Showing posts from 2010

Everything Is All Right

Compassion is both a way to connect with the indwelling Spirit, and a manifestation of that connection. A sense of compassionate connection with other beings reinforces the awareness of Oneness that is otherwise too often inwardly-directed. 
I have had a sense of peace and security about my life situation more and more lately as I learn to relax into Love and to surrender to Spirit. My meditations focus on acceptance of the higher Self as my true being, and on giving up the complaints and demands of the egoic self. In many situations that I would formerly have found stressful or threatening my reaction is now not panic or fear, but a gentle awareness that everything is all right. This awareness is not limited to spiritual themes but extends into everyday living. At home, at work, and anywhere else I may find myself, I am learning to accept that nothing can be wrong in Spirit and that, sometimes despite appearances, everything is all right. I am becoming increasingly aware that as I all…

Ramana Maharshi on the Householder's Dilemma

This Q&A addresses the question I believe every secular mystic must confront: How to live spiritually while dealing with the demands of everyday life.Q:  How can cessation of activity (nivritti) and peace of mind be attained in the midst of household duties which are of the nature of constant activity?

Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi:

As the activities of the wise man exist only in the eyes of others and not in his own, although he may be accomplishing immense tasks, he really does nothing. Therefore his activities do not stand in the way of inaction and peace of mind. For he knows the truth that all activities take place in his mere presence and that he does nothing. Hence he will remain as the silent witness of all the activities taking place.
Bhagavan is reminding us here that the Sage exists as the silent observer, entirely apart from his body/mind. The activities of body/mind are not his activities. He is free from attachments, and his serenity is not disturbed by the constan…

Spiritual Surrender

Our human existence can be characterized as a series of challenges. Life presents us with one situation after another in which we must choose among many possible courses of action, one of which is not to act at all. Behind those choices is another very important choice, which is whether to be guided by ego or by Spirit. 
Ego almost never chooses inaction. Ego's modus operandi is to stir the pot, to find threats in every situation. Because it is convinced that the Universe is hostile, ego reacts either defensively or aggressively, whatever it believes will best serve its own perceived needs without regard to the needs of others. Ego scorns inaction as passive surrender to the omnipresent enemy.
Spirit, on the other hand, inhabits a cooperative Universe in which love and acceptance are the moving forces. It does not feel threatened because it knows that it is immortal and unchanging. As manifested in us as individuals, Spirit counsels us to act for the benefit of all. In many cases, t…

Thinking About Immortality

Death and dying are subjects that are so taboo in our society, that we often refuse even to think privately about them. The Google dictionary defines "morbid" as "Characterized by or appealing to an abnormal and unhealthy interest in disturbing and unpleasant subjects, esp. death and disease." I suppose that interest in death and disease can be carried to such an extreme that it can be characterized as abnormal and unhealthy. The same is true of any other subject; the pathology then is related to obsession, rather than to the topics themselves. But we often behave as if any consideration of death and dying were a sign of mental illness, and as if any reference to the subject were extremely bad manners.

The very aversion that we demonstrate to the topic of death is an indication of the great importance we attach to it. I have alluded to the subject before. Physical death is inevitable. It seems very likely that ego, which is attached to the physical body, must die …

Buried Pain

I suspect that many people hesitate to go within because they are afraid of what they will find. It is true that most of us have buried many painful memories and emotions. But even though we have placed them out of reach of our ordinary awareness, their negative influence remains. The only way to eliminate the adverse effects of buried pain is to uncover it and release it once and for all. Doing so removes one impediment to spiritual awareness. The process becomes progressively easier as you learn that you, not the pain, are in control of your life.

The Power of Patience

Another powerful quotation from the Dalai Lama shone like a jewel in the mud on my Facebook page today.  Here is the quotation:
"The most important benefit of patience consists in the way it acts as a powerful antidote to the affliction of anger - the greatest threat to our inner peace, and therefore our happiness. The mind, or spirit, is not physical, it cannot be touched or harmed directly. Only negative thoughts and emotions can harm it. Therefore, only the corresponding positive quality can protect it."
Facebook - or the little slice of it that is reflected on my page - seems to be increasingly devoted to the expression of individuals' social and political imperatives.  As such it mirrors our ever more polarized society.  Dialog seems to have largely vanished from the forum of opinion, to be replaced by strident voices shouting from soapboxes on every corner.  People are more devoted to their own ideas, prejudices and agendas than they are to other people.  In sp…

Who am "I"?

Sri Ramana Maharshi invites us to meditate on the question, "Who am I?" ... ultimately "I" discover that "I" am nothing apart from God. Still "we" cling to "our" illusion of individuality, twisting and jumping from one concept of "self" to another like a fish on a line. Each time mind presents another rationalization for the belief that "I" am separate and unique, "I" must struggle to overcome and release such thoughts. Yet it is impossible to release them completely while living a secular life. "My" family, "my" friends, "my" job, "my" possessions, all seem to have meaning. "My" senses testify that other people also are unique individuals. Only when "I" take sanctuary in meditation can "I" approach the understanding of Oneness. Then dualities fade and "I" passes from awareness for a time in the presence of I am.

How Should Disease Be Treated?

A discussion of an alternative or naturopathic cancer treatment led me to meditate on the choice between such therapies (which for want of a better term I will call "alternative" medicine) and conventional medicine (i.e., the medicine of Western science, doctors and hospitals).  The understanding that came to me is that physical illness -- by itself, clearly a phenomenon of the material universe -- may have many causes.  Some causes are themselves material (such as exposure to toxic substances, viruses and bacteria, or congenital physical defects). Other causes are energetic (arising in the aetheric boundary between the material and the spiritual), and still others are purely spiritual (such as karma).  Similarly, physical illness can be treated on a variety of levels, ranging from the purely material to the energetic to the purely spiritual.  In each case the treatment will not be considered "successful" unless the physical manifestation of the underlying cause is…

New Challenges

Meet every new challenge with respect by giving it your full creative attention.  Treating new challenges as if they are old ones leads you to apply old methods and solutions, which may or may not fit the current situation.  This is especially important to remember if you are an "expert".  Expertise is more than experience. It requires the ability to discern what is unique in the present circumstances and to modify old solutions accordingly.  Knowledge must be tempered with the wisdom to realize that you don't know everything, and that the present moment is different from any moment in the past.  Relying on knowledge alone leaves you frozen in the past.  The present is fluid and constantly new, but welcoming if you are willing to plunge in, swim with the tide, and learn new lessons.

Universal Mind

The things you write that you believe are thoughts newly coming to you from Universal Mind are really memories, or rather impressions penetrating the illusion of separation. You are dimly aware of the state of Oneness with Source and these writings are imperfect descriptions of that imperfect awareness. Others who read and appreciate what you have written do so because their own awareness, albeit as imperfect as yours, is stimulated. Thus the process of writing and reading is itself part of the reawakening for both.


This flower is already withered,
this moment now is past.

This cup already broken,
this breath will be my last.

Each thing I could not live without
is just a memory.

Each precious trinket that I owned
has gone and left me free.

This body has been dust long since,
this town a sterile plain.

This land has sunk beneath the sea,
and I am home again.

I've watched the planet Earth dissolve
in her Sun's nova flame.

I've seen the galaxies burn out,
yet I am still the same.

I am the One I've always been,
unbound by time or space.

I am unborn and never die.
I am eternal Grace.

I am the planets and the suns,
the flower and the breath.

I am the Spirit that transcends
my birth, my life, my death.

I am the truth within my lie,
the solace in your pain.

I am the Voice that softly calls
you back to me again.


It's not true that God speaks only to a chosen few. Only a few choose to listen.


Don't seek to enjoy life, but to experience it.  There is wisdom in bitter fruit, and sweetness in wisdom.

Understanding Oneness

The Teacher said,

In order to understand Oneness, you must learn a new way of visualizing yourself in relation to God.  You say to yourself, "How can I be one with God?  God is infinite and I am limited; God is everywhere and I am only here." You can accept yourself as a part of God; yet God as the infinite unbounded Oneness has no parts.  In God there is no great or small, no here nor there; for those are dualistic concepts that cannot describe attributes of Oneness. Indeed Oneness has no attributes, because attributes exist only for purposes of comparing one thing with another.  All That Is comprehends all attributes and therefore has none.

What is here is everywhere.  You draw a circle around yourself and say, "The part of the Universe that is within this circle is me; the rest is not me," even though God is both inside and outside. With this limited image of yourself, it is no wonder that you cannot understand Oneness.

It can be shown mathematically that every p…

Love or Attachment?

It's easy to mindfully distinguish love from attachment.  Love unselfishly desires the happiness of others.  Attachment desires the attention of others to gratify one's own perceived needs.  Ego is not capable of love, but ego is all about attachment.  Spirit knows that it is Love and, being aware of its Oneness with All That Is, understands the futility of attachment. When you allow yourself to be controlled by ego, you find yourself grasping at objects of desire whether they are people, things, or ideas. The more of your consciousness that you devote to Spirit, the more you will manifest unconditional Love. The two forms of consciousness cannot exist simultaneously, though sometimes we vacillate so rapidly between Love and attachment that we find it difficult to distinguish between them, and even believe that they are two names for the same thing.  We can escape this confusion by being aware of their very different consequences.  Attachment is associated with anxiety, fear, …

Ego and the News

Contemporary spiritual teachers advise against paying too much attention to the news media because they appeal pruriently to the ego, which is obsessed with self-preservation yet drawn paradoxically to the adrenaline rush of danger.  Maybe the co-existence of those two factors explains the popularity of horror and violence in entertainment media -- we are able to feel the physical/emotional reaction without being in any real danger.  The simulation of imminent danger also promotes ego's agenda to focus consciousness on personal survival rather than on Oneness. I wouldn't discount either the grotesque satisfaction ego draws from the experience of remaining safe while watching others endure hideous suffering.

You Will Call, I Will Answer

Harvard Law professor William Stuntz discusses his impending death. He describes his feelings about issues that most of us are not forced to confront on a daily basis. His thoughts deserve a place in your consciousness.

You Will Call, I Will Answer


Surrendering the belief in good and evil means it is no longer necessary to look for the good in evil people or circumstances. Surrendering personal will means abandoning the need to impose your own conceptions of good and evil on your surroundings. Acceptance of the Universe as it is allows you to surrender to the Spirit within and let God's will manifest through you; and ultimately to dissolve that ego-imposed sense of separation that denies you access to Oneness with All that Is.‏

Book Review: Chants of a Lifetime by Krishna Das

Sometimes when reading a book on a spiritual topic, I realize that I am not really reading to learn something new, but only seeking validation of what I already believe. The author will state a point and my inner judge evaluates it, concluding “Yes, this is consistent with what I believe,” or “No, this is wrong, this is all rubbish.” It is a difficult thing to suspend judgment and simply allow the author’s ideas to flow through my consciousness, particularly when the book is one I have been invited to review. When that does happen, though, I find the inner voice is still there, but in a different tone -- “This Truth feels familiar … This Truth is one I have not experienced yet.” This state in which reactions come more from the higher Self than from the small self is difficult to attain. What surprises me in retrospect about the experience of having read Chants of a Lifetime is that Krishna Das managed to evoke that less judgmental state naturally, without my being aware this was happ…

Surrender as a Constant Practice

Surrender is the recognition that seeking God is pointless because God is nowhere to be found; but that God will come to you if you are open and accepting. This openness is first achieved in meditation or other spiritual practice, where the demands of body and mind are set aside in favor of your relationship with Spirit. However, few if any are so fortunate as to be able to spend all their time focused exclusively on a formal practice. Eventually the demands of the world must also be given some attention. For most of us, the great majority of our time and attention is devoted to worldly matters.

It is essential, then, that we learn to carry the attitude of surrender with us as we go about our daily affairs. This does not mean to be passive, but rather to conduct ourselves always in ways that are attentive to the inner Voice that first comes to us in our practice. In fact, we will find that maintaining our intention to surrender to the will of God is a very demanding exercise out…

Happiness and Buddha Nature

From Krishna Das' forthcoming book, Chants of a Lifetime:
"Ultimately, we'll come to live in a state where our hearts are so expansive, so open to love, that everyone and anything is free to come and go without being judged or pushed away."

What Am I?

What am I?

There are so many things I sometimes identify with that are not me.  I am not my car or my house.  I am not my computer.  I am not any of my belongings.

I am not my friends or my family.  I am not any of these precious relationships, no matter how closely I may cling to them.

I am not this hand, this foot, not even this heart and lungs, not even - dare I say it - this brain through which all my experience surges ceaselessly like a storm of lightening.

I am not this thought that is passing through my consciousness at this instant.

That which I am would exist if all these things were destroyed, or if they had never existed.

I am none of these things that seem to distinguish my being from any other.  I am Universal Spirit; I am Oneness; I am that which is real and has no opposite; I am Life.  Existence coalesces around me, individual elements lose their identity. I am the swirling black hole at the end of this Universe into which matter falls and becomes undifferentiated energ…