Wednesday 19 December 2012

Meaning of Life

"The Ultimate Answer to Life, the Universe and Everything is....42!"                               
Douglas Adams,  Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

In the late 1970,s the BBC aired a radio program called Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. It was as wacky and eccentric as could be, but also sprinkled with little pearls of wisdom along with truths that were presented in often very humorous ways.

The search for an answer to the 'meaning of life' is a serious business, but if we take ourselves too seriously whilst engaged in it then we are likely to miss one of the central and most crucial points.

The joy and humour that often seems to accompany those who have 'recognized their true nature' is like a perfume that radiates from them.  It arises spontaneously with their realization. Those who have passed through such a crucial juncture in their experience are almost invariably faced with the profound humour inherent in the 'truth'.

Isn't it just so ironic that we can spend our entire life as 'such and such' doing 'so and so', deeply involved in the little life drama surrounding that 'person' we call ourself.  Yet at the end of the day, all of it is utterly meaningless!

There never was a time when we were 'somebody' and yet we have always 'existed'.

'42' is as perfectly apt as any other answer  to the eternal question as to the 'meaning of life'.

Life simply is, in and of itself.

This realization is the basis of peace and joy...

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Sunday 16 December 2012

On the Benefits of Saving Lives.

Kyabje Chadral Rinpoche

"I bow down before the Lama, Buddha Amitayus,
And the bodhisattvas in training.
I shall now, in brief, describe the benefits
Of freeing animals and ransoming their lives.
To save animals from slaughter and any mortal danger,
With an entirely pure motivation and conduct,
Is, without doubt, a practice to be taken up
By all followers of the Buddha Shakyamuni.
Many sutras, tantras and commentaries
Describe in detail the advantages it brings,
And countless learned and accomplished masters of India and Tibet
Have stressed the value and importance of benefitting beings.
Even in the basic vehicle one avoids inflicting harm on others,
In the Mahayana this is the very training of a bodhisattva,
And in the secret mantra, a principal samaya of the ratna family.
The reasoning behind this is as follows: in this world,
Nothing is as dear to someone as his or her own life,
So no greater crime is there than taking life away,
And no conditioned virtue brings greater merit
Than the act of saving beings and ransoming their lives.
Therefore, should you wish for happiness and good,
Exert yourself in this, the most supreme of paths,
Which is proven through scriptures and through reasoning,
And is free of obstacles and potential dangers.
Consider your own body and with this as an example,
Make every effort not to kill any living creature,
Birds, fish, deer, cattle and even tiny insects,
And strive instead to save their lives,
Offering them protection from every fear.
The benefit of doing so is beyond imagining.
This is the best practice for your own longevity,
And the greatest ritual for the living or deceased.
It is my main practice of benefitting others.
It dispels all external and internal adversity and obstacles,
Effortlessly and spontaneously, it brings favourable conditions,
And, when inspired by the noble mind of bodhichitta and
Completed with dedication and pure aspiration prayers,
It will lead one to complete enlightenment,
And the accomplishment of one’s own and others’ welfare—
Of this, you need have no doubts at all!
Those whose minds incline to virtue and acts of merit,
Should prohibit hunting and fishing on their land.
Some birds, in particular, such as geese and cranes,
Are impelled by their karma to migrate
And fly south in autumn, north in spring.
At times, weary from the efforts of their flight,
Or having lost their way, some are forced to land,
Distressed, afraid and anxious; when this happens,
You should not throw stones or shoot at them,
Nor try to kill them or do them any harm,
But protect them so they may easily fly once more.
To offer care and affection to sentient beings
In desperate situations who lack protection
Brings just as much merit as the meditation
On emptiness with compassion as its core—
So it has been said by glorious Lord Atisha.
Lamas, officials, monks, nuns, men and women,
In all the places over which you have control,
Exert every influence and do all within your power
To release animals and ransom their lives,
While encouraging others to do the same.
In all those places where this is done,
Sickness among people and livestock will cease,
Harvests will be plentiful and life will be long.
All will enjoy happiness and well-being in abundance,
And at death let go of deluded experience,
Before finding an excellent rebirth within the higher realms.
Ultimately, there is no doubt that this will lead one easily
To find the supreme and perfect state of awakening.
In response to the request of Doctor Dordrak,
Who offered a pure silk scarf and a hundred Nepali rupees,
The one called Chatral Sangye Dorje,
Who strives continuously to ransom lives,
Wrote down spontaneously whatever came to mind.
By the merit of this may all sentient beings
Come to practice enlightened actions!
Mamakoling Samanta!"

The text was written by Chadral Rinpoche.

Chadral Rinpoche at the annual fish release in the River Ganges

Tuesday 27 November 2012

Deepam Morning.


When I went to bed last night, i had no intention of stepping outside the gate of my home for another 40 hours or so.  The great annual celebration of Deepam at Arunachala in the South of India is nearing its conclusion. Many hundreds of thousands of pilgrims  poured into the Temple town of Tiruvannamalai that day, and busloads more were continuing to arrive. This would go on throughout the night and all of the following day.

However at 2.30 am my eyes opened and I found myself completely awake and alert.  It is not the first time that this has happened to me here. Arunachala Hill has extraordinary power and a strong magnetic pull.  For many years I have puzzled over the effect and hold that it has over me and countless others who are drawn to this most sacred of places.

However, the mystery of this place cannot be solved by the mind.  The power that resonates so clearly here is something that moves at a much deeper, subconscious level.

I knew exactly what I was going to do, despite my previous intentions. I would go round the Hill.  Often this feeling arises very unexpectedly, but when it comes I feel compelled and on this morning of the Holy Deepam day i washed, dressed and made my way through the various locked gates of the compound and  out into the still, night air. At the corner of our quiet little dirt road, a buzz of intense activity was astir as a small group of workers prepared rice in huge steaming cauldrons. This would be offered freely to countless pilgrims as they make their way around the pradakshina road that encircles the Hill.

When i got out onto the main road itself, despite the early hour, I found it teeming with life. Masses of barefooted people, young, old, short, fat, tall, thin.  Humanity of every shape and variety moved, in silent unison, like a vast, swift river. All of them were making their round of the Hill. I merged into this living stream and
was soon finding my own walking pace amidst the crowd.

The repetitious chant of Om unobtrusively permeated the air from speakers that had been placed every hundred meters along the road.  This was a recent innovation of the local government and did much to augment the atmosphere. This could only be India. Thousands moving along together. Amid the cacophony of sounds, one felt a palpable silence punctuated only by prayers, the occasional outburst of devotional song and the patting of multitudes of bare feet tapping against the cold, hard tar of the road.

While walking the circumambulation route that girdles the Hill, I felt as though I were in a dream. There is something distinctly surreal about it all.
Arunachalaeshwar Temple

Near the main temple, with its great towers soaring up into the dawning sky, flocks of white birds darted about on the breezes, their wings illuminated by the floodlights. I spot two monkeys crouched together among the sculptured Gods and Goddesses many hundreds of feet above, their arms firmly wrapped around one another as they sleep in peaceful oblivion of the churning masses below.

We hear so much about the discord and disharmony going on in the world today. We hear about intolerance and hatred between people, all of whom are human, all of whom breath the same air and dance to the same blood as it circles their veins and gives them life. But here is an untold story. Countless thousands moving along in quiet, peaceful harmony.
In the east, the sun begins to rise. Rays of light fan out across the sky. As I turn northwards I see more shafts of light spilling across the Hill, and a long grey plume of mist rising off its summit.

Later on this day the flame in a giant cauldron will be lit on the top of the Hill.  At that time, a vast mass of humanity will be gazing towards the summit, their hands folded in prayer. This multitude will span the entire thirteen-kilometre circuit of the Hill.  With the sun setting in the west and the full moon disk rising in the east, a fire will burst up from the summit and with it a roar from all those gathered. Their focus is supremely united.

HaroHara, HaroHara, HaroHara, sounds out, as with one voice. 'This is a Sight for the Gods to See!'

Here is the Untold Story.
Here is a Song of Hope...

Deepam Flame at Ramana Ashram

Wednesday 21 November 2012

Smile When Your Heart is Breaking

Even in our darkest hours there is cause for hope. The difference between a smiling heart and a breaking one cannot be measured because both of these emotions are inextricably intertwined.

Of course to smile when our heart is breaking is the very last thing we might think of doing. Yet the difference between our smiles and our tears is not as great as it might seem.
In fact they are like the front and back of our  hands;  inseparable. Without one the other could not exist, just as light cannot manifest without the presence of darkness or vice versa...

Read more in Never Not Ever Here Now
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Monday 12 November 2012

Looking Beyond our Thoughts

Cartoon by Leunig
3 am Wake Up, Leunig

Did you ever wake up in the early hours of the morning and feel that the whole world was resting upon your shoulders. That, no matter which way you turned, everything looked dark and miserable. In those wee hours our minds can be so troubled and full of foreboding thoughts that no matter how we might try to look at it, all seems dark and there is a sense that nothing can ever turn out right.

We fall back into an uneasy slumber and when we waken again later that morning there is a lingering sensation that something awful 'happened' or is about to 'happen', but it is also mixed with a dawning sense of relief. As the sun begins to rise and we pull ourselves together for the coming days work, the premonitions and our previous sense of futility from the night before begin to fade into insignificance and before long these disappear like morning mist, swallowed up by the distractions and concerns of life.

For me, Leunig's wonderful cartoon encapsulates this little scenario most pithily. It is one instance of how we can take our thoughts very seriously in one moment and yet in another  feel very differently. What does this tell us about our minds and the nature of our thoughts?

If we can accustom ourselves to being mindful of our thoughts at least some of the time, we can soon begin to see just how illusory and baseless they actually are. Upon first observation this may not seem very significant but in fact realising this as a fact can completely change the way we react to thoughts and subsequently the way we live our lives...

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Saturday 29 September 2012

Footholds in Life

Tree clinging to a rock
Living on the Edge

It felt like a particularly long weekend. Not because of it being an extended one, but because he felt alone.

Alone, was something he understood only too well when  living in a big city. During the week he was working, his mind was preoccupied and busy, but when the weekend came... Where could he go? He felt 'unconnected'. What could he do, if the things that interested most people, just did not interest him?

What was it about being in a place, teeming with millions of other 'beings' and yet feeling utterly isolated, useless and alone?

This was a feeling that had visited him often when he was in that place.

Not only had it visited him on every occasion when he had stayed there for a while, but there had been many times when he had tried to run away from it. He would force himself to stay a while and then dash off like a frightened rabbit back into the folds of mad, vibrant, chaotic life in old 'Mother India'.
That had become his place of refuge. A place where anything and everything seemed possible. A place where he felt constantly, the 'grit' of life in his teeth. The place where 'life' challenged him at every turn and where it was totally and without boundaries, 'in his face'.

There was something about 'getting his hands dirty' that made him feel like he was alive. He used to wonder, 'is there anyone else out there, who feels like this too?'

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Sunday 23 September 2012

Ubuntu, 'I Am Because You Are'

"I Am Because of You"

How interdependent and inter connected are we all?
Can any of us exist in this world alone?

Our inter relationship with Everything and Everyone, 
is the very basis and fabric of our existence.
Not a single one of us can live in isolation.
From the air that we breath, to the food that we eat, 
our existence is woven into the whole tapestry of life as an integral and inter dependent fact.

'Ubuntu' is an African word, derived from the Zulu language. It has no direct translation into the English.  However, Arch Bishop Desmond Tutu came close to encapsulating the spirit of it with his words;  'My humanity is caught up, is inextricably bound up, in what is yours'...
'A person is a person, through other people'. This idea has its roots in African humanist philosophy which postulates that society is built upon 'common humanity, oneness, you and me both'...

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Thursday 26 July 2012

The Bridge of the Heart

holding hands

Around the time of my eighteenth birthday i was living in a small hut in a tropical forest in the north of Queensland, Australia. At that time, i had taken it into my head that i needed to 'find myself'.  So i had retired to a small patch of forest just outside the country town of Kuranda, intent on leading a life of meditation and contemplation.

My partner had remained in the town of Cairns.  We generally only met when i came down from the tableland to do a little shopping and take care of some chores from time to time. However, when my birthday arrived he asked me to come down especially, so we could have a meal together and perhaps meet with a few friends to mark the occasion.

Calvin was always very outgoing and made friends easily, and although we had only moved to Queensland a few months previously, he had already gathered a fairly large circle of friends and acquaintances around himself.  I, on the other hand, was much more reticent and besides, my self imposed isolation, at that time, was not very conducive to making new friends.

Therefore, being in a somewhat subdued frame of mind, i was happy to meet with him and a few of his closer acquaintances, but not interested in any sort of large gathering.  However things did not quite turn out as i might have envisioned.

When ever Calvin planned anything, he would get caught up in the spirit of it and soon it would take on much larger proportions and when evening rolled in that day, word had got out that there would be a party on the beach and everyone should bring a little something to eat.  What ever i lacked for in terms of sociability in my younger years, he more than made up for and when he decided on something, it usually came together in a much grander way than i would have imagined.

That evening a large group of us gathered on the brilliant white sands of Half Moon Beach. It just happened to be a full moon and the whole landscape was transformed into a silvery white world. Evanescent waves, shimmering with moonlight, lapped the shores. It was a gorgeous evening. We all sat around sharing our food, talking and laughing.

There would have been about forty people present, of which i knew only a handful. However the atmosphere was light and relaxed and everyone seemed to be having a good time. After the dinner was over, Calvin decided to give a little speech in honor of my birthday and he cracked a few jokes and had everyone laughing and gathered around. Then he turned and asked me to make a wish, something that could be shared with everyone present. I will never know why, but i suddenly had the inspiration that we should all join hands and chant the sacred letter 'om'.

No one objected, so we all took the hand of whoever was next to us and soon we had linked ourselves into a circle and  begun to chant.  At first it was quite faltering and forty voices were all at different pitches, some even a bit dissonant, but as the moments passed, there came a natural adjustment and the tone of our combined chanting began to balance itself and become  harmonious and more and more powerful.

Then something quite extraordinary and unexpected happened.  It was as though our combined forty hearts and voices became completely attuned to one another, as though the people standing there in the circle had become a single, breathing unit. Everybody felt it. As if we were one voice we suddenly stopped singing without anyone having given a sign, and we all stood there enfolded in a most magical blanket of warmth and light. It was something quite tangible...

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Sunday 27 May 2012

The Ungainly Dance of Life

Mouse Frog

'Life is a tale, told by an idiot full of sound and fury, signifying nothing...' Shakespeare.

'Life is a theatre of the absurd.' Shakespeare.

'It used to be the 'theatre of the absurd', now it is so ridiculous
we don't even have a name for it." KVS

I had taken down these quotes one day during a breakfast with KVS at Arunachala, they rather appealed to me, so i filed them away for a rainy day...

I don't remember what bought them up, but i knew they would come in handy, and sure enough, here in the middle of a suburban wilderness of concrete, mortar and speeding motor cars, they reappear on my screen with a vibrancy all their own.

Life is indeed a 'theater of the absurd'...

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Sunday 11 March 2012

Ransoming Lives

'Limit yourself to just a few activities and undertake them with all diligence.'

Chadral Rinpoche.

One of the 'activities' that Chadral Rinpoche
undertook with 'all diligence' was and remains the annual fish release in the sacred Indian river, the Ganges, at the point where it finally flows out into the Bay of Bengal and the wide open sea.

He began this project in the 1960,s with little more than an old wooden canoe, a few bucket loads of fish and a couple of helpers. Today, the work is carried on principally, by His wife, Sangyum Karmala and various sponsors and volunteers and is now a large operation involving many helpers, a number of boats and many truck loads of fish which are purchased from the fish farms in and around Kolkata and then released with prayers and auspicious mantras into the milky waters of the great 'Mother Ganga'.

During the 1990,s i used to wonder about the little black pouch that Rinpoche always wore around his waist, He guarded this pouch very carefully as it was stuffed full of various denominations of Indian and Nepal rupee notes which devotees had offered for the purchase and release of fish. He was thoroughly scrupulous about the offerings which came in. Each was assigned to its own purse which denoted a particular cause, but somehow the funds for the 'fish release' were always very abundant.

However this wasn't always the case. When Rinpoche began this project He was only newly arrived as a refugee from Tibet and extremely poor. In those days He was establishing the very first Buddhist Meditation Three Year Retreat Center in India, and as they could not afford to hire many workers, He rolled up his sleeves and took up a shovel, carrying and laboring on the repair work site with everyone else.

Funds were very scarce. One time the monastery caretaker walked into Rinpoche's room with tears in his eyes. He had just discovered that Rinpoche had sold a lovely piece of precious brocade, one of very few items that they had managed to bring with them from Tibet. With these funds He had bought a dial up phone so that He could call Kolkata and order fish and keep tabs on the process for the annual end of year release!

The caretaker was in a state of utter misery a good deal of the time in those days, wondering how on earth they would all be able to eat and carry on the general business of very simple living, but Rinpoche was never concerned and always waved him away with words of solace, telling him that all would be well.

I know that Rinpoche would have given the clothes off his own back in order to keep on releasing fish into the Ganges. In fact He ordered Lolu, the caretaker, to sell some of His scant possessions in order to do just this, on more than one occasion.

I used to watch Rinpoche's hand picked group leave from Salbari every year for this great event, with tears in my eyes, wondering if i would ever have enough merit to be allowed to go with them and help. They all stayed at the house of a Marwari Hindu who had taken a 'shine' to Rinpoche's 'project'.  And Rinpoche, ever mindful and sensitive of others, was always careful never to take more people with Him than was absolutely necessary for the task at hand. He did this so as not to over step or impose upon the of kindness of a generous donor.

One year, however, i decided to take matters into my own hands. I had been up in the Darjeeling hills and had come to know that Rinpoche had arrived in Salbari from Nepal and was already on His way to Kolkata. I did not want to ask for permission and risk being sent back to my hut, so i just packed a few things, went down the hill and caught the night train, turning up on the banks of the Ganges the following morning just as they were all arriving to begin the 'release'...

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Monday 5 March 2012

The Simplest Things in Life

Considering how vital it is for our sense of well being and happiness, it is surprising how seldom we really open our hearts and connect with others. Somehow the conditions for it don't seem so accessible a lot of the time. We simply fail to realize that we can connect heart to heart with any one, on any level, at any time. The necessary tools for this are always available.

As i sat on the Hill of Arunachala this morning, looking out over the old temple with its four huge towers, an adolescent monkey climbed up onto the rock near me eager to know if i had some food with me.  The monkeys in this place can be very annoying and naughty. They never ask if they can take something away, they simply snatch it and run.  Normally when the little fellows are around i shoo them away with out hesitating. Today however, something stopped me.  Instead of immediately sending him away i had an urge to share something, so i reached into my bag and took out a handful of flat rice that i happened to be carrying with me. I put some on the rock for him and took a little for myself. Piece by piece he quietly worked his way through the pile and we sat together companionably.

As i continued to sit and gaze out over the town below, he looked at me for a moment and then climbed around to the other side and carefully pushed my bag away so that he could take a few more pieces of rice that had slipped onto the front of my dress, making sure that he hadn't missed a single piece. Satisfied that there were no more lying around, he wrapped his furry little hand around my small finger and sat there unusually quiet for one of his species.

Never Not Ever Here Now

Monday 20 February 2012

The Joy of Anonymity

K.V. Subramanian

I first noticed KVS in a queue outside the dining hall in Ramana Ashram at Arunachala. I was standing some distance behind him and it was his voice that initially caught my attention. It was a clear and distinctive Indian voice, speaking well enunciated and impeccable English. When I looked up to take note of the speaker I was surprised to see a small, fragile man in a long white dhoti and shirt, white hair flying out in all directions and a flowing, wispy beard, in much the same unconstrained condition.

As he spoke he bobbed his head up and down and made extravagant gestures with his hands augmenting thereby the meaning he was trying to convey.
'The Joy of Anonymity' is a phrase that very aptly depicts this humble and most unassuming man.

Right there and then, I decided I would have to get to know him better. The name KVS is an abbreviation for a much longer Tamil name ending in Subramaniam, however, that title is seldom used and the shorter version is the one by which he is addressed and known to all. KVS has a brilliant mind and a good understanding and command of close to thirteen different languages. He has extensive reading experience, an almost photographic memory and a vast life experience, much of which has been very challenging.

However it is not my intention to focus on the past of KVS, or even on his many and varied accomplishments. Of what importance are the details of a life? To be sure he has 'his story.' Yet it is not the story that is of interest here so much as his day to day, natural abidance with what is real. His 'living presence,' which flows in such an easy and unpretentious way might be overlooked, or even passed off as somewhat eccentric.

Right in our midst and often quite unnoticed, move those who have quietly and without fuss or fanfare discovered their inner wealth and the joy that spontaneously flows from dipping into the perennial spring of peace. They do not need to 'do' anything to benefit others. Their very presence spreads a fragrance throughout the surrounding atmosphere which spontaneously uplifts and enlivens.

It is inspiring to reflect upon the fact that we can rub shoulders, so to speak and move so closely with those who live and interact with the world and yet all the while have their existence from the infinite expanse of ego-less-ness. Those who are quietly demonstrating, in a completely un-contrived and natural way, the biblical axiom ‘to be in the world, but not of the world.’

Continue Reading in Masters, Mice and Men

Volume 3 of Shades of Awareness

Wednesday 15 February 2012

Following the Advice of the Guru

"Living near does not mean breathing the same air.  It means trusting and     
 obeying, not letting the good intentions of the teacher go to waste. 
 Have your Guru always in your heart and remember his instructions.
 This is the real abidance with the true.
 Physical proximity is least important.
 Make your entire life an expression of your faith and love for your teacher."            
 Nisargadatta Maharaj

Pearls of Searching

Having a clear, and balanced perspective on ones 'relationship' with the 'Guru' is extremely important.  But in the times that we live, not always such a simple matter. Where does one draw the line between, having complete faith, and retaining a sense of discrimination?

The 'line' is drawn at the point of our acceptance
The saying, 'when the disciple is ready, the Master will appear', is a statement of truth and one which i have verified personally on more than one occasion during my lifetime. For those of us who have had the good fortune of 'bumping into' our Masters, there is never any question of 'authenticity'.  In such instances, the heart 'knows' and its voice rings out loud and clear.

But for 'seekers' who are searching for an authentic guide, the choice of ones Guru should be made with the utmost care. What is the measure of an authentic Master?

Some of the qualities that we might notice when we come into contact with such a 'Being' should include; 
  •    Great Compassion.
  •    An instinctive sense of 'respect' that we may feel in their presence.
  •    The feeling of 'peace of mind' that naturally arises in the presence of a Master, is also a strong indicator of 'authenticity'.
Aside from looking for these qualities, we can but watch, listen, learn and wait until we are satisfied that we have found a Master in whom we can place our trust and our confidence, someone who will be able to lead us directly to the goal of 'realization'. 

Once we have 'accepted' a Master, we should be prepared to follow his/her instructions with complete confidence and faith. This is a really important point.

Nisargadatta Maharaj's life was a very clear example of a disciple following the words of his Guru. His master gave him very simple, short instructions, and  Maharaj took those instructions to heart and lived and breathed them until he could understand the 'truth behind them'. He didn't add to what his Master had told him, nor did he take away anything from the advice that he had received, he simply did exactly as he was told, with complete faith, until such time as he could experience for himself the truth of his Master's words.

Before accepting a 'Guru' as our guide, we must thoroughly investigate and question. This process can take years, but when we are satisfied and feel we can accept a Guru as our own, then ideally we should put aside all doubt and place our faith firmly and unshakably in his/her ability to guide us.  

Some people instantly 'know' when they meet their 'Guru', others search until they find someone they feel combines all or most of the qualities that they hold dearest to their ideal of such a figurehead. However the case may be, once a Guru is accepted as such, any half-hearted following from that point onwards, can bring about only unsatisfactory results.

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Monday 6 February 2012

The Sage of Arunachala

Among thousands of men scarce one strive'th for Perfection;
of the successful strivers,
scarce one Knowe'th ME in essence.

Bagavad Gita

Recognizing the truth of who and what we really are, is the key to finding meaning and joy in this life. It is the permanent solution to ending suffering.

When a Being radiates that truth, through their own living-ness, whether they are in the body or not, its effects are extraordinarily powerful and all pervasive.

Sri Ramana Maharshi is the archetypal Guru of our times. Why, you might ask? 
  • Because in our age of technological advancement and complexity, his message is one of utter simplicity.
  • Because the question; who am I? cuts through the divisions created by religion and race.
  • Because, who am I? break down all the boundaries, placing before us, a truth that each and everyone of us can verify for ourselves, NOW.

Each of us is given the choice to recognize what is 'choice-less.'
To recognize the fact of our Awareness!

The Maharshi's life was a perfect manifestation of this living truth.
His 'after-life,' is a testament to that which crosses the boundaries of time and space.

Until the time when we are able to recognize the truth of our own nature, a 'Guru' is necessary. S/he, acts like a beacon of light in the darkness. When that 'truth' is realized and embodied, it can be understood that Guru and Self are one and the same...

Such have I known, Him of the lustrous eyes, Him whose sole look pierced to the heart, of wisdom deeper than the holy book, of Truth alone.

Arthur Osborne

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Volume Three in Shades of Awareness

Saturday 28 January 2012

Seeing Through the Projections

Have you ever stopped to notice how many times you are bombarded, in a single day, with other peoples images of what they think you are, or should be? Our own projections on the world around us and the people in it are often equally off the mark.  It can be very revealing if one really takes the time to notice. 

Most of what goes on in our world, is geared to promote some kind of fantasy, some kind of unrealistic image of who and what we think we should/could be. We desperately need to take a look at all of this, to ask ourselves, is this true?

We need to step back, so that we can get a perspective, so that we can see through the 'projections'. Because, basically most of it is precisely that, projection! 
These projections are like reflections in a mirror, they are not the real me, nor are they the real you.

Take for example, some of the most 'powerful people' in the world today; the politicians, movie stars, artists, sports people, all those 'famous figures' who seem to have everything. Do any of them know who they really are?

Friday 20 January 2012

Just As You Are

Recognizing one's inner peace and happiness
 need not involve any discomfort or effort at all.

Sunset from an old temple in South India
Adi Annamalai

Does a fish know that the water in which it is swimming is the reason it can exist?  It lives out the entire little drama of it's life quite unaware of this fact.  In the same way, we live, move and have our being within 'awareness' and yet never acknowledge it or are even aware of our dependence upon it for our very existence.  

If there is a purpose in life, it must surely be to find out who and what we really are.

The mind is supreme in complicating what is most simple and in this way deflects attention away from it's source.  If we carefully and methodically investigate the nature of our thoughts; the nature of our minds, we can very soon understand that these thoughts have no basis; that there is no mind.

It is not enough to merely to hear this, one has to make an investigation with intention and focus. 

For aeons we have let mind rule our existence and it has run us a riot! The ocean of samsara is vast and it can enslave us within its fascination for countless aeons. Anything that the mind is capable of imagining is possible, because in samsara the mind is king and creates its own 'reality.'

Read more in Never Not Ever Here Now
Books by the Writer

Wednesday 11 January 2012

The White Sail

While briefly lent this precious human body's white sail
pushed by pure intentions gentle wind,
without turning back towards miserable samsaric deserts
and making the error of missing this chance,
try to receive virtue's jewels by crossing the waves of ocean mind
to the supreme continent of the Triple Gems,
since doing this is more meaningful than anything else!

Thinley Norbu

The chapter on the life of another great Tibetan Master has closed and yet Dungsey Thinley Norbu's writings will continue to inspire and motivate those in search of truth for many generations to come.

I met him for the first time in the early 1990,s at Asura Cave above the small township of Parping, in the southern corner of the Kathmandu Valley. He appeared there one afternoon with a small group of Western Students. At the time I was occupying a room in the retreat center of Tulku Orgyen which is next to the famous cave.

When I heard a Tibetan voice carefully enunciating sentences in English, I curiously leaned out of my window to see who it was and was pleasantly surprised to see Thinley Norbu talking to one of his students while at the same time, trying to catch his breath after the lengthy climb. Asura is a good hundred steep, steps up the side of a hill from the village below. As soon as I realized who it was, I shot down the stairs, taking a long white greeting scarf with me.

I had been extremely fortunate to be present at a number of teachings that he gave over the years in Boudhanath, but I had never met him personally, so this was a truly golden opportunity.
After I had gone forward and offered the Kadak, he immediately asked who my teacher was and when I told him that it was Chadral Rinpoche he seemed very pleased indeed.

Chadral Rinpoche and Thinley Norbu were very close, in fact he had come to Parping to visit Chadral Rinpoche at his Monastery which was situated lower down the hill at the base of a mighty cliff.

Read more in Masters, Mice and Men
Volume 3 of Shades of Awareness

Dunsey Thinley Norbu Rinpoche.