Monday, 12 May 2008

Lessons from China......

I watched the devastatation reaped by the massive earthquake in China last night and something woke me up early this morning to write this blog. I have written in the past about how I feel that as 2012 approaches that there is going to be a massive shift as the consciousness of humanity shifts from the human kingdom to the kingdom of the Soul. This earthquake and the cyclone that hit Burma recently is evidence of this shift beginning. I understand how easy it is to rationalise what happened in China by saying 'oh well China was built on top of 2 tectonic plates so it was bound to happen' but is this really the whole story? Does that feeling of unease truly go with this explanation. For me it doesn't. For me, there is something more going on as the earth shifts on its axis. I don't have premonitions of natural disasters like this but I wrote a couple of blog entries ago about the increasing sense of awareness I have of a power that if it didn't want me to cross the road safely would not allow me to do so. Sometimes the intensity of feelings and experiences I have do not come across in my blog entries. This is because in the past I haven't wanted to be too radical or maybe it's that I didn't have the confidence in myself to be direct and straight.

The earthquake in China has changed all that. The urgency with which I was woken to write this blog this morning shows me that there is a need for me to continue writing about the importance of a spiritual path. The earthquake in China should act as the first step on the spiritual path - the tauba - the turning away from the outer in order to begin the process of experiencing the inner. It is only the inner that gives sense to such catastrophic outside events. I defy anyone not to have felt (if he/she allowed themselves) a sense of helplessness and a sense of how small we are compared to the magnitude of nature. And from this experience of shame of being so small and helpless allow that turning point to the spiritual to allow itself to happen.

There is no doubt that that the dragon of the human kingdom is on its last legs. The dragon is always at its most dangerous when it is dying. In London yesterday there were 2 fatal stabbings of young boys. Something is going very badly wrong. I know in the past I have written that all of this is the Divine playing with its creation and its creations i.e. us as humans but the frequency by which human life is being snuffed out suggests to me that there are more forces at work. So much unhappiness in my opinion is the result of the Soul being denied access to the consciousness through our obsession with materialism and things external. This is leading to a build up of frustration by the Soul that is finding expression in uncharacteristic acts of violence. Underlying all acts of violence is fear. This fear is the frustration of not being able to break free of the ego. It is the ego that keeps the consciousness trapped.

Today let the earthquake in China be the starting point for the spiritual journey. It begins by taking responsibility for all of fear and anger that we have within us. The act of honestly taking responsibility without doing anything else begins the shift of consciousness necessary for spiritual awakening. It is me and only me who is responsible for every angry thought as well as every blissful feeling. The earthquake in China has given me an urgency that up to now I haven't felt. I am not able to trace back the source of this urgency only its strength.

Ideas can be disputed and debated, experiences can only be validated. I have written before that if I hadn't had a powerful inner energetic experience which expanded my consciousness and gave me the clear insight of the 3 stages of the spiritual path I would not be writing this blog. I can doubt my ideas and thoughts but I cannot and will not ever doubt the power of the experience I had and from which what I write stems. I can ask the question why me but this is a useless question. A better question is how do I inspire others to have the faith that the spiritual path is a real path with real fruits for the efforts spent in increasing self-awareness. This is the question I go to sleep with and wake up with each morning.....

Sunday, 11 May 2008

Not much integrity......around this blog these days..

I am aware that the intervals between blog entries are getting longer. I could say that it is the warm weather which is making it difficult for me to think! but this would be a lie. The truth is that the last couple of times after I finished writing the blog I felt quite restless and the day doesn't seem to go as well. It's like I tap into something unconsciously through this blog and whatever it is I have tapped into just doesn't go away, if that makes any sense. I am aware though that there are return readers to this blog and to those I want to say sorry for any frustration caused when there is no blog update.

These days I have been thinking more and more about the nature of enlightenment. I have been thinking more in a scientific way than a mystic way. For me, freedom comes when the mind is freed from the senses. When we can look at a flower and become lost and absorbed in its beauty. When the senses are free without any interference from the mind this to me is liberation, enlightenment, Nirvana whatever label you want to put on it. This thought of mine was validated quite strongly at work the other day. Both my colleague and I had read a moving article in a magzine about a woman who had cured herself of cancer. I read it and was absorbed and moved by the story there was no mind involvement, in terms of evaluation of the article. My colleague said to me when we spoke about it 'as I was reading it I kept thinking the English in this is very bad and it is also badly written'. When she said this to me I was sad that her mind had prevented her from being moved to compassion by what was a very moving story. The evaluative mind prevented the movement of energy to compassion.

On Saturday night I felt drawn to attend a talk by Sri Kaleshar. I had never heard of this self-proclaimed enlightened man who is descended from the Shirdi Sai Baba lineage. This is typical of me. I will be drawn to go to a talk. Beforehand it is all I can think of and everything will work that I will be at the venue early and then I will sit amongst the crowd of devotees feeling that I don't belong and wondering why I found myself there. Saturday night was no different. I was firstly struck by the number of westerners that were wearing Indian clothes. I have never understood this. I am a westerner on a universal spiritual path, why would I wear Indian dress to go to a talk in London given by an Indian yogi. I have the Indian pyjamas (I'm not being disrespectful but I can't remember their proper name) that I bought and wore when I lived in India but it never entered my head to wear them to hear this man speak. For me, I think if I had put them on then something would have said 'now you are special', in other words a spiritual ego would have taken a hold. This is the danger with the ritual of dressing in a special way or being given a special name during an initiation. The spiritual ego is no less damaging to the spiritual path than is the materialistic ego. In fact I would assert that the spiritual ego is more damaging because it is the deepest form of self-delusion. The self-delusion of being special.

The evening began with some Bhajans (devotional songs). These were sung in Sanskrit and were different mantras. Devotional singing and chanting I have faith in. I have faith in this for speeding up spiritual awakening for 2 main reasons. The first is that the Bhajans are not in English. This stops the mind from evaluating. It doesn't understand so knows that there's no point in trying and so it accepts. In that acceptance the power of the soul can begin to emerge. The other reason I have faith in singing is that it creates more space in the brain. The more space the more expanded is the consciousness. I knew that if I closed my eyes during the Bhajans that I will create space and my consciousness would expand. This is exactly what happened. I found myself in Rishikesh where there is a huge statue of Lord Shiva. I had done some devotional singing there the last time I had been in India and had been moved to tears there. Through the Bhajans my consciousness returned and I don't want to sound arrogant but I really felt like I had merged with Lord Shiva. The image of the grandness of the statue and the feelings it awoke in me were once again so strong. I knew then that this was the reason why I found myself sitting there on a wam and balmy Saturday night in London.

Then Sri Kaleshar began to speak. I had been drawn to his talk because it was supposed to have been about 'The miracle power of Jesus, awakening the miracle energy within'. It was more the 2nd half than the first that drew me there. I have experience of this miracle energy within and I wanted to find out more. He began his talk by showing a slide show of his ashram in Southern India which he has called the Sri Kaleshwar Soul University. All I could think of as the slides were being shown was how much it must cost for its upkeep. Perhaps this was my evaluative mind that was acting to sabotage total absorption in what he was saying, but again I had the thought,' is the setting up of structures like this what the Divine really wants'. This cutting oneself away from the world to meditate and learn complicated theories. I have such a strong feeling that it isn't. That the Divine wishes to experience the fruits of its creation which is life as a human. It can only experience this through an awakened consciousness. How pissed off it must get when it delivers an experience to a person to wake him or her up and then this same person goes off to an ashram. I don't know where this thought of mine comes from but I do know its strength. This is why I find myself in such a conflict whenever I am being told about an ashram or any spiritual structure. Today's realization becomes tomorrow's spiritual ego inflation unless there is unrelenting vigilance.

As he was speaking I experienced a level of frustration. Again I don't want to sound arrogant but he said nothing that I didn't already know. However one thing he said really resonated. He said that when we have the mind and the heart under our control, then the soul releases and powerful healing is the result. He said that this is why Jesus could perform the kind of healing miracles that he did. He could do this because he had both his mind and his heart under Soul control. What does it mean to have both heart and mind under Soul control? For the mind it means freeing itself from the senses so that the senses are free to operate without interference from the mind. For the heart it means having a contentment that is independent of external circumstances. When we have this contentment independent of external events and circumstances then the heart is controlled and the Soul is released. The result then is freedom and liberation and the power to perform miracles.

I am clear that I won't be attending Sri Kaleshwar's Soul University. It is not for me. What struck me about the slides he showed was how sincere the devotees were as they pored over some diagrams which looked very complicated and which he didn't explain. I was disappointed in the talk for a number of reasons. Firstly he didn't speak about what he was billed to speak about which was 'awakening the miracle energy within'. He didn't ask for questions from his audience which to me is always a weak sign in a speaker and the majority of the talk to me seemed to be promotion for his Soul University. However the experience I had through the devotional Bhajans was so well worth me being there. It is important on this path to be discerning and honest in what resonates and what doesn't. I am not being critical here or making him wrong but I am clear he is not my teacher.

When I came home I looked at the photograph I have of Sri Ramana Maharishi on my shelf beside the statue of the Buddha and a great wave of love and devotion overcame me. It is always the same when I look at his photograph. I think it is necessary to have this reaction before accepting someone as a teacher. Every day something new comes along yet it is the One Truth only different paths. Discernment is necessary to find the right path for each of us.......

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

An uneasy feeling........

How I have learned that less is definitely more on the spiritual path. This path is totally about surrender and trust. To truly realize that I couldn't have got up and wrote this blog this morning if a higher power had not wanted me to do so. More and more I am realizing in the little as well as the big things that I have no control. Now I am consciously aware when I cross a road that I am only on the other side because a higher power wanted it. This realization has brought such humbleness to me. Yet it is a humbleness which is not subservient, but respectful. I still question like I questioned a disturbing documentary that I watched last night called 'Jesus camp'. I didn't watch to the end but the gist of it was that it was a Christian boot camp for children where children were indoctrinated not so much into love for God but fear of the devil. For me this is cruel. To watch the fear in those children's eyes when they were told that the devil was real and to cast out the devil was distressing to me. To see how terrified and upset those young children were was upsetting.

Yet there were parts of the programme that I couldn't disagree with. The idea of giving yourself fully to a higher power is one I can't disagree with. But to me this doesn't mean to be evangelical. I have totally surrendered and I am not evangelical. To me it doesn't have to be this way and I'm not sure that the higher power wants it to be that way either. I return time and time again to that Sufi saying which comes into my mind almost every morning the moment I wake up 'I was a hidden treasure and I wanted to be known, so I created the world'. This has so much resonance for me. For me it says that the Divine wishes to experience human existence. That which creates cannot also experience hence where the Many were formed from the ONE. Given this and I fully accept responsibility of this being the way I see it, I don't expect others to see it in the same way, but given my way of thinking why should anyone think that the object of the Divine is to make us all into evangelical people propounding whatever doctrine is thought to be THE ONE. If anything it is this that is the Divine's idea of a joke.

Yet I shouldn't be as distressed about this as I am because everything is a play of the Divine, so why get upset. Why not laugh at the different games which the Divine is playing. This is not to say not to stand up and speak out when something doesn't feel right, it just means to speak out but then to see beyond and in that seeing to remain calm and grounded. To do this in complete surrender means to have been able to penetrate through the game of the Maya or delusion. For humans our life is a game of hide and seek, the higher power hides and through the process of self-discovery and self-realization that which was hidden becomes revealed. For some this game gets exposed and they largely become mystics. For a great many others the searching and feeling of an emptyness that nothing can fill goes on. The saying 'many are called, but few are chosen remains as true today as it did in the past'.

I don't doubt the power of a personal experience to create the 'turnining point' which is essential on the spiritual path. That point where the consciousness shifts from the outer world of the senses to the inner world of the soul. Without this shift access to the spiritual path is not possible. But this shift has to be done voluntarily and willingly. How voluntary and willing were those children that I saw on the programme last night. The oldest one was 12 years old. He was singled out and told that he was going to 'do great things for Jesus', how did that Pastor know, he was only 12. In many cases the spiritual path doesn't really become a reality until later on in life. I know that there are many stories of yogis and saints who were manifesting spiritual qualities in their younger years but by and large this is rare. I also think that the East is more steeped in spirituality as opposed to religion, but this is just my opinion.

I felt uneasy at what I watched last night. I feel children should be left free to choose for themselves the path they want to follow. If the emphasis to the children had been love perhaps I wouldn't have been left feeling so uneasy but there was no doubt that the intention was to instill fear of God into those children and it is this that I found so disturbing. My experience from an early age is that this higher power, benevolent force, higher self, whatever label you want to put on it is not to be feared, respected yes, thought of constantly in one's everyday life, yes, trusted and surrendered to, most definitely, but feared, never. To put fear of the spiritual into the impressionable minds of children is an unforgiveable thing for any adult to do.

Saturday, 3 May 2008

Be yourself, and be strong. Realization is only for the strong, the pure and the upright......

The title for this blog entry is taken from the book called 'Life stories of sixteen monastic disciples of Sri Ramakrishna'. For me the toughest part of the spiritual journey lies in the first two words 'be yourself'. This begs the question, who I am. How can I be myself if I don't know who I am. From being on this path since the age of 11 I understand that I am not who I think I am. Who I think I am is a product of the decisions I made to survive when I was a child. Every decision I made then has made me who I am now. The decision I made that I had to be generous in order to survive life in an Irish catholic boarding school with girls who were different to me. I was different because I had an English accent and they were all Irish.

The shock realization that 'I didn't belong' forced me to put in place a strategy for survival that was not who I was. I put in place a strategy of generosity. This became what I was known for. I put everyone before me, everyone was better, smarter, funnier than me. I sold out on myself in order to be generous to others. Being generous was then an identity I took on, it's not who I am. The words 'be yourself' while they sound easy are not. To establish who or what is myself takes a huge amount of work, ruthless compassion with ourselves and an acceptance that whatever the way of being that was put in place to survive in the past wasn't wrong, it just doesn't work now.

I looked closely at this trait of generosity that I had and realised how much it had limited me and how it was not who I am. I saw that generosity stopped me from being straight, and authentic. I wasn't being true to who I was because the hold that generosity had on me wouldn't allow it. I saw this, saw the impact that it has had on me all these years. I have a distance from my family because my trait of being generous meant I could never be straight because that might hurt them and that wasn't generous. The impact is that for years they have never known where they stand with me. This wasn't helped by me leaving my 2 younger brothers to go away to boarding school. For me that was an act of generosity because tension at home when I was young which I felt always revolved around me meant that I decided that my family would be happier if I wasn't there. So I put myself into the Irish Catholic boarding school when I was 11.

But my brothers don't know this. I feel that the context they have for their sister is someone who has always done what she wants. Their context for me might be that I'm selfish. From seeing how this strategy of generosity has limited me in that it has prevented me from being straight I have now created the possibility of being straight and this is now what I am. I know that it is what I was supposed to be if I didn't have to put in place a strategy for survival. I know though that this straightness I have now is going to take a while to be accepted by my family. I wouldn't blame them if their atttidue to me is now like 'where were you all those years, now you want to get involved'. I know that I have such a lot to make up for.

The purpose of writing all this is not to use this blog as some kind of cathartic relief but to demonstrate how deep the delusion is that we 'know yourselves'. I would assert that we don't. We know the product of decisions we made when we were children and think that this is 'me'. But this is not. The tough and painful task of looking beyond what we think is 'me' will reveal the source out of which the 'me' was formed. I wish that I had seen earlier in my life the impact that putting in place the generosity strategy for survival would have on my capacity to be powerful and to touch and move and inspire others. What I have leart is that generosity when it is used to cover up a weakness such as the fear of not belonging will never inspire people, only being straight and authentic will inspire.

I can and am still generous but the difference now is that it is not used to cover up a weakness. Generosity is an important trait on the spiritual path, the generosity to have the faith with or without the realization that we are all one, and all connected. This generosity is important. But one has to careful not to do what I did for so many years and that is to use what are spiritual traits to cover up human weaknesses. When we see where we are doing this, we give it up and create a new possibility from the space of the nothingness then we are authentic and with authenticity comes power.......

Yesterday I returned back to the gym and did 2 hrs of Astanga yoga. I have had a difficult relationship to yoga over the years. Every so often I get a thought in my head 'I must do some yoga'. I will go off and find a class and then usually half way through the class will get bored. My body is quite stiff and with the 2 operations on my foot, I have no balance' so I experience quite high levels of frustration when I can't stand still without wobbling and everyone else can. The usual result is that I give up. Yesterday though, even though I still wobbled and had difficulty with some of the Asanas my mind was calm. The result afterwards though was what amazed me I felt so light and expanded. I was walking along in the bright sunshine and suddenly my consciousness expanded to such an extent that I felt the absence of all physical boundaries. When this happens there is no doubt in my mind about the connection of all to all by THE ALL.....

Thursday, 1 May 2008

How uplifting getting a comment is......

On Tuesday I received a comment on the blog entry I posted about my darshan visit to Mother Meera. It was a lovely surprise and I was delighted to get it. The purpose of this blog is not to write it to get comments but to leave my record of what I am calling the universal spiritual journey. I have some analytics on countries that are reading the blog and I know that there are people returning to read it, so this is satisfaction enough for me. The comment however brought back my own memories of the visit to Mother Meera and I began thinking about what its purpose was. I was unsure when I returned from the visit in terms of how this woman has acquired the following that she has and I still am. I don't feel I got anything from the locked eye contact but then I don't know for sure. So I will stay in that space of being uncertain - that space of certain growth.

I think what is important though is not so much whether or not I got anything but that I listened to the inner voice which was uncomfortable around the experience. It is learning this discernment which is so important in progressing the path. To recognise and acknowledge the inner conflict without making anything about the situation wrong are important spiritual steps. To go with what feels right for my own path while letting other paths be in exactly the way they are and exactly the way they are not. I believe that the purpose in meeting such people is not to get anything from them but to learn more about ourselves in the reactions we have when we meet them.

I was struck by the difference in how I felt after just seeing a photograph of The Maharishee. The moment I saw his photograph I felt something deep within me leap and a wave of what I can only describe as compassion enveloped me. I saw him looking at me and I felt he was looking deep into my soul. I remember feeling a sense of deep disappointment when Paul Brunton didn't immediately sense the power of that Avatar and halt his search for realized souls in India. So even without a photo my soul recognised The Maharishee. I didn't feel anything like this in the presence of Mother Meera. I understand this to mean for me that at this stage of my path that it is the words of the Maharishee that will bring the next spiritual expansion of consciousness. But again I don't know this. The spiritual is truly a path by the alone to the alone. I can't get out of my head the sufi proverb that says of the Divine, 'I was a hidden treasure and I wanted to be known'. I remain convinced that the Divine experiences through us as humans. To be fully awake is to be Divine.

Sometimes though with all these insights that I receive and the easy way life is flowing for me I feel so inadequate to relieve the suffering of others. I received some sad news this evening from a very good friend who is awaiting the results from a tumour that she feels is malignant. When she told me I was so shocked. I realize the truth of the one behind the many and so all of the dramas that the many have are empty and meaningless but this is not just 'many' this is my friend who I have known and valued for 20 years. As I write this I feel anger at the Divine play that is going to result in so much pain and suffering. I find myself asking the question why does the Divine drama have to include sickness and pain. Why can't it just be death. But even as I write this, I have been given the answer. Something has just said to me the words which I remember from the Conversations with God books by Neale Donald Walsche 'how can you know health if you haven't experienced sickness', life is the experience of opposites. It is through the opposites that the Divine experiences. Now there is a level of calm and acceptance there wasn't when I started writing the paragraph. I can't see the bigger picture and it's arrogant for me to make a judgement or form an opinion on the little piece of the picture that I can see......