns your plans and will, thereby leaving no room for a sense of merit or achievement, or even any consciousness on the part of your left hand of what Reality is doing by means of your right.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Meditation 11 - Layers on the brain

When his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple, he answered them 'You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another, that will not be thrown down.' (Mt. 24:1-2)

Think of a flabby person covered with layers of fat. That is what your mind can become - flabby, covered with layers of fat till it becomes too dull and lazy to think, to observe, to explore, to discover. It loses its alertness, its aliveness, its flexibility and goes to sleep.

Look around you and you will see almost everyone with minds like that: dull, asleep, protected by layers of fat, not wanting to be disturbed or questioned into wakefulness.

What are these layers?

Every belief that you hold, every conclusion you have reached about persons and things, every habit and every attachment.

In your formative years you should have been helped to scrape off these layers and liberate your mind. Instead your society, your culture, which put these layers on your mind in the first place, has educated you not even notice them, to go to sleep and let other people - experts: your politicians, your cultural and religious leaders do your thinking for you.

So you are weighed down with the load of unexamined, unquestioned authority and tradition.

Let us examine these layers one at a time.

I. First: your beliefs.

You experience life as a communist or a capitalist, as a Muslim or a Jew, you are experiencing life in a prejudiced, slanted way; there is a barrier, a layer of fat between Reality and you because you no longer see and touch it directly.

If you experience life as a communist or a capitalist, as a Muslim or a Jew, you are experiencing life in a prejudiced, slanted way.

II. Second layer: Your ideas.

If you hold on to an idea about someone, then you no longer love that person but your idea of that person.

You see him/her do or say something or behave in a certain kind of way, and you slap a label on: "She is silly or he is dull or he is cruel or she is very sweet." etc.

So now you have a screen, a layer of fat between you and this person because when you next meet him/her you will experience them in terms of that ideal of yours even though they have changed.

Observe how you have done this with almost everyone you know.

III. Third layer: Your habits.

A habit is essential to human living. How would we ever walk or speak or drive a car unless we relied on habit? But habits must be limited to things mechanical - not to love or to sight. Who wants to be loved from habit?

Have you ever sat on a seashore spellbound by the majesty and the mystery of the ocean? A fisherman looks at the ocean daily and does not notice its grandeur. Why? The dulling effect of a layer of fat called habit.

You have formed fixed ideas of all the things you see and, when encountering them, it is not them you see in all their changing freshness, but the same dull, thick, boring idea acquired through habit. And that is how you deal with people and with things, how you relate to them: no freshness, no newness, but the same, dull, routine (boring) ways produced by habit.

You are incapable of looking in other, more creative ways, for, having developed a habit for dealing with the world and with people, you can put your mind on automatic pilot and go to sleep.

IV. Fourth layer: Your attachments and your fears.

This layer is the easiest to see. Put a thick coating of attachment, of fear (and therefore dislike) on to anything or anyone - in that very instant you cease to see that person or thing as it really is.

Just recall some of the persons you dislike or fear or are attached to and you will see how true this is.

Do you see now how you are in a prison created by the beliefs and traditions of your society and culture and by the ideas, prejudices, attachments and fears of your past experiences?

Wall upon wall surrounds your prison cell so that it seems almost impossible that you will ever break out and make contact with the richness of life and love and freedom that lies beyond your prison fortress. And yet the task, far from being impossible, is actually easy and delightful.

What can you do to break out? Four things:

I. First, realize that you are surrounded by prison walls, that your mind has gone to sleep. It does not even occur to most people to see this, so they live and die as prison inmates.

Most people end up being conformists; they adapt to prison life. A few become reformers; they fight for better living conditions in the prison, better lighting, better ventilation. Hardly anyone becomes a rebel, a revolutionary who breaks down the prison walls.

You can only be a revolutionary when you see the prison walls in the first place.

II. Second, contemplate the walls, spend hours just observing your ideas, your habits, your attachments and your fears without any judgement and condemnation. Look at them and they will crumble.

III. Third, spend some time observing the things and people around you. Look, but really look, as if for the very first time, at the face of a friend, a leaf, a tree, a bird in flight, the behavior and mannerism of the people around you.

Really see them and hopefully you will see them afresh as they are in themselves without the dulling, stupefying effect of your ideas and habits.

IV. The fourth and most important step: sit down quietly and observe how your mind functions. There is a steady flow of thoughts and feelings and reactions there. Watch the whole of it for long stretches of time the way you watch a river or a movie. You will soon find it so much more absorbing than any river or movie. And so much more life-giving and liberating.

After all can you even be said to be alive if you are not even conscious of your own thoughts and reactions?

The unaware life, it is said, is not worth living. It cannot even be called life; it is a mechanical, robot existence; a sleep, an unconsciousness, a death; and yet this is what people call human life!

So watch, observe, question, explore and your mind will come alive and shed its fat and become keen and alert and active. Your prison walls will come tumbling down till not one stone of the Temple will be left upon another, and you will be blessed with the unimpeded vision of things as they are, the direct experience of Reality.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Meditation 10 - Life is a symphony

Teacher, what good deed must I do, to have eternal life? (Mt.19.16)

Think of yourself in a concert hall listening to the strains of the sweetest music when you suddenly remember that you forgot to lock your car. You are anxious about the car, you cannot walk out of the hall and you cannot enjoy the music. There you have a perfect image of life as it is lived by most human beings.

Life to those who have the ears to hear is a symphony; but very, very rare indeed is the human being who hears the music. Why? Because they are busy listening to the noises that their conditioning and their programming have put into their heads. That and something else - their attachments. An attachment is a major killer of life.

To really hear the symphony you must be sensitively attuned to every instrument in the orchestra. When you take pleasure only in the drum, you cease to hear the symphony because the sound of the drum has blotted out the other instruments. You may have your preferences for drum or violin, or piano; no harm in these, for a preference does not damage your capacity to hear and enjoy the other instruments. But the moment your preference turns into an attachment, it suddenly undervalue them. And it blinds you to its particular instrument, for you give it a value out of all proportion to its merit.

Now look at a person or a thing you have an attachment for; someone or something to whom you have handed over the power to make you happy or unhappy. Observe how, because of your concentration on getting this person or thing and holding onto it and enjoying it exclusively to the exclusion of other things and persons, you have less sensitivity to the rest of the world.

Observe how, because of your obsession with this person or thing, you have become hardened.

Have the courage to see how prejudiced and blind you have become in the presence of this object of your attachment.

When you see this you will feel a yearning to rid yourself of every attachment. The problem is, how?

Renunciation and avoidance is no help, for to blot out the sound of the drum once again makes you as hard and insensitive as to concentrate solely on the drum.

What you need is not renunciation but understanding, awareness.

A. If your attachments have caused you suffering and sorrow, that's a help to understanding.

B. If you have at least once in your life had the sweet taste of freedom and the delight in life that unattachment brings, that too is a help.

C. It also helps to consciously notice the sound of the other instruments in the orchestra.

D. But there is no substitute for the awareness that shows you the loss you suffer when you overvalue the drum and when you turn a deaf ear to the rest of the orchestra.

The day that happens and your attachment to the drum drops, you will no longer say to your friend, "How happy you have made me." For in so saying you flatter his ego and manipulate him into wanting to please you again. And you give yourself the illusion that your happiness depends on your friend.

"Rather you will say, "When you and I met, happiness arose."

That leaves the happiness not contaminated by his ego and yours. Neither of you can take the credit for it. And that makes it possible for the two of you to part with no attachment to each other, or to the experience which your meeting generated, for you have enjoyed, not each other, but the symphony that arose in your meeting.

And when you move on to the next situation, or person, or work, you do so without any emotional carry over. And then you make the joyful discovery that the symphony arises there too, playing a different melody in the next situation, and the next, and the next.

Now you will move through life living from one moment to the other, wholly absorbed in the present, carrying with you so little from the past that your spirit could pass through the eye of a needle; as little distracted by the worries of the future as the birds of the air and the flowers of the field. You will be attached to no person or thing, for you will have developed a taste for the symphony of life. And you will love life alone with the passionate attachment of your whole heart and your whole soul and your whole mind and all your strength. You will find yourself travelling unencumbered and free as a bird in the sky, always living in the Eternal Now. And you will have found in your heart the answer to the question, "Master, what is it that I must do to get eternal life?"

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Meditation 9 - Dropping attachments

Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. (Mt. 4:17)

Imagine you have a radio that no matter how you turn the knob picks up only one station. You have no control over the volume. At times the sound is barely audible, at others, it is so loud that it almost shatters your eardrums. Moreover it is impossible to turn it off: at times it will be slow; it will suddenly begin to blare away when you want to rest and sleep.

Who would put up with this kind of performance in a radio? And yet when your heart behaves in this kind of crazy fashion you not only put up with it but even call it normal and human.

Think of the numerous times you were tossed about by your emotions, that you have suffered the pangs of anger, depression, anxiety, when in every instance it was because your heart became set on getting something that you did not have, or on holding on to something that you had, or on avoiding something that you did not want.

You were in love and you felt rejected or jealous; suddenly all your mind and heart became focused on this one thing, and the banquet of life turned to ashes in your mouth. You were bent on winning an election and in the din or battle it was impossible to hear the songs of birds; your ambition drowned out every other sound. You were faced with the possibility of a serious illness, or the loss of a loved one and you found it impossible to concentrate on anything.

To put it briefly, the moment you pick up an attachment, the functioning of this lovely apparatus called the human heart is destroyed.

If you want to repair your radio, you must study radio mechanics.

If you want to reform your heart, you must give serious, prolonged thought to four liberating truths. But first choose some attachment that troubles you, something that you are clinging to, or something that you dread, or something you are craving for, and keep this attachment in mind as you listen to these truths.

I. The first truth: You must choose between your attachment and happiness. You cannot have both. The moment you pick up an attachment, your heart is thrown own of kilter and your ability to lead a joyful carefree serene life is destroyed.

See how true this is when applied to the attachment that you have chosen.

II. The second truth: Where did your attachment come from? You were not born with it. It sprang from a lie that your society and your culture have told you, or a lie that you have told yourself, namely, that without this or the other, without this person or the other, you can't be happy.

Just open your eyes and see how false this is. There are hundreds of persons who are perfectly happy without this thing or person or situation that you crave for and that you have convinced yourself you cannot live without. So make your choice: Do you want your attachment, or your freedom and happiness.

III. The third truth: If you wish to be fully alive you must develop a sense of perspective. Life is infinitely greater than this trifle your heart is attached to and which you have given the power to so upset you.

Trifle? Yes, because if you live long enough, a day will easily come with it will cease to matter. It will not even be remembered - your own experience will confirm this. Just as today you barely remember, are no longer the least bit affected by those tremendous trifles that so disturbed you in the past.

IV. And so the fourth truth brings you to the unavoidable conclusion, that no thing or person outside of you has the power to make you happy or unhappy. Whether you are aware of it or not it is you and only you, who decides to be happy or unhappy, whether you will cling to your attachment or not in any given situation.

As you ponder these truths, you may become aware that your heart is resisting them or argues against them and refuses to look at them. that is a sign that you have not yet suffered enough at the hand of your attachments to really want to do something about your spiritual radio. Or your heart may place no resistance to these truths; if that is so, rejoice. Repentance, the refashioning of the heart has begun and the kingdom or God - the gratefully carefree life of children - has come within your grasp at last and you are about to reach out and take possession of it.

Meditation 8 - Attachments drain us of life

For judgement I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind. (Jn. 9:39)

It is said that love is blind. But is it? Actually nothing on earth is as clear sighted as love. The thing that is blind is not love but attachment. An attachment is a state of clinging that comes from the false belief that something or someone is necessary for your happiness.

Do you have any attachment - people or things that you falsely believe you could not be happy without? Make a list of them right now before we go on to study how exactly they blind you.

Think of a politician who has convinced himself he will not be happy unless he gets political power. His quest for power coarsens his sensitivity to the rest of life. He barely has time for his family and friends. Suddenly all human beings are perceived and reacted to in terms of the support or threat that they are to his ambition. And those who can neither threaten nor support he does not even notice. If in addition to his craving for power he has an attachment to other things like sex or money, the poor man has become so selective in his perceptions that he cold almost be said to be blind.

Everyone sees this except the man himself. This is the condition that leads to the rejection of the Messiah, the rejection of truth and beauty and goodness, because one has come to be blind to perceive them.

Now think of yourself listening to an orchestra in which the sound of the drum is so loud that nothing else can be heard. To enjoy the symphony you must be responsive to every instrument in the orchestra.

To be in the state called love you must be sensitive to the uniqueness and beauty of every single thing and person around you.

You can hardly be said to love what you not even notice: and if you notice only a few beings to the exclusion of others, that is not love at all.

For love excludes no one at all; it embraces the whole of life; it listens to the symphony as a whole, not to just one or the other of the musical instruments.

Stop for a while now to see how your attachments drain life's symphony no less than the politician's attachment to power and the businessman's attachment to money have hardened them to the melody of life.

Or look at the matter in another way:

There is an enormous amount of information that is continuously flowing in from the world through the senses, the tissues of the organs of your body.

Only a small part of this information reaches your conscious mind. It is like the infinite amount of feedback that is sent to the President of a nation: only a tiny fraction finally makes its way to him. Somebody does the screening and the processing at the President's office.

Who decides what will finally make its way to your conscious mind from all the material that is pouring in from the world? Three decisive filters: First your attachments, second your beliefs and third your fears.

I. Your attachments: You will inevitably look for what fosters or threatens them and turn a blind eye to the rest.

You won't be interested in the rest any more than the avaricious businessman is interested in anything that does not involve the making of money.

II. Your beliefs: Just take a look at a fantastic who only notices what confirms his/her belief and blocks out whatever threatens it and you will understand what your beliefs are doing to you.

III. And then your fears:

If you knew you were to be executed in a week's time it would wonderfully concentrate your mind to the exclusion of everything else. That is what fears do.

They irresistibly rivet your attention on to some things to the exclusion of others.

IV. You falsely think:

A. that your fears protect you,
B. that your beliefs have made you what you are and
C. that your attachments make your life exciting and secure.

You fail to see that they are actually a screen between you and life's symphony.

It is quite impossible, of course, to be fully conscious of every note in life's symphony.

But if your spirit becomes unclogged and your senses open, you will begin to perceive things are they really are and to interact with reality and you will be entranced by the harmonies of the universe. Then you will understand what God is, for you will at last know what love is.

Look at it this way: You see persons and things not as they are but as you are.

If you wish to see them as they are you must attend to your attachments and the fears that your attachments generate. Because when you look at life it is these attachments and fears that will decide what you will notie and what you block out. Whatever you notice then commands your attention. And since your looking has been selective you have an illusory version of the things and people around you.

The more you live with this distorted version the more you become convinced that it is the only true picture of the world because your attachments and fears continue to process incoming data in a way that will reinforce your picture.

This is what gives origin to your beliefs: fixed, unchanging ways of looking at a reality which is not fixed and unchanging at all but in movement and change. So it is not longer the real world that you interact with and love but a world created by your head. It is only when you drop your beliefs, your fears and the attachments that breed them that you will be freed from the insensitivity that makes you so deaf and blind to yourself and to the world.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Meditation 7 - The value of negative feelings

The householder in anger said to his servant, "Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and maimed and blind and lame." (Lk.14:21)

Think of someone you dislike - someone you generally avoid because his/her presence generates negative feelings in you. Imagine yourself in this person's presence now and watch the negative emotions arise -

You are, quite conceivably, in the presence of someone who is poor, cripple, blind or lame.

Now understand that if you invite this person, this beggar from the streets and alleys into your home, that is, into your presence, he/she will make you a gift that none of your charming, pleasant friends can make you, rich as they are.

He or she is going to reveal yourself to you and reveal human nature to you - a revelation as precious as any found in Scripture.

For what will it profit you to know all the Scriptures if you do not know yourself and so live the life of a robot?

The revelation that this beggar is going to bring will widen your heart till there is room in it for every living creature.

Can there be a finer gift than that?

Now take a look at yourself reacting negatively and ask yourself the following question:

I. "Am I in charge of this situation or is this situation in charge of me?"

That is the first revelation. With it comes the second.

II. The way to be in charge of this situation is to be in charge of yourself, which you are not.

How does one achieve this mastery?

A. All you have to do is understand that there are people in he world who, if they were in your place, would not be negatively affected by this person.

B. They would be in charge of the situation, above it, not subject to it as you are.

III. Therefore, your negative feelings are caused, not by this person, as you mistakenly think, but by your programming. Here is the third and major revelation.

See what happens when you really understand this.

Having received these revelations about yourself, listen to this revelation concerning human nature.

This behavior, this train in the other person that causes you to react negatively - do you realize that he or she is not responsible for it?

You can hold on to your negative feelings only when you mistakenly believe that he or she is free and aware and therefore responsible.

But who ever did evil in awareness? The ability to do evil or to be evil is not freedom but a sickness for it implies a lack of consciousness and sensitivity. Those who are truly free cannot sin as God cannot sin.

This poor person here in front of you is crippled, blind, lame not stubborn and malicious as you so foolishly thought.

Understand this truth; look at it steadfastly and deeply; and you will see your negative emotions turn into gentleness and compassion.

Suddenly you have room in your heart for someone who was consigned to the streets and alleys by others and by you.

Now you will realize that this beggar came to your home with an alms for you - the widening of your heart in compassion and the release of your spirit in freedom.

Where before you used to be controlled (these persons had the power to create negative emotions in you and you go out of your way to avoid them( now you have the gift of freedom to avoid no one, to go anywhere.

When you see this you will notice how to the feeling of compassion in your heart has been added the feeling of gratitude to this beggar who is your benefactor. And another new, unaccustomed feeling:

You actually feel a desire to seek out the company of these growth-producing crippled, blind and lame people, the way someone who has learnt to swim seeks water, because each time you are with them, where before you used to feel the oppression and tyranny of negative feelings, you can now actually feel an ever-expanding compassion and the freedom of the skies. And you can barely recognize yourself as you see yourself going out into the streets and alleys of the town, in obedience to the Master's injunction, to bring in the poor, the crippled the blind and lame.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Meditation 6 - Clinging is dying

Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head. (Mt.8:20)

Here is a mistake that most people make in their relationships with others. They try to build a steady nesting place in the ever moving stream of life.

Think of someone whose love you desire. Do you want to be important to this person, to be special and make a difference to his/her life?

Do you want this person to care for you and be concerned about you in a special way? If you do, open your eyes and see that you are foolishly inviting others to reserve you for themselves, to restrict your freedom for their benefit, to control your behavior, your growth and development so that it will suit their interest.

It is as if the other person said to you, "If you want to be special to me then you must meet my conditions. Because the moment you cease to live up to my expectations, you will ceases to be special." You wanted to be special to someone, didn't you? So you must pay a price in lost freedom. You must dance to the other person's tune just as you demand that other persons dance to yours if they want to be special to you.

Pause now to ask yourself if it is worth paying so much for so little.

Imagine you say to this person whose special love you want. "Leave me free to be myself, to think my thoughts, to indulge my taste, to follow my inclination, to behave in ways that I decide are to my liking."

The moment you say those words you will understand that you are asking for the impossible. To ask to be special to someone means essentially to be bound to the task of making yourself pleasing to this person. And therefore to lose your freedom. Take all the time you need to realize this.

May be now you are ready to say, "I'd rather have my freedom than your love." If you could either have company in prison or walk the earth in freedom all alone, which would you choose?

Now say to this person, "I leave you free to be yourself, to think your thoughts, to indulge you taste, follow your inclinations, behave in any way that you decide is to your liking."

The moment you say that you will observe one of two things:

1. Either your heart will resist those words and you will be exposed for the clinger and exploiter that you are (so now is the time to examine your false belief that without this person you cannot live or cannot be happy).

2. Or your heart will pronounce the words sincerely and in that very instant all control, manipulation, exploitation, possessiveness, jealousy will drop. "I leave you free to be yourself: to think your thoughts, indulge your tastes, follow your inclinations, behave in ways that you decide are to your liking."

And you will notice something else:

3. The person automatically ceases to be special and important to you.

And he/she becomes important the way in a sunset or a symphony is lovely in itself, the way a tree is special in itself and not for the fruit or the shade that it can offer you. Your beloved will then belong not to you but to everyone or to no one like the sunrise and the tree.

Test it by saying those words again: "I leave you free to be yourself."

In saying those words you have set yourself free. You are now ready to love. For when you cling, what you offer the other is not love but a chain by which both you and your beloved are bound. Love can only exist in freedom. The true lover seeks the good of his beloved which requires especially the liberation of the beloved from the lover.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Meditation 5 - Your mind causes unhappiness

It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. (Mk. 10:25)

What can one do to attain happiness? There is nothing you or anyone else can do. Why? For the simple reason that you are already happy right now. So how can you acquire what you already have?

If that is so, why do you not experience the happiness which is already yours? Because your mind is creating unhappiness all the time. Drop this unhappiness of your mind and the happiness that has always been yours will instantly surface.

How does one drop unhappiness?

Find out what is causing it and look at the cause unflinchingly. It will automatically stop.

Now if you look carefully, you will see that there is one thing and only one thing that causes unhappiness.

The name of that thing is Attachment.

What is an attachment?

An emotional state of clinging caused by the belief that without some particular thing or some person you cannot be happy.

This emotional state of clinging is composed of two elements, one positive and the other is negative. The positive element is the flash of pleasure and excitement, the thrill that you experience when you get what you are attached to. The negative element is the sense of threat and tension that always accompanies the attachment. Think of someone gobbling up food in a concentration camp; with one hand he brings the food to his mouth, with the other he protects it from neighbors who will grab it from him the moment he lowers his guard. There you have the perfect image of the attached person.

So an attachment by its very nature makes you vulnerable to emotional turmoil and is always threatening to shatter your peace.

So how can you expect an attached person to enter that ocean of happiness called the kingdom of God? As well expect a camel to pass through the eye of a needle!

Now the tragedy of an attachment is that if its object is not attained it causes unhappiness. But if it is attained, it does not cause happiness it merely causes a flash of pleasure followed by weariness; and it is always accompanies, of course, by the anxiety that you may lose the object of your attachment.

You will say, "Can't I keep just one attachment?" Of course. You can keep as many as you want. But for each attachment you pay a price in lost happiness.

Think of this: The nature of attachments is such, that even if you satisfy many of them in the course of a single day, the one attachment that was not satisfied will prey upon your mind and make you unhappy.

There is not way to win the battle of attachments. As well search for water without wetness as for an attachment without unhappiness.

No one has ever lived who has come up with a formula for keeping the objects of one's attachments without struggle, anxiety, fear and sooner or later, defeat.

There is only one way to win the battle or attachments: Drop them.

Contrary to popular belief, dropping attachments is easy. All you have to do is see, but really see, the following truths:

I. First truth: You are holding on to a false belief, namely, the belief that without this particular person or thing you will not be happy.

Take your attachments one at a time and see the falseness of this belief. You may encounter resistance from your heart, but the moment you do see, there will be an immediate emotional result. At that very instant the attachment loses its force.

II. Second truth: If you just enjoy things, refusing to let yourself be attached to them that is, refusing to hold the false belief that you will not be happy without them, you are spared all the struggle and emotional strain of protecting them and guarding them for yourself.

Has it occurred to you that you can keep all the objects of your attachments without giving them up, without renouncing a single one of them and you can enjoy them even more on a non-attachment, a non-clinging basis, because you are peaceful now and relaxed and unthreatened in your enjoyment of them?

III. The third and the final truth: If you learn to enjoy the scent of a thousand flowers you will not cling to one or suffer when you cannot get it.

If you have a thousand favorite dishes, the loss of one will go unnoticed and leave your happiness unimpaired. But it is precisely your attachments that prevent you from developing a wider and more varied taste for things and people.

In the light of these three truths no attachment can survive. But the light must shine uninterruptedly if it is to be effective. Attachments can only thrive in the darkness of illusion.

The rich man cannot enter the kingdom of joy not because he wants to be had but because he chooses to be blind.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Meditation 4 - Understand your program

And the young man went away sorrowful for he had great possessions. (Mk. 10:22)

Has it ever struck to you that you have ben programmed to be unhappy and so no matter what you do to become happy, you are bound to fail?

It is as if you fed mathematical equations into a computer and then failed each time you pushed it to turn out lines from Shakespeare.

If you wish to be happy the first thing you need is not effort or even goodwill or good desires but a clear understanding of how exactly you have been programmed. This is what happened:

I. First your society and your culture taught you to believe that you would not be happy without certain persons and certain things.

Just take a look around you: everywhere people have actually built their lives on the unquestioned belief that without certain things money, power, success, approval, a good reputation, love, friendship, spirituality. God they cannot be happy. What is your particular combination?

II. Once you swallowed your belief you naturally developed an attachment to this person or thig you were convinced you could not be happy without.

III. Then came the efforts to acquire your precious thing or person, to cling to it once it was acquired, and to fight off every possibility of losing it.

IV. This finally led you to abject emotional dependence so that the object of your attachment had the power to thrill you when you attained it, to make you anxious lest you be deprived of it and miserable when you lost it.

Stop for a moment now and contemplate in home the endles list of attachments that you have become a prisoner to. Think of concrete things and persons, not abstractions -

Once your attachment ha you in its grip you began to strive might and main, every waking minute of your life, to rearrange the world around you so that you could attain and maintain the objects of your attachment.

This is an exhausting task that leaves you little energy for the business of living and enjoying life fully. It is also an impossible task in an ever changing world that you simple are not able to control.

So instead of a life of serenity and fulfillment you are doomed to a life of frustration, anxiety, worry, insecurity, suspense, tension.

For a few fleeting moments the world does, indeed, yield to your efforts and rearranges itself to suit your desires.

Then you become briefly happy. Or rather, you experience a flash of pleasure which isn't happiness at all for it is accompanied by the underlying fear that at any moment this world of things and people that you have so painstakingly put in place will slip out of your control and let you down which it never fails to do sonner or later.

V. And here is something else to ponder on: Each time you are anxious and afraid, it is because you may lose or fail to get the object of your attachment, isn't it?

And each time you feel jealous, isn't it because someone may make off with what you are attached to? And almost all your anger comes from someone standing in the way of your attachment, doesn't it? and see how paranoid you become when your attachment is threatened - you cannot think objectively; your whole vision becomes distorted, doesn't it? And every time you feel bored, isn't it because you are not geting a sufficient supply of what you believe will make you happy, of what you are attached to?

And when you are depressed and miserable, the cause is there for all to see; life is not giving you what you have convinced yourself you cannot be happy without. Almost every negative emotion you experience is the direct outcome of an attachment.

So there you are loaded down by your attachments - and striving desperately to attain happiness precisely by holding on to the load. The very notion is absurd.

The tragedy is that this is the only method that everyone has been taught for attaining happiness a method guaranteed to produce anxiety, disappointment and sorrow.

Hardly anyone has been told the following truth: in order to be genuinely happy there is one and only one thing you need to do: get deprogrammed, get rid of those attachments.

When people stumble upon this self-evident truth they become terrified at the thought of the pain involved in dropping their attachments. But the process is not a painful one at all. On the contrary -

Getting rid of attachments is a perfectly delightful task if the instrument you use to rid yourself of them is not will power or renunciation but sight.

All you need to do is:

1. Open your eyes and see that you do not really need the object of your attachment at all;

2. Just realize that you were programmed, brainwashed into thinking that you could not be happy or you could not live without this particular person or thing.

Remember how heart-broken you once were, how you were certain you never would be happy again because you lost someone or something that was so precious to you? But then what happened? Time passed and you learnt to get on pretty well, did you not? That should have alerted you to the falseness of your belief, to the trick your programmed mind was playing on you.

An attachment isn't a fact. It is a belief, a fantasy in your head, acquired through programming.

If that fantasy did not exist inside your head, you would not be attached. You would love things and persons and you would enjoy them thoroughly but, lacking the belief, you would enjoy them on a non-attachment basis.

As a matter of fact, is there any other way to really enjoy something?

IV. Pass in review now all those attachments of yours. And to each person or object that comes to mind say, "I am not rally attached to you at all. I am merely deluding myself into the belief that without you I will not be happy."

Just do this honestly and see the change that comes about within you:

"I am not really attached to you at all. I have merely cheated myself into the belief that without you I will not be happy."

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Meditation 3 - Discover the program in your head

And if any one would sue you and take your coat, let him have your cloak as well; and if any one forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. (Mt. 5:40-41)

If you take a look at the way you have been put together and the way you function you will find that inside your head there is a whole program, a set of demands about how the world should be, how you should be and what you should want.

Who is responsible for the programming? Not you.

It isn't really you who decided even such basics as your wants and desires and so-called needs; your values, your tastes, your attitudes.

It was your parents, your society, your culture, your religion, your past experiences who fed the operating instructions into your computer.

Now, however old you are or wherever you go, your computer goes along with you and is active and operating at each conscious moment of the day, imperiously insisting that its demands be met by life, by people and by you.

If the demands are met, the computer allows you to be peaceful and happy. If they are not met, even though it be through no fault of yours, the computer generates negative emotions that cause you to suffer.

1. For instance, when other people don't live up to your computer's expectations, it torments you with frustration or anger or bitterness.

2. Another instance: when things are not under your control or the future is uncertain, your computer insists that you experience anxiety, tension, worry.

Then you expend a lot of energy coping with these negative emotions.

And you generally cope by expending more energy trying to rearrange the world around you so that the demands of your computer will be met.

If that happens you will be granted a measure of precarious peace; precarious because at any moment some trifle (a delayed train, a tape recorder that doesn't work, a letter that doesn't arrive - anything) is going to be out of conformity with your computer's programming and the computer will insist that you become upset again.

Is there a way out? Yes.

You are not going to be able to change your programming all that quickly, or perhaps ever. And you don't even need to.

Try this:

1. Imagine you are in a situation or with a person that you find unpleasant and that you would ordinarily avoid.

2. Now observe how your computer instinctively becomes active, insisting that you avoid this situation or try to change it.

3. And if you stay on there and refuse to change the situation.

4. Observe how the computer insists that you experience irritation or anxiety or guilt or some other negative emotion.

5. Now keep looking at this unpleasant situation or person until you realize that:

A. It isn't they that are causing the negative emotions.

B. They are just going their way, being themselves, doing their thing whether right or wrong, good or bad.

C. It is your computer that, thanks to your programming, insists on your reacting with negative emotions.

You will see this better if you realize that someone with a different programming when faced with this same situation or person or even would react quite calmly, even happily. Don't stop till you have grasped this truth: the only reason why you too are not reacting calmly and happily is your computer that is stubbornly insisting that reality be reshaped to conform to its programming. Observe all of this from the outside so to speak and see the marvelous change that comes about in you.

Once you have understood this truth and thereby stopped your computer from generating negative emotions you may take any action you deem fit.

You may avoid the situation or the person; or you may try to change them; or you may insist on your rights or the rights of others being respected; you may even resort to the use of force.

But only after you have got rid of your emotional upsets, for then your action will spring from peace and love, not from the neurotic desire to appease your computer or to conform to its programming or to get rid of the negative emotions it generates.

Then you will understand how profound is the wisdom of the words: "If a man wants to sue you for your shirt, let him have your coat as well. If a man in authority makes you go one mile, go with him two."

For it will have become evident to you that real oppression comes, not from people who fight you in court or from authority that subjects you to slave labor, but from your computer whose programming destroys your peace of mind the moment outside circumstances fail to conform to its demands. People have been known to be happy even in the oppressive atmosphere of a concentration camp!

It is from the oppression of your programming that you need to be liberated.

Only then will you experience that inner freedom from which alone all social revolution must arise for the powerful emotion the passion that arises in your heart at the sight of social evils and impels you to action, will have its origin in reality, not in your programming or your ego.

Meditation 2 - The causes of unhappiness

If any one comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he canot be my disciple. Lk 14:26

I. Take a look at the world and see the unhappiness around you and in you. Do you know what causes this unhappiness?

You will probably say loneliness or oppression or war or hatred or atheism. And you will be wrong.

There is only one cause of unhappiness. The false beliefs you have in your head, beliefs so widespread, so commonly held, that it never occurs to you to question them. Because of these false beliefs you see he world and yourself in a distorted way.

Your programming is so strong and the pressure of society so intense that you are literally trapped into perceiving the world in this distorted kind of way.

There is not way out, because you do not even have a suspicion that your perception is distorted, your thinking is wrong, and your beliefs are false.

II. Look around and see if you can find a single genuinely happy person - fearless, free from insecurities, anxieties, tensions, worries.

You would be lucky if you found one in a hundred thousand. This should lead you to be suspicious of the programming and the beliefs that you and they hold in common. But you have also been programmed not to suspect, not to doubt, just to trust the assumptions that have been put into you by your tradition, your culture, your society, your religion. And if you are not happy, you have been trained to blame yourself, not your programming, not your cultural and inherited ideas and beliefs.

III. What makes it even worse is the fact that most people are so brainwashed that they do not even realize how unhappy they are like the man in a dream who has no idea he is dreaming.

What are these false beliefs that block you from happiness? Here are some examples.

A. First belief: You cannot be happy without the things that you are attached to and that you consider so precious.

False. There is not a single moment in your life when you do not have everything that you need to be happy.

Think of that for a minute.

The reason why you are unhappy is because you are focussing on what you do not have rather than on what you have right now.

B. Another belief: Happiness is in the future.

Not true. Right here and now you are happy and you do not know it because your false beliefs and your distorted perceptions have got you caught up in fears, anxieties, attachments, conflicts, guilt and a host of games that you are programmed to play.

If you would see through this you realize that you are happy and do not know it.

C. Yet another belief: Happiness will come if you manage to change the situation you are in and the people around you.

Not true. You stupidly squander so much energy trying to rearrange the world.

If changing the world is your vocation in life, go right ahead and change it, but do not harbour the illusion that this is going to make you happy.

What makes you happy or unhappy is not the world and the people around you, but the thinking in your head.

As well search for an eagle's nest on the bed of an ocean, as search for happiness in the world outside of you.

So if it is happiness that you seek you can stop wasting your energy trying to cure your baldness or build up an attractive body or change your residence or job or community or lifestyle or even your personality.

Do you realize that you could change every one of these things, you could have the finest looks and the most charming personality and the most pleasant of surroundings and still be unhappy?

And deep down you know this is true but still you waste your effort and energy trying to get what you know cannot make you happy.

D. Another false belief: If all your desires are fulfilled you will be happy.

Not true. In fact it is these very desires and attachments that make you tense, frustrated, nervous, insecure, and fearful.

Make a list of all your attachments and desires and to each of them say these words: "Deep down in my heart I know that even after I have got you I will not get happiness."

And ponder on the truth of those words. The fulfillment of desire can, at the most, bring flashes of pleasure and excitement. Don't mistake that for happiness.

What then is happiness?

Very few people know and no one can tell you, because happiness cannot be described. Can you describe light to people who have been siting in darkness all their lives? Can you describe reality to someone in a dream? Understand your darkness and it will vanish; then you will know what light is. Understand your nightmare for what it is and it will stop; then you will wake up to reality.

Understand your false beliefs and they will drop; then you will know the taste of happiness.

If people want happiness so badly, why don't they attempt to understand their false beliefs?

I. First, because it never occurs to them to see them as false or even as beliefs.

They see them as facts and reality, so deeply have they been programmed.

II. Second, because they are scared to lose the only world they now: the world of desires, attachments, fears, social pressures, tensions, ambitions, worries, guilt, with flashes of the pleasure and relief and excitement which these things bring.

Think of someone who is afraid to let go of a nightmare because, after all, that is the only world he knows. There you have a picture of yourself and of other people.

If you wish to attain to lasting happiness you must be ready to hate father, mother, even your own life and to take leave of all your possessions.

How? Not be renouncing them or giving them up because what you give up violently you are forever bound to. But rather by seeing them for the nightmare they are: and then, whether you keep them or not, they will have lost their grip over you, their power to hurt you, and you will be out of your dream at last, out of your darkness, your fear, your unhappiness.

Spend some time seeing each of the things you cling to for what it really is, a nightmare that causes you excitement and pleasure on the one hand but also worry, insecurity, tension, anxiety, fear, unhappiness on the other.

Father and mother: nightmare. Wife and children, brothers and sisters: nightmare. All your possessions: nightmare. Your life as it is now: nightmare. Every single thing you cling to and have convinced yourself you cannot be happy without: nightmare.

Then you will hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters and even your own life.

And you will so easily take leave of all your possessions, that is, you will stop clinging and thus have destroyed their capacity to hurt you.

Then at last you will experience that mysterious state that cannot be described or uttered the state of abiding happiness and peace. And you will understand how true it is that everyone who stops clinging to brothers or sisters, father, mother or children, land or houses - is repaid a hundred times over and gains eternal life.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Meditation 1 - World feelings versus soul feelings

For what will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? (Mt. 16:26)

I. Recall the kind of feeling you have when someone praises you, when you are approved, accepted, applauded. And Contrast that with the kind of feeling that arises within you when you look at the sunset or the sunrise, or Nature in general or when you read a book or watch a movie that you thoroughly enjoy. Get the taste of this feeling.

And contrast it with the first, namely, the one that was generated within you when you were praised. Understand that the first type of feeling comes from self-glorification, self-promotion. It is a worldly feeling. The second comes from self-fulfillment, a soul feeling.

II. Here is another contrast: Recall the kind of feeling you have when you succeed, when you have made it, when you get to the top, when you win a game or a bet or an argument.

And contrast it with the kind of feeling you get when you really enjoy the job you are doing, you are absorbed in, the action that you are currently engaged in. And once again notice the qualitative difference between the worldly feeling and the soul feeling.

III. Yet another contrast: Remember what you felt like when you had power, you were the boss, people looked up to you, took orders from you; or when you were popular. And contrast that worldly feeling with the feeling of intimacy, companionship - the times you throughly enjoyed yourself in the company of a friend or with a group in which there was fun and laughter.

A. Having done this, attempt to understand the true nature of worldly feelings, namely, the feelings of self-promotion, self-glorification. They are not natural.

They were invented by your society and your culture to make you productive and to make you controllable. These feelings do not produce the nourishment and happiness that is produced when one contemplates Nature of enjoys the company of one's friends or one's work. They were meant to produce thrills, excitement and emptiness.

B. Then observe yourself in the course of a day or a week and think how many actions of yours are performed, how many activities engaged in that are uncontaminated by the desire for these thrills, these excitements that only produce emptiness, the desire for attention, approval, fame, popularity, success or power.

C. And take a look a the people around you. Is there a single one of them who has not become addicted to these worldly feelings?

A single one who is not controlled by them, hungers for them, spends every minute of his/her waking life consciously or unconsciously seeking them?

When you see this you will understand how people attempt to gain the world and, in the process, lose their soul. For they live empty, soul-less lives.

And there is a parable of life for you to ponder on: A group of tourists sits in a bus that is passing through gorgeously beautiful country; lakes and mountains and greenfields and rivers. But the shades of the bus are pulled down. They do not have the slightest idea of what lies beyond the windows of the bus. And all the time of their journey is spent in squabbling over who will have the seat of honour in the bus, who will be applauded, who will be well considered. Ad so they remain till the journey's end.