Debate


As I’ve gone through this life and gradually evolved, two things have occurred to me. Firstly, the actual mystery of life becomes less and less of a mystery. Secondly, and paradoxically, as the mystery of life reveals itself as the “simplicity” of life, I realise more and more how little I actually know; which brings me onto the title of this little post.

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Debate! The above statement has brought home to me, like never before, the sheer fruitlessness of getting into debates about spirituality and religion. People have to grow and evolve at their own pace, and this quite often involves holding certain beliefs that may not ultimately be true, but are serving their purpose by way of a stepping-stone. I am also of the opinion, that if you get into a debate with another person about any subject whatsoever, the “winner” will not necessarily be the one who is closest to the truth, it will be the one who has the greater debating skills.

Swami, Sri Sathya Sai Baba always used to say, “never get into debates about spirituality and religion because they are sure to descend into arguments.”

I am now of the view that it is far better to remain as “the witness” and let others debate to their hearts’ content.

Happiness


Happiness is our true nature that is ever present; it is what we are. Because our true nature tends to be veiled by the ego, and we believe that the experience of happiness depends on outer objects and situations that the mind deems to be agreeable, it is commonplace for individuals to be completely oblivious to the joy that they are. However, we do get glimpses of this truth when it reveals itself from time to time. In the main, this is when worldly desires are met; it’s that momentary surge of joy we get when we hold the keys to the new car in our hand for the first time, or at the unboxing of the huge, new flat-screen TV. Because these desires are superficial and egoic, they cause pain and suffering when they remain unmet, and only a brief experience of joy when they are met. Once a desire has been met, it dissolves away and the mind then focuses on something else, equally superficial, as the focus of its latest desire. It’s a vicious circle that can only be broken by the experience of Pure Being; which is the realisation of the Self.

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The only desire of worth is the desire to love, which comes from deep within ourselves. It is the experience of Being, Presence, Bliss, Awareness, or whatever name you want to give it. Language is very limiting and there are no words that could ever describe it aptly. But, whether we are aware of it or not, it is ever present and ever shining in all its glory.

A Visitation


I had an experience recently that was a classic case of rolling back the years. I find it interesting that the experience has a different meaning for me today than if I’d had it 10 years ago. For the first time in ages Swami Sri Sathya Sai Baba appeared to me in a dream. As expected, it was like being in the presence of a doting mother and best friend. Swami let me touch his face, and we had this moment where we were just in each others’ presence before the egoic mind brought me back to the land of objective reality.

Swami always used to say that if he comes to us in a dream, it is not a dream but a visitation.  He also used to constantly remind us that he was not the body, and did not encourage devotees to follow him as a physical being, or look on his form as an object of worship.  Nonetheless, it was very difficult not to; especially if you had the grace (as I did) to witness Swami’s amazing smile first hand and experience his awesome presence.  A few years ago I would have relished a visitation from the loving “God man” and would have felt so lucky and privileged that he’d blessed me in such a way.  Even though my recent visitation was an unexpected and wonderful experience; received with equal relish, I interpret the meaning differently. Back then, Swami the physical being would have been visiting me; I would not have seen his form as a symbol of the one eternal Self.  Yes it’s true, that I would have known this, but confronted with Swami’s beautiful form, all thoughts of the formless would have flown away.

With regard to my recent experience, I enjoyed immensely basking in the presence and having my personal darshan of Swami’s form. But today, I understand what it represents and my interpretation of the visitation is that “The Higher Power” used a method that I would be able to relate to, to let me know that my little individual, egoic self has not been forgotten about.  That for however long I have left in this body, and for whatever work I have left to perform, I am not alone; the loving bliss of eternal spirit will always be enfolding me.

Who Creates Creation?

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There are generally three schools of thought surrounding the mystery of creation, and this post will attempt to throw some light on the subject.

The first school of thought on how the universe and our species came about can be split into two theories; either there was a “big bang” and everything just fell into place randomly, or it was created in stages by a god.

The second school of thought, which makes perfect sense to anyone who is actively on a spiritual quest and who can see beyond the restrictions and limitations of organised religion, is that the universe only exists when there is an observer.  To clarify this concept, I always use the analogy of looking at a tree.  The original scriptures, which were not specific to any religion, proclaimed that science and spirituality are inseparable; two sides of the same coin.  Science has told us that everything without exception is energy, which is constantly in motion and vibrates at varying frequencies.  To come back to our tree analogy, the tree doesn’t exist as a tree; it has no idea that it has been given this label by humans.  What we know as “the tree” exists as energy, which is vibrating at a specific frequency.  But, our brains interpret that energy vibration in a particular way, which appears to us as the phenomenon we call “a tree”.  The reason we all see the same thing is because we all exist within the same field of infinite consciousness.  When we fall into deep dreamless sleep, what we refer to as “creation” disappears, and with it, the ego.  On waking, whether that be via dreamstate or not, the “I” thought, or ego, rears its head again and the objective world reappears.

The final school of thought, which will make perfect sense to those who are evolving from the previous school, is that ultimately, there is no creation because nothing exists except consciousness.  When the individual, small self, eventually awakens and merges with the one eternal Self, there comes the realisation that there never was an individual self or “the world”; the whole experience was nothing more than a dream.  This concept is perfectly encapsulated by the ancient Indian sage, Shankara, when he said:

The Universe is unreal

God is real

The Universe is God

It’s my personal preference to substitute the word “God” for either “Consciousness” or “Awareness” but either way, it doesn’t really matter.  That short but very profound statement also appears to clear up the debate often heard in spiritual circles as to whether the objective world is an illusion or not.  It is… or it isn’t, depending on where you are at in your existence as an individual soul.  To the unconscious, the objective world is as real as real can be; along with all the drama that goes with it.  However, to those who are further along “The Road to Nowhere” the objective world is only real in that it is a manifestation of consciousness, all objective reality is a creation of the egoic mind and ultimately does not exist.

Who Is It That Suffers?


I have mentioned in previous posts that I have chosen not to comment on the current situation regarding the pandemic, which has affected so many people around the world. I’ve always felt that there are enough armchair experts out there, without me chipping in as well.

But, with the amount of suffering that is going on, I feel inspired to write this post, not necessarily just about the current world-wide situation, but about suffering in general.

Like many, I have learned that going through difficult experiences has a habit of forcing us to look within ourselves for strength and inspiration, as opposed to looking to the external world; which quite often is the source of our troubles. It is also true to say that as a species, we evolve via our experiences, and being as our true nature is consciousness, this is only natural as consciousness is in a constant state of flux and evolution. I personally, feel very positive about what is happening in the world; I feel that the end product will be something quite amazing. Let us not forget that we have this wonderful thing called relativity and that the world moves in cycles. After every fall there is a rise and every painful experience ultimately leads to a pleasurable one, and vice versa.

Once again, I’m going to refer to the teachings of Ramana Maharshi to demonstrate the whole point of this article, as I feel his simple philosophy holds the key to whether we as humans live a life of peace or pain. The Maharshi would always address questions from devotees and visitors to his ashram in accordance with their ability to understand, so from this respect, it would be impossible to say that the following is the exact answer that would have been given to everyone who asked the question. But quite often, if anyone asked him why they suffer so much or why there is so much suffering in the world, he would say, “who is it that suffers?”

He would tell them to ask the question, “who am I?” The only answer being, “the One eternal Self.” He would remind them of this; their true nature, and say something like, “if you are and always have been the Self, which exists as it is with no knowledge of suffering, who then is it that suffers?” The answer to that question is that it is only the ego that suffers because of our habit of falsely identifying with the body as the reality.

No one is saying that it’s an easy ride; far from it. But having the understanding that we are ultimately just “the witness” to what is happening and not a participant helps a great deal. Finally, I refer you to my previous blog post “Be Still.” I find that simply being still is a very effective way of getting through each day. There is most definitely something happening, but we need to look within ourselves to find out what that is. I find that it is only during moments of stillness that the Self reveals its secrets.

Be Still


One thing that has become apparent to me in this crazy life, is that when it comes to the “realisation of the Self”, time and space are irrelevant. What I mean is, that it matters not where you are in the world or what time of day it is, the Self is always just as it is. You can only awaken exactly where you are and nowhere else. Of course, it is always nice to go on pilgrimages and to visit holy sites or places of beauty in order to induce feelings of peace and oneness with the “all that is.” But ultimately, it makes no difference whatsoever.

I remember my own personal experience when I received the inner call to visit the ashram of Sri Sathya Sai Baba back in 2009. There I was, at “The Abode of the Highest Peace”, yet at every opportunity I would go to the internet cafe to check emails or see how my football team was doing. Ramana Maharshi used to say, that there is no point in going to the Himalayas to sit in a cave, when all you do when you are there is think of home. He would also say, that we sit at home thinking that it will induce realisation of the Self if we go to the Himalayas, but once we get there we spend all our time wondering what’s going on back home. It doesn’t matter where we are in the world, if we are not ready and the mind is over-active then it will prevent us from from experiencing our true state, which is pure Being.

My own personal environment is a constant reminder to me that I have some way to go before realising that I am already realised (by that, I mean having the constant direct experience that I am already that which I am seeking). The little town where I live gives me constant reminders of my own petty judgements and prejudices, which will have to be dealt with before I get any lofty spiritual ambitions.

I have come to the conclusion that the only really effective form of spiritual practise, is to “be still.” Even recognised and traditional spiritual practises, such as yoga and meditation, only induce a temporary awakened state. The practitioner must at some stage return to the world. Simply being still, seems to be the best way to connect with the inner silence; the infinite cave of wisdom, which is effectively “the Self.” Giving up all ideas of doing and achieving also allows the higher power to work through us.

The root of all our pain and suffering is that most of us are not human beings (or humans being), we are humans doing!

Everything Serves A Purpose


For the benefit of those who have not been following my blog for very long, I will just recap on something that I once wrote about on a fairly regular basis, before I get to the point of this particular post.

There was a time when I seemed to have a lot of out-of-body experiences. I estimated, that over the years; starting in approximately 1999, I had somewhere in between 200 to 300 astral adventures. Some were spectacular and some were not worth writing about. A couple of years back I wrote about how they had become very few and far between, but no sooner had I made that statement, they started again with a flurry. In 2020 I have had only five; the last being back in May. They now seem to have dried up completely. Every now and then I asked myself the question, “why, what’s the point?” I came to the conclusion that it was so I would be able to share my experiences (where appropriate), and reassure people that, “this isn’t all there is.”

OK, so that was a condensed version of my astral travelling experiences…

It occured to me very recently, that my initial assumption, although true, was not the complete picture. I have now realised that my experiences, some of which, that as time went by became quite tedious, brought me confirmation of a very profound truth and that it has taken me all this time to realise it. What I mean is this: I had the sensation of leaving my body; I also had the sensation of returning to my body. Then there was the bit in between where I had the actual astral experience, whatever form that took. But, the important thing here is that I was conscious of all aspects of the experience. Meaning, that my body is most certainly not who I am. When I was out of my body, consciousness was very much “alive” and alert. So, my body is not essential to my being, but consciousness is who and what I am. Indeed, my body is completely inanimate unless consciousness is present.

It is all very, very simple and I can’t believe that it took so long for the penny to drop. If it’s the case for me, then it must be so for everybody else. Of course, if you want to be pedantic about it and split hairs, you could argue that I know it is my truth because I had the direct experience, and possibly it would be different for others. You could add that individuals will only come to the same conclusion as me if they have the same experience. But, all said and done, I think it’s a pretty good indicator that we are consciousness and not the body.

Choose Peace Before Fear


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Here we are folks, as promised I’m back again with a very simple exercise to help you connect with the ever peaceful, inner you. Of course, I would love to be able to say that this exercise is my own, but it isn’t. To my knowledge, it originates from that most wonderful Vietnamese Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh.

First of all, get all ideas of “doing;” of having to achieve something, out of your mind. Do not start off from the standpoint that you are engaged in the act of doing. Do not even think to yourself, “I must clear my mind of all thoughts.” This is all about “allowing;” there is nothing to “do.” Thoughts will inevitably start flying through your head; this is fine, try not to judge this as being good or bad. Just accept that thoughts are there and let them pass through; even the thoughts that follow the thoughts etc, etc.

To begin with, find your comfortable space; it doesn’t necessarily have to be indoors, it could be out in nature. Breathing through your nose, just take a few breaths, as many as you need, just to centre yourself and to get yourself starting to relax. Next, say these words silently in your mind as you breath in, “breathing in, I know I am breathing in.” As you breath out, also say these words silently in your mind, “breathing out, I know I am breathing out.” You do this for three breaths.

Next, on the in-breath you say the word “in” silently in your mind, and on the out-breath, you say the word “out” silently in your mind. You can also do this for three breaths, but equally you can carry this stage on as long as you want. At some stage, when you relax sufficiently, the words will disappear of their own accord anyway. The idea of the exercise is simply to become aware of your breath. The longer the exercise goes on, the more you become aware of simply being aware. This awareness is your true nature; “the peace that passes all understanding.”

I hope you get something from this; stay safe, stay peaceful.

 

For Better Or For Worse


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The world truly does seem to be in chaos, but here is something to consider; another slant on things.  Without wishing to bring politics into my blog, I think it is only the most naive of people who do not see by now that the role of the media is to cause fear and mayhem amongst the masses; thus, fanning the flames of division.

But, the truth is that negativity is very loud (“hate screeches”, as Sri Sathya Sai Baba used to say), and peace is very soft and subtle.  The egoic mind is easily led, and television news bulletins and sensationalist newspaper headlines effortlessly draw in the masses, like sheep, for their daily dose of brainwashing.

But, take the fragrance of a rose, for instance.  There are no words to describe its beauty; it remains silent, yet says so much.  What I’m trying to say here is that there is so much positivity to be taken from the amazing world in which we live.  There is so much that the beauty of Mother Nature can teach us, if we are prepared to look.  The thing is, beauty doesn’t screech; it simply exists as it is, in subtle splendour.

We can also look for our own subtle splendour, that is our essential Being; who we really are.  This is the peace that passes all understanding that can only be found within ourselves.  Things always seem to be descending into chaos, because hate and fear are always shouting.  But, in reality, we are only a witness to that chaos; the eternal witness, to be more precise.  The world may sometimes appear to be getting better AND worse at the same time, but remember, for better or worse, the world is in a constant state of flux because it is ultimately an illusion; it is consciousness in motion.  The underlying, changeless, absolute truth ( who we really are) is always simply as it is, and is always accessible to us if we will just look beyond the madness.

In my next post I’m going to share with you a very simple exercise that will help you to focus on your inner subtle splendour, and shut out the screeching that wants to spin you a yarn and cause you to lose yourself in the world.  Hang in there people, I’ll be back in a few days!