Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Discovering Freedom by Letting Go

According to psychologists, one of the reasons people suffer from stress is because they feel out of control. If, in your workplace, you are not given much control and things happen to you, you are probably going to suffer from stress. So, psychologists are working to help people to see that they are in control of their own little world, and can make decisions that affect them and those around them.

However, if you are courageous enough to look closely, are you in control? Do you know what you're going to think next? If you don't, surely it is fairly obvious that it is thoughts that lead to decisions being made. And it is decisions that lead to action being taken. So, the fact that thoughts just seem to pop up and decisions are taken means that you are not in control.

Although you may feel uneasy about your seemingly lack of control, if you stay with this notion, the outcome is interesting. You have never made any choices in the past either - so all the feelings of guilt, pride, blame all go out of the window - you weren't responsible for those actions. This doesn't mean you can go round harming people or worse - your conditioning will prevent you, as well as the thought of the consequences of those actions.

So, letting go of control leads to freedom. Now you see that thoughts are leading to decisions and actions, and you are doing nothing about the whole thing. The whole of 'your life' is just happening. Surely there is a great freedom in that. Seeing how little you control is a bit like children who move the steering wheel on one of those computer game machines, without putting the money in. The car is moving around the race track whether the child moves the steering wheel or not.

Letting go is not easy. But if you look carefully at all that's being said, you cannot help but let go. The human brain is so complex, the thoughts have created the sense of an individual in each human. Then this individual asserts control, responsibility, choice, action.

All is happening perfectly just as it is. The universe is simply 'unversiing'. You are simply now at the natural stage of questioning your own sense of ego or individual existence, as am I. This is not something that happens once and bang. This is an ongoing unfolding process that takes place, moment by moment. For me, each day there is a sense of individuality. Underneath that, there is a sense of beingness, aliveness or awareness.

See the whole thing as a game. Don't take things too seriously. Young children who are lucky enough to be brought up securely just play and play - it's natural when the individual is not taken seriously for playing to happen. May you be well.

Monday, 22 March 2010

Living moment by moment with an uncomfortable feeling

The normal reaction to an uncomfortable feeling is to run away from the sensation. Today, I am going to stay with the discomfort right now, and let's see what happens.

The feeling is a mixture of confusion and anxiety, due to a current concern I have in the story. I'm not sure what I'm going to decide in the next few days, which will impact on my life, and so I am living with uncertainty. I can feel this feeling in my body. There is a  slight tingling in my stomach and a lethargy in my body as a whole. As I listen to the thoughts in my mind, I am aware of total silence. Some judgements come up about this, and debate as to whether a silent mind is good, bad or  neutral. I think about how I could come to a decision sooner so that I don't have to endure this moment by moment pain. I think of an idea and then let it go for now. I hear the sound of a bird this morning, reminding me to be alive to the nature around me. Silence again. My stomach isn't so painful anymore.

I reflect on the fact that all these experiences are only existing because of awareness. Without awareness, none of this would be happening. I step back and back, step back into the awareness that I am, whatever that means for me. I notice my hand rises to scratch my chest, but I didn't do the scratching or the decision to scratch. I notice the hands are punching away at this keyboard - I'm not doing the typing. I notice hunger is arising in my stomach - I'm not hungering - it is just happening. I notice that I am breathing in and out quite naturally throughout this conversation - just happening. I reflect on the fact that this so called big decision will happen by itself too. This follows up with a wave of fear, a desire to control, an anxiety that the 'wrong' decision could be made. All this is what is happening in and as awareness.

I am awareness. Awareness is another name for me. I am the silent witness, the observer, pure beingness. I am totally free now, and always have been. Pain and pleasure, loss and gain, right and wrong are the pairs of opposites that flow through the beingness that I am. I have never done anything, nor will I ever do anything. Desire and action operate through the body mind whilst I watch the show. All the world is in my mind, a set of thought concepts, like a dream. I play the part of an individual, not as a reality, but as a play. This whole thing that's happening is a wonderful play. There is no need to take anything too seriously - after all, it is all only awareness in a different disguise.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

The Joy of Effortless Living

What is effort? When you make an effort, you are putting energy in to achieve something. For example, if you want to finish a piece of work, and you're not enjoying the work, you need to energy in to complete the job.

If you think of yourself as the body-mind organism only, you certainly do need to make efforts. The body exerts itself to achieve outcomes, right from the moment you get out of bed, to the time to crawl back into bed. And then, some people even try to put effort into falling asleep, although this, of course, can never work.

However, if you consider yourself as awareness, beingness, or that which you cannot observe, the witness, you never make any effort to do anything. Effort arises and passing in awareness, in the mind, but you don't do the effort.

Walking in nature can be a wonderful way of observing your bodymind do its effortless wondering around. The process can be very nourishing. I spend half an hour yesterday, pottering around in a local park, and was fascinated by how my bodymind moved around and reacted to the deers, the pond, dogs and other people.

Watching yourself is just as fun as watching other people when you're sitting in a cafe. Once you stop thinking of the bodymind as an object to be judged, you can relax and watch the bodymind operate naturally from moment to moment.

Poem - Monday is no more

An early morning bird song signals the start of the day.
'oh no, monday morning' the thought in awareness arises for some.
but is it true, can a day be labelled as such?
there was a time when monday existed not.
fingers on the keyboard, an itch, the sound of a distant plane humming,
surely this is what is, not monday, not the world, not the thoughts about another day.
the mind wonders freely, awareness rooted in the real.
there's freedom now, to go where I will,
no rules, no judgment, no conflict that's deep.
the crisp morning air calls and draws my body out,
life continues to unfold, the great mystery from beyond.
alive, awake, here now forever more.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

How to cope with difficult emotions

This is perhaps one of the greatest challenges in life - how do you cope with difficult emotions? If you're feeling sad or confused, lonely or angry, what do you do? How do you handle it most effectively?

 I am going to show you a radically different way to how you would be advised from your average self-help guru or psychologist - but it 'works'.

Try this

1. Recognise the emotion is not your fault. Emotions arise from a combination of thoughts, actions, genes, the food you eat, the people around you - there are many different factors involved. Emotions are always arising and passing away, and there are always sad and happy emotions coming and going. The emotions are not controlled by you at all. You have no choice as to what emotion comes up in your awareness. If confusion is popping up in your awareness, confusion is popping up - that's your experience. Understand as deeply as you can, that emotions are not your fault. Emotions are neither good or bad idea. Emotions just exist, like the air around you just exists. It's the way things are.

 2. Observe what action arises. Just watch and see what happens. Maybe if you're feeling angry you may answer back to your partner, or walk out, or shout or whatever. Perhaps you'll just feel the emotion and see what happens next. Maybe nothing happens. No matter what happens, it doesn't really matter. Again, it is not your fault or responsibility. The emotion may create an action or may not - that's what emotions do. You don't need to control it because you don't control anything ultimately. Thoughts pop up, emotions pop up, and actions happen. Your action or inaction is neither good or bad - it is what it is.

3. That's it. You don't need to do anything else. The emotion will pass away like all emotions. Remember, you are not the thoughts or emotions or bodily sensations. You are the awareness that is aware of this all arising and passing away. Even if you forget that you're the awareness, you're still the awareness, so you don't have to remember the fact all the time. If your emotions leads you to do something you consider 'bad', that's not your fault - your conditioning caused the action. If you did something good, that's not your fault either - again, the action during and following the emotion was part of your conditioning too.

For example:
Right now, as I'm writing this blog post, there is the emotion of sadness present. However, I am aware of it. I didn't bring it on, and it will pass in its own time. The decision to write this blog was not mine - the thought arose in awareness, and the desire arose with that thought, and the action happened. Some thoughts arise about the fact that I'm doing it wrong and there may be a better way - that's just a thought in awareness too. All is happening by itself - I don't have to do anything at all. I am awareness itself - whole, complete and free.

Leave a comment if you feel moved to do so :)



Enlightenment exists, but it's not what think

If you're a spiritual seeker, you probably think the ultimate goal is enlightenment. Enlightment is often seen as the end of the search - once you are enlightened, you will have no more problems or worries. You may think that enlightenment means you never get angry or sad - you never have any issues or fears. You may think enlightened people are not humans - they are almost like celestial beings. They have meditated and purified themselves so much, that they can stop their thinking and just be in total silence and stillness all the time. You may think that enlightenment is a totally different state of consciousness, way beyond your ordinary, wakeful state of mind. Enlightenment is reserved exclusively for the very few, and most of us need to keep searching for many lifetimes to get closer to the ultimate state.

I've got news for you. Enlightenment is both very easy and very ordinary. If you'll bear with me, I'll explain why. You don't need to believe anything I say, just test it out in your own experience.

Firstly, enlightenment originally means "to remove the dimness or blindness (usually figurative) from one's eyes or heart". What is this blindness in your eyes or heart? The blindness is that you are an independent physical body-mind, and that you make  your own choices, and do certain actions as if you are totally separate from the environment around you. In this understanding comes a wonderful freedom and the end of constant inner conflict.

To understand this, the first step is to know that you are alive and existing. Nobody can deny their existence. You exist and you know that you exist. You don't need to even think about the fact of your existence to know that you exist. This beingness, this knowing that you are existing lies beyond thought. Right now, you can get in touch with the sense that you are alive and exist, and that sense of existence is prior to thinking. Stop your thinking for one second and do you disappear? No, of course not. You still exist.  Allow yourself to be absolutely clear that this beingness, this sense of existence is always there, from the moment you were born and through all the moments of your life.

Now, that sense of beingness, which is totally ordinary and cannot be denied, is who you are. You can call it consciousness, awareness, aliveness, beingness, self. The word is not the thing. The word doesn't really matter - what matters is the recognition of your own sense of being. Understand that this ordinary, everyday sense of being is you. You are That. This is what all the scriptures and all great teachers are pointing to all the time. You are that which underlies that.

On top of this beingness, this awareness that you are, lies ALL experience. All thoughts arise and pass away in awareness. All emotions do too. All sensory perceptions arise and pass in awareness. All choices and actions arise in awareness. Anything that has ever experienced has all been experienced in awareness.

So awareness, which is what you are, and what you always have been and always will be, and are right now, is free. Awareness is space like, open, ever shining, totally effortness, free from right and wrong, good and bad, black or white. Awareness is beyond conception. And yet you are that right now. You don't need to have any kind of special experience or awakening to realise this. Ordinary, everyday awareness is what you are. If you understand this, you are free. You are enlightened, and you always were enlightened and you always will be enlightened. Everyone is enlightened, because everyone is awareness or beingness. Enlightenment is not something to get, it is realising you've always been enlightened.

If you liked this post, or have any questions, please make a comment. Thank you.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

A Visit to London Zoo

I went to London Zoo today with the students in my class, and with a few other teachers. We saw all sorts of creatures from monkeys to lions, giraffes to gorillas, owls to flamingoes. Both the children and adults had a wonderful time.

On the coach journey to the Zoo, I was reading a book called Awakening to the Dream by Leo Hartong which I  absolutely love. Leo expresses the journey of a spiritual seeker so beautifully, and all the problems with seeking. I read the chapter all about the 'me' and how the idea of a me is so strongly held to be true, that it is never questioned.

You are like a wave on the ocean. The wave arises from the ocean and goes back to being the ocean again. In fact, it's all ocean, and only the word 'wave' creates it as a separate entity to the ocean. So you are both the so called wave and the ocean.

Or, you are like the sand on the beach that has been made into a sandcastle. Although the sandcastle looks separate from the sand, the sandcastle is just sand in a particular form. When the tide comes in, the sandcastle dissolves back to becoming part of the sand on the beach once again.

Perhaps one more analogy may help. You as a separate person is like looking at a mirage. If you know that you are looking at a mirage, you don't really believe the illusion. However, you still see the mirage. In the same way, you may sense yourself as a separate entity, but deep down you know that you are not your body or mind, but are the One essence manifesting as the apparent many forms.

Let life flow.

I enjoyed watching this interview :)

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

You Are Completely and Totally Free Right Now

Let's begin with the basics and I can show you how you are totally free right now, no matter what is happening in your life.

Firstly, understand that you are almost always searching. If you are a spiritual person, you are searching for God or Enlightenment or Bliss. If you are a materialist, you are searching for more money etc so that you can be happy. If you are a relationship person, you are searching for the perfect relationship, and if you're in a relationship you are trying to improve it so that you can be totally happy together. All this searching, no matter what you're searching for, implies that you are expecting happiness and peace and love and joy at some future point in time. One day you're gonna get it, is your expectation.

Unfortunatately and fortunately, if you are hoping to get something in the future, you are NEVER going to get it. This is because future is a concept. In reality, future doesn't exist. Nobody has ever existed in the future. The only thing that ever exists is now. You can think about the future and say, later on I'm going to have a shower, but when you're having a shower, that shower is in the present moment. Also, you can only think about the past and the future in the present moment. You are always in the now. Thoughts can only exist in the present moment, and thoughts are often about past and future. So, you can never get out of the present moment. For example, right now, try and leave the present moment? Can you? You can day dream, but that day dreaming is also in the present. So, the present moment is the only moment that exists. If you see this, then you can see that hoping for a future happiness or whatever you're searching for is just that - a hope.

In truth, what you are searching for is who you already are. You are in truth searching for yourself. What does that mean? Well, consider the question, what are you? Are you your name? Of course, you are not your name because if you were given a different name you would still be essentially the same person. Are you your body? Well, you are aware of your body, and if you are aware of something you cannot be it. For example, if you can see a chair in the room, you know you are not the chair because you are aware of it. In the same way, you are aware of your body. If you were your body, you would not be able to be aware of it, as you would be it - does that make sense. Or, consider the following - which cell in your body do you consider to be you. You are made up of trillions of cells and they are always changing and transforming - so which one are you? Are you all of them? If so, there are thousands of cells dropping off from your body every minute - does that mean you are dropping off as you walk around? That doesn't make sense, does it? Each time you breathe, the molecules of oxygen become part of you - so are you the air around you? So, perhaps you are now questioning the idea that you are the body. Yet another way of seeing this is through control - are you in control of your body? Can you stop digestion, or breathing or circulation? Are you doing all these things, or are they just happening? Can yo be something that you can't even control? You are not your body.

Are you your thoughts? Again, we can question this through control. If you are your thoughts, you should surely be able to control them completely, but can you? If I tell you, stop thinking about flying laptops for the next minute, can you do it? Are you even in control of what you'll think about next? As I write these words, I don't know what I'm going to write next. Can you see clearly that thought is happening by itself? Nobody can stop thought. Thoughts are popping up in awareness all the time, and there is nothing you can do about them really. So, if you can control them, you are not your thoughts. Another way of seeing this, is to consider that you can see your thoughts. You....can see thoughts. So, if you can see them, you are not them. There is a space between you and thoughts for you to be able to see them. You cannot be that which you observe. So, you are not your thoughts. If you look at this, it is fairly clear.

So, you are not your body or your thoughts as you can see them both. So, who or what are you? You are the observer, the witness, that which watches all experience arise and fall again. You can call this awareness, consciousness, being, witness, self, watcher, god, spirit, soul, That or whatever you want. The word is not important. I like to call it awareness. So, you are awareness. Now what is the nature of awareness, which is what you are? First of all, awareness is always shining. You are never not aware. If you're not aware of the senses around you, you're aware of thoughts. When sleeping, you're either aware of your dreams, and if there are no dreams, there is just an awareness of being - if there was no awareness at all, nobody would be able to wake you up.

As awareness, you are completely and totally free. You always have been and always will be. You thought you were your thoughts or your body or your ideas, but now you can see that you are none of those things. You are awareness - free, open, spacious, ever shining, ever witnessing, self-illuminating. And that's it - that's all there is to understand.

So, as awareness, you never have done anything, and never will. Awareness doesn't do anything, it just naturally shines. So, any action you do is something that happens by itself. Desires arise and actions happen. For example, right now, I am watching as my hands are typing this sentence - I'm not doing anything at all - it's just a happening. Additionally, breathing is happening, blinking is happening, the head is aching, and it's all just perfect just the way it is. So there is no such thing as doing. Action just arises or doesn't.

As awareness, I make no choices or decisions - they simply happen too. Decisions are based on thoughts, and thoughts arise and pass automatically. So, there is no such thing as me making a choice. In fact, you never make any choices either. Decision just happen, and a split second later, the thought arises, 'I have decided to...' but that's just a thought too. You as awareness have never, ever made a single choice. Therefore, anything you've ever done 'wrong' or 'right' was not you either. You've just done what you've done. Desires have arisen, choices have been made and actions has happened. That's it. No claim, no fame and no blame! as Leo Hartong says.

Now understand thare is no way, path, method, technique or course that leads to this because it is already happening right now! You are already awareness. You are already free. You think you are not free due to misunderstanding, but that is all. You are totally free right now. If you think you are not free, that is just another thought arising in awareness, and has no impact on the freedom that is you. You are that awareness, that aliveness and every presence shining, RIGHT NOW.

This doesn't mean everywhere you look you see a shining light. Nothing changes in a way. Everything looks the same, but you know that underneath, nothing reslly matters. Life is a game or play or dream. It's for fun. You enjoy pleasures and feel pains, but only in the moment. You eat more chocolate and may even watch more tv. You are ordinary, everyday awareness. It's nothing special at all. But it is freedom from constant improvement. It's freedom from following this or that. You can do whatever you want - there's no rules - just actions and consequences of actions. And you don't do the actions really - they just happen as they always have. You are That!

Any questions? Get in touch my friend.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

How Nothing Changes and Everything Changes After Awakening

As I was walking home from work today, I was thinking about the difference between how life was for me before awakening and after awakening. So, here's a few thoughts that comes to mind.

Before Awakening
There is always a sense of trying to improve things and make things better. I would be trying to ensure I have made time for my daily meditation and if I haven't, then I haven't looked after myself properly. There is always a sense of 'what can I do now, so that life can be lived more enjoyably'. If my mind wondered off into different thoughts, as soon as I snapped out of it, I would make an effort to be in the present moment. I had a sense I was doing things, like making decisions and walking and working. I was classifying things into good and bad all the time - a sense of 'I should be doing this' or 'I should not be doing that'. Then, I would try not to use the word 'should' as the word is supposed to be unhelpful, so I would artificially change the word to something else. I used to always be making plans about the future and how I want things to turn out.

After Awakening
After Awakening, although there is effort being made by this body, I am not making any effort at all, as I am Awareness. I can observe thoughts popping up in my mind, desire for this or that arising, but it isn't me doing any thinking. Right now, as I write this, I feel as if I am writing this, but at the same time, if I consider what is happening, I know that writing is happening. Thoughts are arising in my mind, and are being translated into words on a computer screen. I am not doing it at all. Awareness doesn't ever do anything - Awareness effortlessly shines on all experience. So I make no decision, no actions, do no right or wrong, light up everything I look at, I don't sleep or do I wake up. Yet, at the same time, everything looks the same and is very ordinary. I still get annoyed and irritated. I get bored and frustrated. I get angry and upset. And yet, I as in Awareness, am not touched by either of them. I know that the experience, no matter what the experience is, will pass away sooner or later anyway.

This happened to happen whilst listening to a song by John Wheeler, after listening to a talk by him. John Wheeler explains that there is a sense of being that is behind all experience. That sense of Beingness, of presence is who I am. I am not the thought 'I am'. In this presence, this beingness or awareness, everything arises. Thoughts, feelings and perceptions all arise in Awareness.

Monday, 15 March 2010

Working effortlessly whilst effort arises

Today I took 3 classes to a local botanical garden. As I was in charge of the trip, I had the responsibility for its organisation. I had to ensure I arrived at school early, prepared all the worksheets and spoke to various teachers before we travelled. Some things went well on the trip, and others not so well. However, although I felt tired at the end of the day, there was the sense that I had actually done nothing. As Awareness, thoughts arose, actions arose and the day unfolded by itself. I had to work hard, I got irritated and I felt calm and peaceful too. All the 'normal' emotions arose, but there was a sense that everything would be taken care of by itself.

This is the invitation - to step back from your experience and notice for one moment that everything arises in Awareness. Without Awareness, no-thing exists. With Awareness arises the you and the world. You are the Awareness rather than that which Awareness observers. You always have been and always will be. Any thoughts?

Saturday, 13 March 2010

You Are Awareness

You are Awareness. Awareness is another name for you.

Welcome to my new blog. This is going to be a place where I share my insights and observations about the nature of identity and explore the world of advaita, nonduality, awakening and more.

Here are some of my pointers to get us started
  • You are already fully awake.
  • Can you deny that you are existing at the moment. That sense of Existence is pointing to Awareness which is what you are right here and now.
  • Thoughts create a thinker, and the thinker separates itself from thought. You, as Awareness, are just experiencing thinking happening.